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Are America’s ‘better ways’ for dealing with Hamas real?

This week visiting Israel, the US Secretary of State stated with respect to the long-touted Rafah operation, ‘we believe there are better ways of dealing with the ongoing challenge of Hamas’.

It is not the first time that this message has come from America’s leadership. But given that Secretary Blinken is known to be careful about his messaging, the reference to the ‘ongoing challenge’ rather than the ‘defeat’ of Hamas should be very concerning.

Not only concerning but perplexing.

America’s apparent endgame, here, is a regional security alliance, based on normalisation between Israel and moderate Arab states, and a new pathway towards the two-state solution.

Whether or not you agree with the two-state solution, or even the possibility of a pathway to it, the survival of Hamas as a military and political force – as now seems to be contemplated if one reads between the lines – seems to stand in contradiction to any possibility of a two-state solution.

It also seems to undermine normalisation, given that Hamas has shown, in 2021, and again on October 7th, that it can put normalisation in the freezer every time it launches a new assault against Israel.

One can wonder – is America taking positions which undermine its own objectives?

So here are some questions about Secretary Blinken’s ‘better ways’, the answers to which would help build understanding about whether America is leading or only posturing, and help inform Israelis, Palestinians and other parties to the conflict the direction in which things are heading.

  1. Are these ‘better ways’ real, or are they a future aspiration once someone puts their mind to it?
  2. If real, do they reflect a concrete and realistic strategy, or a loose hypothesis not yet fleshed out?
  3. Importantly, do these ‘better ways’ aim towards defeating Hamas, or just ‘dealing with ongoing challenges’?
  4. If the latter, does it mean Hamas is envisaged to retain political and military power in Gaza?
  5. If so, does this reflect a change in America’s endgame for the region?

Some questions may be asked to Israel’s leadership too. Secretary Blinken has continued with the long-held position that America ‘has not seen… an effective plan [for a Rafah operation] to make sure that civilians are not harmed’.

  1. In the last three to four months in which the prospect of a Rafah operation has loomed, has Israel not developed such a plan?
  2. If it has, why is it that America thinks this plan is not ‘effective’?
  3. Is there a coordination mechanism in place with America to develop a plan that would be ‘effective’?
  4. If not, why not? If so, what is its progress?
About the Author
Adam Gross is a strategist that specialises in solving complex problems in the international arena. Adam made aliyah with his family in 2019 to live in northern Israel.
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