One/Two state solutions
The 2021 war of Israel against Palestine is a historic and game changing event. It opens the discussion about how apartheid will fall, not on if apartheid will fall. In many reflections on the apartheid state of Israel we tend to use the analogies of cases of historic injustice, notable the apartheid system in South Africa, to conclude that historical injustice always comes to an end, although we might not know how and when. In this war it became clear how the apartheid state of Israel might come to an end.
For a long time in the West there was the idea that there were two solutions for the occupation of Palestine: the two-state solution and the one-state solution. In the two-state solution a new independent state of Palestine would arise with East Jerusalem as its capital and a fragmented series of land pieces as the country of Palestine. It would co-exist with the state of Israel. From the very beginning this was an illusion, but for a long time many people believed that this might be a solution. The two-state solution was codified in the Oslo Accords. There is no document on the one-state solution that has been agreed upon, because it was not a serious issue for Israel and the West. The general idea of the one-state solution is that there would be a state where Israeli and Palestinians would live together in a secular state. The Jewish character of Israel would disappear. There are many problems with the one-state solution. The main problem is that there is no detailed concept of what this would mean. Would the Jews give back their homes to the Palestinians they stole it from? Would the police, intelligence and army consists of Palestinians and Israelis? Would the nuclear arsenal of Israel be jointly controlled by Israelis and Palestinians? Is there anyone in Israel willing to discuss these questions, let alone anyone in the West? Clearly the one-state solution is a non-starter. If neither the one-state and two-state solution are not viable, then what is left for the future of the Palestinians?
The 2021 war showed the answer: armed struggle that reclaims all Palestinian land. After the Oslo Accords of 1993 this seemed an unrealistic option. Israel proved to be too strong to be defeated militarily. The phrase “Israel is the sixth mightiest military power in the world” conveyed the message that Israel could never be beaten militarily. There are two problems with this idea. First, history has proved that the first mightiest military power in the world can be beaten militarily. The Israeli 2021 war on Gaza lasted for 11 days. The US war on Vietnam lasted for 10,502 days, from August 5, 1964 till May 7, 1975. During this period the US and its allies dropped more than 7.5 million tons of bombs on Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia – double the amount dropped on Europe and Asia during World War II. It remains the largest aerial bombardment in human history with 360.000 plane missions. Yet, the US lost the war and had to withdrew all their forces from Vietnam in a humiliating way. They would never return to Vietnam, “even if we offered them candy”, as one Vietnamese leader remarked.
On October 7 2001, four weeks after the 9/11 attacks, the US and its allies launched their first aerial bombardment of Afghanistan. Twenty years later, on April 14 2021, president Biden announced the final departure of US troops from Afghan soil without any condition. They will not return, even if the Afghans offer them candy.
If the first mightiest military power can be defeated twice militarily, why it is impossible for the sixth mightiest military power to be defeated once in their existence? The answer is simple: it is not impossible. To understand the military defeat of Israel we must understand what war is. Carl von Clausewitz, a 19th century Prussian general, who wrote a classic book on war says “war is merely the continuation of politics with other means.” A military defeat can come after a political defeat as was the case of the US war in Vietnam.
The driving force of resistance: oppression of a people
In 1964, sixteen years after the foundation of the apartheid state of Israel in 1948 the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was established to further the liberation of Palestine through armed struggle. The PLO carried out many attacks, but the brutal response of Zionist drove the PLO into the defensive. They had to retreat from Israel, Jordan and Lebanon and moved to Tunisia, where even there they were bombarded by the Israeli’s in 1982. It eventually led to negotiations that were concluded in the Oslo Accords in 1993 with the two-state solution. It turned out to be a political defeat for the Palestinians. But it was not a final defeat, but just a defeat in a battle. It does not mean that they have lost the war.
The initiative to restart the resistance came from the masses. The driving force behind their actions is the daily oppression and humiliation of the Palestinians. In December 1987 the first intifada began with stones throwing Palestinians and eventually led to the formation of Hamas as a liberation movement dedicated to armed struggle. The Oslo Accords had led to the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994 as an administrative entity for the future state of Palestine. It had limited administrative power over the Palestinian population in Gaza and the West Bank.
In 2000 the second intifada started as a protest against the visit of butcher Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. It developed into a large scale armed conflict that left 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israeli dead. It ended on February 8 2005 with an agreement between Israel and the PA on a cease fire and the release of 900 Palestinian prisoners. Meanwhile in Gaza 8,000 Jewish settlers living among one million Palestinians in 21 settlements were faced with armed attacks from the resistance. The PA was supposed to prevent this. They could not. In 2005 (from August to September) Israel was forced to relocate the settlers from Gaza, because they could not protect them anymore. The settlers received an average of more than US$ 200,000 in compensation per family. The Palestinians claimed their land, but they were controlled from the outside: a sea, air, and land blockade by the Israeli’s.
