During the momentary lull in Gaza fighting it is time to examine what is happening in Israel and among Palestinians. During the 1967 war, Israel gained control of the West Bank. At that point in time, Jordan ruled the West Bank because the concept of an independent Palestinian state had yet to be born. Israeli leaders in 1967 were prepared to allow an independent Palestinian state to be created in 1967 in return for recognition and peace, but no Arab nation took up the offer. This began the current stalemate in the region. It was simply a matter of time and politics before conservatives in Israel took up the cry of settling on the West Bank in order to restore the ancient land of Israel. There simply was no Arab nation willing to negotiate with Israel until President Sadat of Egypt initiated a peace agreement. Unfortunately, only Jordan was willing to go along with recognition of the state of Israel.
During the past forty years, the “settlers movement” within Israel continued to gain strength and power. By the year 2000 it was a force in Israeli politics. Benjamin Netanyahu seized the opportunity to incorporate this group along with conservative factions in Israel in order to become Prime Minister of the country. He soon recognized that creating the “Iran Threat” would produce votes. Shout that Israel is threatened by Iran in order to engender fear, and the result is more votes. Examine the Netanyahu political approach and the war in Gaza makes sense:
1. He opposed efforts by President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority to forge an alliance with Hamas. Of course, if Abbas signed a treaty with Israel, this would FORCE HAMAS to go along with it or face massive disapproval by Palestinians.
2. Instead, Netanyahu continues to gain support from Settlers on the West Bank who now number over 500,000. Instead of forcing Hamas to become engaged in a political process, Netanyahu simply encourages their extremists to engage in violence.
3. REALITY: If President Abbas announces the end of his government, this means Israel would have to assume responsibility for government of the West Bank. This is the ISRAEL NIGHTMARE. Within thirty years there would be more Muslims in Israel than Jews. What then?
In one sense, the current horror in Gaza serves the political aims of Hamas and Netanyahu. Both Hamas and Netanyahu require a crisis in order to gain political power. Eventually, fighting will cease. President Abbas, the moderate, has been virtually destroyed by the Gaza war since now revenge and violence are the mantra of most Palestinians. The refusal of Prime Minister Netanyahu to compromise with Abbas has brought to power violent extremists within the Palestinian community.