Israel/Palestine: After the Gaza war

No justice for Palestinians and no peace for the region – For a socialist solution!

More than a month has passed since the ending of the bloody Gaza war on 26 August. Shahar Benhorin, from Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine), gives an in-depth analysis of the conflict and developments since and looks at prospects for the growth of a working class and socialist alternative in the region.

On 29 September, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu gave a demagogic performance at the UN General Assembly, mainly in front of many empty seats, where he sought to turn reality on its head. He depicted the Israeli regime as the realisation of the best of human morality, a most progressive force, protecting minorities (where, in reality, minorities are discriminated against and oppressed); guarding LGBT rights (as Israeli intelligence-unit Refuseniks recently revealed, the regime tries to blackmail gay Palestinians into becoming spies); and caring dearly for Palestinian lives (butchering whole families). The Palestinians in the West Bank, according to Netanyahu, do not even live under occupation, and the entire source of misery for the Palestinians in Gaza is due to nothing more than the rule of Hamas and some other groups. The harmony in ‘Netanyahuland’ is allegedly disturbed because Israel has to wage a survival war against ‘war-criminals’ that are part of a tide rise of quasi-Nazi Islamist forces across the globe.

Under pressure from an increased international isolation and from sections of the Israeli ruling class to display some flexibility in regards to concessions to the Palestinians, Netanyahu voiced in his UN speech hypocritical token support for a future peace agreement, “which will obviously necessitate a territorial compromise”. This pledge was not convincing even in the eyes of Israel’s patron, America. This was manifested two days after the speech, when at the end of a tenth meeting between Netanyahu and Obama, the White House publicly criticised the construction of 2,600 new Israeli settlements housing-units in East Jerusalem. The White House called into “question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians”.

Last summer gave a picture of what the Israeli regime’s “hand reaching for peace” actually means for Palestinians.

Gaza war

Over fifty days, nearly two million residents in the devastated Gaza Strip were bombarded day and night from the air, sea and land, by an estimated 20,000 tons of explosives – the equivalent of the atomic bomb dropped over Nagasaki in 1945.

It was the worst bloodshed in the history of the Strip. Around 2,200 residents perished, including about 500 babies and children. 100,000 residents saw their homes turned into rubble.

About 44% of Gazans would like to be able to flee this giant ghetto (PCPSR Polls: 26–30-August and 25–27-September). Some refugees managed to escape through Egypt, hoping to board a boat to find a new life in Europe. One boat overturned near the shores of Alexandria in September and 15 drowned.

The Israeli leaders claim that Hamas suffered unprecedented blows. As part of an attempt to construct a picture of victory, the last few days of the war saw an escalation of air-bombing, toppling multi-story buildings and assassinating a series of Hamas militia officials – including a fifth attempt on the life of the Hamas commander, Muhammed Deif (the result of which has not been confirmed, so far).

However, even on the last day of the war, the strongest military power in the Middle East could not stop Hamas from firing rockets into the Tel Aviv metropolitan area (Gush Dan), where almost half of the population of Israel live.

This mainly one-sided war between an occupying and besieging regime and an occupied and besieged population resulted also in the death of six civilians in Israel, including a young child. Though the Iron Dome interception system meant that the number of Israeli civilian casualties remained extremely low, there has never before been such a continuously intense firing of rockets into such a geographically-wide and population dense parts of Israel, including a few launched by Palestinian militias from Lebanon and Syria. International flights were significantly disrupted. Sixty-seven Israeli soldiers died – including as a result of Hamas guerrillas emerging from attack-tunnels – mostly during the ground invasion phase. The bodies of two soldiers have not yet been retrieved.

