What is Going on in the Middle East?

Palestinians and Israelis have been clashing for a very long time. The fighting that is being covered daily in the news is nothing new.

Palestinians and Israelis have been clashing for a very long time. The fighting that is being covered daily in the news is nothing new. The fact of Israeli-Palestinian hostility isn’t changing. The first large-scale violence between Palestinian Arabs and Jews took place in 1920, and intervals of quiet have since alternated with episodes of violence and fruitless peace negotiations. It is not possible to know for sure what the outcome of the current conflict will be. Eventually the violence will end and the global community will likely work on a ceasefire arrangement.

In the past, ceasefire agreements have not worked. Yasser Arafat accepted the principle of a two-state solution with the 1993 Oslo I Accord, but Palestinian public opinion is divided and Hamas remains formally committed to merging Israel, the West Bank and Gaza into a single state under Islamist governance. Support for the two-state solution continues to decline among Israelis and Palestinians alike, but no realistic alternative has emerged. We are at a crossroads and the only good compromise between the two sides is one where both countries walk away angry.

Israel may be angry at making concessions but overall, they are an extremely successful country. Israel’s core strengths are state building combined with technological, military and intelligence prowess. These features have been on full display for decades. Israelis can make Palestinian resistance futile, but they cannot make it disappear. Palestinians can prolong the conflict indefinitely, but they cannot achieve their political objectives.

Political alliances in all states in the Middle East and surrounding regions are changing rapidly. These changes have created a strategic alignment between Israel and a bloc of conservative Arab states, including Egypt and much of the Gulf. That alignment has cut the ground out from under Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority and pushed Hamas and other radical groups in the Palestinian movement closer to Iran. Iran is providing military support to both the Houthis fighting Saudi Arabia and Hamas.

Iran and Turkey have replaced the Arab world as the most important allies of the Palestinian resistance movement. The current Gaza war is, among other things, a proxy war between Israel and Iran. This conflict has the potential to become very disastrous. While as of now there is nothing to suggest the outbreak of a huge war, everyday it seems more likely to happen. Meanwhile, Washington has less leverage than ever. Everyone knows that since the 2012 Benghazi debacle, the chief goal of U.S. policy has been to reduce America’s Middle East footprint.

Odds are that American calls for Hamas to cease firing missiles, is empty rhetoric. Palestinians have no relation or respect for the U.S. The best course of action for U.S. foreign policy may be to let Israel and Palestine fight it out. However, this also means that in the face of Iranian aggression or invasion of Israel will mean a huge war. In this scenario America will definitely come to the aid of Israel.