16 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY OCTOBER 19-25, 2023 www.montereycountyweekly.com Conflict Zone Hamas’ attack on Israel shatters Netanyahu’s claim that peace is possible without the Palestinians. By Meron Rapoport FORUM The events of recent days are unprecedented. The last time units of Jewish and Palestinian fighters went to battle on such a broad front in Israel-Palestine was 1948. This murderous and inhumane attack by Hamas arrived just as it seemed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was about to complete his masterpiece: peace with the Arab world while completely ignoring the Palestinians. This attack has reminded Israelis and the world that the Palestinians are still here, and that the century-old conflict here involves them, not the Emiratis or the Saudis. In his speech at the UN General Assembly three weeks ago, Netanyahu presented a map of “The New Middle East,” depicting the State of Israel stretching from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, building a “corridor of peace and prosperity” with neighbors across the region. A Palestinian state, or even the collection of shrunken enclaves the Palestinian Authority ostensibly controls, does not appear on the map. Since he was first elected in 1996, Netanyahu has tried to avoid any negotiations with the Palestinian leadership, instead choosing to bypass it and push it aside. Israel does not need peace with the Palestinians to prosper, Netanyahu repeatedly claimed; its military, economic, and political strength is sufficient without it. “For the past 25 years, we have been told repeatedly that peace with other Arab countries will only come after we resolve the conflict with the Palestinians,” Netanyahu wrote in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2022. “Contrary to the prevailing position, I believe that the road to peace does not go through Ramallah, but bypasses it: Instead of the Palestinian tail wagging the Arab world, I argued that peace should begin with Arab countries, which would isolate Palestinian obstinacy.” Last weekend, the fence between Israel and Gaza was torn down, and with it the broader Netanyahu doctrine—adopted by the Americans and many Arab states—that it is possible to make peace in the Middle East without the Palestinians. The idea that they can be bypassed via Riyadh or Abu Dhabi, or that the 2 million Palestinians imprisoned in Gaza will disappear if Israel builds a sufficiently elaborate fence, is an illusion that is now being shattered at a terrible human cost. This is not necessarily good news. It is impossible not to define the actions of Hamas as war crimes: the massacre and kidnapping of civilians, the murder of entire families in their homes—all of these violate the laws of war. And yet, beyond the moral judgments, the attack by Hamas has brought all of us back to reality, reminding us that the conflict began here, in 1948, and that no magic cure can make it disappear. It is possible that from the trauma of the past weeks will grow the idea that the conflict must be resolved on the basis of freedom, national and civic equality, and the end of the siege and occupation. Meron Rapoport is an editor at Local Call, where this story was published in Hebrew. It originally appeared in English in 972 Magazine. OPINION An illusion is being shattered at terrible human cost. PRESENTED BY