The Guardian • Issue #2098

Netanyahu promises to continue the genocide

Netanyahu: “the idea that we will stop the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question.”

Netanyahu: “the idea that we will stop the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question.” Photo: National Photo Collection of Israel, Government Press Office. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

As the Guardian goes to press, the ground invasion of Rafah has begun.

The fate of the Palestinian people in Gaza and in the West Bank remains in the balance. Much has been said and written about a ceasefire, about hostage deals, about allowing more aid into Gaza, but Israel has coldly and cruelly promised to continue their assault on the people, regardless of any negotiations. For Israel, only the decimation of the Palestinian people will be enough.

The United States and its client state, Israel, are increasingly isolated. The overwhelming majority of United Nations member states support the establishment of a Palestinian state and have overwhelmingly indicated that a state would be recognised. The US is the only obstacle to that most significant step forward. Netanyahu proposed a ceasefire deal but immediately declared that regardless of Hamas agreeing to or rejecting any such deal, his regime would continue its assault and ground invasion of Rafah.

The ‘deal’ put forward by Israel allows for a 40-day pause in their offensive. It also permits further aid, and the release of numbers of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails in exchange for those Israelis held by Hamas in Gaza. Israel regularly takes hostages, but calls them prisoners. The US, along with its few but increasingly vocal supporters in the West, immediately labelled Netanyahu’s proposal “very generous.” It is an odd view of generosity that condemns Palestinians to an almost inevitable bloodbath after 40 very short days!

For their part, Hamas seeks a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of Israeli troops, release of prisoners, and a return of displaced Palestinians to their homes. None of these demands can be seen as unreasonable or unrealistic. A permanent ceasefire has been the demand of millions of people around the world, as well as the majority of states. A ceasefire, of course, is essential, but does not, of itself, signify an end to the torment of the people.

DELIBERATE SABOTAGE

Netanyahu’s cabinet, like his country is divided. His response to Palestine, to the suffering of Gaza and to the future has been unequivocal. He made his position especially clear when he said that “the idea that we will stop the war before achieving all of its goals is out of the question … We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate Hamas’ battalions there – with or without a deal, to achieve the total victory.”

Netanyahu’s pledge to “eliminate” Hamas and to achieve final and “total” victory can only be seen as a deliberate act of sabotage. The extreme right in Israel want Gaza cleared and for settlers to occupy the land. They also want the West Bank to be ethnically cleansed.

What the extremists in Netanyahu’s government want is to build settlements on the bones of the people of Gaza. There are reports of attacks on aid trucks from these same potential ‘settlers.’ According to the United Nations, it will take 14 years to clear the rubble and get rid of the unexploded bombs Israel has dropped. It will cost at least $40 billion to repair the damage. The destruction is on a level not seen since WW2.

There was a quick response to Netanyahu’s statement. Upon hearing the pledge that Israeli troops would roll into Rafah, regardless of any efforts at diplomacy, and with such horrific consequences, a Hamas spokesperson, Osama Hamdan, declared that “our position on the current negotiating paper is negative.” This was immediately followed by a statement from the Hamas press office indicating that no decision, either to accept or reject Israel’s proposal had been made and that they remained hopeful.

Israel, in response to the fact that Hamas was still prepared to negotiate, reacted by bombing a Syrian security building on the outskirts of Damascus. This cannot be seen in isolation from what is happening in Gaza.

BIDEN ENABLES GENOCIDE

For their part, the United States continues to send more and more military hardware worth billions of dollars to Israel in order to facilitate the genocide. As they ship weapons, and approve more aid, the president and his secretary of state make ‘heartfelt’ calls to Israel not to engage in a full-scale ground assault on Rafah and to ensure that civilian lives are protected.

Biden and Blinken have the capacity to end the bloodshed. They have the capacity to ensure a state for the Palestinian people. Instead, they choose to support genocide even while shedding crocodile tears over the graves of the victims.

Israel’s objectives are clear. Gaza is but one step in achieving an apocalyptic vision of a ‘Greater Israel’ free of Palestinians. The people of the West Bank, already victims of apartheid rule know that if Israel realises these dreams, then their future will be the same as their brothers and sisters in Gaza.

The United States and its allies look on, or rather, look the other way.

CHINA CONSTRUCTIVE

All of this makes a recent meeting in Beijing rather significant. Delegations from Fatah (the largest faction in the PLO and a central player in the Palestinian Authority which is the effective leadership of the state of Palestine) and of Hamas, accepted an invitation to travel to China to discuss possible resolutions to their differences. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Lin Jian, addressing a press conference at the conclusion of these talks said that “the two sides fully expressed their political will of realising reconciliation through dialogue and consultation, had discussions on many specific issues, and made encouraging progress. They agreed to continue this dialogue process so as to achieve Palestinian solidarity and unity at an early date.”

It’s early days, but the willingness of the factions to come together and to seek a way to unity and to promote a shared vision of a national state is important. Securing the territory that already exists for that state is another question.

The state of Palestine is recognised already. It has representations across the globe. It speaks reasonably, rationally and realistically about the issues before it and of the just cause of its people.

Izzat Abdulhadi, the Palestinian Ambassador to Australia expressed the desires of his people in a recent interview, published in the Guardian (29th April). He spoke of the bilateral negotiations between the PLO and Israel in 1993 that were intended to pave the way to a two-state solution. Despite Israel’s aggression, the Ambassador reaffirmed Palestine’s commitment to that goal, saying that “the PLO strongly believes that a one-state solution is no solution,” but that Israel by word and deed is promoting the idea of a one-state solution. He also observed that Israel cannot claim that it is democratic while maintaining an apartheid regime.

Whether a ceasefire is accepted or not is hardly the issue, despite the posturing of some Western states. As long as Israel denies the Palestinian people a state, there will be occupation and resistance. There will be many more deaths.

What happens next will shape the region and beyond for decades to come. Israel sees only one way out. That path leads to incalculable destruction and genocide. It is aided and abetted in this by the USA, Australia, and a shrinking coterie of regimes. Against this backward and reactionary group stands the vast majority of the people and governments on the planet.

Palestine’s cause is just. It represents a step forward and with its statehood, with its liberation, comes not simply a defeat of Israel’s reactionary policies, but a defeat for imperialism.

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