Operation Pillar of Cloud: Why Israel Still Emerged the Victor

John Glaser, November 26, 2012

Commentators across the spectrum are talking this week about how Hamas was the real victor of the latest conflict, even though Gaza disproportionately felt the costs of advanced military bombardment. Here’s Thanassis Cambanis in Foreign Affairs as an example:

Now Hamas will tout the concessions it won from Israel last week — as part of the ceasefire, Israel agreed to open the border crossings to Gaza, suspend its military operations there, and end targeted killings — as proof that it should not give up fighting. Meanwhile, the outcome should be enough to buy Hamas cover for its poor record of governance and allow it to again defer making tough choices about statehood, negotiations, regional alliances, and military strategy. The group might even be able to use the momentum to supplant Fatah in the West Bank as it has done in Gaza.

That last part is important. If Hamas gains enough popularity to sideline Fatah, we can say goodbye to the viability of the two-state settlement. Fatah’s infamous deference to the US and Israel and to the defunct peace process – which was always just a scheme to provide Israel with more time to colonize additional Palestinian land – has not won them many emphatic fans. In this sense, Fatah has been useful to Israel.

But in another sense, Fatah represents the greatest threat to Israel’s plan to have permanent sovereignty over all of historic Palestine (everything west of the Jordan River). They openly support the two-state solution and they have a certain amount of secular nationalist appeal. Their recent bids to get recognized at the United Nations are among Israel’s greatest concerns. Since the PLO are non-violent, Israel can’t respond with plain old brute force the way they do with Hamas. With Hamas, Israel can easily demonize any sort of Palestinian resistance and boil down the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to an Israel-versus-the-terrorists dichotomy.

While Hamas has recently tried to engage with the region and to moderate itself by voicing support for the two-state solution, other Hamas factions have hardened. Cambanis writes that the Hamas prime minister, Ismail Haniya, has recently “expressed no interest in talking about a two state solution and overall, the rest of the Gaza-based leadership has simply grown more uncompromising under the Israeli blockade and now two lopsided wars. It prefers full-throated resistance to any political settlement.”

Ironically enough, Israel bolstered Hamas from the beginning. “In 1973,” writes Jonathan Cook in Disappearing Palestine, “six years after the occupation began, Israel licensed the [Muslim]Brotherhood again and allowed it to set up a network of charities and welfare societies, funded by the Gulf states. Israel hoped that the Muslim Brotherhood would dissipate Palestinian nationalism and support for the PLO among the local population and encourage a social and moral conservatism that would make the Palestinians more moderate.”

So much for that. The Israeli leadership knew early on that their support for the Brotherhood in Gaza backfired severely when it morphed into Hamas in 1987. But with the possibility of the PLO achieving non-state status at the UN, non-violent nationalism towards the two-state solution looks like the greater of two evils to many in Tel Aviv.

And this is why Israel still emerged the victor in the aftermath Operation Pillar of Cloud. The Fatah leadership in the PLO has international appeal and may very well make headway at the United Nations. For Israel – which has relied on the status quo to deliberately alter the demography of the West Bank and Judiaze East Jersualem with the aim of a Greater Israel – that’s a tough nut to crack. Hamas, on the other hand, is a straw-man. They can more easily be dealt with in the way Israel is used to dealing with Palestinians – with crushing brute force. And so long as US support for Israel is maintained, that is what Israel will continue to do.




28 Responses to “Operation Pillar of Cloud: Why Israel Still Emerged the Victor”

  1. The costs of advanced military bombardment.

  2. I am hoping there is way to stop this war. Actually, innocence people are affected with this. acp

  3. "historic Palestine" … No such thing my friend. Perhaps as the name of a region, but never the name of a nation. Big difference, and very important to understand.

  4. "..non-violent nationalism towards the two-state solution looks like the greater of two evils to many in Tel Aviv.."

    You wrote: "many in Tel-Aviv … " are you talking about the cafe hoppers, the taxi drivers, or the businessmen? Certainly you aren't talking about the government which is based in Jerusalem (?)

  5. They're based in Tel Aviv. Stop confusing de jure with de facto.

  6. Geez, There is no two state solution! There never has been the intent on Israel's behalf for there to be a two sate solution. The much touted facts on the ground show this. Everything Israel does is geared towards the creation of an ethnically pure Greater Israel. The questions remaining are i) Will it be happy with the Palestinians rotting away in the bantustans and Gaza or will it seek the full land area clear of Palestinians? ii) Will it seek further expansion into Syria and Jordan. My prediction is that if the US can be scammed into a war against Iran, Israel will fully exploit the ensuing chaos for its own benefit.

