Middle-east is up in flames again. Israel has been bombing the living daylights out of Gaza for nearly 10 days now. Palestine (read Hamas) on its part has kept launching missiles into Israel for a lot more than ten days.
Now I am not someone who lives in the middle-east.I am someone who lives in a country that has an equally hostile neighbour who is more inclined to have a war rather than recognize the terrorists present on its soil, let alone take action on it. But let us come back to the present situation in Gaza.
For the last 9 days, I have heard messages(via TV and newspapers) from a lot of Israeli leaders and a lot of Palestinian leaders, even some Hamas leaders. A lot of these have been focused around two statements.
1. A disproportionate use of force by Israel.
2. Attacks will not stop till rocket fire stops from Gaza.
I am not going to discuss either of these. If you want that, go watch CNN/BBC and you will find leaders and citizens on both sides doing the same.
What I make out from all those discussions is, neither side wants peace. So in such a situation, how does one broker peace?
To have peace, there needs to be a dialog between Israelis and Hamas. That brings up the first question. Accountability. Israel and its government are open to the international community. The international community can put all the pressure it wants on Israel, but who talks to the terrorists? Palestine currently is ruled by the Fatah party, but Gaza has been overpowered by the more radical Hamas. Who makes sure that Hamas will do what it promises on a negotiating table? I mean, would you believe the word of an organization that fires rockets aimed at civilians, and then hides behind civilians when the army comes knocking?
This is probably an issue we cannot get around. For the last 60 years, there is little trust between the Israelis and the other middle-eastern countries. This mistrust is not going to vanish overnight.
Here is a solution I propose. Let Israel immediately stop all attacks on Gaza and show that it is the more responsible of the two parties. In addition to this, let Israel open the borders leading in to Gaza to let humanitarian aid, food and medicines to get in. This should “ideally” be followed by Hamas stopping rocket attacks on Israel. If Hamas is really so worried about people of Gaza, let it show that it is equally committed to maintaining a state of peace so that life is restored to normalcy for normal citizens.
Just to make sure each side is sticking to its commitments, let there be teams made of Arabs and Israelis watching over both sides. This should make sure there are enough independent observers to ensure all remains well.
If this works, all will be happy. In theory it will.
In practice, there are loads of questions for this experiment. Below are some of them:
1. Accountability – Can a terrorist organization like Hamas be trusted to stop being itself?
2. What if this doesn’t work? What if Hamas fires a couple of rockets? Should Israel have the right to start the military offensive again.
3. How does one make sure this cease fire brings a lasting resolution and not just a small period of calm?
All I hope is that Israel ends this offensive very soon. For sake of all those civilians who are holed up in Gaza. Israel is doing this for its citizens who live under a threat of rockets from Gaza. Let it not create a similar circumstance of those living in Gaza.
Peace. That is all the middle-east region needs.