These were the most developed military capabilities of any Palestinian organisation in the occupied territories, so far. Throughout the war, the Israeli government and the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) command were taken by surprise by some of the military actions of Hamas and displayed a basic lack of understanding of the dynamic of events. At first, they assessed that Hamas, after being pushed to agree to a formal coalition with Fatah due to Gaza’s aggravated economic problems under a tightened Israeli-Egyptian siege, would not dare to significantly respond to the attacks on its own forces and the Palestinians. At the height of the war, in early August, the Israeli Chief of Staff made a speech calling on the residents of southern Israel who had fled to go back to their homes.

The government hoped that devastation, destruction and death in the Strip would send a message to any potential regional military challenge to the Israeli regime. But coming after Israel faced a political defeat at the hands of Hizballah in the 2006 second Israel-Lebanon war, this latest Gaza war saw Israel entangled in an even longer offensive in order to subdue a weaker militia than Hezbollah.

Since 2001, Israel has assassinated over 200 military and political leaders and officials in the Gaza Strip. Thousands have been slaughtered in a series of military offensives launched under the pretext of stopping rocket fire. Fundamentally this has been an attempt to collectively punish the Palestinians and subdue them into accepting Israeli control of the Strip and the West Bank, in one form or another.



But the July-August 2014 Gaza war exposed again the limits of Israel’s military power. This is because the resistance to the siege and occupation is not particular to one organisation or another but reflects the will of the entire Palestinian population.

“If the rockets’ range in Operation ’Cast Lead’ [in 2009] was 15kilometres, towards Sderot, in ’Pillar of Cloud’ [in 2012] they reached the outskirts of Tel Aviv and Rishon. Now the rockets have passed Hadera [in the northern Haifa district]. There are more explosives in the rockets”, said Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, and ironically he emphasised that “every such military campaign strengthens [Hamas] politically”.

In 2004, the Ariel Sharon government assassinated the founders of Hamas, Yassin and Rantisi, at the time of the suicide bombing campaign in Israeli cities. Within a few months, the rocket fire from the Strip, which started three years earlier, resulted for the first time in the killings of Israeli civilians. In October that year, Sharon threatened that “Operation Days of Penitence”, the first extensive bloody military onslaught “against the rockets”, would not be over for as long as the rocket fire continued. Just over a year later – after the “Disengagement” from Gaza was an accomplished fact, turning Gaza into a giant prison – Hamas won the PA elections, on the promise of “Change and Reform”.


After Israel and western imperialist powers intervened to marginalise Hamas’ power in the PA, Hamas eventually in 2007 took over and remained in control alone of a separate authority in the Gaza Strip.

Then, isolation policies, which have been imposed in different forms on the Gaza Strip since the early 1990s, reached their peak in the most cruel siege policies. At first Hamas retained public support on the basis of its opposition to the siege, but its use of political repression and religious coercion, along with the inevitable failure of its strategy and main tactics to show a way out of the siege and national oppression, lead to an increase in critical voices amongst the Gazan population. This accelerated after the removal of the Muslim Brotherhood rule in Egypt, which led to a re-intensification of the siege and a further isolation of Hamas.

The July-August war, however, revived Hamas’s popularity to the highest level for eight years, to begin with, although more restrained in the Gaza Strip than in the West Bank. Hamas was seen by a majority of the Palestinians as having led a moral victory against the barbaric massacre of the population.

In a pursuit of a claim of victory, the Israeli regime recently dubiously stated that it prevented a Hamas conspiracy of toppling the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank. But with its current popularity, if PA elections are to take place as planned within a few months, Hamas might actually win them again, most prominently in the West Bank. The Hamas leader in Gaza, Isma`il Haniyeh, draws on more support than PA president Mahmoud Abbas, and immediately after the war he even received more support than the imprisoned popular Fatah leader, Marwan Barghouthi.

Fatah’s support falls

The period of the war in Gaza and the preceding three-week military raid in the West Bank saw a drop in support for Abbas and for Fatah. Its passivity, faced with the Israeli regime’s barbarism, and the complete failure to change anything on the ground via their diplomatic strategy and appeals to Western imperialism have worn out the patience of significant layers. The PA, with its armed security forces, has served mostly to keep the ’status quo’ under the occupation, and deploys rhetorical protest only. This is contrary to the struggle most Palestinians would like to see.

