At some point during the last decade of the last century, a consensus arose among the Israeli ruling elite that force was the path to success. Sensing, if vaguely, both the length of the path and the risks of the strategy, these decision-makers designed a plan. Perhaps they designed the whole plan in detail at the beginning; perhaps they just laid out the general direction and filled in the details as apparent initial success whetted their appetites for more.
Step I was the elimination of Arafat personally and the whole PLO as independent actors, so as to subordinate the Palestinian people once and for all. Feeling, with some justification, that they had achieved this by 2005, they agreed to Bush’s idea of a Palestinian election to provide a democratic veneer to the Israeli victory.
Although shocked by the Hamas victory in January 2006, they reacted with dispatch, launching an economic war against the new Palestinian regime and encouraging a mini Palestinian civil war. In accordance with the consensus on force as the tool of choice, the speed of the
In the event, Hamas ended up being partially overthrown, keeping control only of
Although Hamas’ electoral victory had knocked
Keeping its eye nonetheless on the distant goal line,
By 2008, Israeli decision-makers were itching to teach both Hamas and Hezbollah the lessons they had failed to teach in 2006. First, they signed a ceasefire with Hamas in mid-2008 but cheated by maintaining the economic war against the population and again by launching a small attack in November. Hamas logically refused to extend the ceasefire in December, giving Israel the excuse it was looking for, and it launched what was intended to be a decisive military attack to destroy Hamas as an independent actor (if not literally to exterminate it). The Israeli blitzkrieg faired better in the Gazan ghetto than it had in the unwalled hills of
Whatever happens in
Will Israeli decision-makers see the victory over Palestinians, the messy and imperfect bloodying of