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The prosecution of Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza has resulted in two opposite responses to the human suffering on both sides:

  • "Cease fire, now".

This is popular with large swathes of the developing world, as well as a growing proportion of Western electorates, driven by huge Palestinian civilian casualties. Hamas' future is not typically discussed in this demand.

  • "Hamas can't be allowed to remain in power in Gaza. Offensive continues"

The Israeli public holds that opinion, after 10/7. A good deal of people agree (even if they don't like Gazan civ deaths). And Hamas does seem a rabid dog so it's hard to envision any peace with it remaining in charge of Gaza.

Which gets me to wonder if any country / significant organizations have proposed alternatives?

One that comes to mind for example would be granting Hamas safe passage out of Gaza, to go in exile. (There are precedents such as Duvalier leaving Haiti. Or Arafat's PLO leaving Lebanon, IIRC). Not sure who would accept them and I don't want to hash out the details to push "my" solution, so let's back to the question:

Any serious proposals being made to bridge the gap between "ceasefire now!" and "as long as it takes" ?

p.s. One thing to note is that many of the direct perpetrators of 10/7 atrocities are dead so their capture and trial in Gaza may not necessarily be a huge factor (yes, Hamas' leadership is a different concern).

p.p.s The exile bit is an example, not a proposal. Read the title again if needed: I am not interested in debating the merits or not of exile. Merely which alternative proposals, if any, have been made to resolve the situation. That could be exile, it could be a peacekeeping force... This question is merely asking whether an influential body has proposed something-else. Not the merits of something-else.

p.p.p.s. This Q is also only asking about a short term solution to the current round of fighting. It is not asking about longer term negotiations about the future status of Palestine-vs-Israel.

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    Why don't you recognize the two-state solution as a proposed alternative? Absolute sovereignty for Palestine is roughly in the middle of the two extremes — even for Hamas, isn't it?
    – Greendrake
    Nov 24, 2023 at 21:36
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    @Greendrake Hmmm, maybe that needs more clarification in the question. Ugh, more text. I have nothing against the 2 state solution, that's my preferred approach myself. However, this Q is only about a short term solution to the fighting in Gaza. Any 2 state or 1 state solutions won't be looked into until the current fighting stops. Nov 24, 2023 at 21:40
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    To my knowledge the official Israeli goal is not to remove Hamas from power in Gaza but rather to end any existence of Hamas. So removing Hamas from power is already somewhere in between the Israli position 'Hamas ceases to exist' and ceasefire now.
    – quarague
    Nov 27, 2023 at 18:35
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    I had to delete a ton of useless comments from this question. Please remember the purpose of comments on Stack Exchange. Their purpose is to improve the question, not debate its subject matter.
    – Philipp
    Nov 29, 2023 at 13:12
  • Are you looking for actually expressed (in statements or writing) proposals? Because it sure seems by their actions that a lot of countries are on board with a solution that could roughly be summed up as "can you tone things down a bit so we don't read about dead Palestinians every day? No, keep on with your war, we don't care much, but can it be a bit less obviously bloody?"
    – Tom
    Jan 8 at 11:45

2 Answers 2

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The only viable way to reduce civilian causalities (*) is by Arab pressure on Hamas to surrender and disarm, but it seems the leaders do not really want to reduce death toll, but just to be perceived as "supporters of the Palestinians" (even if several factors among them disdain Hamas behind close doors). That's why it is inherently difficult to find any middle-ground offer despite being the most logical and rational.

To my knowledge, there is only one Arab affairs analyst Ehud Yaari who reported by his sources that Hamas was urged by Arab leaders and Palestinian leaders to disarm and by doing so, Hamas could keep its life as a political entity in a future Palestine parliament.

(*) Apart from temporal evacuation of civilian population - but again, no one seem to have great interest in receiving Palestinian refugees despite being "supporters of Palestinians".

