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U.S.-Israel conflict over Palestine

By: Saleem Kakar

(Part 2)

As discussed in Part 1, the ongoing live genocide of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank by the heartless Israeli forces (IDF) has resulted in thousands of casualties among innocent civilians, including women and children since October 7. Indeed, the historical displacement of Palestinians and the unending military blockade of Gaza have been continuing since the Zionist entity was established over the hearts of millions of Palestinians in 1948 – an atrocious scheme that was orchestrated by the then Great Britain in coordination with the U.S. and UN, adding to the complexity of the political situation in the Middle East. Meanwhile, shifts in U.S. geopolitical strategy, particularly the “Pivot to Asia” since 2011, have influenced efforts to broker peace agreements between Israel and the so-called Arab nations through the Abraham Accords. Despite regional tensions, the United States advocates for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of its broader geopolitical agenda. Speaking of the U.S. grand geopolitical agenda in the Middle East, it seems that the Israeli entity strongly supports the United States’ efforts in brokering the Abraham Accords, which not only offer economic benefits but also the crucial geopolitical advantage of formal recognition from neighboring countries. Improved trade and diplomatic relations decrease the likelihood of conflict between Israel and Muslim-majority nations in the Middle East. Consequently, both the United States and Israel are working together to expand the accords to include more Muslim countries, with negotiations underway with Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Somalia, Niger, and Indonesia. However, similar to past agreements such as the 1962 Hawk missile system deal and the Oslo Accords of 1993 – 1995, Israel has not fully fulfilled its commitments under the Abraham Accords. Since 2020, Israel has hardened its stance on the Palestine issue which is evident in the expansion of Zionist settlements in occupied Palestinian territories and increased settler violence against Palestinians. Moreover, the Israeli entity has escalated the construction of settler housing units and shifted the administration of occupied territories from military to civilian control, signaling intentions to formally annex these regions. Furthermore, Israel’s actions extend beyond territorial expansion to perpetuating divisions among Palestinians. Following its withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, Israel has worked to maintain political divisions between Gaza and the West Bank, weakening leadership in both regions. This strategy aims to hinder the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, ensuring a state of perpetual instability in Palestinian territories. As a matter of fact, Israel’s actions have clashed with the United States’ strategy for the Middle East by attempting to disrupt efforts to normalize relations with Iran. Through methods such as assassinations of Iranian officials, cyber-attacks, espionage, and lobbying in the United States, Israel has undermined initiatives aimed at easing tensions with Iran. Additionally, Israel has impeded progress in bringing Saudi Arabia into the Abraham Accords by insisting that Saudi Arabia refrain from establishing a civilian nuclear program similar to that of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). These demands have stalled negotiations crucial to the United States’ geopolitical strategy in the region. Hence, while Israeli foreign policy has generally aligned with that of the United States, Israel has proven to be an obstacle in critical areas essential for advancing the United States’ broader goals. As a result, Israel’s actions have hindered the realization of the “New Middle East” envisioned by the United States, which is integral to its pivot to Asia strategy. On the other hand, before October 7th, relations between the United States and Israel had been strained, reflecting dissatisfaction with Israel’s foreign policy. Both U.S. Presidents, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have expressed discontent with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s approach – as Trump criticized Netanyahu’s stance on peace negotiations with Palestinians. After taking office, President Biden’s refusal to include Netanyahu in initial foreign leader calls and delaying a meeting until after engagements with leaders of other nations underscored the discord. Further exacerbating tensions, Joe Biden’s post-meeting briefing with Netanyahu focused on Israel’s obligations towards Palestinians under the Abraham Accords. Likewise, Joe Biden said yesterday that Netanyahu is ‘hurting Israel’ by not doing more to avoid deaths in Gaza – a stance which clearly reveals that Netanyahu is not likely to comply completely with the Middle East strategy of the United States. In fact, Israel’s formation of a right-wing government under Netanyahu in December 2022, with policies favoring annexation of the West Bank and strengthening religious Jewish character, intensified displeasure from the United States. Despite efforts to pressure Netanyahu to alter the course, U.S.