With a diplomatic solution currently out of reach, analysts call for neighbouring countries to help restore stability to the region.
The conflict between Israel and Hamas has reached unprecedented levels in the wake of last weekend’s attack on Israeli territory, with no light at the end of the tunnel for the local population. For decades, they have watched helplessly as hopes fade for a solution that could stabilise the region in the short term.
Hugh Lovatt is an expert on the Middle East and North Africa at the European Council on Foreign Relations.
He said: “I don’t think either side has the will to end the fighting at the moment. And I don’t think going back to the way things were before that fighting is an option for either side right now.”
The European Union and the United States have tried unsuccessfully to bring Israel and the Palestinians closer together. Now, after Saturday’s attack, the two sides are further apart than ever and Lovatt questions whether Brussels and Washington can change that.
“Do they have the political appetite to take on the role they need to play? Can they do what it takes, not just to de-escalate the violence, but to create a realistic path to a resolution of the conflict, which involves an end to the occupation and the fulfilment of Palestinian self-determination?”
Yossi Mekelberg, a professor of international relations and fellow at Chatham House, says Israel’s Middle Eastern neighbours need to take the lead:
“You need the United States and the European Union, yes, but also the regional powers, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Morocco, Bahrain. Then we also need new players. Let’s not forget that Saudi Arabia put the Saudi Initiative on the table in 2002, which resulted in the Beirut Declaration, for peace or normalisation in the region, in exchange for peace with the Palestinians. I think that’s still on the table.”
Lovatt and Mekelberg agree that the EU and the US bear their share of responsibility for the current situation and say it’s essential that the West learns from past mistakes.
Hugh Lovatt points the finger at Israel’s violations of international law, with the international community looking the other way:
“Israel has been consolidating the occupation, moving towards total annexation of Palestinian territory and consolidating what is increasingly described as apartheid. There has been very little reaction from the European Union, European governance and the US on this issue.”
Yossi Mekelberg, meanwhile, says the terrible conditions inside the Palestinian Territories are to blame for the rise of the extremists:
“This was neglected and abandoned for years, while the situation worsened. We need to think about what context, what conditions have given power to the most extremists instead of trying to put it in the hands of those who want to live in peace.”