Tuesday, May 18, 2021
Where is the way out of the conflict?
“The escalation is helping Netanyahu”
For a week now, the conflict between Israel and the radical Islamist Hamas has claimed human lives every day. How do the opponents get out of the conflict again? Israel expert Peter Lintl speaks to ntv.de about risks and perspectives.
ntv.de: If the conflict with Hamas hadn’t escalated a week ago today, a coalition against Benjamin Netanyahu would have been formed in Israel. Does the prime minister owe the missiles that he remains in office for the time being?
Peter Lintl: The coalition would have been dependent on toleration from the Raam party, an Arab-Israeli party. But now she no longer wants to cooperate, the alliance will not come about. A massive help for Netanyahu, without my wanting to say that he was a warmonger here.
But could he have done more to prevent the escalation?
The spread of Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem has been happening for decades. This displaces Palestinians and tries to cement Israeli-Jewish sovereignty over Jerusalem. What is new is the integration of the radical right-wing parties into the political system, and Netanyahu is partly responsible for this. So that none of the small right-wing parties fail in the election at the 3.25 percent hurdle, he has integrated them into a block. So no real voice should be lost. But in doing so he has legitimized these parties with some radical racists.
What are the consequences?
With the result that supporters of the right also feel legitimized that they have roamed East Jerusalem in the last few weeks and shouted “Death to the Arabs”. A party office was opened in the neighborhood. The radicals received an immense boost.
Will the brutal face that Hamas is now showing attract even more interest?
It’s hard to predict. Perhaps more influx on the right edge, but also more resistance from the middle. Really many people are shocked by the escalation – with Hamas but also between Jewish and Arab Israelis.
The end of Ramadan, Jerusalem Day, threatened evictions of Palestinian families and Tiktok videos with violence against Orthodox Jews – that sounds like an unfortunate chain of events that led to the clash. But is it that simple?
The history of this escalation does not lie solely in the events in East Jerusalem. Above all, this also includes the cancellation of the elections for the Palestinians, which should actually take place in May. The first democratic elections in the Palestinian Territories in 15 years.
It is often said that President Mahmoud Abbas was afraid of a Hamas victory.
According to the polls, a majority for Hamas was not to be feared. She had even agreed to go into a unity government with Fatah, Abbas’s party, also as a junior partner. Hamas seemed ready for a political solution to the Palestinian split. But Abbas’ greatest competition came from within his own party. He feared that the very popular Marwan Barghuti, imprisoned in Israel, would drive him out of power. Therefore the rejection. It has greatly weakened Abbas’ position, who denied the Palestinian people an opportunity to express themselves. At the same time, it was a massive affront to Hamas’ offer, a humiliation.
And now Hamas is returning to its core competence?
Yes, the rejection of the election has worsened the situation, Hamas is back on its terrorist path and has demonstrated its capabilities. They have increased significantly: in the past, weapons came through tunnels on the border with Egypt, and deliveries also came from Iran by sea. Above all, however, Hamas has developed its military capabilities itself to such an extent that it can manufacture weapons and only needs certain parts to be supplied from outside. So she has greatly increased her competence, and we are currently seeing this increased competence.
But where can the conflict lead for them?
Now it’s actually about who comes out better. This is decided by two components: the technical and the public. Hamas has demonstrated its capabilities. Israel cannot really defeat them militarily. Because then it would have to march into Gaza itself, but that is not in Israel’s mind.
Then it can only be a matter of weakening Hamas in the long term?
In the past, Israel has repeatedly bought itself quiet for a few years. But when Hamas is sufficiently weakened, there is no borderline. That is also negotiated publicly – in our own people, towards the enemy and towards the world population, i.e. us. That is the second component – the public one. That is why the international push for a ceasefire could help, it is a way for the actors to get out of this game for publicity and strength.
Frauke Niemeyer spoke to Peter Lintl