Gaza war: A pause is welcome but sustainable peace is a must

An unbiased look at the region’s history would place the spotlight on a ‘two-state solution’ as a way out.
An unbiased look at the region’s history would place the spotlight on a ‘two-state solution’ as a way out.


  • The agreement between Israel and Hamas to suspend hostilities for a few days comes as a relief, but enduring peace should be the world's aim. This will take a two-state solution and a rational approach to clashing holy-land claims.

About a month-and-a-half after the Israel-Hamas war started, there is at last hope of the bloodshed ending, even if only for a bit. Israel has agreed to pause its military action in Gaza for four days in exchange for the release in batches of 50 hostages held by Hamas. For every additional 10 released, Israel has promised to extend the pause by a day. Plus, according to Hamas, Israel will release 150 Palestinians held behind bars. That bombs and guns will fall silent if this plan succeeds is a relief not just to Gazans, who are in dire need of aid supplies, having suffered an Israeli anti-Hamas blitz that has left over 14,000 dead, by a Palestinian count, with children among them said to be four times the toll taken by Hamas’ terror attack of 7 October that sparked the war. Gazans need a breather. To the rest of the world, this week’s pact signals a will on both sides to talk, even if only via intermediaries. This suggests a dip in the proximate risk of a wider flare-up of this war, which should calm markets like crude oil that take cues from it. What it implies for armed hostilities once this brief truce runs out is harder to judge. Israel has reaffirmed its intent to wipe out Hamas, although it can’t take US backing for granted in perpetuity, given China’s opportunistic efforts to court those put off by America’s stance.

No matter how the US views the geopolitical puzzle of West Asia, with its 21st century global rival looking to make gains at its expense, the peace that is eventually sought must go well beyond a return to what prevailed before 7 October. For lasting stability, the region needs a proper settlement of the Israel-Palestine dispute, a peace pact across old ruptures that the world at large can approve of. Its pursuit, we must make explicit, would have nothing to do with the horrors committed by Hamas and everything to do with justice. An unbiased look at the region’s history would place the spotlight on a ‘two-state solution’ as a way out. It was what the United Nations asked for. It is what New Delhi advocates, as re-affirmed by India’s external affairs minister S. Jaishankar on Tuesday. For decades, it held an outline of hope for peace, only to be thwarted by rightist Israeli politics and Palestinian extremes that fed off each other. Israel will likely need new leadership for prospects of a truly free state of Palestine to brighten. Sadly, all Israel did was allow ‘self-rule’ on paper in Gaza and the West Bank, land marked for Palestine, while placing the former under siege and expanding into the latter with brazen disregard on frequent display for the rights of their residents.

Sure, peace is easier to advise than achieve. There are so many sticky points that only a global effort has any chance of resolving this vexed issue. An earnest attempt, though, will require us not to tiptoe around but address issues that past peace talks left for later, such as control over spots considered holy by different faiths. In this context, Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock would be in focus. It stands on a site holy to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Al Aqsa complex. While Jerusalem was to be the shared capital of both states, suspicions run rife among Palestinians of a planned takeover of that site by the Jewish state. Only a rational approach can resolve its status and it’s best if no move is made without a consensus. This means we must evolve not just past the age of war, but also past the era of property discords arising from matters of faith.

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