December 6, 2023

Whereas the president expressed deep understanding of Israel’s ethical and strategic dilemma, he pleaded with Israeli navy and political leaders to study from America’s rush to warfare after Sept. 11, which took our troops deep into the lifeless ends and darkish alleys of unfamiliar cities and cities in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Nonetheless, from all the pieces I’ve gleaned from senior U.S. officers, Biden didn’t get Israel to carry again and assume by way of all of the implications of an invasion of Gaza for Israel and the US. So let me put this in as stark and clear language as I can, as a result of the hour is late:

I consider that if Israel rushes headlong into Gaza now to destroy Hamas — and does so with out expressing a transparent dedication to hunt a two-state answer with the Palestinian Authority and finish Jewish settlements deep within the West Financial institution — will probably be making a grave mistake that will likely be devastating for Israeli pursuits and American pursuits.

It might set off a world conflagration and explode all the pro-American alliance construction that the US has constructed within the area since Henry Kissinger engineered the tip of the Yom Kippur Warfare in 1973.

I’m speaking concerning the Camp David peace treaty, the Oslo peace accords, the Abraham Accords and the attainable normalization of relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia. The entire thing might go up in flames.

This isn’t about whether or not Israel has the best to retaliate towards Hamas for the savage barbarism it inflicted on Israeli males, girls, infants and grandparents. It certainly does. That is about doing it the best approach — the best way that doesn’t play into the arms of Hamas, Iran and Russia.

If Israel goes into Gaza and takes months to kill or seize each Hamas chief and soldier however does so whereas increasing Jewish settlements within the West Financial institution — thereby making any two-state answer there with the extra average Palestinian Authority inconceivable — there will likely be no professional Palestinian or Arab League or European or U.N. or NATO coalition that can ever be ready to enter Gaza and take it off Israel’s arms.

There will likely be nobody to extract Israel and nobody to assist Israel pay the price of caring for greater than two million Gazans — not if Israel is run by a authorities that thinks, and acts, as if it could justifiably actual its revenge on Hamas whereas unjustifiably constructing an apartheidlike society run by Jewish supremacists within the West Financial institution. That may be a fully incoherent coverage.

Alas, although, a senior U.S. official advised me that the Biden staff left Jerusalem feeling that whereas Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel understands that overreach in Gaza might set the entire neighborhood ablaze, his right-wing coalition companions are desirous to fan the flames within the West Financial institution. Settlers there have killed at the very least seven Palestinian civilians in acts of revenge in simply the previous week.

In the meantime, U.S. officers advised me, the representatives of these settlers within the cupboard are withholding tax cash owed the Palestinian Authority, making it tougher for it to maintain the West Financial institution as underneath management because it has been for the reason that begin of the Hamas warfare.

Netanyahu shouldn’t permit this, however he has trapped himself. He wants these right-wing extremists in his coalition to maintain himself out of jail on corruption expenses.

However he’s going to place all of Israel into the jail of Gaza until he breaks with these Jewish supremacists.

Sadly, the senior U.S. official advised me, Israeli navy leaders are literally extra hawkish than the prime minister now. They’re crimson with rage and decided to ship a blow to Hamas that the entire neighborhood will always remember.

I perceive why. However pals don’t let pals drive whereas enraged. Biden has to inform this Israeli authorities that taking on Gaza with out pairing it with a completely new method to settlements, the West Financial institution and a two-state answer can be a catastrophe for Israel and a catastrophe for America.

We can assist, we are able to even insist, that our Arab and European allies work to create a simpler, much less corrupt and extra professional Palestinian Authority within the West Financial institution that, after some transition in Gaza, might assist govern there as effectively. However not with out a elementary change in Israeli coverage towards the PA and the Jewish settlers.

In any other case, what started as a Hamas onslaught towards Israel has the potential to set off a Center East warfare with each nice energy and regional energy having a hand in it — which might make it very tough to cease as soon as it began.

Within the first week of this battle, the supreme chief of Iran and Hassan Nasrallah, the chief of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon, seemed to be protecting very tight management of their militiamen on the border with Israel and in Iraq, Syria and Yemen. However because the second week has gone on, U.S. officers have picked up growing indicators that each leaders are letting their forces extra aggressively assault Israeli targets and that they could assault American targets if the US intervenes. They scent the logic of how a lot an Israeli invasion of Gaza might assist their objective of driving America out of the entire area.

On Thursday, a U.S. Navy warship within the northern Crimson Sea shot down three cruise missiles and a number of other drones, apparently launched by the pro-Iranian Houthi militia in Yemen, which may have been headed towards Israel. Extra missiles, seemingly from pro-Iranian militias, had been fired at U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria.

So many rockets at the moment are coming from the pro-Iranian Hezbollah militia in South Lebanon that we’re one diploma away from a full-scale missile warfare between Israel and Iran’s proxies — and really presumably instantly between Israel and Iran.

Israel is just not prone to let Iran use its proxies to hit Israel with out finally firing a missile instantly at Tehran. Israel has missile-armed submarines which can be in all probability within the Persian Gulf as we converse. If that will get going, it’s Katie, bar the door.

The US, Russia and China might all be drawn in instantly or not directly.

What makes the scenario triply harmful is that even when Israel acts with herculean restraint to stop civilian deaths in Gaza, it gained’t matter. Consider what occurred at Gaza Metropolis’s Ahli Arab Hospital on Tuesday.

Because the Israeli columnist Nahum Barnea identified to me, Palestinian Islamic Jihad achieved extra this week with an apparently misfired rocket “than it achieved in all of its profitable missile launches.”

How so? After that rocket failed and fell on the Palestinian hospital in Gaza, killing scores of individuals, Hamas and Islamic Jihad rushed out and claimed — with no proof — that Israel had intentionally bombed the hospital, setting streets ablaze throughout the Arab world. When Israel and the US provided compelling proof a couple of hours later that Islamic Jihad unintentionally hit the Gaza hospital with its personal rocket, it was already too late. The Arab road was on fireplace, and a gathering of Arab leaders with Biden was canceled.

If individuals can not speak brazenly and actually a few misfired rocket, think about what’s going to occur when the primary main Israeli invasion of Gaza begins in our wired world, linked by social networks and polluted with misinformation amplified by synthetic intelligence.

That’s the reason I consider that Israel can be significantly better off framing any Gaza operation as “Operation Save Our Hostages” — quite than “Operation Finish Hamas As soon as and for All” — and carrying it out, if attainable, with repeated surgical strikes and particular forces that may nonetheless get the Hamas management but in addition draw the brightest attainable line between Gazan civilians and the Hamas dictatorship.

But when Israel feels it should reoccupy Gaza to destroy Hamas and restore its deterrence and safety — I repeat — it should pair that navy operation with a brand new dedication to pursue a two-state answer with these Palestinians within the West Financial institution and Gaza able to make peace with Israel.

The hour is late. I’ve by no means written a column this pressing earlier than as a result of I’ve by no means been extra frightened about how this case might spin uncontrolled in ways in which might injury Israel irreparably, injury U.S. pursuits irreparably, injury Palestinians irreparably, threaten Jews in all places and destabilize the entire world.

I encourage Biden to inform Israelis this instantly — for his or her sake, for America’s sake, for the sake of Palestinians, for the sake of the world.

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