Though the diplomatic bids to the UN and to some governments are supported there is not much hope placed in them leading to any real change on the ground. On the other hand, around 60% support the idea of mass popular demonstrations in the West Bank as a lever to bring about the end of the Israeli occupation. The idea of a return to an “armed intifada” has increased support as well, first shooting from 41% before the war to 60% immediately after the war, and remained at 50% a month after (PCPSR Polls).

This is mixed with a desperate feeling that everything must be done to resist the attacks on Palestinians. A majority supports “popular non-violent resistance”, but also a clear majority (72% immediately after the war, 63% a month after) would like to see the Hamas military approach being duplicated in the West Bank. Even more support the firing of rockets from Gaza for as long as the siege continues. This also underlines that rocket fire from the West Bank towards Israeli settlements and areas within Israel – isolated attempts of which were made in previous years – might become a new reality if the Israeli regime continues its route unabated.

Significant Palestinian demonstrations developed during the war in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and within Israel. They met with a heavy repression – lethal in the case of the occupied territories. Some of the unrest has continued across the West Bank and East Jerusalem since the ceasefire, indicating the unwillingness of some residents in the refugee camps and Palestinian towns and neighborhoods to go back to the “normal life” of the eve of the recent escalation of the conflict.

Though Hamas enjoys some higher support now, particularly in the West Bank, the continuation of the siege and occupation will inevitably lead, at a later stage, to a reassessment and increase in criticism of Hamas’s dead-end strategy and pro-capitalist and religious-fundamentalist political programme – this is already indicated just one month after the ceasefire. The internal Palestinian debate on the strategy needed for the struggle for national liberation will reawaken and open a way for the growth of new Left and socialist forces that could begin to offer a way out, on the basis of, among other things, a return to the road of mass struggle in the spirit of the first intifada.

In today’s circumstances there is complete distrust towards any proposed ’solution’ for the national conflict: about 60% of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza hold the view that a ’two states’ solution is not implementable because of the West Bank and East Jerusalem colonial settlements, while over 70% oppose a ’one state’ solution.


The post-ceasefire period is volatile. Unlike in 2012, when the regional situation compelled the previous Netanyahu government to restrain fire within a week and to formally commit to some easements of the siege, this time Hamas has not been able to point to any clear, concrete, formal concessions won against the siege – even with more developed military power. Hamas has, so far, only got the same formal concessions that it had in 2012. In an attempt to accelerate any reconstruction efforts, it is therefore pushed towards conceding some of its current control in the Gaza Strip back to the PA, which despite the transitional technocratic ’unity government’, is still under Fatah hegemony.

Yet if Israel does not offer any significant concessions in its siege policies it is probable that rocket fire from the Strip will be renewed at a later stage, possibly even in the coming few months. The larger militias, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are not likely to want to return to a wide military confrontation without a period of preparation. But the rocket fire could be renewed on a small scale – one “anonymous” mortar-shell has already been detected three weeks after the ceasefire.

So far, all that has been agreed as a basis for the ceasefire, reached under the sponsorship of the Sisi regime in Egypt, are certain easements in the opening of border crossings and the relieving of the maritime siege by a commitment to double the fishing area to six nautical miles. This was promised in the 2012 ceasefire understandings and violated, and the Oslo agreements promised 20 nautical miles.

The indirect negotiations between Israel and Hamas were postponed one month ahead and are supposed to be renewed in Cairo, at the end of October, with the aim of discussing further concessions and thus reaching a more stable ceasefire arrangement. While the Israeli regime is being pushed towards allowing some possible minimal concessions in order to stabilize the situation, it also worries that any concession could be considered as another gain for Hamas. Netanyahu has hinted before that it is not certain an Israeli delegation will even go to Cairo. At the same time, in several occasions since the formal declaration of the ceasefire, Israeli military forces shot and injured Palestinian fishermen and raided parts of the Strip, firing at and injuring Gazan farmers.

This is all part of attempts by the Israeli regime to consolidate an image of its military supremacy to force the Palestinians to accept the status quo. Less than a week after the declared ceasefire, Netanyahu’s government announced an expropriation of 3.8 square kilometres – the largest in three decades – of Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank, for the benefit of the Gush Etzyon settlements. This is yet another collective punishment for the murder of the three Israeli youths in that area, which marked the start of the summer conflict.

A few days later, the government published tenders for the beginning of construction of almost 300 new settlement housing-units at another location. In east Jerusalem, Palestinian houses in the Silwan neighborhood were taken over by Israeli Kahanist neo-fascist settlers, and in another incident 20 Palestinian tombstones were smashed. Across the West Bank, in September alone, hundreds of Palestinians were arrested. In Hebron, where schools were tear gassed, this included the arrest/abduction of 40 children, all below 17 years.


Netanyahu has, so far, rejected any significant dismantling of settlements. He continues, as he did during the fake negotiations with the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation) earlier this year, to emphasise that Israel will not give up some form of control over the Palestinian territories. In the leadership of Netanyahu’s Likud party, as well as amongst some of his government coalition partners, there are explicit voices against the very idea of a Palestinian state.

Without a significant change in the status quo, it is definitely possible that the next round of war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip could include a bloody attempt at a re-occupation of the Strip to “put it in order”. Such a scenario, where the Israeli regime would attempt to physically liquidate the military wing of Hamas as the Sri Lankan regime has done, for now, to the ’Tamil Tigers’, might take a few years and involve thousands of deaths according to IDF assessments. However, unlike the Sri Lankan regime, the Israeli elite have no real interest in directly occupying the Strip at this stage. As Netanyahu said, such a move would raise the question of how the Israeli regime could rule over Gaza’s nearly two million residents.



The arrogant Netanyahu regime temporarily benefits from the growth of the ’Islamic State’ organisation in Iraq and Syria and the fact that the Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda in Syria) is presently on the border of the occupied Golan Heights. These developments serve to deflect international pressure, as well as restraining a debate within the Israeli establishment regarding a possible change to its strategy on confronting the Palestinians.

Nevertheless, if the Netanyahu government sought during the war to reassert the Israeli regime’s military supremacy, the siege of Gaza, to weaken Hamas, to overcome social and class tensions within Israel, and to appear to be fighting for the personal security of the Israeli public – after the war it still maintains the siege of Gaza, but it faces an even more unstable situation regarding all the other parameters.

International relations

Israel’s international relations, particularly with Washington, are increasingly deteriorating. International popular protests against Israeli state terrorism have put pressure on capitalist governments to at least restrain their collaboration with the regime that is oppressing the Palestinians. Moreover, the absolute intransigence of the Netanyahu government regarding even partial concessions over the settlements and the attacks on the Palestinians is perceived by the majority of the US establishment and the big EU powers, and also by other regimes in the Middle East and by the UN, as a further destabilising factor in the Middle East.

Historically, the western capitalist powers, principally the US, have seen the State of Israel as a political tool to assist their imperialist policies in the Middle East, and the US still significantly subsidises part of the military costs of Israel. This policy is not expected to end in the coming few years, but it serves the US in its ability to exert pressure on Israel. During the war, the White House held back a helicopter ammunition shipment intended for Israel, as token gesture to outraged public opinion. In a similar move, the Spanish government froze weapons exports to Israel. During mass demonstrations against the Gaza attacks, the British government stated it would conduct a “review” of some its arms sales to Israel. In Germany, which has just sent another subsidised submarine to Israel, there were voices from the SPD, Merkel’s ’grand coalition’ partner, calling for a reconsideration about supplying weapons to Israel.

