What needs to happen now? What can happen now?

ALL of the following:

Gaza should be demilitarized. Hamas will not voluntarily give up its weapons. It will not voluntarily unify or submit to the PA. If Hamas did demilitarize, one can not automatically assume that Islamic Jihad and other militias would give up theirs.

Demilitarization of Gaza might have been possible to realize early, quickly and humanely if an international body had formed up and put boots on the ground. The US didn’t do it. NATO didn’t do it. No middle east coalition did it. It didn’t happen. Israel opted to.

Failing to demilitarize Gaza, would have resulted NO CHANGE in the status quo, structured to repeat significant periodic armed confrontations indefinitely.

Relative to the ongoing war, this is the most critical question raised, whether the war can end with Hamas in military control of any significant section of Gaza, the prior status quo, or not.

With Gaza demilitarized, there is a rational fear that Israel will occupy Gaza, and/or permanently displace Palestinian civilians. It makes it impossible to assertively advocate for Israeli military efforts.

Israel should have a new election. There is no confidence anywhere that the current Israeli government represents the preponderance of will of the Israeli people. Also in international relationships, there no confidence that Israel will keep its word in bi-lateral and multi-lateral agreements. Europe, the United States, Arab states with normalized relations with Israel, do NOT trust Israel currently. Most distrust Hamas more so, but that is a weak status. When Hamas is taken out of the picture, Israel’s reputation will stand on its own, not in relation to enemies.

For Israel’s good, likud should lose that election. It should lose so convincingly that it would not be able to lead or even materially participate in a new coalition.

The electoral effort should be to publicize likud’s long and short term incompetence to form policy, to govern, and embarrassingly to defend Israel. That includes likud’s former divide and conquer strategy relative to the Palestinian Authority, that led likud over decades to accept that Gaza was “ruled” by Hamas, and the extent of its military infrastructure.

Campaigns should emphasize Likud’s willingness to invite an obviously corrupt parliamentary coalition rather than commit to pragmatic governing principles. It should be exposed as unprincipled to anything substantive except keeping in power and Netanyahu out of jail. Unworthy to govern.

In contrast, new and existing parties should focus on incorporating democratic principles into law, policy and implementation. It is a large task that must be well-thought out, and well implemented.

The international community should commit to develop a functional two-state reality, independent governance, with close economic and social relations.

There are many prerequisites on the Palestinian side towards that being realized. Hamas should submit to the Palestinian Authority. The role of Gaza as a pirate resistance state should end and be replaced by competent, democratic, confident Palestinian Authority governance. East Jerusalem (annexed by Israel) is a confusion without easy answers. Area C should be Palestinian based on the 2% land swaps last proposed by Mahmoud Abbas in 2008 during negotiations with Ehud Olmert, resulting in 80% of settlers in Israeli jurisdiction. The remaining 20% should be permitted to remain in sovereign Palestine as a Jewish minority.

An international body should enforce agreements for 10 years, that the two-state status is kept and results in improvement in relations

None of these tangible commitments are easy, currently consented, nor implementable solely by external pressure, nor solely by Israeli imposition.

Moving forward on any of them makes the other features feasible.

About the Author
Richard Witty is a long-term student of Israel-Palestine, advocate for mutually healthy and safe communities.