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    Upvoted, but is the virtue signaling about Israel's good intentions and the supposed fecklessness of Palestinian supporters all that necessary to this answer? Letting the facts - 2nd paragraph only - speak for themselves, minus the editorializing will probably avoid downvotes. Nov 24, 2023 at 22:42
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica, You are right in principle, but I added information explaining why the "obvious" kind of solution is not reached. - which I believe triggered your question. or anyone who really cares about Palestinians should ask. I'll delete the one-sentence saying that Israel is the only factor really working and trying to decrease civilian casualties, as it only has marginal importance to the question.
    – discipulus
    Nov 24, 2023 at 22:51
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    No, the "obvious kind of solution" did not trigger my question. My question was triggered by international diplomacy being apparently limited to 2 diametrically opposed positions: "Cease fire". Or "Israel does as it sees fit". No more, no less. Your answer shows at least 1 different proposal came through. The various parties' motivations are relevant to other questions. Not this one. Nov 25, 2023 at 0:59
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    According to Haaretz, the source of those proposals is Ramallah, i.e. the PA/PLO. But also says they're unlikely to be taken up by Hamas. haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/2023-11-24/ty-article/… Nov 25, 2023 at 4:25
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    @Fizz, unfortunately the article is behind paywall. But of course Hamas is against such deals - because - like the rest - Hamas leaders do not care for Palestinians lives and it is doubtful to what extent they are rational players to begin with. Despite that, I beleive parties must try continue the pressure to let Hamas know that Israel won't stop - doing that publicly can help; Hamas does not seem to realize that it is over: indications are that diplomatic pressure is not going to be enough to stop Israel even if it comes from US/Germany (which anyway it doesn't come).
    – discipulus
    Nov 25, 2023 at 10:46
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One that comes to mind for example would be granting Hamas safe passage out of Gaza, to go in exile. (There are precedents such as Duvalier leaving Haiti. Or Arafat's PLO leaving Lebanon, IIRC). Not sure who would accept them and I don't want to hash out the details to push "my" solution, so let's back to the question:

The situation in Gaza hasn't reached yet the point where one could claim that Hamas is about to be eliminated or that they have no choice but to leave. In the previous rounds of fighting (see the timeline since Israeli withdrawal from Gaza) Israel usually aimed at degrading Hamas' capabilities to fire rockets or carry out cross-border attacks, which typically produced a few years of calm. Trying to completely uproot Hamas was perceived as counter-productive, since

  • it raised the amount of casualties in the Israeli army
  • it increased the risk of Israeli soldiers being taken hostages
  • it required a many-months long operation or perhaps reoccupation of Gaza on a permanent basis.

In view of the gravity of 7/10 attacks such a scenario is not excluded anymore, it may still turn out impossible to achieve. Not the lasts role is played by the political and public pressure due to the rising Palestinian casualties.

Another point worth keeping in mind is that Hamas is not the only militant organization in Gaza, but merely the dominant one. Thus, there is no guarantee that eliminating Hamas would eliminate the threat, and that Hamas would not be replaced by something worse.

It is also wroth noting that many members of Hamas leadership do spend their life in exile, out of fear for their lives: e.g. Khaled Mashal, while being a leader of Hamas, spent most of his time in Jordan, Syria and other countries.

Netanyahu declared goals:
I quote here the statement of the goals of operation by the Israeli Prime Minister:

Citizens of Israel, I want to be clear – the war is continuing. The war is continuing. We will continue until we achieve all of our goals: Return all of the hostages, eliminate Hamas and ensure that on the day after Hamas, no element that supports terrorism, educates its children for terrorism, and pays terrorists or their families, will control Gaza. Gaza will no longer constitute a threat to Israel. We will restore security in both the south and the north. We are winning and will continue to fight until absolute victory. We are doing so thanks to the courage of our soldiers and thanks to the self-sacrifice of our sons and daughters, heroes of Israel. I always remember that this victory has a heavy price – our soldiers who gave their lives for us all, our heroes that fell to defend our home.

Von der Leyen proposal
Ursula von der Leyen has recently made a five-point proposal as well:

The five principles for Gaza proposed by von der Leyen are:

  1. No safe haven for terrorists.
  2. No Hamas-led government.
  3. No long-term Israeli security presence.
  4. No forced displacement of Palestinians.
  5. No sustained blockade.

Both proposals (Netanyahu's and Leyen's) appear rather unrealistic: ousting Hamas from power might turn out very difficult without significant casualties, and eliminating completely any threat to Israel's security might be possible only after a peace agreement between Israel and Palestinians and creation of Palestinian state, which has failed to realize over three decades of negotiations. The obvious major point of disagreement between the two proposals is the Israeli military presence in Gaza and simultaneous lifting of the blockade.

Al Jazeera
Al Jazeera, citing less high-level sources, claims that it might be impossible to destroy Hamas:

By assenting to the terms of the release, Israel has shown that it can, in fact, negotiate with Hamas, tacitly conceding that it is no closer to eradicating a group that has gone, quite literally, underground. If anything, by laying waste to much of Gaza City and, with it, the institutions of Hamas governance, Israel’s actions have only made the group more elusive.

Hamas-Lite
The difficulty of removing Hamas is that everyone in the Gaza administration owes allegiance to Hamas to some extent. There is also resistance from Iran, which uses the Palestinian cause as a justification for its involvement in the Arab affairs.

