04.12.2023 Author: Alexandr Svaranc

What does the future hold for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?

The ongoing war in the Middle East for more than a month now has kept the world on edge. In fact, at this stage Israel is conducting a massive combined military operation, combining ground, air and sea attacks to completely eliminate Hamas militants, commanders and political leadership in the Gaza Strip.

In reality, of the nearly 11,000 Palestinian deaths in Gaza as of 9 November, according to Turkish President R. Erdoğan, 70% are civilians (including children, women and the elderly). In other words, the Israeli military operation “Deadly Attack” has not yet achieved its goal of complete destruction of Hamas facilities and forces, because only 30 per cent of the 11,000 dead are militants. At the same time, the Palestinian resistance forces have actually withdrawn into numerous tunnels and labyrinths, but have not laid down their arms. At the same time, Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh continues his political activities, negotiates with leaders of Islamic states and travels around the region (Qatar, Iran, Turkey).

It turns out that the IDF has so far failed to fulfil its tasks, and this is despite the fact that the main ally of the Jewish state, the United States, is conducting unprecedented activities to provide comprehensive support to Tel Aviv at the political, military and economic levels. For the sake of objectivity, it should be admitted that the current Palestinian-Israeli war, which began with massive Hamas strikes on Israel on 7 October, is seriously different from previous conflicts. In particular:

1) this time the Arab and Islamic world as a whole is more united (including the consolidation of the Sunni and Shiite currents of Islam so far);

2) Lebanon’s Hezbollah is strong and capable of systematic resistance and fighting with the Israel Defence Forces;

3) Hamas remains combat-ready, and in the second month of fighting the Israeli army has not managed to deprive it of its military potential (in addition, Hamas retains political potential, negotiates and is not going to give up power in the Gaza Strip).

Neither Israel nor the US and Great Britain understand what to do with Gaza, which has 2 million inhabitants.

Firstly, destroying Hamas (its military and political potential) by means of a single military operation in an urban environment with numerous underground communications is a very difficult military task.

Secondly, military operations in such conditions with a population of 2 million inevitably lead to numerous civilian casualties, which is what we see in the ratio of 70×30%. Israel has actually taken the Gaza Strip in a complete ring and blockade, closed all entrances and exits, minimized the possibility of humanitarian corridors, uses all kinds of troops (mechanized brigades, special forces, air force and navy), but Hamas does not give up and continues its resistance.

Thirdly, in the Gaza Strip, Israel is deliberately destroying buildings and structures in order to reduce the housing stock and force a mass exodus of local Palestinians with no right of return. Almost a third of the housing stock has already been destroyed and is uninhabitable. But refugees from the Gaza Strip are being massively rejected by those in solidarity with the Hamas struggle and Palestinian demands.

They are not welcome in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey or Iran. The motivation for the refusal varies: some are afraid of receiving 2 million refugees and a critical mass of subsequent internal upheavals – economic, social and political; others believe that the Palestinian exodus from Gaza will be a one-way journey with no return, and this will allow Israel to devastate and finally occupy part of Palestinian territory.

It is said that the Americans have even offered Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi large financial privileges (including cancellation of multi-billion-dollar debts) in exchange for mass reception of refugees from the Gaza Strip, but Cairo refuses. Neither do Jordan and Turkey. The Palestinians’ allies want to keep them in Palestine itself (including the Gaza Strip) for the subsequent political resolution of the Palestinian issue with Israel.

In this intransigent situation, when Israel does not know how to destroy Hamas with conventional weapons, except to evict the entire Palestinian population from the Gaza Strip under the guise of refugees and “respect for humanitarian law”, it is not by chance that opinions about the admissibility of a nuclear strike on Gaza as an option appear. In particular, the Israeli Minister of Jerusalem and Heritage Affairs and representative of the Jewish Power party, Amihai Eliyahu, publicly stated this in an interview with the Kol Berama radio station (he said that “it is an option”).

Naturally, the critical reaction of the Islamic world and much of the rest of the international community to such statements by a member of the Israeli government led Benjamin Netanyahu to “scold” his minister that there was no need for this, as the IDF was coping with conventional weapons and fighting in Gaza in accordance with international law. Although the Israeli Prime Minister did not fire Amihai Eliyahu and kept him in the government (he only banned him from attending cabinet meetings for an unknown period of time).

I do not rule out that Minister Eliyahu’s said statement was coordinated with Netanyahu and was intended to probe external reactions. Meanwhile, Israel has never previously admitted to possessing nuclear weapons. Otherwise, that is, if Tel Aviv had declared the presence of nuclear weapons in its arsenal, it would have given its neighbours (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran) a direct pretext to do the same. In other words, the Middle East would be threatened by the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and Israel would be the target of a nuclear strike.

In the opinion of Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian, “the statement of the Israeli minister about the use of atomic bombs shows the real defeat of the regime in the struggle against the Palestinian regime. At the same time, the Iranian side called on the UN and the IAEA to denuclearize Israel, because with his interview Minister Eliyahu actually confirmed Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons.

At the same time, we cannot rule out such a turn of events in terms of the use of nuclear weapons by Israel (or its allies, as the same Eliyahu justifies) against the Gaza Strip. Why?

