What does Israel want?

Smoke rises after an explosion in what witnesses said was an Israeli air strike in Gaza August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot

Palestinian officials and negotiators who have been shuttling around in Cairo recently have for the most part focused on a demand championed by people in Gaza, namely ending the Israeli blockade.

But the latest round of military hostilities between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza has prompted the question: What do the Israelis actually want?

Israel and its allies have traditionally criticized the Palestinians for failing to have a coherent set of objectives when it comes to negotiating with the Jewish state, but the situation has shifted noticeably this time around.

The Israelis have spoken about stopping rocket fire, and they have talked about their desire to “destroy” the infrastructure of Hamas by sealing the border tunnels in the Gaza Strip; at times, one hears about an even more ambitious goal – the disarmament of Hamas.

The confusion on the Israeli side is becoming clearer every day, and criticism is building inside Israel about the performance of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Nearly one decade ago, Israel congratulated itself for “withdrawing” from the Gaza Strip – all it did was redeploy its occupying army from inside the coastal territory to just outside its borders, while enforcing a brutal blockade that is responsible for today’s dismal state of affairs.

The Israelis have focused on demonizing the Palestinians as terrorists, and act surprised when negotiation efforts fail because concessions must be offered.

The Israelis have only themselves to blame for boxing themselves into a corner.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 21, 2014, on page 7.




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