International

When Will The War On Gaza End?

US President Joe Biden is talking of a new peace plan for the region. Can a peace arrangement after the release of the Israel hostages finally put an end to the violence? Israel is not yet on board but America can get Netanyahu to end the war. Will it ?

Getty Images
People mourn following an early morning incident when residents rushed toward aid trucks in Gaza City on February 29, 2024 | Photo: Getty Images
info_icon

The blood-letting by Israel continues unabated as the world turns a blind eye to the plight of Palestinians trapped in Gaza. Israeli soldiers are under the impression that there will be no price to pay for killing Palestinians. They have broken UN conventions on war, without the US and its allies, the self-appointed guardians of human rights, raising questions. Having gotten away with bombing hospitals, sending in commandos into hospitals in search of militants and now killing 112 Palestinians who were gathered to collect scarce supplies from UN trucks, the Israeli war crimes continue to mount. As of now the death toll is 30,035 and growing.

"Life is draining out of Gaza at terrifying speed,"  UN aid chief Martin Griffiths was quoted as saying after the latest carnage in the besieged city. What is enough to satiate Israel's desire for revenge? Complete extermination of the Palestinian population? Perhaps. Will the world still continue to watch? And when will the war end? 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself warned of elimination of  Gaza residents when he referred to the Biblical "Amalek" while speaking of Israel’s war on Gaza, soon after October 7. The people of Amalek mentioned in the Bible were to be destroyed by God’s chosen people.  "Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy all that belongs to them. Do not spare them, put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys.’’ 

Israel’s response to the latest firing is that soldiers felt that the "mob" looked threatening and soldiers fired back in self-defence. CNN quoted an Israeli official saying, "The crowd approached the forces in a manner that posed a threat to the troops, who responded to the threat with live fire. The incident is under review." It is shocking that soldiers could mistake starving Palestinians rushing for food as threatening. Well there will be video clips from Israel’s propaganda team to counter the bad publicity from this incident. The truck drivers are already being blamed for ploughing into the crowd in panic after soldiers opened fire. Many apologists for Israel perhaps will be convinced.

US President Joe Biden has been hinting at a grand peace plan that would soon be unveiled. In an interview with late night show host Seth Meyers, aired Monday, Biden said the time for a peace plan is now. "But here's the deal. They also have to take advantage of an opportunity to have peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians who are being used as pawns by Hamas," he said. "I think if we get that  temporary cease-fire, we're going to be able to move in a direction where we can change the dynamic" to have a two-state solution to guarantee Israel's security and independence of the Palestinians. He hoped a ceasefire would be worked out by March 4 once the decision to free the hostages was taken by Hamas.

Secretary of state Antony Blinken has been working behind the scenes for months, consulting all key Arab states as well as Turkey. Saudi Arabia, the most influential country in the region, is on board with the American initiative. Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman who before the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas, was readying to normalise relations with the Jewish state, is on board. So is UAE, Qatar and the smaller Arab states. Yet so far there has been no word from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who presides over an extreme right-wing religious coalition. 

The broad contours of the US peace plan, according to bits and pieces  gathered from various statements of US leaders, is first the release of all remaining Israeli hostages by Hamas for a ceasefire to be in place. If the ceasefire lasts, permanent peace arrangements will be negotiated. Much of the background work has been done. It will be based on the two nation solution where Israel and a Palestinian state will co-exist in peace. The West Bank and the Gaza Strip will be joined to form one contiguous Palestinian state. The Arab countries will give security assurances to Israel to ensure that another terror attack will not occur. This will be done by ensuring that Palestinian militants, either Hamas or any other outfit that could replace it, will not be allowed to flourish in Palestinian soil.

It will be a huge responsibility for the regional players to keep a tight watch on Palestine and these nations will collaborate with the Palestinian government to see that militants cannot gather arms or train or plan attacks against the Jewish state. The Arab neighbours will help to rebuild Palestinian Authority so that it would be in a position to govern Gaza more effectively.

Later, if the peace arrangement works, an election would be held and whichever party emerges will rule both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These are the broad contours of the peace plan but there could be tweaks here and there as negotiations proceed. So far Israel has not agreed to either a ceasefire or talks. It is demanding the unconditional release of all hostages and had vowed to continue the war till Hamas is completely wiped out from the face of the earth.

It will be up to the Americans to ensure that Israel agrees to the peace plan. Biden who faces an election later this year is slipping in the polls. Young voters as also African-Americans, the two groups that propelled Biden to victory last time, are critical of his inability to stop the carnage in Gaza. The President needs to do something to win back their trust, a ceasefire and a peace plan that is acceptable to both sides can turn the scales for the President. What finally happens is difficult to say but the Biden team will need to take a tough stand for Netanyahu to come around.

Israel’s war on Gaza has divided the world. While the US and its Western allies have remained rock solid in their support for Israel, most of the developing world have sided with the plight of the people of Gaza, not necessarily Hamas. India too while condemning the attack by Hamas had repeatedly called for a two-state solution to resolve the Palestine issue. South Africa has taken the lead in taking Israel before the International Court of Justice. China and Russia have consistently shown their support for the people of Gaza. But America remains the principal player in the region, despite inroads by China and Russia. Without US support, no peace plan will work as the persistent effort to get a ceasefire in Gaza had been vetoed in the UN Security Council.

Advertisement

At the moment with the resignation of Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh of the unpopular Palestine Authority, efforts are on to unite the various Palestinian groups. Talks are being held in Moscow. Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov is urging  Palestinian factions to unite for the sake of the greater good of Palestinians. Talks are on between Fatah and Hamas, the two groups had fought a bitter war that resulted in the expulsion of Fatah owning allegiance to President Mohammed Abbas being thrown out of the Gaza strip.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement