Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house 

Palestinian self-governance as a way out of the crisis

Professor Tarak Barkawi, a teacher in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University in the United States, underscores the need for and the importance of a meaningful peace process that will lead to Palestinian self-governance, a way out of the current crisis.

By Roberto Paglialonga 

"All crises are opportunities, and we must hope that the outcome of this one is some re-invigoration of a meaningful peace process that will lead to Palestinian self-governance." Professor Tarak Barkawi who teaches international relations at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, offered this view in an interview with L'Osservatore Romano.

In this context, it is necessary to revisit history to avoid the risk of being overcome by the current mood. "The root causes of the conflict are European antisemitism and the Nazi holocaust. Without the holocaust, there would be no Israel as we know it. The Europeans displaced their 'Jewish problem' onto the peoples of the Middle East; they bear a special responsibility for the events that have unfolded since."

It is a most serious situation today not being able to foresee the geopolitical consequences of any widening of the conflict. "As with any major war, these are unknowable. Hamas has already secured a victory in delaying the Saudi-Israel normalization; in creating tensions in the Abraham Accords; and, most of all, in putting the Palestinian question back on the international agenda." Professor Barkawi also points out this has caused quite a few problems for the Netanyahu government and its policies on settlements in Palestine.

Regarding internal matters, a survey sponsored by Arab Barometer in Palestine and Gaza (that concluded, however, on 8 October), cited by 'Foreign Affairs', shows that in Gaza 44% of the population would not have trust in Hamas and only 23% would vote for its leader Ismail Haniyeh in the event of elections. "Hamas," Professor Barkawi continues, "is a militant Islamist faction empowered by the long running Israeli blockade of Gaza, and not a widely popular ‘resistance’ organization. Whatever else can be said, their assault on Israel on 7 October has precipitated a humanitarian disaster for the Palestinian population of Gaza. That said, the dynamics of such bloodshed empower extremists on both sides and lead to mutual hate and the desire for blood revenge."  

On the other hand, there are also the 'rebounds' of the crisis for the many involved. In the US, "to the extent the conflict in Israel causes domestic problems for Biden, fracturing the left or progressive wing of the Democratic Party from its center right, it may assist Donald Trump’s 2024 Presidential campaign. Other effects include the stiffening of an anti-Western alliance between Russia, China, Iran and sympathetic Global South countries."

Finally, at the political level one can see in the West "a Muslim block is emerging due in part to the large scale immigration of Muslim populations to the West in the last few decades. This is a new electoral reality in the West and especially the US. This may well fuel the right wing, populist backlash evident in all the Western democracies—and which is itself an extremely dangerous threat to world peace."

And relatedly, concludes Professor Barkawi, "the Hamas/Israel war is leading to splits on the left and weakening the opposition to the far right in the West. Young leftists are learning about the horrors of the Israel/Palestine conflict for the first time; in their confusion, many are actively supporting a militant Islamist organization. But even those who direct their rage at the Israeli government and its US backers are causing tensions in left of center coalitions that are the only hope of holding back the far right."

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06 November 2023, 18:30