Swords of Iron

A plan for how to end the war in Gaza

In 2013, General John Allen, Barack Obama’s adviser to Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, recommended a revolutionary plan. Israel, Allen proposed, would withdraw from most of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley on the eastern front, and construct a fence to keep out terrorists. It would fly drones for surveillance and even gain access to U.S. satellites to prevent future invasions.While the peace process with the Palestinians has been stuck now for more than a decade, in the wake of the Hamas invasion on Oct. 7 and the brutal massacre of 1,400 Israelis, plans like what Allen proposed a decade ago are totally unrealistic.

“After what happened on Oct. 7, the idea that Israel will one day withdraw from territory like the Jordan Valley and outsource its security is impossible to contemplate for at least the next two generations,” one senior Israeli military officer told us.

This is the hard lesson from the Hamas attacks — Israel will not be able to give up a security presence along its borders in the decades to come and will not be able to hide behind fences and missile defense systems like Iron Dome which is effective at saving lives, but also gave Israel a false feeling of safety as a monstrous threat grew just over the border.

What this practically means, is that the “two states for two peoples” structure that the world has debated for the last 30 years is no longer possible in the way that we once thought. Instead, Israel, the Palestinians and the U.S. all need to readjust their goals.

As such, we recommend eight steps — four for Israel and four for the Palestinian Authority — that can help create an end mechanism to the war as well as advance a diplomatic process when it is over.

The first step for Israel is for the government to declare that there will not be a resettling of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip that used to exist there until the unilateral withdrawal of 2005. Some government ministers have expressed their desire to rebuild those demolished settlements, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to reject those calls.

The second step is for Israel to declare that it wants the Palestinian Authority to replace Hamas as the governing entity over the Gaza Strip. Since Israel does not want to remain indefinitely inside Gaza after this war, the most viable option to rule the area is the PA, the same entity that Netanyahu has worked for over two decades to weaken and marginalize.

Published by The Hill