The tensions in the Israel-US relations have led the Netanyahu regime – which fears, amongst other things, that the Obama administration will ease pressure on Iran regarding the nuclear issue – in an attempt to strengthen its relations with Russia, which is in confrontation with western powers over Ukraine. But the Putin regime also has an interest in strengthening its relations with Iran. Nor would closer relations with Russia do much to change the international situation for the Israeli regime. It would not allow Israel financial or diplomatic advantage at the level supplied currently by the US.

Though Netanyahu speaks of “new opportunities” in the current regional situation, in fact with the undermining of the central regimes and the decline in the power of the US, the potential of the Israeli regime to make new strong alliances in the region has weakened dramatically; it can’t even rehabilitate its old strategic alliance with the Turkish regime.

Israeli government in-fighting

An extended political crisis is unfolding in Israel. The conflict with Hamas sparked an unprecedented crisis in the government at a time of war. Sharp controversies developed publically, involving all five political parties in government, including parts of the ruling Likud party, attacking the line of their own government.

Economy minister, Naftali Bennett, who is also the leader of the far-right, religious-Zionist, settlers-based party ’Jewish Home’, gained some popularity through his far-right attacks on the government. Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the far-right, racist and autocratic Israeli-Russian-based party ’Israel Our Home’, followed suit and tried to gain attention by declaring the breakup of his party’s joint faction with Likud.

Netanyahu was forced to sack his Likud colleague, Deputy Security Minister, but could not really take any actions against his main adversaries without breaking the coalition. The last day of war saw a farcical peak of that government crisis, when Netanyahu was not even able to get a majority in the government’s Security Cabinet (consisting of the prime minister and seven other ministers) to pass a decision on ending the war. So Netanyahu merely ’updated’ the other ministers, informing them that Israel had decided to accept the ceasefire deal.

These confrontations at the top of the regime partially reflected the pressures from the Israeli Jewish public’s mood which, fuelled by strong security fears, was mobilised to support the war. At the same time this support was ’conditioned’ by the view that this time the Israeli government should make sure that no further rounds of rocket fire and war would follow yet again. No doubt this sentiment translated into a reactionary, chauvinistic support for the barbaric bombings in the Strip, and, as in 2012, a majority of the Israeli public was against a ceasefire.

Paradoxically, this did not shake support much for ’going back to negotiations’ with the Fatah-led PLO and support for a ’two states’ solution – despite the fact that most Israelis did not believe anything was going to come out of the previous negotiations, and about half see a ’two states’ solution as doomed to fail. ’One state’ – a ’bi-national state’ – is currently rejected by over 60%.

At a late stage of the war, there were more working and middle class Israelis holding the view that the Israeli government “must do anything”, whether even more brutal bombings or a possible political settlement of the conflict, “to assure quiet”.

The mood among the Israeli-Jewish public is very contradictory; 61% “does not currently extend trust to the Israeli leadership”, according to a recent poll (The Peace Index, September). About the same rates claim to be satisfied with the Israeli government’s “performance in the security domain”, but 70% say that the recent war did not change the “national security” situation or that it has deteriorated.

The public support rates for Netanyahu dropped sharply from 82%, at the beginning of the war, to around 40% at its end. If there were any other party or politician that could appear as an alternative to Netanyahu, to solve the problems of the national conflict, and also of the widespread economic hardship, that drop would have been even more drastic.

Following a sudden resignation from the national parliament (Knesset) by Interior Minister Gideon Sa’ar, a Likud leader (to ’spend more time with his family’), Likud has become an even more undermined ruling party. It is now hanging to power by a record low of 18 seats (15% of parliamentary seats) for a ruling party and is now even smaller than Yair Lapid’s ’Yesh Atid’ party. Although almost none of the coalition parties seems to have an immediate interest in new elections, Netanyahu’s more destabilized coalition now faces pressures that could lead to its collapse and new elections next year. This could be either due to divisions over its strategy regarding the national conflict or its budget and economic policy at a time of economic stagnation.

