What is most urgently needed in the context of the Gaza conflict today?
Firstly, of course we need ceasefire which is durable, not temporary. Secondly, such conditions of durable safety should be created in which all people can return to their homes safely and this should be accompanied by a very large-scale rehabilitation and reconstruction effort, relating to homes as well as all essential infrastructure, an effort that should be completely free from corruption and should prioritize the real needs of people. Thirdly, all hostages of Israel should be released and most Palestinian prisoners should also be released. Fourthly, the various aggressions in the West Bank part of Palestine too should stop. Last but not the least, all this should be done in conditions where there is minimal chance of re-eruption of hostilities, or else all achievements will be undone all too soon.
For this to be achieved, it is very important to have mutual trust on both sides and there should be almost complete transparency in the peace process. Hence the way ahead should be based on transparency, peace and trust (TPT). TPT should move ahead with commitment to a two-state solution.
To move ahead forces of TPT on both sides should be strengthened, while those that stand for continuing, almost endless aggression should be weakened.
On the Israeli side it is very important to oust Prime Minister Netanyahu and those of his colleagues who are committed to a policy of extreme aggression and displacement of a large number of Palestinians. With this kind of agenda being pursued by the more powerful side any durable peace with justice is just not possible. Hence peace should be pursued along with transparent, democratic methods for the removal of Netanyahu and the most aggressive elements from all positions of power because of the various illegal and highly aggressive acts committed by them. There should be a very big international peace campaign for this, to help local democratic efforts. Once a government more committed to peace is in place, it should form a peace committee of those eminent citizens of Israel who have been most firmly committed to peaceful solutions in the past.
Similarly on the side of the people of Gaza, local and international peace efforts should collaborate to create a committee of about 25 or so eminent citizens of Gaza known for their commitment to peace and for their well-established integrity. It is this committee which should negotiate for peace. This should also eventually become a permanent committee and regardless of who is elected in the next elections in Gaza, this committee should continue to have a leading continuing role as far as peace efforts in relation to Israel are concerned.
The UN should form a peace committee to bring together these two peace committees of Palestine and Israel and provide all support and strength to the peace efforts.
This entire process can be strengthened by a detailed and impartial investigation of the October 7 attack to probe the very high possibility that at least a section of the top Israeli authorities had advance knowledge of the attack but allowed it to go ahead, even left the border less secure on that particular day (with forces down to almost half their size and a cultural event close to the border given an extended permission in very insecure conditions) so that an attack on Israel could provide the justification for a much bigger and disproportionate assault to create an existential threat for the people of Gaza.
It will be impossible for the Netanyahu regime, with all its previous and known misdeeds and illegalities, to survive if it can be shown convincingly that the October 7 attack was allowed to happen despite knowledge of this (along with pre-existing knowledge of the facilitation of support for the Hamas by Netanyahu etc. for years).
However even those academics who understand that two-state and justice-based peace solutions are almost impossible to achieve as long as Netanyahu is in command are reluctant to take up this issue, which has been raised by voices within Israel as well, because of their training and caution.
At the same time, those who support Hamas to the extent of glorifying it are reluctant to take up this investigation further because once the entire truth about the October 7 attack and the earlier facilitation of support for Hamas by Netanyahu etc. is known, then it will be very difficult to justify any glorification of Hamas.
However it is important for all forces of peace-with justice solutions to realize that as long forces of aggression dominate on both sides, it is just not possible to achieve peace or make any progress on the TPT path. TPT can be taken forward only with greater unity of forces of peace-with-justice of Israel, Palestine and the rest of the world (with special emphasis on neighboring countries and western countries) with the help of the UN and the UNRWA. We should also never forget the wider reality that the entire world is close to an existential crisis caused by environmental factors and weapons of mass destruction and this region in particular is highly vulnerable to this crisis, for example to climate change. Hence to advance on the path of TPT (including two-state solution but adding further several more justice, peace and environmental issues) is of the greatest importance for Israel and Palestine. This is possible only with much greater support from the worldwide peace movement and the United Nations, with better understanding of what exactly is needed.
Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children, Earth without Borders, Man over Machine and A Day in 2071.