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The Israeli View Point:Lieberman says Israel needs to conquer and thoroughly cleanse Gaza
Israel is a state carved out of Arab areas by a UN mandate in 1948. Almost 90% of the countries who were members of the United Nations at that time supported the formation of the state of Israel, except the Arab states. All of then joined hands and the result was the first Arab-Israeli war, which resulted in complete defeat and humiliation of the Arab armies. This war took place in 1948, when the fledgling state was in the process of being formed.
Wars with Israel
Subsequently 3 wars (1956, 1967 and 1973) were fought between the Arabs and Israel. In all of them the Arabs were badly beaten, except in the 1973 war where the Arabs could regain some semblance of pride. But in hindsight the Arabs would have lost the 1973 war as well, as the Israeli army having crossed the Suez Canal could have reached Caro. Pressure from the two superpowers the USA and USSR brought about a cease fire and a peace treaty with Egypt.
Peace Treaty with Egypt
Israel negotiated a separate peace with Egypt and relinquished the conquered Sinai desert. This treaty was important as for the first time an Arab state had recognized the existence of Israel. The Egyptians also benefitted as they got back Sinai.
Gaza and West Bank
But Gaza and the West Bank which had been conquered by Israel were not handed back. The West bank was part of Jordan, but the state of Jordan could not press its demands as the King of Jordan was just little more than a puppet of the USA. The Arabs of Gaza and other areas having been driven from their lands started a terror war against Israel and its mentor the USA. The result is a perpetual rocket and terror attacks on Israel.
Setting up of the Gaza State
The Israeli state under pressure from the world body of nations and the USA agreed to vacate Gaza and self government was ushered in the new state. But Hamas the militant wing operating from Gaza refused to recognize the existence of Israel and continued its terror war against the Israeli state. The pivot for a peace in the Middle East is the recognition of the state of Israel and its right to survive as a nation. Unfortunately, this right is not recognized by most Arabs and Hamas the terrorist organization operating from Gaza is vociferous in opposing the existence of the Israeli state.
Hamas and Avigdor Lieberman
This attitude of Hamas is the genesis of the statement by Avigdor Lieberman. Lieberman is a former foreign minister of Israel and has extreme right wing views. He is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s closest political ally has called for Israel to carry out a “thorough cleansing” of the Gaza Strip. Lieberman is a Soviet born Israeli politician. He was Minister for Foreign affairs and Deputy Prime Minister of Israel until 18 December 2012. He had to resign after he was charged with fraud and breach of trust.
Speaking on Israel Radio, the former foreign minister was explicit that the Gaza strip should be again taken over by Israel. He was of the view that in another 2 years, Hamas would have a bigger arsenal at its disposal and hundreds of missiles that could reach even beyond Tel Aviv. The very fact that Hamas still does not recognize the existence of Israel and its right to survive as a nation adds a ring of truth to the assertion of Lieberman.
His comments came after a massive retaliation by the Israeli air Force, which attacked terrorist targets in Gaza
Terror Attacks against Israel
The Israeli Air Force attacked targets in the Gaza Strip after six rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel into the early hours of Monday morning last month. No one was injured. It was the first ceasefire breach since April. A fact that needs to be emphasised is that Hamas and other terror groups like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Fatah, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) have perpetuated over 200 terror attacks on Israel during the last 2 decades and caused over 800 deaths.
Lieberman may be right in his assertion, but 2013 is different from 1973 and the Israeli cabinet has indicated it is not considering any re-conquest of Gaza because of the changed world scenario and diplomatic and political repercussions of any such occupation. In fact Finance Minister Yair Lapid has termed Lieberman’s statement as “irresponsible”. All in all Israel is on the horns of a dilemma. There is also a subtle shift in US policy under Obama and Israel is hoping the next President will be more in line with its thinking. It has to wait and watch. In the meantime peace will elude the Middle East