Some points to consider ...
On the subject of defeating Hamas:
"They hit first..." is the kind of justification for "violence in response" that might be expected from children who have not yet learnt how to behave in a civilised manner.
Hamas rockets and grenades are weapons of mass destruction just like Israeli bombs and missiles. Israel, like Iraq in the time of Saddam Hussein, is a member state of the United Nations. It is under the same obligations to act in accordance with international law. So, just like the fears of Iraq having weapons of mass destruction lead to a thorough investigation, monitoring, verification, inspection and decommissioning operation by the UN through UNMOVIC, so Israel's fears of weapons of mass destruction in Gaza threatening Israeli civilians should be dealt with in a similar manner through the UN.
Furthermore, Israel's proven willingness to use its weapons of mass destruction time and time again against civilian areas should no longer be tolerated. It is high time that Israel was also stripped of its weapons of mass destruction so that it can no longer jeopardize the lives of civilians. The only way for Israel to deal with terrorists is through the International Criminal Court or the system of Special Tribunals, as happened in Yugoslavia. A civilised nation state member of the UN must only use the Might of Law. A terrorist organization uses the Law of Might. Israel cannot be both!
Each Israeli weapon of mass destruction used against Gaza will only cause more Palestinians to lose hope for a just resolution, leaving them with no perceived option remaining but to join Hamas fighters. The only way for Israel to defeat Hamas is to fully embrace its obligations in accordance with international law and use the UN system to defend its legitimate interests to protect its civilian population. Then Hamas will have to become a true partner for peace, otherwise, they will depart from power just the same way as they arrived - through an election, as they will be seen by the Palestinian voters as not being the best option for a just peace.
The resolution of the Israeli Palestinian conflict is extremely simple, especially concerning Gaza. What is the world waiting for?
I mourn the loss of all human life through the incompetence of political leaders. What a disgusting and tragic waste!!!
On the subject of stopping war:
Let me ask this: Believing that there is an element of truth in each side's argument, namely that Hamas felt compelled to attack Israel to try to break the unbearable suffocating Israeli siege of Gaza and that Israel felt compelled to attack Gaza to stop the rocket attacks and so the crazy cycle of violence continues, is it enough to "stop war", if the result is returning to the situation with the same tensions which lead to the outbreak of war in the first place?
My suggestion is this: As well as (not instead of) exerting all the pressure we can to stop the violence, why don't we on IPeace engage in discussion to try and work out a formula for a peaceful and just resolution of the Palestinian Israeli conflict which has been continuing and getting progressively worse for the last sixty years?
It is clear from the different points of view on Ipeace that probably all the dominant points of view which have influenced the different negotiations between both sides are represented here on Ipeace. If we can work out an acceptable formula then perhaps we can make a significant contribution to the ending of the crisis itself, rather than only stopping the violence, which will start again some time later so long as the crisis itself continues.
Clearly, leaving it to the politicians as we have done for the last sixty years is not likely to bring success. There is not the sufficient degree of political will on both sides.
I was an interpreter between Arabic and English at the 2003 World Social Forum meetings concerning Palestine /Israel in Porto Alegre, Brazil. There was a problem of lack of time for some people at those meetings. Debating it over these pages would solve that problem and allow a greater level of participation.
Working something out here on these pages would show that it is actually possible to arrive at a solution, contrary to the image given in the mainstream media.
It is also possible to get more publicity because IPeace is not a political organisation of any sort, so there would be no reason to not publish a press release titled "60 year political conflict solved in 60days on internet forum." The problem faced by organizations in Israel or Palestine is precisely that they are organizations in Israel or Palestine which means that there is always going to be one part of the international media hostile towards them.
Events in Gaza suggest that there is limited potential for success from "supporting organizations in Israel and Palestine who are working together and/or organizing for non-violent solutions". My suggestion is not for "the way to go" but an additional way to go.
On the subject of Peace as a solution:
The tragedy is that recent events are not new, and so it is doubtful that both sides will equally realise that the only solution is peace so long as the factors perpetuating the crisis continue.
The solution of 'peace' is not just the cessation of hostilities but a resolution of the conflict that is sufficiently acceptable to both sides, meeting the legitimate aspirations and addressing the legitimate concerns of all residents of the entire region.
How can such a resolution possibly be achieved so long as the only forum with the resources and international credibility needed to achieve it is largely ignored by Israel, namely the UN and the system of international law?
