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End to Israeli-Palestine conflict can be the lynchpin to broader peace in the Middle East

Peace in the Middle East is not only to the humane benefit of Israelis and Palestinians. But the conflict settled, sustainably between these two great people can be the lynchpin to broader peace in the Middle East, preventing oil prices going through the roof and devasting the world economy to enhancing wider regional integration, broadening […]

Peace in the Middle East is not only to the humane benefit of Israelis and Palestinians. But the conflict settled, sustainably between these two great people can be the lynchpin to broader peace in the Middle East, preventing oil prices going through the roof and devasting the world economy to enhancing wider regional integration, broadening prosperity. All such peace dividends could mean consumers in India to even small businesses to face better outcomes or protection on energy prices at the gas pump to kitchen gas to food stand energy. As well, without peace but more escalation, there could be collateral damage to farmers on fertilizer costs, produce prices and on many items that have a serious energy/oil cost component as many do relative to inflation. Just think, Gerald Celente, a well-established forecaster in his Trends Journal predicts that if serious war breaks out in the region, oil prices per barrel could elevate to a whopping 130 US dollars, plus per barrel that would seriously undermine profoundly those on marginal incomes and might lead to an economic depression. On the flip side, Indians may gain better employment both in India and regionally, resulting from the Middle East which produces at least 30 percent of world’s exported oil, not escalating to war over or related to Palestine Gaza turmoil. Not to forget, it was bad enough before Iran very recently and without precedent shot off 300 drones and missiles against Israel.
So, indeed getting a long term solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, thereby  cooling off escalation, by moving to a durable two state solution is relevant to almost every Indian in the end. But to get there certain realism must be looked at with open eyes.
The two state solution of the inter-recognition by the Israel state and a new Palestinian one of each other’s indisputable sovereignty, consistent to UN resolutions is generally well adhered to by by the West, as well as the Global South and even by China’ and Russia. This is particularly so with the rationale behind it to prevent the recurrence of such mass terrorism igniting conflict in the region as Israel, experienced on October 7 by Hamas pushing for a Palestinian one state by trying to cripple Israel towards unhinging, and eventually swallowing it up. Rather, supporting the two state peaceful approach, instead is the general wisdom by India, its PM and as seen by the forward looking EAM, Dr S. Jaishankar.
Consistently, a Quad member leader, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese  somewhat recently stated in Australian news, “None of us should abandon hope in the ultimate goal: a two-state solution, with Israelis and Palestinians living securely and prosperously within internationally recognised borders.” From another such Quad partner, US President Joe Biden, according to AA news, “Look, I made it clear to the Israelis, to Bibi (Netanyahu, Israel PM) and to his war cabinet that I think the only ultimate answer here is a two-state solution.” But after almost 75 years of such a proposal not coming into force, what can be done?
Firstly, UN resolutions on the two state solutions  of 1948 and 1960s generally  represent firm foundations. But  more recent considerations are needed, that of Israel being much more developed, militarily and economically than back then, as well its financial and technologically advanced allies. In these lights, West Jerusalem’s views on peace take on more realpolitik gravitas, or least importance, even if some seem unrealistic. Israel’s respect is reinforced  not only by Delhi’s attitude, but by the current generation of most Gulf State leaders who have been recognizing Israel, overall as now a permanent, well- developed presence, close-by that cannot be ignored, seriously boycotted or attacked and certainly not destroyed or taken over. The days of the Yom Kippur war in 1973, when Arab states could think they could make Israel disappear are no more. This is one reason that the Abraham accords were signed by Israel with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morocco recognizing Israel, as well. And that relations were warming up with Saudi Arabia. But those critically improving developments will only continue with the declaration fully of sustainable Palestinian statehood.
In continuing with this realism, let us look at a substantial barrier to peace more closely. Tehran and Hamas want the one state solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict where Palestinians take over Israel. This goes against the face of hard facts of “fortress” well-off Israel, and the kind of inclusive thinking the Narendra Modi government is leading globally. It could be well argued that this anti-Jewish/anti-Israel approach by Hamas has represented lost time for making peace and more prosperity for Palestinians and the whole region. Hamas, Tehran and other key players, therefore will have to abandon such a one state approach. But that means Iran may need to be provided more incentives rather than the West does of mostly applying bigger and bigger sticks, like brutal sanctions over carrots. At least  to encourage Iran to make it less interesting for its regional proxies like Hamas and Hezbollah to be stone wall resistant and even violent and chaotic to the two state idea - as well, as Iran, itself with its direct conflagration generating attacks on Israel.
But on the positive side, at least a Palestinian Authority on the West Bank was established that did not try to threaten Israel. But that authority must be given the power and credibility reinforced by the US-led West to be more independent, competent and backed up by sizeable resources, including a well-trained defence force to deal with internal security problems eventually including.on managing Gaza. Hamas relatively de-fanged of its military arm and proven lack of wisdom in blatantly publicly espousing of the demise of Israel might be now more realistic - or at least, less potentially damaging to real peace. So should Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu be more realistic about the idea of completely wiping out Hamas as an organization and not even letting its non-military civilian parts like medical and health care to be under (or part) of a Palestinian authority?
But the issue of Israel settlers on the West Bank remains a real major hurdle to peace, most of whom are zealously adhering to the Greater Israel, one state idea of even further grossly marginalizing Palestinians. Either some special zones for their protection and partial autonomy are needed to be looked at to ensure their protection or considerable compensation provided for their transplantation to Israel -  or back, into the United States from which many have come? Bulldozing settlements  away will not work but create a new civil war in Israel to add to the region’s misery?
The good news for Indians as a consolation is if the situation in the  Middle East much worsens, it is that the Modi leadership of greatly reducing poverty in the country and managing the nation’s fiscal and monetary resources  effectively will provide a cushion and proper defences against any overflowing chaos from West Asia. But a two state solution based also in the realism of today is  the best solution for Indians, too.

Peter Dash writes extensively on geopolitics and has lived in the Middle East. He studied the region at the graduate level at Harvard where he was a researcher.

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