Dr. Nassif Hitti

Gaza War and Challenges to the Needed Solution

The Gaza War - or Israel's genocidal war on Gaza - has been raging for three months now. The intensity of this war and the range of ways it could develop have brought the Palestinian question back to the forefront of pressing regional issues, and has thus had ramifications for the region and the interests of regional and international actors. Palestine is back on top of the agenda after a long absence that extended for many years and was only interrupted by statements made on occasion, with no policies reflecting these positions on the ground.
On the one hand, it was neglected due to the other pressing issues, such as the direct or proxy conflicts of the region, which have been mitigated or contained, perhaps temporarily, and on the other, through the management of the status quo of deadly stagnation in Palestine. One of this stagnation’s main causes was that the Palestinians did not “have their house in order, leaving them without effective policies and therefore incapable of making the Palestinian question a regional priority again, neither on the ground nor in diplomatic corridors.
Israel, which has set a high bar for this war, has become a prisoner of the goals or slogans it had raised. These aspirations reflect the vision, goals, and convictions of the hard right, both political and religious, which dominated Israeli politics. This is most evident in Israeli’s discourse, which consistently treats Palestinian national territory like no-go zones within the Greater Israel being established, or as security threats to Israel, thereby justifying Israeli hegemony or security oversight over them. The question facing the Israeli authorities, following the impasse we are seeing today, is how to exit the “Gaza quagmire” with minimal cost and achieve its objective, even if it has to take a gradual approach to achieve guaranteed results rather than impossible objectives.
Various proposals are being raised, discussed, and tinkered with to achieve a gradual ceasefire, since Israel sees a ceasefire as a defeat. The path being discussed is based on confidence-building measures and adherence to mutual commitments (especially regarding prisoners). The Israelis speak of repeated or open truces, not a ceasefire. Indeed, given their objectives, from the Israeli perspective, accepting a ceasefire would be an acknowledgment of its failure to completely eliminate Hamas, a goal that the global consensus and Israel's supporters agree is beyond reach.


The quandary that the declared and explicit objectives that Israel has set for its campaign in the Gaza Strip, and its failure to achieve them, will perpetuate the war and expand geographically indefinitely, in various forms and degrees, particularly in the West Bank and southern Lebanon. In response, there is the “unity of fronts” strategy formulated by Iran and its allies, which includes a “game of exchanging messages” of divergent intensity across the theater of confrontation (from the Red Sea and the Houthis to the Mediterranean Sea, Iraq, and Syria) that serve various objectives. We have begun hearing discussions or insinuations of establishing a buffer or safe zone in northern Gaza as a temporary solution. In reality, however, this buffer could become permanent, intended to allow Israel an “exit ramp” that allows it to break with the ambitious objectives it has set and end the war. In the same context, Israel has also announced that forced displacement (although it is impossible) is an objective. Then, we heard talk of voluntary displacement intended to leave the Sector without people.
With regard to South Lebanon, as long as the Israeli war continues and there is no ceasefire on the Gaza front, and the risks of escalation remain, amid the current skirmishes that have so far been “regulated by” or “confined within” the existing rules of engagement and the balances governing military operations there since 2006. The cessation of hostilities on the southern Lebanese front is directly linked to the cessation of hostilities in Gaza, as well as the establishment of new rules of engagement despite the high-ceiling goals set by Israel in this regard. These goals ultimately remain negotiating positions regarding these rules, as past experiences since the April 1996 Understanding have shown.
However, reaching a ceasefire in Gaza and reinforcing it through pacifying measures in the West Bank would only allow for an extended truce, which would remain fragile so long as Israel’s policies in the occupied territories remain in force. On the one hand, these policies intended to make a “two-state solution” impossible, and on the other hand, they aim to establish a regime based on the South African model of the past, i.e. on apartheid.
The call for a two-state solution, which is grounded in UN Resolutions and advocated by Western countries, especially the United States, does not suffice so long as these countries have not formulated a firm and clear stance on how to stop the demographic and demographic Judaization policies actively pursued by Israeli, which undermine the foundations of the solution being pursued. We are facing a historic moment for ending this conflict. Major global powers, as well as the United Nations, have a responsibility to take the correct position.
Their position should be founded on what is known as reversed engineering negotiations. The first step is to recognize the State of Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, with East Jerusalem as its capital. They must also make a clear commitment to the ultimate goal of the negotiations (a two-state solution). The negotiations, overseen and accompanied by an international body (influential powers) and the United Nations, will be launched premised on this commitment, as well as the relevant UN Resolutions, and it must have a clearly defined timeline.
Of course, there remains a fundamental challenge that cannot be postponed and must be faced and dealt with successfully. The Palestinians must get their house in order, starting with the integration of Hamas and Islamic Jihad into the Palestine Liberation Organization, revamping the Palestinian Authority, and holding legislative and national elections when circumstances allow for them.