What will it take for both the Israeli and Palestinian political leadership to EQUALLY commit to using the UN and the system of international law as the SOLE means to meet the legitimate aspirations and address the legitimate concerns of all residents of the entire region?
By 'legitimate' I mean in accordance with international law.
The solution already exists - equal rights for all residents, with equal access to food, water, accommodation transportation, employment, education, healthcare and democratic political representation and accountability, regardless of their nationality or religion.
Its implementation will continue to evade humanity until both sides are equally compelled to use the Might of Law and not the Law of Might.
On the subject of Israel's Options
The facts remain that since the establishment of the UN "to save future generations from the scourge of War", the acquisition of territory by force has been inadmissible under international law, and yet Israel has continued to acquire territory by force, relying on its own impunity. The Israeli government strategy has been the same since the foundation of the Israeli State - the forced dispossession, displacement and expatriation of the majority of Palestinian residents and the total subjugation of those who remain. The only variation in this strategy has been the attitude to 'peace negotiations' as shown in "The Iron Wall" by Avi Shlaim, sometimes pretending to engage in such negotiations as a stalling tactic while erecting settlements and 'creating facts on the ground' to make a viable independent contiguous Palestinian State more impossible in practice, while other times refusing to enter into peace negotiations at all, in order to deprive Palestinians of all hope so that they will eventually give up their struggle.
This strategy has not succeeded, cannot succeed and is doomed to fail, for the simple reason that while Israel chooses to practice the Law of Might, a relic of the Dark Ages, the establishment of the UN marked the dawn of a new era - that of the Might of Law.
Israel's only viable option in the long term is to fully embrace its responsibilities and rights under international law, withdraw from all territories acquired during and since the 1967 war and use the UN system to protect its civilians. The alternative is Mutually Assured Destruction - MAD!!
On the subject of Israeli support for a Palestinian State
It is often said "Israel is not against the existance of a state for the palestinians", blaming the failure of negotiations on the Palestinians. Then why does not Israel withdraw all forces to within the pre-1967 border and negotiate on the phasing of handing over of control to an interim multinational peacekeeping force and elected Palestinian Administration? The multinational force would serve four functions:
-to maintain law and order within the Palestinian territory
-to guarantee the safety of the Palestinian territory from external attack by air, land or sea,
-to guarantee the safety of the Israeli territory from attack from within the Palestinian territory,
-to train and equip a Palestinian defence force to which the multinational force can hand over control when it is ready.
There should be negotiated adjustments to the territories from which Israel withdraws to ensure that the resulting Palestinian territory is viable and contiguous. Residents of each territory should have total freedom of movement within and between both territories and be treated with total equality in both territories
On the subject of who should make the first move towards resolving the conflict?
Israel often makes the pre-condition that first of all the Palestinians, including Hamas and Arab states should recognise the State of Israel.
If the situation continues on the basis that Israel says that the Arabs must make the next move and the Arabs say Israel must make the next move, then nothing will change and thousands more innocent lives will be lost. Is that what we really want?
Furthermore, I specifically said that Israel's move should be towards the UN by way of fulfilling its obligations and seeking the necessary guarantees to protect its legitimate interests. This would not be a concession by Israel towards the Arabs or Palestinians but full participation by Israel in the UN by accepting its responsibilities and demanding its legitimate rights.
In some ways, it can be said that the Palestinians and Arab States have already put some effort along the lines I have mentioned.
They have been successful in getting countless judgements through the UN and the ICJ based on international law to the effect that Israel must withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, end house demolitions and forced displacement of local residents, dismantle the wall, stop collective punishments, extra-judiciary executions etc etc.
The Palestinians and some Arab States have also put some effort along the lines of recognising Israel: Both Palestinian and Arab leaders have publicly agreed to recognize Israel in her pre-1967 war borders. Jordan and Egypt have already signed peace treaties with Israel.
Once Israel fully complies with its obligations, there will be no further hesitation by any Arab leadership in recognising the State of Israel, so what is Israel waiting for?
Can it really expect Palestinian or Arab full recognition of a State of Israel that defies international law, continuing to illegally occupy Palestinian territory and failing to treat all residents of the region it controls equally, depending on their religion and national identity, effectively practising apartheid?
The onus in this respect remains on Israel to become a state that can be legitimately recognised in the region, then it will be recognised with great enthusiasm.