The conflict in Gaza has been triggered by Israel's belief that the status quo has become intolerable and should be overturned.(via Norm Geras)
There are several reasons why Israel felt it could not live with the situation in Gaza. The most immediate is the rocket attacks by Hamas that have made life for nearly a tenth of Israelis an exercise in anxiety. Also a factor is that Hamas, since it staged its putsch two years ago, has closed Gaza to all Palestinian groups that have accepted a two-state solution. This makes it impossible for Israel and the administration of President Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in the West Bank to restart negotiations that could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
More importantly, perhaps, Hamas has forged an alliance with Iran based on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's strategy of "wiping Israel off the map". Tehran's investment in Hamas is large enough to have given it a decisive say in shaping the group's strategy. Israelis see Hamas as one of the two arms of a pincer, along with Iranian-funded Hezbollah in Lebanon, that Tehran is building against them.
Thus, Israel's war aims are clear: end the rocket attacks, reopen Gaza to other Palestinian parties and eliminate the Iranian presence. This means creating a new status quo in which Hamas is not the dominant party in Gaza.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Amir Taheri in the Times of London: