Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat :
Ghassan Charbel
Editor-in-Chief of Aswat Asharq Al-Awsatt newspaper

Aswat Asharq Al-Awsat : The Indispensable State 

Benjamin Netanyahu anxiously reads the reports about the International Criminal Count, the International Court of Justice and Spain, Ireland and Norway’s recognition of a Palestinian state. A total of 147 countries now recognize the State of Palestine. He tells himself: The flood of the state is more dangerous than the flood launched by al-Sinwar.

The security reports make him even more anxious. Israel has never been embroiled in eight months of war of attrition that has depleted its soldiers and tarnished its image and it appears to be incapable of deciding the battle in its favor. He also has to deal with the war launched by Hezbollah in southern Lebanon, some “messages” launched by Iraqi factions and the strikes by the Houthis against shipping in the Red Sea.

Netanyahu can kill more Palestinians, but he can’t put an end to the war. The invasion of Rafah will be costly and lead to a flood of calls for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. Even the United States that has always been generous with its support now believes that Israel will never enjoy security if the Palestinians don’t obtain their own state.

Netanyahu thinks that the Palestinians never believed in peace with Israel. He believes that Yasser Arafat, who shook hands with Yitzhak Rabin at the White House, was searching for a foothold in the Palestinian territories themselves from where to start expanding his state. He has long been convinced that “Palestinian state” was a long-term project aimed at uprooting the state of Israel.

That is why he spent the majority of his long term in power attempting to destroy everything that could act as a foundation for that state to become reality. He launched a large-scale settlement campaign to eat away at Palestinian territories. He used all means at his disposal to undermine the Palestinian Authority and prevent it from benefiting the legitimacy it enjoys in the world. He banked on the division between Fatah and Hamas and on bolstering Israel’s position in the region without needing to take the bitter pill of accepting a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu was not the sole blind warrior. Ariel Sharon never abandoned the dream of eliminating the Palestinians. He took advantage of the global upheaval after the September 11 attacks to besiege the headquarters of the Palestinian president as if he never forgave Arafat for leaving Beirut alive and returning to reside in Palestinian territories.

Netanyahu is aware that a ceasefire will be a blow against him. He knows this from the protests held by the families of the hostages and the calls for holding him to account and putting him on trial. So, he forges ahead with the war and continues the bloodbath. Reports only deepen his obsession of searching for a victory that would overshadow debates about his shortcomings and defeat the “wolves” that are preparing to pounce on him from inside and outside his government.

He has never experienced such a crisis. The US is still trying to humor him, but it also views him as a heavy burden on Israel, the Palestinians, the region and America itself. He cannot relinquish American support, but a price must be paid to keep benefitting from it.

The US has a real interest in implementing the two-state solution. It believes it is necessary to end the conflict, support moderates and deprive Iran of a card that has allowed it to infiltrate maps, reside there and change their features.

Netanyahu also knows that moderate Arab countries, led by Saudi Arabia, have played a decisive role in persuading western capitals that there can be no stability in the Middle East without the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Arab foreign ministers have stressed that a ceasefire must be accompanied with a political process that leads to the establishment of a state within a specific timeframe.

The battle of the state is open, but the journey is not easy. An Israeli government capable of taking what Israelis deem as “difficult decisions” must be formed. Chief among these decisions is accepting the idea of a Palestinian state and a return to respecting international resolutions.

The Palestinians must also be united to address the wave of support for the Palestinian state. The Palestinians are calling on the world to champion their rights. The world also has the right to call on the Palestinians to take into account that the establishment of their own state must be conditioned with the recognition of Israel and international guarantees to the Jewish state.

Would Hamas be able to accept this even through the Palestine Liberation Organization? What will be the position of the “axis of resistance,” specifically Iran, especially since the Palestinian state can only be born through America’s approval?

And finally, the US must take a firm position in making Israel accept the two-state solution given that there can be no other viable option.

At a commencement speech at West Point military academy, US President Joe Biden stressed the importance of his country. He said: “Thanks to the US Armed Forces, we’re doing what only America can do as the indispensable nation, the world’s only superpower.”

The statement underlines America’s responsibility in ending the injustice against the Palestinian people and putting out the chronic fire that has exhausted the Middle East. The US is required to carry out consultations to come up with a serious and guaranteed mechanism because the vast majority of the world now believes that the Palestinian state is indispensable for the Middle East to catch its breath.