Thus, a possible solution is removing the Hamas leadership and depriving it of military capabilities, but leaving the weakened organization to exist and/or subjugating it to the Palestinian Authority. As Foreign Policy describes it:

Despite Israel’s hard-line rhetoric about Hamas, if it succeeds in eliminating Hamas’s military leaders in the short term, a medium-term scenario of Arab-Israeli acceptance of a minor role for a reformed version of Hamas is not far-fetched. Such an iteration of Hamas would be in line with the statement issued following the joint Arab League-Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Riyadh earlier this month. The statement emphasizes recognizing only the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the legitimate representative of Palestinians—but also states that all other Palestinian factions should operate “under a PLO-led national partnership.”

At first glance, the national partnership proposed in the Arab League-OIC statement appears more nuanced than the usual power-sharing arrangements among ruling elites that are a common feature of conflict resolution in the region. The proposal is not calling for power sharing between the PLO and Hamas. Rather, the idea is that Hamas—or at least its pragmatic elements—agrees to operate as a subsidiary political actor under the umbrella of the PLO. In theory, this kind of arrangement could mitigate the power abuses and political paralysis that elite bargains have frequently created in places like Lebanon, Iraq, or Libya.

Whether Hamas will go along with this plan is questionable. One of Hamas’s objectives in the Oct. 7 assault on Israel was to highlight the weakness of the PLO and Palestinian Authority, affirming that Hamas is the only true voice of the Palestinian people. Hamas will not want to be seen as having made a huge political compromise.

Deporting low-rank Hamas members
There are apparently discussions between the US and Israeli officials about the expulsion from Gaza of several thousands of low-rank Hamas members - similar to the proposal outlined in the OP.

Israel and US officials have discussed expelling thousands of lower-level Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip as a possible option to shorten the war between Israel and Hamas, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
[...]
The option to expel Hamas terrorists and their families from the Strip aims to provide the terrorists with an exit strategy and make it easier to rebuild Gaza after the war.

The proposal seemingly would not include higher-up Hamas leaders such as Yahya Sinwar or Mohammed Deif. Israeli officials have said that the two, and other Hamas leaders located both in the Gaza Strip and abroad, are "dead men walking."

Update (Jan 4, 2024)
The recent Egyptian ceasefire proposal goes well beyond the "immediate ceasefire" demands, but stops short of eliminating Hamas:

The Egyptian proposal, worked out with the Gulf nation of Qatar, has been presented to Israel, Hamas, the United States and European governments but still appeared preliminary. It falls short of Israel’s professed goal of outright crushing Hamas and would appear not to meet Israel’s insistence on keeping military control over Gaza for an extended period after the war.
[...]
Egypt and Qatar would also work with all Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to agree on the establishment of a government of experts, he said. The government would rule Gaza and the West Bank for a transitional period as Palestinian factions settle their disputes and agree on a roadmap to hold presidential and parliamentary elections, he added.

In the meantime, Israel and Hamas would continue to negotiate a comprehensive “all-for-all” deal, he said. This would include the release of all remaining hostages in return for all Palestinian prisoners in Israel, as well as the Israeli military’s withdrawal from Gaza and the Palestinian militants’ halting of rocket attacks into Israel. Close to 8,000 Palestinians are held by Israel on security-related charges or convictions, according to Palestinian figures.

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    Indeed. Netanyahu recently spoke of the need to demilitarize and deradicalize Gaza, in the aftermath. npr.org/2023/11/21/1214529398/… According to TASS, he said it (again) as recently as yesterday, on German TV tass.com/world/1713295? Nov 29, 2023 at 2:38
  • It's also important to remember that the idea of "from the river to the sea" is quite popular in Gaza. Even if Hamas is taken out, the idea isn't going anywhere and there's always going to be more people willing to spend their time on building rockets and harassing Israel. Nov 29, 2023 at 22:05
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    @JonathanReez indeed, the structural causes of this conflict are not something that can be easily resolved by a military action or signing a peace agreement. Nov 30, 2023 at 6:17
  • @JonathanReez "...there's always going to be more people willing to spend their time on building rockets and harassing Israel." Nobody can look into the future. Maybe at some point there won't be such people anymore. Peace (as in absence of violence) has happened in other parts of the World before. It could happen there too. Jan 4 at 11:22
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    A remark on von der Leyen's proposal: The wording of it guarantees Israel will refuse it. Five points starting with "no" is way too close to the arab "three noes" that massively influenced Near East politics for decades (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khartoum_Resolution)
    – Tom
    Jan 8 at 11:48

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