x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Netanyahu’s scorched-earth policy in Gaza is a bid to save his political career

Israel's assault on Gaza, as assessed by Al Quds Al Arabi's editorial, Shafiq Al Ghabra and Randa Takieddine (Al Hayat), Khaled Al Hroub (Al Ittihad) and Sobhi Ghandour (Al Bayan).

Israel's assault on Gaza has left it looking like a hurricane hit it, Al Quds Al Arabi says. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem
Israel's assault on Gaza has left it looking like a hurricane hit it, Al Quds Al Arabi says. Photo: Reuters / Mohammed Salem

The devastating Israeli assault on Gaza has reduced the Palestinian enclave to ruins to the point where it looks like it has been hit by a hurricane, editorialised the London-based pan-Arab paper Al Quds Al Arabi.

The situation on the ground is even more tragic than what is shown in the media, with Israel targeting civilians after it became aware it could not possibly achieve its goals, the newspaper said.

Israel’s war crimes are unprecedented, prompting even the closest of allies to start pulling back their political and moral cover. The White House leaked details of a phone call between President Barack Obama and Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which the former demands that Israel agree to an immediate ceasefire, in an attempt by President Obama to wash his hands of the political and moral consequences of the Israeli atrocities.

Meanwhile, three South American countries have recalled their ambassadors from Israel in protest at the aggression in Gaza.

The Israelis are clearly at a loss, unable to take a firm decision to back away without achieving any results or instead expand the ground invasion and risk a military defeat.

Mr Netanyahu knows that he does not have any good option. He is also aware that his political career would be the first victim if he suffers a defeat in Gaza. To avoid that, he is pursuing a scorched-earth policy, drawing great anger towards Israel across the world.

Shafiq Al Ghabra wrote in the London-based Al Hayat that Gaza, a small area of 360 square kilometres has a population of 1.7 million but has successfully fought a liberation war against a ruthless, heavily armed occupation force. The faceoff in Gaza is not about borders; it is a war about existence and rights between a landowner and a Zionist colonialist movement.

As unbiased German and Israeli reports have confirmed, there was no evidence to support that Hamas’s leadership was involved in the killing of three teenage settlers, which was Israel’s excuse for waging the war on Gaza.

Mr Netanyahu felt threatened by the national unity Palestinian government and fabricated a reason to hit back. Palestinian division is viewed by Tel Aviv as a strategic goal, as is the blockade on Gaza.

Randa Takieddine noted in Al Hayat that the onslaught on Gaza has proven once again that Israeli leaders never intended to accept the establishment of a Palestinian state. All of America’s promises of peace between Palestinians and Israelis are meaningless if the US is unwilling to punish Tel Aviv for failing to honour its deals.

Israel’s shelling of schools and hospitals will only breed more hatred and violence from a people left to choose death by air strikes or by economic blockade and hunger. The international community has done nothing to force Israel to fulfil its commitments, leaving Gaza in a miserable situation.

This, combined with Tel Aviv’s racist policies will certainly backfire on Israel. Air strikes, oppression and murder will guarantee the destruction rather than the security of Israel, Takieddine said.

Khaled Al Hroub noted in Al Ittihad, The National’s sister newspaper, that the fate of Palestine could see a turning point if a new Palestinian intifada erupts in the West Bank.

This uprising, should it happen, will turn Israeli calculations upside down and highlight the root of the matter: a military occupation versus an occupied people revolting against it.

A third intifada in the West Bank is needed to rectify the Palestinian policy after 20-year long peace process has achieved nothing other than making it clear that Israel would never accept a resolution that affords the Palestinian even a fraction of their rights.

The Palestinian Authority should know by now that having peace talks without any international pressure on Israel would be political suicide. A third intifada, as a brave Gaza holds its grounds against the Israeli attack, would be a precious opportunity for Palestinians to find new common ground based on rejection of the occupation, and forge a new language to bring the Palestinian cause back on track as a regional and international priority.

Sobhi Ghandour argued in the UAE-based Al Bayan that Arab governments have a good opportunity to rethink their disagreements and use the Israeli assault on Gaza to initiate a unified pan-Arab stance that supports the Palestinians and forces Israel to come to its senses.

The Oslo Accords have yielded neither peace nor an Israeli withdrawal nor a Palestinian state. The fact is that force was the only reason why Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000 and from Gaza in 2005, the writer remarked.

Translated by Abdelhafid Ezzouitni