  7. Lie 1: Israel never intended to create a Palestinian state

    Truth: Israel had every intention of creating a Palestinian state, but not according to the dictates of the radical PLO terrorists. Israel doesn't need to give up one inch of Jerusalem for a PA state to exist, Israel doesn't need to withdraw to the 1949 armistice lines for a PA state to exist, and Israel doesn't need to give up the Jordan valley for a PA state to exist. The PA thinks it can dictate the terms of negotiations, as if Israel's position has no validity, and Israel rightfully rejects their radical demands, insisting that they negotiate in good faith. The settlements can be part of Palestine if there ever is a Palestine. Until then the West Bank is no mans land, and Jews have the right to live in their.

    Lie 2: Israel wants an ethnically pure state.

    Truth: Israel has no intention of expelling Arabs, or they would have done it during the many wars that have been fought since 1967. This is pure libel & slander of Israel. The only one who wants an ethnically pure state is Mahmoud Abbas.

    Lie 3: Israel will further expand its borders into Syria & Jordan

    Truth: The Jewish state of Israel has no imperialistic designs on the region. They just want sovereignty and/or the right to live & thrive in their 3500+ year old ancestral homeland, which includes the West Bank.

  8. Good luck finding the Israeli parliament in Tel Aviv. It might take a while.

  9. The group might even be able to use the momentum to supplant Fatah in the West Bank as it has done in Gaza.

  10. Only realistic solution is one state with one person one vote. There should be compensation paid to those whose property was stolen by the "chosen'.The biblical claim to the land is nothing more than mythology. same as beleiving in Santa Clause or Adam and Eve.

  11. AS imaginary as Israel historically

  12. So simple so true. Human consciousness is changing so fast it leaves very room now for
    acting on past fantasies no matter how critical they may have been as a cohering myth
    though the ages.

  13. Not quite. There was a nation called Israel, it ruled over the land for approx 1000 years. The Jewish people are the descendants of the Israelites, and therefore have every right to express their national self-determination in that land.

  14. I agree. One person, one vote.
    Israel including the West Bank has a 2:1 Jewish majority.

  15. Israel is dealing with HAMAS the way it once dealt with FATAH ( the 'kick them hard' school). We know where that went – with the intifadas and the suicide bombings. Israel can't claim to have won anything there, for FATAH winds up the 'legitimate', recognized 'government' of the Palestinian "Authority".

    HAMAS will, one day, be the government of that entity too.

    The rote Israeli 'learning curve' will see to that.

  16. I owned an apartment building once. I left and came back 2000 years later, and kicked out the current occupants.

  17. If you're omitting Gaza, then stop blockading it, including by sea.

  18. Good for you. You did the right thing.

  19. Sure, let's allow Hamas, a group of belligerent war criminals, open up their ports to every rogue state that wants to ship them weapons. No thanks.

  20. Jake—Your argument is a real joke. You claim ownership of property that stopped being yours THOUSANDS of years ago! By that argument, America would have to cede ownership of the USA back to the Indians! Ha, Ha. Australia would have to give it back to the Aboriginies…..and so on. You believe what you say because of one thing: You are a FANATIC. Only a fanatic, a religious nut, would expect the world to accept such a preposterous claim, especially as it involves the ethnic cleansing of whole peoples. Give us a break, Jake. The whole world more or less thinks Israel is full of it, as witnessed by the recent UN vote. Yes, the USA is your friend–on paper. But I live on the ground here, and let me tell you Jake, the People for the most part are FED UP with Israel's fascist actions.
    Have a wonderful day.

  21. So because it was stolen so long ago, that somehow validates the theft? Native American philosophy was that the land had no owner, so its not a very good analogy, but YES if they were a cohesive nation that was subdued, slaughtered, and expelled, they would have every right to fight & take back the land. How can you even deny that?? You are the fascist for suggesting that a nation expelled from its homeland should just accept it, and that they have no right to reclaim it.

    No one ever said anything about expelling Arabs. Most of them are perfectly innocent and deserve dignity and a good life. However, they do NOT deserve their own nation-state on land that doesn't belong to them. This argument is no "joke", it is logically sound and it will prevail in the long run.

    The UN is a corrupt mafia, and their resolutions are the real joke in all of this. No self-respecting nation cares what the UN has to say.

  22. We allow the Israel Defense Force to have open ports so that they may have all the weapons they'd like. Compare the number of casualties – those in the Gaza Strip are much higher than the ones in Israel. It's obvious that Israel has the intelligence to pinpoint locations, we know this because they've been flaunting it everywhere. During Operation Pillar of Defense the Israel Defense Force had 1500 targets. That's quite a few if you ask me. And furthermore the majority of the casualties inside Israel are a DIRECT result of the IDF's many different operations. But yes, Hamas is the group of belligerent war criminals. Clearly there is a bias here.

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