The global consequences of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

The future of the conflict between Israel and Palestine is dangerously uncertain and could have unforeseen consequences not only in the Middle east but at at world wide level. Let see some  current. slong with historidc, aspects.

1.  For Netanyahu, once again at the helm of the Israeli government, a Palestinian problem did not exist or, in any case, it was secondary. His attention was focused on internal constitutional policies over which a clash had broken out with the opposition parties. The Palestinian attack was considered beyond any possibility for a Palestine closed within borders considered insurmountable. A strange circumstance considering that, according to widespread opinion afterwards, Hamas had already been preparing for the invasion for two years.

We don't know if this version is founded. But the fact remains that the 40 kilometers of the Gaza Strip, with a narrow border with Egypt, was isolated from the rest of the world. Two million three hundred thousand Palestinians locked up in a sort of open-air prison, with one of the highest population rates in the world, with the average age of the population around 18 years. and where the uncertain daily food depended largely on international charities.

Israel had ignored the Hamas accumulation of weapons and the preparation of assault on Israel. A circumstance that is in many ways surprising if one considers Israel's extreme ability to militarily control Palestinian territory. But the attack happened. And Netanyahu's government has decided on a reaction internationally considered disproportionate given the destructive and human consequences for more than two million citizens in the territory of Gaza.

The future of Palestine, including the West Bank - where just under three million Palestinians live, itself fragmented by a hundred Israeli settlements - and the Palestinian part of Jerusalem, remains uncertain, and, in many ways, catastrophic. A situation that has no comparison in the rest of the world since the end of the colonial era in the middle of the last century.

2.    We must ask ourselves whether the conflict between Israel and Palestine was avoidable in the decades preceding it. And, in any case, it was entirely avoidable in the framework of a European-wide agreement devised by Norway, on the one hand, and the United States, under the direction of Bill Clinton, on the other. It was 1994 when an agreement was signed between Rabin. as head of the government of Israel, and Arafat as head of the provisional government of Palestine.

Palestine would have obtained independence and Israel the government of the "promised land" together with Palestinian recognition. It was a step forward appreciated throughout the world. But Rabin, the agreement's main supporter, was assassinated in 1995 by a young Israeli right-wing militant. A year later the government passed into the hands of Netanyahu at the head of the Israeli rightwing parties.

Arafat was awarded the highest honor of the Italian Republic directed by Carlo Azeglio Ciampi in 1998 for the merits acquired in the signing of the agreement between Israel and Palestine. But the Israeli government led by Netanyahu had now blocked the agreement between Rabin and Arafat. The reason given was the position tending to allow the influx into Palestine of approximately 500 thousand Palestinians who, over the years, the conflict had forced to leave Palestine. But it was not an unprecedented case. After 1990, almost a million Russian citizens had flocked to Israel for political or religious reasons, where they constituted an almost separate body.

In reality, Israel's new right-wing governments rejected the 1984 agreement between Rabin and Arafat. The conflict resumed at the beginning of the new century. Arafat, suffering from an illness of uncertain nature, died in a Paris hospital in November 2004. The origins of the illness remained undefined. For a group of Swiss doctors, it was a case of provoked poisoning. But the origin of his death remained controversial.

At the beginning of the new century the agreement that should have been implemented over the course of five years had remained unimplemented. It was the beginning of the second Intifada. At the end of 2005, Israel left the Gaza Strip, which subsequently came under the direction of Hamas, which had won the elections, while Abu Mazen, head of Al Fatah, ran the West Bank. Initially, disagreement prevailed between the two Palestinian representatives, but an agreement was reached in 2010.

But fifteen years had passed since Rabin's killing and his agreement with Arafat on behalf of the Palestinian people. Israel continued to be dominated by center-right Israeli governments and hopes of an agreement had faded.

3.    We know the current situation. The foundation of Gaza dates back to over a millennium before the Christian era, it was attacked and semi-destroyed several times but was always reborn. Without Gaza, Palestine is reduced to the West Bank - partly occupied by the Israelis - and to a smaller part of Jerusalem where it is i the third most important mosque in the Islamic world - after those of Mecca and Medina in South Arabia - capable of holding over 5000 faithful Muslims.

The Palestinian question affects, in fact, the entire Middle East in which profound changes and a general reorganization are underway.

The agreement that seemed possible between Saudi Arabia and Israel collides with the reality of war. But there's more. After years of political conflict, Saudi Arabia made an agreement with Persia through the mediation of Chinese President Hu Jintao. China has assumed an important role in the Middle East and cannot accept the substantial destruction of Gaza and the liquidation of the prospect of an independent Palestine alongside Israel.

For its part, Saudi Arabia is aiming for a joint position with Persia with which it has established an agreement with the mediation of China that changes the Middle Eastern scenario in the past characterized by the clash between the two countries. Persia has, in its turn, direct relations with Iraq and Syria and, above all, with Hezbollah in Lebanon which has an army of 70 thousand soldiers on the border with Israel. In essence, the conflict that is now affecting the Gaza Strip with catastrophic consequences is at the center of a confrontation that involves the major Middle Eastern powers.

The Israeli rightwing parties, in government with few variations for over a quarter of a century, after the peace initiative of Rabin and Arafat, have focused on the expansion of Israel with the exclusion of the Gaza Strip abandoned to itself. But the longest conflict in post-World War II history has actually taken on new dimensions. It no longer has characteristics related to a smaller part of the Middle East. It involves more or less directly the major powers at a global level.

The solution that seemed possible and acceptable to both parties was lost. Now the Middle Eastern and in many ways global future has become dramatically uncertain. The liquidation of Palestine as a shattered territory is once again at the center of world politics, involving more or less directly the major global powers from the United States to China as well as the major Middle Eastern countries. A framework in which Europe's role appears secondary if not totally insignificant.

* The population residing in the Territories that include the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and part of Jerusalem amounts approximately 5 million overall. Gaza, in particular, is one of the places with the highest population density in the world, with more than 4000 inhabitants per square kilometer. According to United Nations documents approximately 43% of all Jews reside in Israel (about 7 million) and 39% in the United States (over five million), and most of the rest in Europe (1.5 million).
The total population of Israel is estimated at 8.9 million, of which 1.8 million are Arab, mostly Palestinian. Another five million Palestinians live in several predominantly Middle Eastern countries. Essentially two populations of comparable size.

Antonio Lettieri

Antonio Lettieri is Editor of Insight and President of CISS – Center for International Social Studies (Roma). He was National Secretary of CGIL; Member of ILO Governing Body,and Advisor of Labor Minister for European Affairs.(