The four-day truce is here, and every sane person in this world is welcoming it. Equally welcome is the exchange of hostages for prisoners. From what we hear, humanitarian aid has started to arrive in Gaza. All this is great news, but the question is: what happens after the four-day pause?
Is Israel going to start killing Palestinians again? Are the children going to be killed again in the thousands in Gaza? Will the hospitals be bombed again? Ambulances attacked? Doctors arrested? If this is going to be the case, then what really did the mediation and talks achieve?
Surely the world cannot permit such large-scale murder and destruction to happen with impunity. We cannot call ourselves civilised and then let this genocide happen. A permanent ceasefire should be the next goal, and that goal has to be achieved before the four-day truce expires.
But the question we have to ask ourselves is: can we go back to the status quo after the tremendous human suffering we have recently witnessed? A mere cease-fire is definitely not enough. What is needed is a permanent solution to this conflict. A permanent solution to a war cannot be achieved unless the real reason for the conflict is addressed and a solution is found.
Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian lands is the core problem in this conflict. Justice in this issue is a free Palestinian state. Israelis and Palestinians should accept the fact that they have to live together in that region, if not in one country that assures equal rights to all, then in two different states with equal rights and mutual respect. Any sane person with even a notional knowledge of the issue will know that the former is a pipe dream. That leaves the world with just one way out of this quagmire: a two-state solution.
Saudi Arabia has called for renewed efforts on the part of the international community for the fulfilment of a two-state solution. Officially, at least, the US and her allies favour such a solution. In fact, most of the countries are in favour of a two-state solution.
The two-state solution envisions an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel based on 1967 lines. Obviously, some land swaps will be required before finalising the borders of Palestine and Israel. But what is non-negotiable for Palestinians is the status of East Jerusalem as their capital city.
Israelis should understand that their best guarantee of security and peace is the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. There is simply no militaristic solution to this conflict; there is only a political one. When a person has nothing to lose, they will go to any extent to achieve their goal. In such a state, what kind of tactics they will be willing to adopt will be impossible to predict, and in such a scenario, no military force will be able to protect their adversaries from getting hurt. This fact was convincingly proved by the operation of Hamas on October 7. A two-state solution will benefit Israelis more than anyone else. But for this to be a reality, Israelis should stop electing right-wing hotheads like Netanyahu as their leaders.
Israel seems to be oblivious to the fact that world opinion is changing. This has been obvious to anyone who has watched the reactions of states, leaders, and common citizens around the world to the latest escalation in Palestine. Yes, the US and Western leadership still back Israel to the hilt. But Arab leadership has refused to blame Hamas for the latest escalation and has unitedly called for a just solution to the conflict. Even European states like Ireland have unambiguously faulted Israel for the violence. While Russia and Turkey have staunchly backed Palestine, China has refused to blame Hamas. Wholehearted support for the Palestinian cause from Africa and Latin America has been heartening for everyone who values justice.
But what should be especially worrying for the Zionists is the multitude of people who have come out in support of Palestine around the world. Even when the leaders of certain nations were shamelessly parroting the Zionist narrative, the commoners of these nations became very vocal about their support for Palestine. Even celebrities, despite the threat of their support negatively impacting their profession, are seen openly supporting Palestine. Orthodox Jewish Rabbis and their followers are denouncing Zionists openly. Their huge rally in support of Palestine in the city of New York was truly an eye-opener. The point being made here is that Israel is losing support across the world, and this puts them in a very precarious situation. For their own good, they should start contemplating a two-state solution.
Hamas indicated in 2017 that they were willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Fatah has long supported the two-state solution. In other words, the only impediment to the implementation of two-state solutions is actually Israel and her backers.
If the international community is genuinely interested in bringing peace to the Middle East, then it should find ways to pressure Israel into accepting this solution. If the world fails to do so, alternatives could be very dangerous. There is no guarantee that this conflict will be confined to Palestinian lands or that it will remain regional at all. If the war persists, then its ramifications will be felt around the world, and those ramifications will not always be peaceful.
Shakeel Mohammed is a social activist based in Kochi. He is a Trustee of Manav Migrant Welfare Foundation.