Jack Guez Agence France-Presse One day it will be necessary to relaunch the peace process, say voices which remain in the minority, but which have been heard since the attacks.
The shock was brutal in Israel. No one saw the terrorist attacks of recent days against hundreds of Israeli civilians coming. Everything was going pretty well until these attacks of unprecedented scale: last March, the Jewish state was even ranked fourth among the happiest nations on the planet, in a ranking of happiness drawn up each year by the United Nations .
This list of the happiest countries in the world is established according to the perception of citizens themselves and a series of indicators such as standard of living and social services. Unsurprisingly, Finland, Denmark and Iceland made it onto the happiness podium.
Experts explained at the time that the Jewish state would have fallen a few ranks if the polls had been carried out after the outbreak of the political crisis over the reform of the justice system which has been tearing the country apart for months. This happiness ranking, however, highlights the negligible effect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the well-being of Israelis — until the terrible attacks of the last few days, at least.
The reason is simple , according to the daily Haaretz: For years, after all attempts at peace with the Palestinians failed, governments have sought to “manage the conflict” rather than resolve it. “The aim was to make the Palestinians invisible,” the newspaper writes.
The strategy worked. Israelis lived their lives without worrying about the misery on the other side of the “separation wall” between the two peoples. The government could accelerate the construction of housing in the occupied Palestinian territories as long as it guaranteed the “security” of the Israelis.
This posture, however, showed its limits in a cruel way: one day it will be necessary to restart the peace process, say voices which remain in the minority, but which have been heard since the attacks.
Netanyahu singled out
“I don’t believe in a revival of the peace process at this time. The country is traumatized by these attacks, which can be compared, relatively speaking, to those of September 11, 2001 in the United States,” says Anita Shapira, professor emeritus at the Department of History at Tel Aviv University. , contacted at her home by Le Devoir.
“The army must first fight Hamas in Gaza. We cannot negotiate with them, they are terrorists opposed to the very existence of Israel. Afterwards, if we have a new government, which I hope with all my heart, we could reach an understanding with the Palestinians,” she adds.
The 83-year-old eminent historian considers that Benjamin Netanyahu leads “perhaps the worst government in Israel’s history.” The prime minister has normalized Hamas in recent years, particularly in a cynical attempt to divide Palestinians, according to Anita Shapira. Hard-line Israeli right-wing “extremists” have also failed to protect civilians from terrorist violence, she notes.
We've been sitting on a volcano for 75 years, and we're still here. Kibbutz residents who survived Hamas attacks say they are willing to return home if they feel protected by the state.
“We’ve been sitting on a volcano for 75 years, and we’re still here,” she says. Kibbutz residents who survived Hamas attacks say they are willing to return home if they feel protected by the state. This requires a new contract between the State and citizens. »
“Breaking the silence”
The group Breaking the Silence, made up of veterans of the Israeli army opposed to the occupation of Palestinian territories, also made a notable exit the day after the Hamas attacks.
“The idea that we can “manage conflict” without ever finding a solution has once again collapsed. This idea has held up until now because very few voices had the courage to challenge it. These heartbreaking events can be a game-changer,” Avner Gvaryahu, director of Breaking the Silence, said on the X platform.
Security forces failed to prevent Hamas attacks largely because they were busy elsewhere repressing Palestinian civilians, according to Breaking the Silence.
Likewise, the cycle of armed responses against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which always results in heavy civilian casualties, only fuels the violence. “We make life impossible for Gazans and we are surprised when there are excesses,” added the veterans’ movement, still on the X platform.
The peace process was put aside by almost all Israeli political parties in the wake of the second intifada in the early 2000s. Former Labor MP Hilik Bar is one of the rare elected officials to have campaigned tirelessly for peace.
“I have decided to dedicate my life to finding a solution to this conflict. The future of Israel is at stake,” the former elected official confided when met by Le Devoir on the terrace of a Jerusalem café in the summer of 2019.
He remembered with emotion the day in November 1995 when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, who had given a historic handshake to his Palestinian counterpart Yasser Arafat, was assassinated by a Jewish extremist. “I was a young officer in the army and decided to go into politics. I could not accept that the mission of this Nobel Peace Prize winner ended with two bullets in the back,” said the man, now 48 years old.
It was impossible to speak to Hilik Bar after the attacks of the last few days. The former MP, however, delivered to Devoir a long and vibrant plea in favor of a two-state solution – one for Israel, the other for Palestine. “A peace deal is the best way to achieve security for Israel. We have to convince the Israelis, because they think the opposite,” he said. The peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan have nevertheless demonstrated their value for the Jewish state, he believed.
“We have very precise and sophisticated missiles, but we also need a very precise and sophisticated diplomacy. If Netanyahu were so strong, there would not be so many missiles falling on Israel,” Hilik Bar said.