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Susan Hanover
Israeli attorney, IDF vet, entrepreneur: Sharing insights from USA

The Urgency of a Palestinian Strategic Shift

In the tragically violent narrative of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a critical aspect that demands acknowledgment is the strategic imbalance between the two parties. Israel, over the decades, has ascended not just as a regional power but as a global influencer, with formidable political, military, and technological capabilities. This ascent is not merely a testament to its resilience but also to its vital partnerships and democratic foundations. In contrast, the Palestinian leadership remains mired in anachronistic visions of conflict and destruction, failing to recognize the implications of the disparity. This has led to a defunct Palestinian Authority and lost generational dreams. Hamas’s horrendous acts of violence on Oct 7 and its subsequent genocidal strategy against both Israeli and Palestinian civilians underscore the lethal consequences of adhering to this archaic strategy.

Hamas has no long term vision other than the delusional annihilation of the state of Israel. Given the stark military asymmetry, they are selling nothing more than fiction. This is what Newsweek termed “new terrorism”. Professor Martha Crenshaw explains this as an ISIS-type apocalyptic ideology, with “religion being the main precipitating factor”. It has ambiguous goals and it values “destruction for its own sake ( i.e.,: the means are the ends)” (www.wilsoncenter.org). If the Palestinians truly have a different goal, they need to recalibrate with a massive deradicalization- a transformation of hearts and minds. They must disentangle themselves from Hamas with a new and updated vision, and join the Middle East drama as a primary player and not as an object of Hamas. Given the events of Oct 7, the current insistence on a two-state solution strategy is futile. It is not just a reward for terror, but given the power dynamics it is counterproductive. It echoes the mistakes of the past, where appeasement and compromise only embolden the aggressor.

Not unlike a kidnapping scenario as described by Chris Vos in “Never Split the Difference”, the demand for ransom does not validate a compromise at half the amount, but rather is a concession that unfairly benefits the nefarious party and results in an unjust outcome. So too, is the Palestinian leadership’s insistence on Israel’s concessions to terror, under the guise of compromise, a deeply flawed tactic. This is akin to rewarding the kidnapper while still suffering a loss, perpetuating a win/lose outcome with terror as a workable strategy.

This misplaced strategy overlooks Israel’s evolved status and strength as a key global player. U.S. News & World Report 2022 ranks Israel among the world’s most influential nations, with the fourth strongest military behind only the US, China, and Russia. Any vision for a future that disregards the geopolitical context is not only outdated but dangerously delusional. To navigate this, the Palestinian leadership must shift its approach from confrontation to collaboration. This means moving away from the “terror for land” paradigm towards a win/win strategy recognizing not only Israel’s right to exist but that it has earned this right through its undeniable success at statehood. Such acknowledgment does not imply a submission to injustice. Instead, it is a strategic recognition that terror is a losing game and not a currency for victory. It means moving beyond the rhetoric of destruction towards a constructive dialogue. Embracing this reality is the first step towards dismantling the barriers to Palestinian prosperity which remains distant under the existing paradigm. In doing so, the Palestinians can leverage the power dynamics positively not from a point of weakness but as a foundation for negotiating a prosperous and hopeful future; given the geographical proximity, the economic benefits of such a partnership could be enormous.

Only through such a paradigm shift can the Palestinian leadership hope to achieve a sustainable and just resolution to a conflict that has taken too much from past generations.

About the Author
Susan Hanover was born in South Africa with strong Jewish roots, later moving to Israel as a teenager. She served as a medic in the IDF. Following her service she studied law, qualifying as an Israeli attorney. She has been living in the USA for over 25 years where her passion for all things relating to Israel and its geopolitical implications has only grown.