The Importance of Consistency

Politics - October 16, 2023

On Saturday 7 October 2023, at 6:30 a.m., a violent and sudden attack on Israel begins from the Gaza Strip. It is carried out by the Palestinian Islamic terrorist group Hamas, which attacks Israel from the Gaza Strip. Nearly 5,000 rockets were fired at the Israeli enemy, in addition to hundreds of explosions and the arrival of dozens of militiamen who arrived by hang-glider. The toll of the attack is dramatic. In Israel there are reports of at least 900 dead, more than 2,500 wounded and more than 800 missing. These figures are constantly being updated and include many people taken hostage by Hamas. Israel responded by bombing the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government officially declared a state of war and called up thousands of reservists in preparation for a land attack, announcing a “total siege” of Gaza through an operation to cut off water, food, fuel and electricity.

Israel also announced the start of a complete evacuation of Israelis living in towns near the Gaza border. Palestinians have also suffered casualties, with around 700 people killed and more than 3,700 injured after Israel’s carpet bombing and sending of tanks into the Strip.

Another issue to consider is the hostage-taking of large numbers of people by Hamas, which has taken men, women and children away from their families, blindfolded them and tied their hands. They have even gone so far as to hide them in remote areas. According to latest reports, more than a hundred Israeli civilians have been abducted and taken hostage, whom the Hamas terrorists are apparently planning to use as real bargaining chips. The risk in all this is obviously that the hostages will soon be killed, or worse, used as human shields to deter Israel from launching a terrible ground assault that it has already announced.

It is essential to understand the causes that have led to the bloody and tragic events of recent days. In order to do this, it is necessary to take a step back in history and highlight some of the milestones in Israeli-Palestinian relations. The first is the long process that led to the signing of the famous Oslo Accords in 1993 by Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Prime Minister Yasser Arafat. On that occasion, the PLO recognised Israel’s right to exist and Israel recognised the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. A milestone achieved after decades of bloody and violent struggle at the cost of innocent lives. But thirty years later, with the escalation of various hostilities that have never fully abated, these same rights of existence have been challenged and brought back to the centre of the conflict.

The October attack has also thrown into crisis the so-called Abrahamic Accords signed in 2020, which, thanks to the intercession of the United States of America, aimed to achieve a normalisation of diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, and which were to be extended to include Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. The reasons for the attack on Israel were allegedly given in the name of the liberation of Islamic holy sites and the independence of the Palestinian territories.

But the facts show that the Palestinian claim is anything but national. In fact, it is a fundamentalist Islamic claim rather than a territorial one. In fact, the attack was carried out by Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic extremist organisation that is considered terrorist by Israel, as well as by the European Union and the United States.

Hamas was founded in 1987, under the pressure of the first intifada, precisely to fight the State of Israel, whose destruction it still calls for, through acts of terrorism. Over time, it has also carried out numerous suicide bombings against civilians and, since 2011, has attacked Israel with rockets on several occasions. One of Hamas’ prerogatives is to return Palestine to its pre-colonial state with the establishment of a Palestinian state. The Hamas attack will undoubtedly push the Middle East conflict into a new phase, reversing the progress made over the years towards a state of peace and normalisation in the Middle East region. There is also the serious question of whether other trends, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon or hardline Iran, might decide to intervene, aggravating the situation and dragging it into an even more critical state.

In this complex geopolitical scenario, it seems clear that the role of the international community is more crucial than ever. A community that, unfortunately, has not been able to pay the right attention to the Palestinian knot, has neglected the situation in certain aspects and is today experiencing an absolute state of instability, war and more, for which Israel is personally paying an unacceptable price. Now is the time, therefore, to show all the necessary solidarity in a tangible and effective way, taking the side of those who deserve it. Now is the time to experiment with new ways of peace, to take a different approach to peacemaking than in the past, in particular by no longer abandoning the peoples living in this tragic situation. In the first place, the European Union must adopt a firm and clear position, without hesitation or fear.

It must do so as soon as possible, because this is the only way to send a clear message internationally. It must do so all the more so because it has been characterised by more than a few hesitations and contradictions. From the outset, the European community, regardless of the positions of individual member states, was not very united. In fact, what happened in the EU was that, within a few hours, different representatives of European institutions expressed ambiguous positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On Monday 9 October, during the ministerial meeting, EU Neighbourhood Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi announced that the bloc had suspended its aid to Palestine without prior consultation with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

At the same time, a few hours later, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, stated that Israel had the right to defend itself, but within the framework of international law, adding that the EU had agreed to maintain aid to the Palestinians, also asserting that: “150,000 people are internally displaced and the human situation is terrible. So we need to give more, not less, more. But then, on Wednesday 11th October, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, also intervened and took another position on the matter, perhaps firmer than the condemnation of Hamas and pro-Israeli support, but not entirely transparent.

In fact, she stated firmly as follows: “We have to be clear about the definition of this kind of horror. It is terrorism. And it is an act of war. This was the worst attack inside Israel since the creation of the state. And there can only be one response. Europe stands with Israel. And we fully support Israel’s right to defend itself,” adding that “this is a tragedy for Israel, for the Jewish people and also for Europe,” and that’s why “Europe stands with Israel. Europe stands by our friend and partner”. However, she also said that “our humanitarian support for the Palestinian people is not in question”. Such ambiguity on the part of the European institutions cannot and should not be accepted. First of all because, as we have learnt from the war in Ukraine, the world cannot live and survive if the law of the strongest, rather than the law of justice, is allowed and tolerated to prevail. We cannot waste time and hesitate, because, as the recent past has taught us, indecision only leads to the deepening of conflicts and the worsening of the situation of the peoples involved. In Latin there is a saying by Cicero: ‘Historia magistra vitae’, which means that history is the teacher of life. If this is indeed the case, we should learn from history, especially from the crisis in Russia and Ukraine, by becoming more aware of the fact that the only and most powerful tool is that of consistency, so that from the very beginning we must adopt a clear and firm stance in order to provide all the necessary aid as quickly as possible and to condemn firmly, without hesitation or fear, the terrorist attacks that have been carried out.