By Earl Cox, Israel Always—
The public record is clear: Terrorist group Hamas started this fight. The “March of Return,” deceptively billed as a “peaceful and nonviolent” protest along Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip, turned violent from day one, as armed terrorists mingled with women and children, and several militants tried to breach the border of the sovereign nation of Israel.
Hamas is desperately trying to pick a fight with Israel that results in civilian casualties among the very people they claim to represent. While proclaiming over loudspeakers “we are with you,” they rally women, children and the elderly to the border and mix them lethally with armed militants. Thus they incite violence to provoke condemnation of Israel – readily available among antisemitic groups and politicians, and the leftist media.
Whether Hamas is trying to trigger a propaganda battle, a real war or both, Israel is not looking for war. It is doing what any sane, sovereign nation would do – defending itself and its citizens from hostile forces bombarding its border. And Israel would likely support a peaceful Palestinian state on its borders that is not devoted to its destruction.
But despite the oppressiveness of its constant dirge of threats and belligerent posturing, Hamas’s incitement presents a golden opportunity. A war started by Hamas could well end without Hamas. A Hamas-initiated war at this time could give Israel and its stakeholder allies an opportunity to replace Hamas with new leaders. Only this response has the most genuine, on-the-ground potential to resuscitate the suffering Gazan people, whom their leaders treat as dispensable pawns.
I am not advocating a banana republic- style coup d’état – though if that’s the best option, then the sooner the better, with Iran and its axis waiting in the wings. I’m saying it’s time for a change of leadership for the Palestinians. This may be the only way to work toward a durable peace in the region – new leaders who will respect the sovereignty of Israel, a viable Palestinian state,and enforceable harmony between the two.
Hamas considers its mantra to destroy Israel nonnegotiable. It thus has rendered itself nonnegotiable. Dismantling Hamas has become a linchpin to peace with Israel.
The same principle applies to the Palestinian Authority. Until fresh leaders are set in place, both Hamas and PA President Mahmoud Abbas (and any successor who follows his flawed, corrupt model of leadership) – will continue to sabotage and hold hostage the suffering Palestinian people, along with any possibility for peace.
It would be prudent for a fledging Palestinian state to be supported in its initial stages as a protectorate with regional and international assistance and oversight. Gen. MacArthur oversaw Japan dismantle the kamikaze approach to foreign affairs; culturally sensitive administrative programs and de-escalation of militant Shintoism were hallmarks of his efforts. The World War II victors issued “mandates” designed to guide the mandate countries through the process of becoming stable independent states. Perhaps we could learn from both the flaws and strengths of these historical models to help the Palestinians achieve their dream.
A new Palestinian leadership could also open the door for regional Arab states to take on an enhanced statesman- like role. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states may be willing to help their Palestinian brothers forge more stable solutions to their economy, healthcare, education and other sectors. Undoubtedly, a greater role could be played by the Gulf states once they acknowledge that every sovereign state – including Israel, has the right to secure and defensible borders.
Once its security concerns are addressed, Egypt also may be willing to help alleviate the suffering of Gaza Strip residents by opening the Rafah border crossing, said Middle East scholar Bassam Tawil for the Gatestone Institute. Though Israel has kept its Erez border crossing with Gaza open to the flow of merchandise, people and international aid agencies, until Egypt steps up to the plate, “even Arabs who want to help the people of the Gaza Strip are forced to enter through the Erez border crossing because the Egyptians do not give them permission to use the Rafah terminal,” Tawil said.
It’s high time for change. The Palestinian people deserve leaders who will give them not only jobs, healthcare and electricity, but sound governance – not bullets and incitement.
The author is an international broadcaster and journalist who has served in senior-level positions with four US presidents. Due to his outspoken support for Israel, he has been recognized by Prime Minister Netanyahu as a Goodwill Ambassador from Israel to the Jewish and Christian communities around the world and named the Voice of Israel to America by former prime minister Ehud Olmert.