Fred Maroun
A believer in peace and human dignity

As long as the false Palestinian narrative remains, there is no day after

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during a visit to Israel on March 26-28, 2022, speaking with Benny Gantz (U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem / Wikimedia Commons).

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that “continued Israeli refusal to advance a viable plan for the post-war management of Gaza will lead to a never-ending war in the enclave”. His warning seems to imply that there is an alternative to “never-ending war”, but if there is one, no one has explained what it is.

The Biden administration has pushed the idea of a “reformed Palestinian Authority”, but how would they reform a deeply corrupt organization that is led by a Holocaust denier who has been funding terrorism for many years? And let’s not forget that when Gaza was handed over to the PA on a silver platter in 2005, they quickly lost it to Hamas. It would be foolish to take the same risk again unless there are good reasons to believe that the results would be different this time.

The Times of Israel reported that “the Israeli security establishment argues that the PA is the only viable alternative to Hamas”. Obviously, despite all their faults, the PA is better than Hamas, but only if they can hold on to Gaza. If some people in the Israeli security establishment now believe that the PA would be able to hold on to Gaza, they should explain why. The PA holds on to zone A of the West Bank only thanks to Israel’s frequent assistance.

If Blinken and the Israeli security establishment believe that Gaza should be run like zone A of the West Bank, they should say so, but as we know, zone A is not peaceful. If Blinken doesn’t want a “never-ending war”, he will not get it this way. As reported recently, “Jenin is widely seen as a hotbed of terrorist activity, and the IDF regularly carries out operations there”. And guess what, Jenin isn’t in Gaza but in zone A of the West Bank.

The problem is much deeper than whether there is a plan for the “day after”. The problem is that violent opposition to Israel is highly popular with Palestinians, and therefore recruiting new terrorists is easy. Only a month ago, six months after the horrific attack of October 7, it was reported that, “Over 70% Palestinians still maintain Hamas ‘correct’ to commit Oct. 7 atrocities”.

As long as most Palestinians support violence against Israel, based on their belief that the Jews are foreign invaders who must be fought by any means, there can be no viable plan for a lasting peace, not in the West Bank and not in Gaza. As long as the false Palestinian narrative does not change and does not recognize the reality that Jews are at home in Israel, there will be a “never-ending war” and therefore the “day after” will never come.

On May 19, war cabinet minister Benny Gantz issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding that Netanyahu “commit to an agreed-upon vision for the Gaza conflict that would include stipulating who might rule the territory after Hamas’s defeat”. But if Blinken, Gantz, and others who are pushing for a plan for the “day after” have a viable plan in mind, they’re not saying what it is. Consequently, the push for a “day after” plan never appears to have any substance.

Gantz threatened to leave the war cabinet if his demand is not met by June 8, but it’s hard to see how this would achieve anything. The PA will not become a more viable option after Gantz leaves. There would just be one less moderate voice in the Israeli government, and it would give Israel’s enemies ammunition to claim that the Netanyahu government doesn’t represent the population. No government ever completely represents all citizens, but in regard to mistrust of the PA, Netanyahu isn’t far off. As reported this week, 64% of Israelis oppose a Saudi deal that would re-instate the PA in Gaza.

Israel is expected to achieve the impossible task of fitting a square peg in a round hole. No one is able to help in developing a realistic plan for the “day after”, but lots of critics lament the fact that the plan hasn’t yet been developed. It’s easy to be a critic when there is clearly a problem, but when the problem has no solution, the criticism is hypocritical.

Everyone, including Netanyahu, seems afraid of stating the sad truth, which is that under the current widely accepted Palestinian narrative, there is no room for peace. So, whatever the “day after” plan is, “never-ending war” will be in the plan. Until the Palestinian narrative recognizes reality, which could take generations, the best that Israel can hope for, both in Gaza and the West Bank, is to limit attacks on Israeli citizens. The sooner this reality is recognized, the better.

About the Author
Fred Maroun is a Canadian of Arab origin who lived in Lebanon until 1984, including during 10 years of civil war. Fred supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and to defend itself. Fred supports a liberal and democratic Middle East where all religions and nationalities co-exist in peace with each other, and where human rights are respected. Fred is an atheist, a social liberal, and an advocate of equal rights for LGBT people everywhere.
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