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1) Thomas L. Friedman, “Israel Is About to Make a Terrible Mistake,” New York Times, October 19, 2023;
2) Yaroslav Trofimov, “Taking Gaza Would Be Possible, Sieges From Mosul to Mariupol Show—but at a Steep Cost; Israel’s planned land campaign against Hamas promises to be destructive and bloody as urban warfare favors defender,” Wall Street Journal, October 22, 2023 (Updated at 12:09 am ET);
Thomas L. Friedman, the columnist of the New York Times who has extraordinary expertise and experience in the Middle East, has issued an urgent warning and appeal to Israel not to proceed with its planned ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.
One further critical point not made by Friedman: In order for Israel to hear and act on advice from its allies and friends, especially President Biden and the United States, a further cabinet reshuffle is may be necessary and should take place now.
To avoid a wider war and utter catastrophe, it is urgent that the U.S. do all it can to encourage Israel to stop the imminent ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, and to implement immediately unlimited humanitarian assistance for the civilian population of Gaza.
U.N. officials estimate that at least 100 trucks per day are needed to provide essential humanitarian aid to the residents of the Gaza Strip, assuming they include fuel for the generation of electricity to pump water and to keep hospitals operating. If they don’t include fuel, needed to pump water, many more trucks will be required.
Urgent steps are needed if the ground invasion is to be prevented and cooperative relations with the Arab states are to be maintained. These actions are necessary to secure the broader interests of the United States in the Middle East and to enlist assistance in developing a post-Hamas governing authority in the Gaza Strip.
First, the national unity government of Israel should demand a further and immediate cabinet reshuffle. Netanyahu’s right-wing cabinet members are reported to be still serving in the new war cabinet, They seem to be extremely right-wing. They are probably not the best people to lead Israel in responding to the barbaric attacks of Hamas on October 7.
Second, it is still of critical importance to do everything possible to draw in the Arab governments in efforts to defuse the crisis and to replace Hamas with a governmental authority to take over after Hamas is vanquished.
Third, to draw Arab countries into efforts to manage the crisis, very significant concessions by Israel on Palestinian issues need to be made. For example, as Thomas Friedman urges, an immediate end to illegal settlements in the West Bank must be agreed. Moreover, a new and credible initiative by Israel aimed at a two-state solution must be launched.
The pre-October 7 cabinet members, who remain part of the war cabinet, may be incapable of making these concessions. With a newly reshuffled cabinet better representing the members of the national unity government, Netanyahu would have much greater leeway to lead Israel out of its current morass.
The timing is critical. The hour is late.
Public opinion in Israel appears to be clamoring for a ground invasion of Gaza.
We should recall the lessons of history.
In August 1914, public opinion in Britain and France was overwhelmingly in favor of war, which many expected to last no longer than six weeks. Germany invaded Belgium launching World War I. Four years later, the losses suffered on all sides had been horrific. World War I, the defeat of Germany, and the Versailles Peace treaty of 1919 planted the seeds that led to the rise of Adolf Hitler and World War II.
The United States must act urgently, now, to encorage Israel to cancel the ground invasion, to immediately allow and assist in the provision of unlimited humanitarian assistance to the residents of the Gaza Strip, and ultimately to end its siege of the Gaza Strip.
Bold leadership by President Biden and by Prime Minuster Netanyahu is required.
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