Judge for yourself, if the destruction of Hamas by conventional means becomes an impossible task without mass deaths of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, if no one (including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia) is willing to accept Palestinian refugees from Gaza (and in fact their resettlement and mass exodus), and Israel at the same time claims to demilitarize Gaza, what is left? Neither Israel nor Fatah wants to relocate 2 million Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank (so as not to get a new Hamas in Ramallah). So where to put 2 million people? That is the hope in the criminal designs of some politicians for a nuclear strike and mass destruction of millions of innocent people for their amusement and interests.

In other words, “if there is a person, there is a problem; if there is no person, there is no problem”. The fact is that the stay of Israeli occupation troops in the same Gaza Strip in the case of a ceasefire is unlikely to satisfy the Palestinians and it will lead to peace, but to the continuation of the conflict by guerrilla methods and a new explosion. The entry into this zone in the post-war period of the so-called peacekeeping forces of the countries of the Western coalition (USA, Great Britain, Germany, France, Italy, etc.) will not be accepted either by the Palestinians or by the countries of the Islamic world (in particular, the countries of the Arab East, Iran and Turkey). Accordingly, an Islamic peacekeeping corps in the Gaza Strip will definitely not be accepted by either Israel or its Western allies. That is why Israel and the US are not stopped neither by Turkey’s threats to present irrefutable evidence of Israel’s “war crimes” to the ICC, nor by Minister Eliyahu’s statements about the option of a nuclear strike, nor by the 11,000 Palestinians who have already died in the Gaza Strip.

Who is able to stop Israel (and more precisely Benjamin Netanyahu) from making a crazy step, but the United States? But is Washington ready to agree to a ceasefire and restore peace in the region? There is an opinion that the US does not rule out the resignation of Benjamin Netanyahu as an incapable politician. Perhaps that is why recently the American and Israeli media have thrown in information about Israel’s alleged preparations for pre-term elections. Although Netanyahu does not agree with this (just as Zelenskyy disagrees with the presidential elections in Ukraine).

At the economic forum in Singapore, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, referring to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, said that Israel and Palestine need new leadership to have a chance for a peace agreement”.

According to Netanyahu’s associates in the ruling Likud bloc, Netanyahu is fighting for his political survival and is unlikely to hold on to power amid the escalating Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Benjamin Netanyahu is seen as responsible for the strengthening of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the security and intelligence failure of Israel’s 75 years of existence.

And former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in an interview with the American publication Politico that Netanyahu is “morally destroyed” because of his massive failure in the field of national security, is in a “nervous state” and is trying to avoid his resignation.

Meanwhile, as Politico notes, U.S. arms shipments and political and financial support to Israel are more likely to escalate the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Iranian Foreign Minister Amir Abdollahian is of the same opinion. According to the Iranian agency Tasnim, Abdollahian in a telephone conversation with his Qatari counterpart Al-Thani noted that “the expansion of the scale of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is inevitable”.

In turn, Pentagon representatives say that the U.S. has no intention to escalate the conflict in the Middle East region (although who will admit it). The Americans motivate their military actions in Syria and Iraq by a retaliatory strike in hell

Paul Roberts, a former official in President Ronald Reagan’s administration, believes that the U.S., on the contrary, wants to provoke new wars in the Middle East. The goal,” Roberts notes, “is to draw Iran and Syria into the conflict so that the neoconservatives can restart wars in the Middle East. Indirect signs of confirmation of this view of Mr. Roberts are the transfer of huge numbers of US troops, weapons, air force and navy forces to the region. This could cause the conflict to spiral out of control.

Indeed, why would there be two aircraft carriers, two nuclear submarines, landing craft, F-15, F-16 and F-35 fighter jets in the 2 million-strong Gaza Strip, not to mention the forces and assets of the US military bases stationed in the region? Is this combined American-Anglo-Israeli armada intended only to destroy Hamas?

That is why Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently warned that “the Anglo-Saxons are literally pushing the Middle East to the brink of a big war,” since Western politicians (primarily the U.S. and Britain) are used to solving their own problems at the expense of others, exploiting other people’s resources and hoping to rule the world.

However, the US and its allies should take into account that the internationalization of the military conflict in the Middle East could turn into a global catastrophe and destroy their own plans. The present conflict in the Middle East, in addition to political and territorial issues, as the writer Dmitry Lekukh rightly points out, has an economic and logistical dimension, since the war is for control of trade and energy communications (logistics).

In particular, the expansion of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict involving a group of key countries in the region can lead to a shortage of oil on the world market, which will hurt the interests of many countries (including the United States and Europe).

Take the Iranian-controlled Strait of Hormuz, which is 40% of the world’s oil trade, transported by sea on tankers. Iran’s entry into this war will result in a minus 40% of the world’s oil trade.

The Suez Canal supplies oil to Europe. Accordingly, the involvement of Egypt in a regional conflict will create insurmountable problems for the supply of the same oil to European countries for the duration of hostilities.

What will happen to Turkish transit and the Black Sea Straits if Turkey enters this conflict in one form or another? Europe will find itself under a forced embargo of Asian suppliers. And this is subject to the well-known Western sanctions against Russia.

Thus, we see the futility of unwinding a global conflict with its epicentre in the Middle East, the irrelevance of political regulation of the Arab-European conflict, and the fact that it would be impossible to resolve the conflict in the Middle East.


Alexander SVARANTS – PhD of Political Science, Professor, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

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