In 2006 Hamas won the Palestinian legislative election and took control of the government of Gaza. In December 2008 the first Israeli war on Gaza started (Operation Cast Lead) when Israel began with aerial bombardments of Gaza after being unable to stop rocket attacks by the resistance. On January 3 2009 Israel began a ground invasion of Gaza. On January 21 Israel withdrew its troops after a cease fire was reached under international pressure. In March 2012 Israel killed a leader of the Palestinian resistance which lead to retaliation and a full scale war with aerial bombardments and rocket attacks. In October of the same year a new round of confrontation began that lead to hundreds of Palestinian deaths. In 2014 the worst round of fighting was during a 50 day bombardment of Gaza leaving more than 2,000 Palestinian dead.
The conclusion of the resistance of the Palestinians in half a century is that the spirit of resistance is unbroken. Resistance come with a huge cost in human lives. The people of Vietnam had struggled against colonialism. They had their first war of liberation in the 20th century against the French between 1946 and 1954. Their second war of liberation was against the Americans. The cost in human life was enormous: 3,5 million deaths. Yet they defeated two military superpowers. The struggle of the Palestinian people also comes with a price in human suffering. But they have shown that they are willing to pay the price, because the alternative is an eternal life of suffering, humiliation and oppression for them, their children and grandchildren. If their leadership fails them, they generate new leadership. If they have a setback, they use their intelligence and creativity to overcome it and prepare for the next stage in the battle. The next round will draw important lessons from the last round of struggle.
A new era of struggle has begun: the pillars of a new strategy
The war disclosed the long term strategy of the resistance for the liberation of Palestine. Speeches by different leaders of the resistance show the pillars of their strategy.
The first pillar is the unity of the people of Palestine. Hamas Leader in Gaza Yahya Al-Sinwar praises deceased Fatah leader Yasser Arafat (Abu Ammar), despite the fact that the Palestinian Authority led by Fatah frequently arrested Hamas members. He said: “All hail to the spirit of the eternal leader, Abu Ammar. On this occasion, and following this latest round of fighting, I say to him: Rest in peace, oh Abu Ammar! You died trying to strengthen our nation’s combat capabilities following the 2002 Karine A affair. Karine A was the famous ship, you all know about it… It was carrying some weapons – Grad rockets, some anti-tank missiles, and some short-range rockets, like 20km and 30km Grad rockets. Arafat was trying to strengthen our people’s ability to be steadfast in their confrontation. He turned to bringing in weapons, in order to create some change in the balance of power between the occupation and us. Rest in peace, Abu Ammar, along with all the martyrs, now that the resistance forces of your people, your sons at the Izz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigades and the other resistance factions, have obtained hundreds of rockets, and not just 20-kilometer-Grad rockets, but hundreds of rockets that in one salvo can crush the Tel Aviv metropolitan area.” By reaching out to Fatah he hopes that in the next confrontation the security forces of the PA “will attack Israelis at all the junctions and bypass roads“. There are half a million settlers in the West Bank in closed colonies guarded by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and three million Palestinians. During the war there were already attacks on settlers. The central committee of Fatah issued a statement on May 8 saying that “the continuation of the settler attacks on the holy places and the homes of Palestinian residents, their expulsion and expansion of settlements — will lead to an all-out conflict in all the Palestinian territories.” The unity between the rank-and-file of Fatah and Hamas was building up during the last war.
The greatest surprise was the reaction of the 1948 Arabs in Israel. The policy of turning Arab Israeli’s into law abiding citizens failed utterly. They took to the streets in Akka, Lod, Ramla, the Negev, Galilee, and Wadi Ara. Yahya Al-Sinwar: “From the bottom of the heart of everyone in Gaza, we salute the tough men of Haifa, the tough men of Jaffa, the tough men of Lod, the tough men of Ramla, the tough men of Acre, and our men and women in the ‘Triangle’ area, in the Galilee, and in the Negev, who proved that all the years that have gone by and all the Israelization campaigns – the attempts to turn them into Israeli citizens, rather than Arab-Palestinian citizens – and the so-called coexistence campaigns collapsed once and for all.” The unity of Palestinians now extends to the two million Palestinians living within the 708 km wall that separates Israel from the West Bank.
And finally the six million Palestinians in the Diaspora: they felt empowered by the rocket attacks of the resistance. Palestinian journalist Abdel Bari Atwan who is frequently in Western media described the impact of this war: “I hail from the Gaza strip. We were refugees there. My family came there from Ashdod. I sing twice when the rockets reached Ashdod. I was born in the so-called diaspora. By Allah, when the rockets reach Ashdod and I hear the sirens, it’s like music to me, like a Beethoven symphony. I have never heard such music. The second thing is that when we see those rockets hit Tel Aviv, and the settlers flee the beach in their bathing suits, to the nearest bomb shelter – this is unprecedented in the history of the Arab-Zionist conflict.”
