The Week (US)
A cease-fire in Israel and Gaza, but no peace
Israelis and Palestinians began repairing the damage and considering the path forward this week, after 11 days of fighting ended in a cease-fire that few expected would lead to lasting peace. The worst violence in Gaza since 2014 killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, according to Palestinian health officials. Hamas fired more than 4,300 rockets— most of them intercepted by Iron Dome defense missiles—and killed a dozen Israelis, including two children. Israeli airstrikes left Gaza severely damaged, with hundreds of buildings destroyed, 17 hospitals and scores of schools damaged, and hundreds of thousands cut off from electricity and clean water. Israeli officials said more than 200 Hamas militants had been killed and more than 60 miles of Hamas’ underground tunnel network destroyed. But Israeli hawks and many residents said the ceasefire came too soon. “The mission wasn’t completed,” said Michal Kutzuker, a mother of four in Ashkelon. “Nothing has changed.” Many Palestinians claimed victory, but they face a humanitarian crisis and no change to the Israeli blockade, settlement policy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, or other conditions. “We live in death every day as long as there is an occupation,” said Ramez al-Masri, whose Gaza home was reduced to a crater.
In hopes of firming up the cease-fire, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made his first Middle East trip and met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He pledged that the U.S. would reopen its consulate in Jerusalem and otherwise restore diplomatic ties with the Palestinians that were severed under President Trump. The U.S. is committed “to rebuilding the relationship with the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian people,” he said. President Biden played down divisions over Israel within the Democratic Party and said, “There is no shift in my commitment to the security of Israel. Period.”
What the editorials said
The bloodshed has ended for now, “but the hard work of resolving the Palestinian issue remains,” said USA Today. The “bitterness and hatred” that led to the violence has been stoked by Jewish settlers’ “steady encroachment” into the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a provocative Israeli police raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and “a Palestinian leadership unable or unwilling to negotiate peace.” President Biden has his hands full on both foreign and domestic issues, but “as leader of the one world power with the clout to be an honest broker of peace,” he must try to spark new negotiations.
“Israel has a right—even a responsibility— to put a stop to rocket attacks at their source,” said The New York Times. But its intractable conflict with the Palestinians “cannot be bombed away.” It is in no one’s interest, including Israel’s, for another generation of Palestinians to grow up in misery and under blockade and periodic bombardment, which only strengthens the grip of Hamas’ radical leaders. Both Israel and the Palestinians have given up on a two-state solution, but there is no viable alternative, and Biden should seek to revive it.
What the columnists said
“Cease-fires and agreements with Hamas are worthless,” said Amir Avivi in WashingtonExaminer.com. The only way forward for Israel is to put the terrorist group’s leaders “within the crosshairs.” They’ve “held the people of Gaza and Israel hostage for 15 years,” committing the “double war crime” of targeting Israeli civilians while using their own people as cover.
“To focus on Hamas is to miss the point,” said Basma Ghalayini in The New York Times. For Israel and its defenders, Hamas is “the perfect hook on which to hang all blame.” But no Palestinian government would accept Palestinians being driven from their homes in East Jerusalem. The conflict isn’t about Hamas, it’s “about the Israeli occupation.” And we Palestinians “are in this together.”
This fragile peace will not last, said Ishaan Tharoor in The Washington Post. Israeli police abuses and “far-right vigilantes marching through Jerusalem” have stoked a fire among Palestinians that won’t be put out easily. More “angry resistance” is in store, and it won’t be limited to Gaza. “Pragmatic moderates” no longer have any sway either in Israel or among the increasingly radicalized Palestinians. After these bloody two weeks, “there may be no going back.”