Azmi Bishara: Unified Arab stance needed to end Israel's assault on Gaza

Azmi Bishara: Unified Arab stance needed to end Israel's assault on Gaza
4 min read
06 November, 2023
Dr. Azmi Bishara has spoken of the importance of Arab unity, the role of the global anti-war movement, and pressure on the US as essential elements in ending Israel's brutal war on Gaza.
Dr. Bishara has spoken out against the horrific war on Gaza [Getty]

Arab intellectual Dr. Azmi Bishara has spoken out against Israel's war on Gaza, saying regional states can help end the assault - which has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians - if three perquisites are met.

Dr. Bishara, director-general of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, told Al-Araby TV that a breach in Israel’s internal consensus over the Gaza war, ending a US-Israeli accord in regards to the goal of the assault (namely the destruction of Hamas), and genuine threats by Arab states to sever ties with Israel could all contribute to ending the bombardment of the besieged enclave amid global calls for a ceasefire

So long as there is a consensus in Israel and with its allies that the war is necessary for it to maintain its balance of power and prestige, as well as an essential act of revenge, then the genocide in Gaza will continue, he added.

"Given the current balance of power, the outcome can only be decided in the field, because a ceasefire cannot be imposed unless there is a change in the level of Israeli consensus about the war and unless US-Israeli agreement regarding the war’s main goal - which is the elimination of Hamas - falls apart," Dr. Bishara said in an interview with Al-Araby TV in Lusail, Qatar.

"Unless Arab countries adopt real practical measures, such as cutting ties with Israel or genuinely threatening to cut them [then]... how can those countries be dealt with respectfully when they failed to even get aid into Gaza and to evacuate the injured from it?"

It would be in the interests of all regional powers if Israel were to fail to achieve its objectives, he added, but this could happen if Arab countries took genuine steps toward severing ties with Israel, rather than just recalling their ambassadors, he added.

Such measures would force the US to accept that it has "no alternative to the Arabs in the region", and that the refusal of Arab leaders to meet US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in Amman, unless a ceasefire in Gaza was discussed, was a good step.

Hostage release and prisoner exchange

He added that Israel's primary goal in the assault on Gaza is eliminating Hamas and freeing Israeli and foreign hostages, seized by the group on 7 October, is a secondary one.

"[The assault on Gaza] is a contradiction [in Israel's alleged goal of freeing hostages] because the shelling could kill some of the prisoners and could weaken Hamas’ desire to release them," he said.

"Moreover, the Israeli leadership rejects a truce that would last more than 24 hours to allow the release of civilian Israeli prisoners, and this does not indicate any concern for their lives."

Dr. Bishara noted Hamas's willingness to free all Israeli captives in exchange for the release of Palestinian detainees, but such an outcome would be unacceptable to the Israeli political establishment as it would be seen as a win for Hamas. 

Meanwhile, a shift in the US position opposing a ceasefire in Gaza will only happen "if there is a significant shift in US public opinion".

This is a real possibility if the brutal Israeli assault continues, with people in the West growing weary of the falsehoods surrounding the war on the enclave.

Anti-war movement

Dr. Bishara focused on the global anti-war movement - with huge protests in Arab, European, and American capitals - which he described as the "main repository of the universal humanitarian dimension of the Palestine cause" away from any ideology. 

He said the huge number of Jewish people taking part in anti-war protests is proof that the real issues are Zionism, Israeli policies, colonialism, and occupation "and it is, therefore, important to address the world using universal, ethical humane values".

Addressing the human cost of the assault, Bishara stressed the dangers of people becoming accustomed to and "normalising" the massacres taking place daily in Gaza as at least 10,000 Palestinians were confirmed killed in Israel's now month-long assault.

He ascribed the very high number of casualties in Gaza to the unethical principles underpinning the war, as evidenced by the terms employed by Israeli officials such as President Isaac Herzog, who asserted that there were no innocent people in Gaza, otherwise they would have rebelled against Hamas.

Dr. Bishara noted that initially, as was the case with the Baptist Hospital massacre, Israeli officials had tried to justify their crimes but they no longer need to do so, given that world leaders have stopped condemning the repeated bombing of hospitals and schools in Gaza.