Giving Hamas More Territory Won’t Bring Peace, or Cure Gaza’s Woes

Over the past few years, voices inside Israel have floated the idea of convincing Egypt to relinquish a strip of land on the western coast of the Sinai that could be joined to Gaza in order to create a geographically and economically viable Palestinian state. Notable among such Israelis is Benjamin Anthony, the head of a prominent organization of veterans of the Second Lebanon War. Anthony has succeeded in persuading a number of retired IDF officers to endorse this plan, which he has dubbed the New State Solution (NSS). But, argue Gregg Roman and Cynthia Farahat, the plan has little chance of succeeding:

The failed Oslo process showed that granting land to an undefeated enemy of Israel leads only to more violence if rejectionist incitement is allowed to flourish at the societal level. Why would a greater Gazan state fare any better? Because, the proponents say, what Palestinians really need is breathing space. . . . Instead of land-locked, resource-poor holdings in dreary old Judea and Samaria, the Palestinians would get “miles of beautiful, Mediterranean coastline . . . no less inviting than that of Tel-Aviv.” . . .

But that’s the Oslo Accords repackaged: give Palestinians self-rule with international aid to spur economic development, and soon the ranks of extremists will dwindle. If that were true, we wouldn’t be where we are today. It isn’t lack of space or resources that keeps most Palestinians poor; it’s bad governance and the rejectionism that sustains it. . . . The proposed state, which would be “fully sovereign . . . with the freedom to defend itself,” is sure to be dominated by Islamists, and its establishment likely would fuel Islamism among Palestinians in the West Bank, who would be granted absentee citizenship, residency rights where they presently reside, and little else. . .

All of this is academic, however, because there’s no evidence that President Sisi (or any other conceivable Egyptian ruler) would be willing to donate a major chunk of Sinai—hallowed ground for which thousands of Egyptian soldiers died fighting.

Granting more land to Hamas will not change the vision of many Palestinians to eradicate Israel; it will energize the Islamists.

Read more at The Hill

More about: Egypt, Gaza Strip, Sinai Peninsula, Two-State Solution

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict