David Aaranovitch writes a somewhat balanced editorial in today’s Times, pointing out the idiocy of Israeli foreign policy in all this:
The historian Tom Segev, writing in the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, yesterday reminded readers that â€œall of Israelâ€™s wars have been based on yet another assumption that has been with us from the start: that we are only defending ourselvesâ€, but that â€œno military operation has ever advanced dialogue with the Palestiniansâ€. He wasnâ€™t saying that Israel hadnâ€™t the right to stop the rockets from being fired from Gaza, but that it would get the larger process precisely nowhere.
Adamant though I am about the need to combat Islamist violence, it is hard not to see Western and Israeli policy towards Gaza since Israelâ€™s unilateral withdrawal in 2005 as one huge strategic error. There was the refusal to deal with the Hamas Government elected in January 2006, the siding with Fatah in the subsequent internal dispute, the imposition of an effective blockade on Gaza that amounted to collective punishment. The capacity of Hamas to govern, or fail to govern, in the eyes of the Palestinians was thus never tested.
In some ways this policy towards Hamas, though wrong, was understandable. But the failure of Israel to proceed in any substantial way with easing the conditions for Palestinians on the Fatah-controlled West Bank, or the commencement of a policy of dismantling West Bank settlements before an agreement, meant that no encouragement was given to the opponents of Hamas either.
Well, he’s being generous, but the last paragraph is spot on.
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Filed in: Middle East