Eliezer highlights what he calls the “political role” senior officers of the occupying army play. These officers only pay lip service, showing submission to government control. This submission is not translated effectively on the ground.
The author believes that the siege imposed on Arafat at the Al-Muqata’a (Palestinian presidential compound) was part of a large scale war. On one hand, this was a bloody, brutal, long and violent war. On the other, it was not consistent with the familiar “legitimacy” of conventional wars in the past.
In reference to the signed on Arafat, Eliezer examines the role of the army, which cited the claim of pursuing wanted individuals. “Those wanted individuals, who were present in the Al-Muqata’a, were not really wanted. As evidence, during the third round of the siege on Al-Muqata’a, Israel found it difficult to hand over the list of names of “wanted individuals”, which Americans had requested. Eventually, wanted individual fled after Israel had lifted the siege. Against this backdrop, it seemed that senior officers and commanders of the Israeli army exercised a symbolic policy through the use of military techniques.”
Eliezer raises a number of questions about the influence exerted by certain community groups, organisations and sectors on the war. These have played a role in either making progress towards, or digressing from, peace for reasons pertaining to their own interests.
In the post-Cold War period, modern neoliberal age or globalisation era, Eliezer indicates that new disputes have been arisen within the Israeli society. Without these, the nature of Israel’s new wars could have not been comprehended. Eliezer provides an extensive account of two milestones in the conflict. Firstly, the Oslo Agreements provide that a settlement can be reached between the two nations. A longstanding conflict can also be resolved. However, these agreements gave rise to a deep-rooted conflict within the Israeli society itself.
Secondly, the Al-Aqsa Intifada changed the course of the internal Israeli conflict to the outside. By virtue of its special characteristics, the Intifada involved and resulted in grave violations and severe losses incurred by both parties. It provided the ground for the planning the “New War” and furnished the pattern which recurred later in the Second Lebanon War (2006) and war on Gaza (2008-2009).
In particular, since early 2010s (this book was published in Hebrew in 2012), it seemed that Israel under Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister and Ehud Barak as Minister of Defence accepted the “de facto political situation”. The opportunity which materialised following the conclusion of the Oslo Agreements in early 1990s (1993), namely to reach a peaceful settlement on the basis of the two-state solution, died away. At the same time, the dream broad segments of the Israeli society had (that is, imposing Israel’s sovereignty over the whole of the Palestinian territory occupied in the June 1967 war) dwindled.
As an alternative to these two possibilities, Israeli leaders have taken what Eliezer calls a “third road”, which has been intertwined with a unilateral attempt to put an end to violence by means of intimidation and segregation. These leaders have also implemented a policy of separation between the Gaza Strip and West Bank, between Palestinians themselves in the West Bank, between Palestinians and settlers, and between Israel and parts of the West Bank. This policy also creates a link between Israel and de fact annexed areas in the West Bank as well as between Israel and settlers, who are considered as an integral part of the citizens of the State of Israel. Premised on the denial of the current context and disregard of the Palestinians who may comprise in the near future the majority of the population between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea, this regime is in conflict with the main premise of the Oslo Agreements. Accordingly, the idea of “connection through separation” was based on reciprocity, reaching a settlement, and maintaining economic and social relations between the two nations. At the time, this path seemed to many Israelis and Palestinians as a proper solution.
Eliezer also believes that this new approach, which has been imposed by Israel, is accepted to a great extent by the United State, and to some extent by Europe. In light of the expanded definition of terrorism, the fact that the struggle the Palestinians wage to realise their national aspirations has been ignored. This approach has also contributed to quenching internal conflicts and disputes in Israel. More correctly, it has shifted Israel’s focus to other economic and social themes and issues. As evidenced in the large scale movement of summer 2011, participants demanded that social justice be done. Hence, it can be argued that the said approach has been favourable to many, if not a majority of, the Israelis who are almost equally afraid of the path to a total war as well as of the path to a comprehensive, durable peace which is associated with territorial (geographical) concessions.
Eliezer concludes that even if the “third road” contributes to alleviating the tense internal Israeli contradictions, it also plays a role in legitimising the continued occupation, violence and war.
Eliezer is a lectures at the Sociology and Anthropology Department, Haifa University. His research interests are in the areas of the sociology of war, the relationships between the triad of politics, army and society, and the civil society in Israel. He has published extensively in these areas in both Hebrew and Engli