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Points of view on Gaza

A column of Israeli armoured vehicles leaves their forward base to enter the Gaza Strip

What are the commentators saying about Gaza, after almost two weeks of conflict?

Israel has become a "rogue state" which appears to be following the logic of "an eye for an eyelash", according to Avi Shlaim writing in the Guardian. In his assessment of the historical context for the present conflict, he concludes that Israel fulfils the criteria of a rogue state in that it:

habitually violates international law, possesses weapons of mass destruction and practises terrorism - the use of violence against civilians for political purposes

Israel's big mistake was its "colonial project beyond the Green line," the professor of international relations at Oxford University says

To use the Biblical phrase, Israel turned the people of Gaza into the hewers of wood and the drawers of water, into a source of cheap labour and a captive market for Israeli goods. The development of local industry was actively impeded so as to make it impossible for the Palestinians to end their subordination to Israel and to establish the economic underpinnings essential for real political independence

Daniel Pipes writing in the Jerusalem Post proposes going back to an old idea - shared Jordanian-Egyptian rule in which Amman rules the West Bank and Cairo runs Gaza.

The Jordan-Egypt option quickens no pulse, but that may be its value. It offers a uniquely sober way to solve the "Palestinian problem"

A data-driven perspective of the conflict is provided by Nancy Kanwisher in the Huffington Post. Ms Kanwisher of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology analyses a timeline of killings of Palestinians by Israelis, and killings of Israelis by Palestinians to try to assess how ceasefires unravel.

She concludes:

First, Hamas can indeed control the rockets, when it is in their interest. The data shows that ceasefires can work, reducing the violence to nearly zero for months at a time. Second, if Israel wants to reduce rocket fire from Gaza, it should cherish and preserve the peace when it starts to break out, not be the first to kill.

Nancy Kanwisher can count and therefore so does her article writes Juan Cole in his Informed Comment blog.

He argues that her analysis demonstrates that Israel is wrong to say that it is impossible to deal with Hamas or that the group always starts the fighting.

Kanwisher's findings make perfect sense if it is remembered that Israel is by far the stronger party and dominates the scene

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu writing in the Wall Street Journal addresses the issue of proportionality, arguing that Israel fights to defend itself:

The charge that Israel is using disproportionate force is equally baseless. Does proportionality demand that Israel fire 6,000 rockets indiscriminately back at Gaza? Does it demand an equal number of casualties on both sides?

Mr Netanyahu defines the battle as one that affects everyone around the world.

The struggle between militant Islam and modernity - whether fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, India or Gaza - will decide our common future. It is a battle we cannot afford to lose

But Aluf Benn argues in Israel's Haaretz newspaper that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should heed past military lessons and "call it a day and get out of Gaza" before he falls into the "euphoria trap". Euphoria, he writes, can boost a leader's spirits, encouraging them to scorn ceasefires. Ultimately, he says, the initial achievement becomes lost.

In 2006, Israel was dragged into five weeks of attrition that ended in a national trauma. In 2009, it should call it a day and get out of Gaza - before the glowing euphoria becomes a painful hangover.



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