-Israel relations have reached historic lows due to conflicting policy trajectories. Many Western newspapers and think tanks claim that it is by now well known that Israeli officials obtained Hamas’s battle plan for the 7th of October attack more than a year before it happened. In addition, Israel’s border surveillance forces had on numerous occasions warned that Hamas was conducting training exercises on the basis of the plan. Furthermore, Israel had repeatedly been warned by Egyptian intelligence that “something big” was likely to take place. Some think tanks estimate that there are three opinions as to how it was possible for Hamas to do what it did. The first opinion explains the 7th of October as an “intelligence failure” of Israeli forces. This view says Israel underestimated Hamas’ capabilities and therefore was prejudiced when confronted with such information regarding Hamas’ plan and preparation. Perhaps even more importantly, this opinion says that Israel overestimated its own border security system. Israel’s border with Gaza was known as the “Iron Wall”, consisting of a 6-meter tall double fence, including razor wire, combined with cameras and state-of-the-art sensors, fortified with a concrete base against tunnels and remotecontrolled machine guns. Due to a resulting overconfidence, this opinion says, Israel ignored the intelligence warnings. The second opinion says that Netanyahu’s government knew about Hamas’ plan, but purposely allowed it to happen. This opinion criticizes the first opinion, arguing that it does not align with standard military operating procedures. This standard operating procedure always assumes the worst. It would therefore prescribe increased border security if detailed information had been received about a plan of attack. And if an initial assessment of this plan would have been that it was “non-credible”, and as such not deserving of increased security, then most certainly the observation of preparations would have forced a reassessment, followed by an order for increased security. Under standard military operating procedures, specific warnings by an ally (Egypt) would lead to increased security even if there is no information about a detailed plan of attack or the observation of actual preparations for an attack. Since the Israeli intelligence and defense forces have been trained professionally, the event of the 7th of October can only be explained by a conscious decision among elite intelligence and defense circles to allow it to happen. The opinion argues that the Netanyahu government is the likely origin of the decision to allow the 7th of October to take place, as this could serve as a pretext for a massive, longplanned military assault on Gaza, designed to expel its population, after which the area was to be annexed by Israel. The third opinion agrees with the second opinion that the 7th of October could not possibly have been an “intelligence failure” because too many “mistakes” were made in a series of events, which is something that under standard military operating procedures simply could not have happened. But, this third opinion argues that the source of the decision to allow the 7th of October was most likely not the Netanyahu government, primarily because October 7 was a major embarrassment for Netanyahu and his government. On the other hand, some Egyptians claim through media outlets that their Intelligence Minister had personally called Netanyahu only 10 days before the attack, warning that the Gazans were likely to do “something unusual, a terrible operation”. Netanyahu himself was further personally embarrassed by the revelation that he himself had ordered the redeployment of two of the three Israeli army battalions guarding the Gaza border to the West Bank, in order to enable Zionist settlers there to hold a religious festival, and by the inability of the Israeli army to respond to the Hamas attack in an appropriate and timely manner. As a result of the 7th of October, therefore, and quite predictably, Netanyahu and his government have found themselves under significant pressure to resign. Alternatively, the deliberate intention to extending the scale of the War on Gaza somehow implies that the United States was most likely aware of the Hamas plans for the 7th of October, and might have worked with elements of Israel’s political and security elite to allow these plans to be executed successfully. It seems that the United States’ objective was to use the 7th of October to put pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, in order to get him to align with the United States’ geopolitical strategy for the Middle East, which requires him to agree formal treaties with Saudi Arabia and the Palestinians. Of course, the United States was well aware that its plan would cause mass casualties on both the Israeli and Palestinian sides. But history is testimony to the fact that when it comes to geopolitical strategy, the casualties of others do not play a role in decision-making.

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.