Economic decline

The war has aggravated the slowdown in economic growth in Israel to zero in real terms, and among the ruling class there is a debate on how to finance the costs of it. Immediate budget cuts were carried out. The rapid move by the government towards new economic attacks on workers has spurred again sentiments of anger at the economic situation, which were temporarily marginalised during the war. This was expressed, for example, in one poll indicating that 60% of the Israeli public opposes increases in the security budget at the expense of health, education and welfare.


Socialist Struggle Movement members protesting against the war



Days after the end of the war, postal workers were protesting and striking against redundancies. The Histadrut (main organisation of trade unions) was leading small solidarity strike actions in different parts of the public sector and threatening a general strike.

The feeling of a lack of economic security and anger at poverty wages and high costs of living – which led to the mass social protest movement in 2011 and the unprecedented workers’ unionisation wave in recent years – deepens a schism between the Israeli working class and the ruling elite. This potentially opens more space for questioning the real interests and motives behind the occupation, settlements, siege and national oppression and expropriation of the Palestinians.

National and class conflict

The antagonism between Israel and the Palestinians, and Israel and the rest of the region, has been historically the most decisive factor in shaping Israeli society, and usually continues to be the sharpest and the most central contradiction, determining the political developments in Israel and functioning as a powerful factor not only in radicalising Palestinians, but some layers of Israeli youth as well. Nevertheless, the most fundamental contradiction within Israeli society itself, and therefore the most crucial in undermining the stability of the Israeli capitalist regime and its reign of terror, remains the internal class conflict.

Contrary to its early decades of existence, Israel is no longer an immigrant society with a false promise of a better and even “socialist” future for Jewish people. Most Israelis have been born in Israel, with their distinct nationality long having been consolidated, but also it is a society deeply transformed by the rise of neo-liberalism. This crushed illusions in the ’temporariness’ of economic and national conflict-related problems, and as a result significantly undermined Zionist ideological commitment amongst the masses. Economic hardships in a modern-day Sparta alienate parts of Israeli society. About one third of Israelis say today they would rather emigrate if given a chance – in a society where emigration of Israeli-Jewish people has historically been a taboo, regarded in most cases by Zionist leaders as an act of deserting. This implies that the vicious reactionary waves of national chauvinistic moods in Israeli society rely on a weaker basis today, most primarily on fear.

This is important precisely because it indicates an increased potential for the working class in Israel to reach, at a later stage, revolutionary conclusions and to break away from an alliance with the Israeli ruling class and its agenda regarding Palestinians and the Arab world. Instead, the Israeli working class could build their own movement and be won over to the side of an advancing Palestinian and regional revolution.

Given the centrality of the national conflict and the existential and security fears of Israelis, such a sharp turn to the Left cannot be expected to develop outside the context of the regional and international development of Left forces. On the contrary, counter-revolutionary trends in neighboring countries would more likely fortify, for now, fears that are exploited efficiently by all the political wings of the Israeli ruling class.

However, the growth of socialist forces in neighbouring countries and among the Palestinian communities could be a source of appeal to Israeli workers, to organise politically on class lines with Arab-Palestinian workers in Israel, and in irreconcilable opposition to the rule of capital in Israel. The exploited and impoverished majority of the Israeli working class could be attracted to a social revolution in the region, if it perceived this revolution is to be its exit strategy route from both class exploitation and from hostile isolation in the region – a route for fulfilling aspirations for genuine social justice and peace.

A Palestinian state

With Palestinians but also Israeli Jewish workers distrusting a ’two states’ solution and rejecting a ’one state’ solution, the impasse in the current situation is clear. Indeed, under the grip of the Israeli capitalist ruling elite, no genuine, viable Palestinian state could be established.

