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War In Gaza: No Clear Way Out For Israel, Says Former Diplomat Arun Singh

FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises during an Israeli air strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem/File Photo

There’s no clear way out of the war in Gaza, says Arun Singh, former ambassador to Israel, during a recent panel discussion organised by the India Foundation.

The Hamas attack of October 2023 is the “largest single loss of Israeli lives, and Israelis are traumatised. Israel’s deterrence is destroyed and it needs to be restored.”

Singh notes that there should be no doubt that Israeli society backs Prime Minister Netanyahu’s tactics against the Palestinians, but the point also is that his objective is not attainable: Hamas cannot be crushed.

“The US tried to do that in Afghanistan, but only ended up replacing the Taliban with the Taliban.”

Israel is also facing a dire situation vis a vis Hezbollah in Lebanon. It has an estimated arsenal of 150,000 rockets, forcing Tel Aviv to evacuate most of its people from settlements bordering that country.

When will Israel say it is done with the war in Gaza, it’s hard to say. Does Israel know, unlikely, Singh believes.

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It’s also clear that Hamas cannot return to Gaza’s political structures, Israel will not allow that. Nor can Israel occupy Gaza. For that matter, even the Palestinian Authority will be unacceptable to Israel.

The “Two-State” solution (Palestinian and Israeli states side by side) is also not acceptable to Israeli leaders and the polity today is right of centre, so views have hardened.

“People will not accept a sovereign state in Gaza or the West Bank, neither of which have any sovereignty,” Singh says.

The US is still the main player here, it has credibility and its heft has not declined. Today it is in backdoor talks with Hamas, but here’s the rub, it has not yet been able to end the war.

Washington finds that the trio of Hezbollah, Hamas and Iran a tough if not impossible nut to crack or divide.  Nor it is able to persuade Israel to end the war or even stop them from entering Rafah.

President Joe Biden’s re-election prospects have been hit because of the war with young Americans turning against Israel. Many are questioning the continued US support for Israel despite the massive loss of civilian lives in Gaza.