Any committee probing the flotilla events should consider what would have happened if the Israel Defense Forces had taken control of the Mavi Marmara without casualties. The committee, and Israel in its footsteps, would be forced to deal with the essential issues beyond the military move - mainly evaluating the relation between the blockade and its goals and the way the conflict with Hamas was managed as part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the regional balance of power.
Israeli policy assumed that the blockade of Gaza would create economic and psychological pressure on the Palestinian public and achieve three goals - freeing Gilad Shalit, preventing Hamas from strengthening militarily, and toppling its government. Five years of blockade, two military operations, closing the Rafah crossing, "conciliation" talks between Hamas and Fatah (by which the Egyptians wanted to return the secular Mahmoud Abbas to Gaza and block the likes of Iran and Turkey from entering ) - all this failed to achieve these goals.
On the contrary, Hamas controlled the tunnel system, and with military and financial help from Iran, Syria and Qatar, became a monopoly dominating every area of life in the Gaza Strip - the militias, the economy, public administration and health care.
Hamas is waging an all-out war on the United Nations Relief and Works Agency to impose Islamic Sharia law on the education system. After Operation Cast Lead, Hamas soon restored its rocket arsenal and even increased it with Iranian support and funds. Shalit, as Hamas sees it, was abducted to free the organization's prisoners, and it will only agree to his release for theirs.
Israel must free itself from its fixation on the exclusive use of force and seek other ways to achieve its vital goals. It must recognize that by insisting on these patterns - Cast Lead, the Mavi Marmara, Sheikh Jarrah, the fence route, Route 443 - it is ignoring the values of the world to which it wants to belong.
This world is ruled today by a kind of multinational corporation interested in human, civil rights and community rights. It's a corporation encompassing many countries, consisting of international organizations such as the United Nations and the European Union and including quite a few Jews and Israelis. Israel, despite its considerable contribution in the gray area of combating terror, does not see that the corporation has raised a large black flag against its domination of the Palestinian people.
Abbas, and today even Hamas, understand that to advance their interests, the proper thing is to go along with the corporation rather than adhere to "resistance." Even the United States seeks the corporation's support in its wars. As far as Israel is concerned, the dangerous scenario is that the corporation, like the Israeli right wing, adopts the one-state idea, giving the Arab majority the ability to gain control.
Therefore, Israel must focus the blockade on preventing arms smuggling, a move that would gain international support. Opening the crossing points, as we've learned recently, would even weaken Hamas' economy. Hamas can be replaced by putting it in the Palestine Liberation Organization under Abbas' leadership, but this requires presenting a real alternative to the Palestinian public in the territories, especially in Gaza.
The pragmatic Arab states, headed by Egypt, are demanding that Israel make this move. Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Obama next week could be a good opportunity to make this turnabout. Israel does not have to continue making every mistake before it chooses this option.
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