The conflict between Israel and Palestine is not as complex as the apologists of Hamas make it to be, but it does have a lot of history and context to it. Something that is very important that people should know about the current conflict is that one of the main reasons why Benjamin Netanyahu and hard-right Israeli politics became so successful in Israel is because of Hamas and other Islamo-fascists.
The Israeli Labour Party has been a strong progressive force in Israel since Israel’s foundation and at one point in time came very close to concluding a peace process with the Palestinians. Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of the Israeli Labour Party signed the Oslo Accords with Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in 1993 and 1995 which were meant to give back Gaza to the Palestinians and create a Palestinian government, but not a state. The Palestinian state was to be created after settling border issues with settlements in the West Bank and the issue of East Jerusalem. In exchange, the Palestinians were to refrain from the use of terror and drop their demand to expel all the Jews and abolish the state of Israel.
In November 1995 Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli extremist who rejected the peace process. This situation resulted in increased support for the Labour Party and the peace process was a given conclusion with wide support from the Israeli electorate. Months before the Israeli general election of 1996, Hamas began a campaign of terror attacks on Israel and Israeli civilians with the aim of scuttling the peace process killing hundreds of civilians indiscriminately in public buses and shopping malls. These were events that began tilting the Israeli electorate away from Labour’s intentions of peace and in fact, in May 1996 Benjamin Netanyahu of Likud became Prime Minister with a margin of less than 1%.
This was the beginning when Israel began backtracking from the Oslo accords but the electorate hadn’t completely lost hope. Labour still controlled the majority of the Knesset and by 1999 Netanyahu had to resign and call early elections after failing to pass a budget. Ehud Barak, leader of a left-wing coalition that included Labour won the elections and committed to continue the peace process. In July 2000, US President Bill Clinton who had been brokering the peace process between both parties from the beginning hosted Barak and Arafat at Camp David and the meeting ended with no agreement as Arafat refused to concede over Jerusalem and the return of Palestinian refugees.
Following the failure of Camp David, Israeli Opposition Leader Ariel Sharon of Likud sought to provoke the Palestinians to scuttle the peace process and visited the Al-Aqsa compound, where the Al-Aqsa mosque is located – a holy site for Muslims. Sharon was successful in his provocation and a wave of Palestinian protests was triggered which culminated in violence and the eventual participation of Hamas with, as usual, the killing and murder of hundreds of innocent civilians. Ariel Sharon went on to win the elections in February 2001 and Likud was once again back in power. In 2002, Sharon used the justification of the previous swathe of Hamas suicide bombings in Israel to begin constructing a barrier in the West Bank. However, Sharon also announced the Israeli disengagement from Gaza effectively handing over the Gaza Strip to the Palestinians.
Sharon’s disengagement plan from Gaza was rejected by a national referendum in May 2004, but Sharon pushed through with the disengagement plan in cooperation with the Labour Party and other liberal members of the Knesset. Netanyahu was part of the Likud’s faction which consistently kept opposing the plan, but eventually, the plan was adopted by a majority in the Knesset. So far, there was still a lot of hope that a peace process with the Palestinians was to come to fruition. Likud was again defeated in elections in March 2006 by a new party of leftists and liberals led by Ehud Olmert.
Olmert committed himself to the creation of a Palestinian state, for the handing over of lands to the Palestinians both in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip and to connecting the Gaza Strip to the West Bank via tunnels and roads. This was just after elections for the Palestinian Legislative Council were held where Hamas won a majority of votes followed by Fatah. Hamas is an Islamo-fascist organisation that believes in the expulsion of the Jews and the abrogation of the state of Israel. Yet, at that point in point in time, the Israeli electorate was still voting for peace. In July 2006 Iran started a proxy war against Israel through Hezbollah while Hamas tried to wrestle control over Gaza. In June 2007 Hamas took complete control of Gaza and soon after started firing rockets indiscriminately to neighbouring Israeli towns and villages. Olmert blockaded the Gaza Strip only allowing the entrance of humanitarian supplies and kept warning Hamas to stop firing their rockets, but month after month, Hamas kept firing rockets indiscriminately until Olmert declared Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 and bombarded Gaza.
Olmert’s electoral ratings had already plunged with the war against Hezbollah but his handling of Gaza made him look weak and unable to defend Israeli citizens. In the 2009 Israeli general elections, Netanyahu became Prime Minister as he was capable of forming a wide centrist coalition that included Labour, but ever since then, the peace process was stalled and Netanyahu refrained from giving it too much thought and effort. Israeli settlements in the West Bank grew and became more indiscriminate while the Palestinians remained divided and their attempt to create a self-government was marred by Hamas which aimed to take the Palestinians into another war against Israel. From then on, the Israeli government was more self-interested and began addressing Hamas and Gaza as a security threat rather than addressing the peace process with Palestinians. This strategy began to be more popular with the Israeli electorate and in 2015 Israeli right-wing parties achieved an absolute majority with Netanyahu becoming ever more popular as the Israeli strongman. Labour kept declining in popularity with the voices for peace becoming ever more subdued in the national Israeli discourse. Fatigue had settled in and both Hamas and the Israeli hard right were content with a stalemate that pit Palestinians and Israelis in a state of permanent conflict.
Today, Netanyahu is losing his strongman image after failing to prevent the recent attacks that took place in Israel accusing him of ignoring Israel’s security interests to accumulate power with his strongly fought for judicial reforms. The national political discourse in Israel prioritises national security and not a peace process with the Palestinians and Hamas is mostly to blame for this situation.