Opinion | Israel’s Worst Day at War

Indeed, within hours of the Hamas invasion, Saudi Arabia issued a statement saying, according to Al Arabiya network: “The kingdom is closely following up on the unprecedented developments between a number of Palestinian factions and the Israeli occupying forces,” adding that it has “repeatedly warned of the consequences of [the deterioration] of the situation as a result of the occupation as well as of depriving the Palestinian people of their legitimate rights and of [not halting] systematic provocations against their holy [sites].”

I am watching how the Hamas-Israel earthquake will shake up another earthquake.

Ukraine was already dealing with the temblors in the U.S. government. The toppling of the speaker of the House, combined with an increasingly vocal minority of Republican lawmakers — shockingly to me — coming out against any more economic and military aid to Ukraine has created a political mess that has resulted, for now, in no more U.S. aid for Ukraine being approved. If Israel is about to invade Gaza and embark on a long war, Ukraine will have to worry about competition from Tel Aviv for Patriot missiles as well as 155-millimeter artillery shells and other basic armaments that Ukraine desperately needs more of and Israel surely will, too.

Vladimir Putin has noticed. Last Thursday in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, he said that Ukraine was being propped up “thanks to multibillion donations that come each month.” He added, “Just imagine the aid stops tomorrow.” Ukraine “will live for only a week when they run out of ammo.”

Can anything good come from this terrible new Hamas-Israel war? It’s far too early to say, but another longtime Israeli friend and analyst I trust, Prof. Victor Friedman (no relation), who teaches behavioral science at Jezreel Valley College in central Israel and knows the Israeli Arab community very well, wrote me late today, saying: “This horrid situation is still an opportunity, just like the Yom Kippur war turned out to be an opportunity that ended with a peace agreement with Egypt. The only real victory will be if what happens next — probably Israel going into Gaza — creates conditions for a real, stable settlement with the Palestinians.” In light of what the Palestinians did today, he said, they can “claim some ‘victory,’ no matter what happens next.” The point is, he added, ‘Someone needs to think beyond more force and more force.”

Personally, I do not believe that Hamas can ever be a partner for a secure peace with Israel. Hamas has had way too many chances for way too many years to prove that the responsibilities of governing in Gaza would moderate its goal of destroying the Jewish state. It turns out to be nothing more than a Palestinian Islamist mafia, interested only in preserving its grip on Gaza and ready to serve as a cat’s paw for Iran instead of making its main goal a new future for Palestinians there and in the West Bank. Its history of rule in Gaza is shameful.

But the Palestinian Authority can be a partner. So if there is going to be an Israeli invasion of Gaza to try to destroy Hamas, it has to be paired with a political initiative that empowers and helps to strengthen that Palestinian Authority so we can forge, as Victor put it, “a settlement that provides all sides with something they can live with. Otherwise, sooner or later, we will be right back in the same situation — only worse. That was the true lesson of the Yom Kippur war.”

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