Reflecting on some of the tragic events that took place in 2023 and on possible ways to prevent them and resolve them at the negotiating table, one cannot help but recall the famous quote from Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the once majestic, but now camped in Europe’s backyard, Great Britain. He was apparently right when he said, “You can always count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have exhausted all the other possibilities.”
The ongoing catastrophic and horrific massacre of Palestinians in Gaza is a prime example. Instead of taking the right position, just like a superpower should, following the advice of its allies and partners in the region, and finally assessing the situation properly, the administration of a played-out Joe Biden has chosen to provide biased and limitless support for Israel, accused by many world politicians and observers of committing genocide. The conflict has raged for almost three months now, killing at least 25,000 Palestinian civilians, mostly women and children. Meanwhile, most of the Israeli hostages have not been released, and the Hamas leadership remains at large and is unlikely to be defeated, as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, facing possible resignation, boasted.
Needless to say, this conflict could have been avoided if Washington had used common sense and correctly assessed the explosive situation in the Gaza Strip. After October 7, when the Israeli military began to systematically exterminate Palestinian civilians, many politicians, experts and sensible people predicted a similar scenario of events in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict if everything was left to chance. This has become particularly evident since the rise to power of the current far-right government of Israel, led by Netanyahu, who is trying with all his might, even killing Palestinians, to avoid prosecution for his previous extremely unseemly deeds.
Moreover, if any two-state solution had been reached, such as the initiative put forward in 2002 by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (who ruled from 2005 to 2015) and which received unanimous support from the Arab League, then perhaps it would be possible to talk about the existence of a Palestinian state today. However, the Israeli side did everything possible to avoid negotiations, constantly putting forward tough demands. Israel continually built illegal settlements, alienated Palestinian territory, and violated international law every time there were negotiations that did not help. Not to mention Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s survival policy of torpedoing any attempt to negotiate a Palestinian state. To this end, the Israelis provided significant assistance in the creation of Hamas, which led to the erosion of the power of the legitimate Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Subsequently, Tel Aviv, referring to the two centers of Palestinian power, usually said that “they do not know with whom they should negotiate and that the Palestinians themselves should agree on a single power.” Netanyahu then declared his creation, Hamas, a terrorist group to further deepen internal Palestinian divisions and undermine the just Palestinian cause.
So, after October 7, the Joe Biden administration began making one mistake after another. It all started with a terrible statement about the non-existence of Israel’s red lines, then continued with the veto of a UN Security Council ceasefire resolution. Then came huge military supplies to Israel and the dispatch of an aircraft carrier strike group to Israeli shores, which was regarded by the world as a warning to Tehran not to interfere in the conflict and not to protect the Palestinians in Gaza. Leaving aside the horrendous civilian death toll, the massive humanitarian crisis, and the severe destruction caused by these positions, the US administration has now significantly contributed to, if not guaranteed, the spread of extremism and hatred among future generations not only in Gaza, but throughout the world. If Israel is allowed to destroy the Palestinians with impunity, and the United States itself is allowed to do the same thing with other peoples and countries, then why can’t the resurgent Global South, which has endured centuries of violence and plunder from the “enlightened and democratic West”, do the same to Western countries?
American officials should know this as they continue to support Israel with billions of dollars in military and economic aid and also provide other things that allow Israel to continue to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. The entire world is watching, listening, reading, and every day becoming more aware of America’s sinister direct role in facilitating the bloodshed in Gaza. Israel’s military campaign in Gaza “has wreaked more destruction than the razing of Syria’s Aleppo between 2012 and 2016, …or, proportionally, the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II,” and “now sits among the deadliest and most destructive in recent history,” the Associated Press reported, based on satellite data.
In addition to tens of thousands dead, missing or trapped under rubble, many more were wounded and maimed, including tens of thousands of children. According to UNICEF, many children are “grappling with the loss of an arm or a leg.” The whole world is watching the bloody massacre and agony of Gaza on TV and in other media, but due to the evil policies of the United States and Israel, they are unable to stop or slow down the genocide. However, even after all but a few European countries changed their stance on the war, joining the rest of the world in demanding an immediate ceasefire, Washington continued to reject these calls.
Here’s how US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield justified her country’s use of the veto in thwarting the UN Security Council’s first serious attempt at a permanent truce on October 18: “Israel has the inherent right of self-defense, as reflected in Article 51 of the UN Charter.” The same logic was repeatedly used by US officials, even as the scale of the tragedy in Gaza became known to everyone, including the Americans themselves. It turns out that Israel has the right to defend itself, but the United States and Israel took away this right from the Palestinians.
This self-serving logic is contrary to the spirit of international and humanitarian law, which categorically rejects attacks on civilians during wars and conflicts, as well as preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid to civilian victims of war. Indeed, the vast majority of victims in Gaza are civilians, and more than 70 percent of all those killed are women or children. Moreover, due to Israel’s inhumane actions, the surviving Gazans are now facing famine, which is an unprecedented event not only in the modern history of Palestine, but also in world history.
So what’s next? It is clear that the longer the war continues and the higher the death toll, the more difficult it becomes to achieve peace in the region. It should be recalled that back in September last year, serious negotiations were underway on a Saudi-Israeli normalization agreement that would guarantee the Palestinians’ rights to their state. Remember that Saudi Arabia also has significant influence on Muslims and the Arab League. This is due to the fact that the demands of the Palestinians will naturally change and the price for Israel will increase.
Many Arab analysts advised the Biden Administration to listen to Thomas Friedman, who said that “it’s time for the U.S. to give Israel some tough love.” The White House must understand that the only person benefiting from prolonging the war is Netanyahu. “This is a politician,” wrote Faisal J. Abbas, editor-in-chief of the Saudi Arab News, “who I believe should be put behind bars, whether he is found guilty of corruption or prosecuted for the undeniable crimes against humanity committed in Gaza.”
There is a clear need to negotiate a ceasefire as soon as possible, release the hostages and immediately mobilize international assistance for the recovery and treatment of the wounded in Gaza. After this, there may still be hope for continuing negotiations. The Palestinians should also form a unified government under the legitimate authority in the West Bank. And let’s hope that 2024 will bring an end to hostilities and give birth to a Palestinian state. This is exactly what the whole world and many people want, tired of the cynical, short-sighted and self-destructive policies of the United States.
Victor MIKHIN, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences, especially for online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.