As the genocide in Gaza moves beyond its sixth month, Critical Mass writers consider the chances of a negotiated settlement.

Currently we have Gaza, in Palestine,  being pummelled by bombs, people being starved to death, and avoidable illnesses are rife, the worst massacre witnessed in real time in our life time. It is stated that 80% of Israelis don’t want a ceasefire and would be content to see every Palestinian killed or forcibly  removed. If the fascistic barbaric Israeli government is intent on continuing its murderous onslaught, in spite of  plausibly committing genocide as declared by the ICJ, and is being supported by the US, why would they negotiate a settlement? The intention is not to release the hostages but to secure Gaza and resettle it for Israelis. Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law, has publicly declared that Gaza will make a great place and beach side real estate will be at a premium price (paraphrasing). The other reason to clear the country of Palestinians is the rich oil and gas fields just off Gaza which the Israelis have stolen via the Palestinian Authority. It is one of the largest in the world, worth trillions. Netanyahu is a greedy narcissistic serial killer; many attempts have been made to try to negotiate a ceasefire, the minimum demand given and he refuses to conform. Hamas has put forward at least three proposals for a ceasefire; Netanyahu refuses to negotiate. I don’t believe a negotiated settlement is possible, at least not one that creates safety and equality for the Palestinian people.

Ann Marcial

When Israeli Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, described Palestinians as ‘human animals’, he pretty much ruled out any chance of a negotiated settlement. When Netanyahu describes the opinions of 17 international judges as ‘a disgrace’, he has walked away from accepted norms of international behaviour. There can be no doubt at all now that the Israelis, driven by an institutionalised racist antipathy to all Arabs, desires the destruction of the Palestinians. What has become clear after over 6 months of genocidal actions, accompanied by outrageous justificatory lies, is that the idea of a 2-state solution lies in tatters. This is now a winner take all battle. Either the Israelis completely destroy the Palestinians or there must be the dismantlement of the Israeli state in its current format. To date negotiation has meant an Israeli boycott of any international forum that might be critical of them, the demonisation of Hamas and the mass murder of over 13,000 Palestinian children. That figure is soon to be eclipsed as the Israeli-induced famine will claim many more lives, children and elderly first. The rest of the world watches and tut-tuts, but, if the west wants to continue to consider itself as ‘liberal’, it has to act. And that action must not leave the Israeli state armed and primed to continue at a later date. 

Dave Middleton

Not only is there no chance of a negotiated settlement, what purpose would it serve other than to mark a pause in the suffering of the Palestinian people until the next Israeli onslaught? The only option at the moment is a permanent ceasefire, and that can only come about if the USA uses its power and influence over Israel, cutting off arms and imposing sanctions. In an election year will the scale of protests in America force a change of policy? The unelected rulers of the Arab world would like the Palestinian people to disappear and are doing nothing to restrain Israel. I am deeply pessimistic. The only hope is if the anger around the world forces rulers to act or else overthrows them. The world order is shifting, and it may be that Israel survives as a pariah state propped up by the USA and Britain with the rest of the world against us.

Mike Stanton

A prerequisite of a negotiated settlement usually requires two parties of equal power who are pragmatic enough to recognise that a peaceful solution is preferable to being constantly at war.

We don’t need the current Israeli onslaught, which has resulted in the murder of over 30,000 innocent Palestinians, the complete destruction of the infrastructure of their homeland, and with starvation being used as a weapon of war to see the stark evidence of the huge power imbalance. The only weapon Hamas still holds are the hostages. They have offered to negotiate their release on at least three occasions, but this has been refused.

Palestinians are an impoverished group of people who have been virtually held captive in a narrow strip of land.  Even before the latest brutal onslaught, their lives were controlled by Israel, a wealthy armed state supported by other wealthy armed states.

A negotiated settlement requires a pragmatism that can overcome the deep-rooted anger at current and past injustices, alongside the other party being willing to forego some of its power and belief in its inalienable right to rule.

The Palestinians carry over 75 years of bitterness, fury and resentment at being murdered in their hundreds of thousands, forcibly displaced from their land and treated like second class citizens in their own homeland. The Israelis are still reeling in shock from October 7th and the fact that their cruel and vengeful retaliation hasn’t resulted in the eradication of Hamas and the freedom of the hostages.

It certainly doesn’t bode well for a negotiated settlement, particularly as the source of the conflict, the creation of the state of Israel on someone else’s land is clearly unjust, is clearly wrong. A compromise will always be required and for some Palestinians and for some Israelis a compromise is not on the table.

So, this has none of the requirements essential for a negotiated settlement, whatever form that may take.

However, the reality of not looking for a solution that will stop the killing but that will also allow the next generation of Palestinians to grow up in safety and respect is too awful to contemplate. There was a glimmer of hope with the Oslo Accords in 1993, but the concessions required by the Palestinians were just too numerous at the time.

It can only be hoped that the world will wake up to the fact that genocide is being committed before their eyes, that internal and external pressure will result in the removal of Netanyahu and his far-right government, and that the replacement will be forced by the rest of the world to the negotiating table.

Hamas, if anything, will be strengthened not weakened as a result of the Israeli brutality. Let’s just hope that this results in a more equal basis for a settlement that will allow the Palestinian people to live in peace and with dignity.

Marilyn Tyzack

For decades the Palestinians have deserved justice, with any settlement decided with their full involvement. Although an unconditional ceasefire is increasingly urgent and is a matter of survival, it is now impossible to envisage Israel and Palestine entering into negotiations. 

First of all the international community would have to come to its senses, acknowledge the evil that has been done to Palestine and insist on an immediate ceasefire. Countries that have backed Israel would have to withdraw their support. An embargo on all arms sales would be essential. Without pressure from the international community that would exert a serious level of coercion on Israel, the current Israeli government would not contemplate changing its position. And could the world, let alone the Palestinian people, ever trust Israel to honour any agreement that might be reached? 

The only just outcome for the Palestinians is a one-state solution. The Zionists would fight this tooth and nail, even if Netanyahu is voted out of office. It is also impossible to visualise any kind of reconciliation after the unforgivable killing of thousands of Palestinians and the entrenched hatred the Israelis feel. 

A negotiated settlement is an impossible challenge at present. Further complications include the divide between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority. As someone who favours reconciliation, understanding and negotiation, I find it difficult to concede that negotiations would be impossible.

Governments are beginning to recognise the level of outrage at the Zionist genocide, expressed by people all over the world. Countries everywhere, but specifically the US and their loyal puppets, must now change their approach, completely rethink their foreign policy and impose conditions on Israel.

Jo Buchanan

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