Understandably, in the international Left there are attempts to find formulations to overcome the complexities in the situation, and there is some debate on a ’one state’ alternative. But it is currently strongly rejected on both sides of the divide because there is a fierce distrust and fear of being a ’second-class’ repressed nationality in such as a state, as the Arab-Palestinian minority is in Israel today. Therefore, a ’one state’ formulation, in effect, expressing an over-abstraction of the actual problems, provokes even more suspicions.

Some unfortunately put their hopes on changes in the demographic balance between the river and the sea to be the decisive factor in leading a Palestinian revolution to success. History tells a different story. At the time of the imperialist-dictated UN partition plan of 1947, there was a significant Arab-Palestinian majority. This did not prevent the ethnic cleansing horrors of the Nakba during the 1948 war. And with the immense war machine in the hands of Israel today, the fact that this conflict cannot be simply solved ’demographically’ should be noted.

The extent of the brutal Israeli state terror and massacres in Gaza showed, once again, that the Israeli war machine will not be subdued by the Palestinians militarily. It is only the route of building a mass movement and of mass struggle – with the right to arms – that could shake the Israeli regime once again to its foundations. The Palestinian masses, relying on their own forces and on solidarity from workers and youth across the region and internationally, and from sections of Israeli society, could frustrate and stop this war machine if organised and mobilised through mass actions. They could bring down the dictatorship of the colonial occupation in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, break the siege on Gaza, and repel the rule of national discrimination, segregation and expropriation within Israel.

Revolution and counter-revolution

Any significant return of mass Palestinian actions could increase opposition to the continuation of occupation among the Israeli public, and will serve as a whip against counter-revolution in the region, inspiring a re-awakening of mass struggles – and vice versa in Israel-Palestine. When faced with the nearby presence of the ’Arab Spring’ mass movements and mass pressure on the regimes that surround it, the Israeli regime was forced to partially hold back, and was thus less capable of conducting killing frenzies of the sort seen during the recent war. In 2012 war, Israel feared a collapse of its formal peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and ferment among the Palestinians.

Significantly, the earlier stages of the ’Arab Spring’ uprisings have had a certain radicalising effect among middle and working class Israelis, inspired by and admiring the masses in Tahrir Square, in Cairo. This did not mean an automatic overcoming of nationalism and moving towards solidarity with the Palestinians. But such moods began to develop despite some vile attempts by sections of the Israeli ruling class to incite against the revolutions (the Israeli government even offered former Egyptian dictator Mubarak political asylum).

Though some significant gains could be achieved in struggle against the Israeli occupation and siege even in the short term, any viable strategy for the Palestinian struggle and for the resolving of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be linked with the advance of a social revolution in the region. The fate of the conflict is tied with that of the region.

In the context of a disintegrating, capitalist Middle East, as long as the Israeli ruling class maintains power, more brutalisation of the conflict can be expected in the coming years, even if some formal concessions are given, at some point, towards the recognition of an upgraded PA as a ’Palestinian state’. That would not include a real independent state or an actual end of occupation in East Jerusalem, or an end of attacks on the Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel, or any other central problem – resources, refugees – being resolved. And with an unequal balance of forces, borders would be continuously challenged.

This is why the Socialist Struggle Movement in Israel (CWI) links the struggle against the occupation and siege and for peace, with the struggle for a socialist change, for a voluntary confederation of independent, democratic socialist states, as a basis for guaranteeing the rights of all nationalities and thus allowing for regional peace and security. A truly independent and equal, democratic socialist Palestinian state – free of any external aggression and imperialist intervention – is viable in such a context. It might possibly be joined voluntarily by some of the Palestinian communities within a truly democratic socialist Israel, which would reject all forms of discrimination. Jerusalem would not need to be divided by more walls, but could contain two sovereign capitals. The recognition of the ’right of return’ and a just solution for all the refugees could be realised.

The task of the day is organising the struggle against the occupation and siege and for peace, but if the rule of state terror is really to be challenged, socialism has to be put on the agenda.

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