Unlike previous wars in which the sacrifice of human lives weight heavily on the morale of the people, this war boosted the morale. This was a political victory. Why? Because it achieved something that previous wars could not achieve: the unity of the Palestinian people to carve out another route for resistance instead of the two- or one-state solution.
The second pillar of the strategy that became clear from this war is the belief that a military victory over Israel is possible. That possibility became a real option with the information that the resistance provided. They have managed to built 500 km of tunnels in Gaza. Israel could destroy only a tiny fraction. Many rockets were built by Palestinian engineers. Al-Sinwar mentions Professor Jamal Zabeda: “Rest in peace, our martyrs in this last round of fighting. Rest in peace, distinguished Professor Jamal Zabeda. You could have remained a distinguished professor working for NASA, and the world would have celebrated you, but you insisted on coming to Gaza, and to take part in the development of the rockets that rock the Zionist entity.” The stock and quality of rockets of the resistance were so high that they could continue for months bombarding Israel with 150-200 rockets per day. And even if the Israel Iron Dome could intercept 90%, still 15-20 rockets per day were able to create havoc in the cities. But not only the cities were hit this time. The military bases of Hatzor, Hatzerim, Palmachim, Rehovot, Nevatim, Tel Nof, and the southern army base of Ramon got hit by Gaza rockets. Israeli cities and the Ben Gurion Airport were closed. International flights were suspended. The war led to a loss of US 100 million per day for Israel.
The third pillar is the organization of an international military coalition against Israel. This round of fight with Israel was prepared by the Palestinians in close cooperation with Iran as a major anti-imperialist force in the region. The US government and Israel had worked hard for an alternative for the two-state solution: create a Israel-Sunni coalition against Iran, pour money into the West Bank and 1948 Arab communities and isolate Hams in Gaza. Then everybody will live happily ever after. The 2021 war shattered that illusion. This war was prepared by Sunni’s and Shi’tes. Isma’il Haniya, head of the political bureau of Hamas declared in May 2020: “Iran Has Never Hesitated To Support The Resistance And Assist It Financially, Militarily, And Technologically.” Haniya ‘s deputy Al-Arouri said in an interview in the same month: “Iran Has Given Hamas And The Resistance Movements All The Support And Weapons They Need.”He revealed that during the 2008-2009 Israel-Gaza war, Iranian general Soleimani had been present in the Hamas military operations room in Damascus, and added that Soleimani’s successor Esmail Ghaani was maintaining the coordination and assistance to the Palestinian resistance.
Naim Qassem, the deputy secretary-general of Hizbullah, gave an interview after the May 21 ceasefire went into effect and explained the relationship between the resistance in Gaza and Lebanon: “We were in daily contact with the leaders of the resistance and the Palestinian jihadi fighters. Our position was that we would assist the Palestinian resistance in every way that we can and that we will do what we must do at the appropriate time and in the way that we choose… Today the Palestinians have a significant capability to produce weapons. I can reassure you that the smuggling of rockets into Palestine is continuing at full force. There are important Palestinian brains which are helping in the creation and establishment of the capabilities. They have trained and been in contact with the axis of resistance. The support will not cease but will only increase.”
There was even coordination with the resistance in Iraq. A drone from Iraq managed to get into Israeli airspace, photographed important military sites and transferred its coordinates to Gaza and returned safely to the place of its launch.
The last pillar is preparation for a new type of struggle: the struggle inside the occupied territories rather than just firing rockets from Gaza. Hamas leader Sinwar sketches the struggle inside Israel. Palestinian Authority security forces will attack Israelis at all the junctions and bypass roads in the West Bank. Palestinians within the 1948 borders of Israel will take to the streets and block the roads. There will be at least 10,000 “martyrdom-seekers” among them, who will carry out stabbing attacks, car-ramming attacks, throw Molotov cocktails, and set forests on fire. Sinwar added that “resistance forces in the region” would come in. Gaza launched 150 to 200 rockets per day in this war. The Lebanese Hezbollah has prepared to launch a thousand rockets and missiles every day. The Iron Dome will not be able to handle this amount of strikes.
The Saban Institute for Middle East Policy at Brookings published a report in 2011 about the next war between Israel and Hizbullah. The authors write: “With the support of Iran, Hizballah has made further advances in its signals intelligence (SIGINT) and communications capabilities. Hizbullah is expected to use these upgraded weapons and SIGINT capabilities to play an offensive role in a future conflict with Israel, attempting to seize the initiative, rather than adopting the reactive and defensive posture of 2006. Among the new battle plans being prepared by Hizbullah are land and seaborne insertions into Israel to carry out commando-style raids. Given the range of the missiles in Hizbullah possession, the battlespace in the next war will likely be larger than the traditional theater of southern Lebanon and northern Israel, encompassing large portions of both countries…. Israeli territory could become a front line for the first time since 1948.”
