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Is Blinken the Carrier of “Genuine Hope”?

Published: (Updated: ) in Jewish News by .

What Secretary of State Anthony Blinken attempts to achieve in the Middle East is as admirable as it is impossible.

The post Is Blinken the Carrier of “Genuine Hope”? appeared first on Jewish Journal.

What Secretary of State Anthony Blinken attempts to achieve in the Middle East is as admirable as it is impossible. Blinken is visiting the region, a first for him as secretary – a sure sign that Middle East affairs weren’t a priority and still aren’t. Since he knows, and did not make it a secret, that peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians cannot be fruitful at the current juncture, he wishes to implement concrete measures that could ease tensions and offer “genuine hope”. The problem might be as follows: he can either ease tensions or offer hope. Doing both seems impossible.

The best way to demonstrate why that’s the case is to look at the most concrete measure on the table at this time. Gaza was ruined in the last cycle of Hamas fighting with Israel, and the world – once more – would like to help it recover and rebuild. This is, no doubt, a worthy cause. There are people in Gaza, many of which – most of which – are innocent. They are hostages of a repressive regime. Easing their level of suffering is the human thing to do.

There’s a problem with that. Countries have realized that whatever they give go to waste in one of two ways. Either Hamas takes it for its own purposes – and uses it to build its military capabilities rather than ease the suffering of its people. Or it is used to build infrastructure than will be destroyed in the next round of violence, at the time of Hamas leaders’ choosing.

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What could be the remedy for these two problems? The second one is easy: make sure Hamas doesn’t attack Israel – because if it doesn’t, Israel will not have to counterattack Hamas. The first one is a bit more complicated: hand the funds marked for helping the people of Gaza to someone other than Hamas. Blinken has such someone in mind: the Palestinian Authority.

The PA is also not known for its efficient management and lack of corruption, but at least it is politically more moderate. Giving funds to the PA is supposed to strengthen the moderates against the radicals and thus offer “genuine hope” for the people (be moderate – get money!). Sadly, the PA doesn’t control Gaza. So giving money to the PA means that unless Hamas accepts the terms of the deal, the money will not go to Gaza, will not ease the pain of people and will not offer any hope to anyone. In fact, handing the money to the PA is not much more than playing one of two fantasy games: Let’s pretend that Hamas is not involved when we know it really is – or let’s pretend that we assist Gaza when we know we really don’t.

if one hands Hamas the funds, one eases tensions, but does not offer much hope, because this strengthens the radicals who want no hope for peace.

As we already said, Blinken (and the other “international community” actors) can either ease tensions or offer hope, not both. And now you see why: if one hands Hamas the funds, one eases tensions, but does not offer much hope, because this strengthens the radicals who want no hope for peace. But if one hands the PA the funds, one offers hope, but also creates new tension, because Hamas isn’t going to sit idly by while the world is trying to circumvent its control over Gaza.

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I suspect Blinken knows all this. He is an experienced and smart diplomat. So why does he still pursue the impossible? I think – and this is speculation, not information – that the whole idea is mostly for show. We must pretend that the goal is to return to the two-state solution mechanism. We must convince the supporters back home that the Biden team isn’t going to be like the Trump team. We must be seen as if we have new ideas that we bring to the table. Now, whether any of these ideas are practical, most people will never know.


Shmuel Rosner is an Israeli columnist, editor, and researcher. He is the editor of the research and data-journalism website themadad.com and is the political editor of the Jewish Journal.

The post Is Blinken the Carrier of “Genuine Hope”? appeared first on Jewish Journal.

Source: Jewish Journal https://jewishjournal.com/rosnersdomain/337015/is-blinken-the-carrier-of-genuine-hope/

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