The Daily Star (Editorial)
August 19, 2011 - 12:00am

When attacks and counterattacks erupted Thursday in Gaza, it might have been expected to hear analysts and the media talk about a sudden outbreak of violence – in fact, the developments of the last few months represent an instance of deliberately laying the groundwork for such an explosion.

Throughout the Arab world, 2011 is being hailed as a year of revolutions, while in Israel, it has been a case of business as usual. Israel’s actions and rhetoric have continued to increase the deep frustration that, in the end, eventually leads to such instances of violence. This does not imply any sort of approval for attacks on civilians, whoever they are, but no one should be surprised when they do take place under such conditions.

Israeli politicians have made their policy stance clear to all. They have steadfastly said no to a Palestinian state, and have ramped up their campaign in the face of growing international support for such an initiative, to be crowned during next month’s session of the United Nations General Assembly. The Israelis adamantly insist on negating the right of return of Palestinian refugees, while moving full steam ahead with the building of illegal settlements on occupied Palestinian territory.

These policies have merely placed Palestinians and Arabs in a corner, leaving them no room for maneuver. Any party with an interest in seeing the conflict continue can easily exploit such conditions to launch attacks against the Jewish state – whatever their military value, they can be justified in political terms in light of Israel’s continued policies of settlement.

The attack doesn’t even have to be particularly destructive – all it has to do is take place, because a response will be inevitable, and perhaps lead to an even deadlier cycle of violence, bringing everything back to square one. Even if the current violence is contained, there is no guarantee that it won’t erupt again in the near future.

The Israelis bear much of the responsibility for the latest incident, but the United States is not far behind. The White House of President Barack Obama is doing nothing to change the failed policies of the past, as it lends support to the Israeli drive to create “facts on the ground” in the form of illegal settlements, while pressuring everyone else to join a negotiations process that is about negotiating over less and less.

Thursday’s violence should serve as a warning bell to everyone concerned with the regional peace process – primarily the U.S., the Europeans and Israel – that a situation of status quo will not lead to a better future. It’s time for the Obama administration to seriously re-think its policy on the Palestine-Israel conflict, and either live up to its commitment to a two-state solution, or announce once and for all that parties with no interest in peace are in full command of U.S. foreign policy.


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017