Sam Menassa

‘Flood of Peace’ 

One month after the Al-Aqsa Flood operation, we can say that its objectives go beyond undercutting Israel’s security, standing up to its arrogance, and dealing a blow to the prestige of its so-called invincible army.

It would be misguided to underestimate the political gains made by those who implemented, planned, and oversaw this operation, whether Hamas acted alone, or the Resistance Axis worked on the operation collectively. Seen from the perspective of the doctrine, convictions, and goals of this Axis, the operation was a distinct political achievement, despite all the atrocities against civilians, whether committed by Hamas or Israel’s indescribable wanton assault.

Israel and its current government, despite pillars of the opposition joining the small wartime cabinet, will find itself faced with a predicament. Preempting those who claim that what is unfolding in Gaza could eliminate the Hamas movement or contain its activities, we reply: what happens after the elimination of Hamas, assuming that this is possible?

The killing machine cannot achieve its desired objectives without a clear political project other than targeting Hamas. Indeed, this approach poses risks that undermine Israel's goal of maintaining its security and ensuring its people's safety. The reactions to the civilian casualties falling in Gaza from countries that back Israel demonstrate that discontent is brewing, and this discontent could potentially force these countries to reconsider their unwavering support for Tel Aviv.

The waning of support is also evident from the global consensus on the need to open the Rafah crossing to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza, as well as the diplomatic calls for a humanitarian ceasefire. It comes as no surprise to see calls for peace after any military operation that results in civilian casualties, even less so when thousands have been killed within just a few weeks.

This growing discontent was also highlighted by the fact that 120 countries, including eight European nations, voted in favor of the United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire on humanitarian grounds, as well as the governments of Ireland and Spain openly calling for Israel’s actions in Gaza to be recognized as war crimes.

Moreover, Israel's ongoing wanton assault could give rise to a public outcry in several Arab countries. Jordan was the first to take a first step in response to public fury, suspending its diplomatic ties with Israel, and Bahrain followed.

If the situation in Gaza continues to deteriorate, both militarily and from a humanitarian perspective, new fronts could be opened in Lebanon and Syria, with the support of Yemeni and Iraqi militias in Iran’s orbit. Despite the mixed signals of Hassan Nasrallah’s latest address, which demonstrated that Iran is keen on stressing the Palestinian nature of the conflict and labeled the front in Lebanon a supportive front, this remains a real risk.

The October 7 operation underscores the fact that the conflict between the peace and resistance camps in the region goes beyond Palestine and its people. The resistance camp is fueling a clash of civilizations between the West and the Islamic world, leveraging the suffering we are all witnessing to bolster anti-Western forces. Another objective is undermining the efforts of the moderate Arab states to pursue peace, resolve the conflict, develop economically, and take a more open and comfortable approach to international relations, by dragging the peace camp to a place it wants to avoid.

At its core, the conflict is about the Resistance Axis' desire to control and dominate the region, as well as to spread its principles, beliefs, and ideas, by changing social norms and theologizing politics and every facet of life. The Muslim world was held responsible for the terrorist attack of Al-Qaeda on 9/11, and in October, Israel held the Palestinians responsible for the Hamas operation.

Four weeks into this war of revenge, old calls and mantras advocating resistance are reverberating across the Arab world. The drive for war and martyrdom has been growing among the public, and only in a few Arab capitals was this feverish atmosphere not palpable. Alarmingly, the ideals and perspectives of this Axis are aligned with those of the extreme Israeli right, making any solution beyond limited and temporary agreements impossible. These stop-gap accords cyclically breed new conflicts and tragedies, with civilians invariably being the first to pay the price.

Most of the solutions being proposed are reiterations of previous proposals, half-hearted measures put forward because of diplomatic inertia. While the discourse predominantly centers on the two-state solution, the key stakeholders are the primary obstacles: Hamas wants to obliterate Israel, and the Israeli right wants nothing more than to expel Palestinians and annex their territory.

Nothing can put an end to the tragedies, massacres, and political and security risks of the shift precipitated by the Al-Aqsa Flood, but a more significant step that creates an unprecedented breakthrough - a "Flood of Peace" that breaks the barriers and overcomes obstacles hindering moderate forces in Israel from taking serious and firm steps to recognize that there can be no peace without the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state on the lands of Palestine.

This pivotal breakthrough has well-known pillars: sensible figures in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, the US administration, and the European Union. As for the driving force behind this shift, it is the Arab states with major stakes in ensuring this historic settlement.

The countries that can make this push are Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan. They have a responsibility to craft an initiative that transcends the current narratives – a plan that goes beyond the Arab Peace Initiative, the Oslo Accords, and the Deal of the Century. The leaders of these nations must collectively present their initiative to the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and then, with the backing of the US, perhaps to Jerusalem itself.

These countries need this kind of strategic move, as it puts the Israelis before a new different state of affairs, giving them a way out of this seemingly perpetual cycle of violence and offering a clear framework for negotiations that ultimately give rise to the two-state solution.

While some argue that emotions are too raw and the timing isn't ideal, others contend that the moment is ripe for change precisely because of this extreme sense of urgency. This initiative could rescue countless innocent civilians from the turmoil we are seeing. Now is the time to capitalize on the global push for a political resolution, and crucially, to take the Palestinian cause, which affords Tehran a strategic Trojan horse, from Iran's grasp.

The question of timing remains. Indeed, for this initiative to move forward, a new Israeli government that excludes Benjamin Netanyahu and the hardline right-wing leaders must first be formed. They have obstructed the path to peace, and all the opinion polls in Israel suggest the public holds the current administration responsible for what happened and wants to see its resignation. The nations supportive of Israel are eagerly awaiting this change.

Alongside the crucial matter of timing, courage is needed. Without it, the chronic stagnation and resurfacing of failed frameworks will not end. It is pivotal that we leverage current diplomatic efforts to fuel the "Flood of Peace" that we seek.

The Resistance Axis certainly won’t vanish overnight. Nonetheless, a balanced, realistic, and fair resolution to the Palestinian question would mark a groundbreaking shift and reshape regional dynamics, inevitably weakening Iran's influence and that of its regional and global allies.