In June 2017 Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said: “The Israeli enemy must know that if an Israeli war is launched against Syria or Lebanon, it is not known that the fighting will remain Lebanese-Israeli, or Syrian-Israeli… This doesn’t mean there are states that might intervene directly. But this could open the way for thousands, even hundreds of thousands of fighters from all over the Arab and Islamic world to participate – from Iraq, Yemen, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
If in any of the coming rounds of fight between Israel and the Palestinian resistance the Palestinians stand their ground and a prolonged war between Gaza and Israel is under way then international forces will come into play for the final battle which will cease to be an air battle. Rockets, drones, physical confrontation will determine the scene. Airfields, the Iron Dome and the stockpiles of weapons, including the nuclear arsenal, would be major targets of rocket attacks. In the West Bank the homes of the 700.000 settlers will be attacked in man-to-man fights to reclaim the land that they have occipied. With mounting Israeli casualties the question will be: how will the Israeli morale fare? Will Israel unite and will liberals and extreme right be willing to fight side by side or will there be disintegration with people want to fight with extreme measures and other fleeing the occupied land? Shall we see images like Vietnam? In 1974, one year before the final defeat of the Americans, the South Vietnamese army soldiers station in Danang got the order to assist in the rescue of women and children from the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) who where steadily moving to Danang. Over 300 armed soldiers of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN)rushed to the aircraft trampling many of the women and children in the process. One writer describes the scene: “The frightened pilot moved to make a quick take off but found the aircraft under attack by ARVN soldiers who had been unable to board. Under fire and damaged by a grenade burst the aircraft lumbered into the sky. Once in the air the pilot realized that he could not retract the landing gear because several ARVN soldiers had taken refuge in the wheel wells of the aircraft. During the 90-minute flight to Saigon several of these desperate men plunged to their deaths but an unknown number gained their freedom. In Saigon the ARVN soldiers who exited the aircraft were greeted with cheers. It was later discovered that only five women and children ever made it on board the flight.” Is this the type of scenes we will see when the final battle for the liberation of Palestine is there?
The next war: a regional war or a world war
What if Israel decides to strike Iran with an atomic bomb because it sees Iran as the main source of its problems? Then the struggle moves from a battle between liberation movements and a state to a battle between states? Israel has been threatening time and again to bomb Iran like they did in 1981 in Iraq when they bombed a nuclear reactor under construction under Saddam Hussein. But Iraq under Saddam Hussein is not Iran where a popular revolution brought an anti-imperialist movement to power. The anti-imperialist people of Iran were confronted with a wide coalition to bring down the 1979 revolution: Saddam Hussein, the US, the UK, France, the Soviet Union and many Arab countries joined to break the revolution. But Iran survived because of the popular support, like Vietnam. Forty years later, despite decades of economic boycott, Iran is able to develop an indigenous defense industry based on advanced technology. One thing is to send a plane to bomb Iran. Another thing is to expect the plane to return empty and Iran to beg for mercy. The most likely scenario is that a full scale war will develop in West Asia where the US has military basis in Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. Israel will not act without permission of the US, but once they get the permission because of the idea of an existential threat, then American bases in the region will be bombed by Iran. The reaction of the population in the Middle East might be disturbing for their leaders. Many regimes might not survive if their population sense that the liberation of Palestine is connected to their liberation.
In 1981 The Soviet Union still existed. In 1989 it perished. Russia is now an ally of Iran. In 1981 China had a GDP per capita of US 197. Chinese earned on average $ 197 per year. In 2020 they earned $ 10,276 per year, 52 times the earnings of 1981. The world has changed dramatically. The US is in decline. China is on the rise and is now an ally of Iran. If the US gets into an all-out war in West Asia, then the new super power China might move to invade Taiwan and bring it back under the control of the motherland. The US will have to choose: engage in a new world war and fight in West and East Asia or back down and stop the road to World War III. Maybe it will not come to the stage and the outcome might be limited as in Vietnam. The fall of Tel Aviv might look like the fall of Saigon. In Vietnam the fall of Saigon was like this: “At noon on 30 April 1975 a group of tanks crashed through the gates of the Presidential Palace, the symbol of South Vietnamese authority. Inside, the last President of South Vietnam, General Minh, waited to surrender to the victors. The ranking NVA officer on the scene was Colonel Bui Tin – a reporter for the NVA newspaper. Surprised to find himself taking part in such momentous events Tin strode into the palace to accept the final surrender of the government of South Vietnam. When Tin entered the room Minh said, “I have been waiting since early this morning to transfer power to you.” Tin answered by saying, “There is no question of your transferring power. Your power has crumbled. You cannot give up what you do not have.”