A Dignified Exit Strategy after Tufan Al-Aqsa?

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By: Professor Alhagi Manta Drammeh

Al-Aqsa, literally means “Al-Aqsa Flood,” is an operation launched by the Palestinian resistance in the Gaza Strip against Israel at dawn on Saturday, October 7, 2023, and included a land, sea, and air attack and the infiltration of resistance fighters into several settlements in the Gaza envelope. This attack on Israel by the Palestine Resistance Movement (HAMAS) will change the geopolitical dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict forever. It has shocked Israeli authorities and many political observers in terms of its impact on Israel, the region and the world at large. In the context of Palestine, it reflects awareness, convictions, will, steadfastness, pride, dignity, heroism, determination, valor, and faith.

For Israel, this was an act of terror and must be fought in the strongest manner. As for Palestinians, this was an act of bravery in response to Israeli occupation for decades and the establishment of illegal settlements in contravention of the United Nations resolutions. In response to Operation Al-Aqsa Flood, however, the Israeli army launched a military operation against the Gaza Strip called Operation Iron Swords, which began with intensive aerial bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Internationally, the traditional allies of Israel, such as the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and France, came out publicly in solidarity with Israel, condemning the Tufan al-Aqsa in the strongest terms. Western leaders have been shuttling between their capitals and Tel Aviv to show their support to Israel during its bombardment of Gaza, including hospitals, camps, places of worship, and civilian infrastructure. Some even believed that America and other Western countries were giving a justification for the indiscriminate and disproportionate asymmetrical war on Gaza by Israel.

Regionally, the Arab leaders were swift in their call for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire and the implementation of the United Nations resolutions, particularly those related to the ending of the occupation, settlements, and the two-state solution. One of the most important summits in this regard was the extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab Summit that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia hosted in Riyadh. Saudi Arabia and other Muslim and Arab countries called on Saturday for an immediate end to military operations in Gaza, rejecting Israel’s justification of its actions against Palestinians as self-defense. The extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit in Riyadh urged the International Criminal Court to investigate “war crimes and crimes against humanity that Israel is committing” in the Palestinian territories, according to a final communique. Others went on to accuse some Western countries of double standards in implementing international humanitarian law and selective justice. It seems that Israel is losing the support it had at the beginning of hostilities.

The way forward

War is always horrible. War cannot be romanticized or idealized. War costs lives. War is the failure of politics and diplomacy. Historically, none can win a war. It is a zero-sum game. In the end, it has to end through negotiations and compromises. The temporary ceasefires brokered by Qatar for creating humanitarian corridors to supply needed supplies of food, energy, and medication to the Gazan people, but also to exchange prisoners and hostages may lead to a more permanent ceasefire. In this way, it is believed that a meaningful peace negotiation can be secured under a multilateral regime whereby institutions such as the Arab League, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and other regional and global players can be included. Inevitably, the war must end, and Palestinians must have their own viable independent state within internationally recognized borders. No party would be willing to accept defeat. Therefore, both parties would seek a dignified exit strategy.

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