Despite massive aid, US policies have failed to achieve peace in Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, eroding US credibility in the region. The Hamas offensive, led by Palestinian militant groups, is the first direct conflict within Israeli territory since the country’s founding and is in response to the atrocities Palestinians have faced over the decades. The Palestinian per capita income has fallen to only 12.9% relative to the Israeli level, lower than decades ago.
The Palestinian stagnation reflects economic devastation that exceeded that of apartheid South Africa. During the period of apartheid (1948-94), the blacks’ per capita income relative to the whites climbed from 8.6% to 13.5%. The Palestinians’ starting point was twice as high after the Oslo Accords, but now ranks behind blacks at the end of apartheid, a reversal facilitated by the Trump and Biden administrations.
The Hamas offensive is the first direct conflict within Israeli territory since the country’s founding, and it is the first direct conflict within Israeli territory since the country’s founding. The status quo has long been untenable, and the Israeli-imposed blockade, four wars, and domestic divisions have left the local economy far behind the West Bank’s.
Israeli leaders are increasingly acknowledging the reality of apartheid, with former attorney general Michael Ben-Yair calling Israel an “apartheid regime.” Over 2,000 Israeli and American public figures have signed statements condemning the Palestinians’ living conditions under apartheid. The erosion of the Israeli economy has coincided with soaring US economic and military aid, which began after the 1973 War. The US has given Israel over $260 billion in military and economic aid, with $10 billion more for missile defense systems.
The Israeli economy is becoming more polarized, with 280 senior economists warning that Netanyahu’s government’s budget allocations to ultra-religious Haredi groups will transform Israel from an advanced and prosperous country to a backward country. The Democratic Biden administration has continued Trump’s Middle East policies, which ignore the Palestinian nightmare. China has called for an immediate cease-fire and support for a two-state solution with an independent state of Palestine as a way out of the conflict. President Biden dispatched Blinken to Israel in support, while Republican hawks like Lindsey Graham said they were ready to “support the bombing of Iran,” without evidence on the links between Hamas offensive and Iran.
The war has been a paradise for Israel’s far-right government, as the Labor coalition expanded security boundaries eastward after the Yom Kippur War, leading to the creation of a foothold in the West Bank. The Madrid Conference in 1991 and the Oslo Accords offered a glimpse of a more peaceful two-state future, but Rabin’s assassination led to new far-right movements and assassins in Israel. Netanyahu’s minister of national security, Netanyahu, calls for expulsions of Arab citizens and in part sparked the Hamas offensive by a provocative visit to the Temple Mount.
Hamas, a Palestinian Islamist group, was established in Gaza in 1988 and was initially allowed to expand by Israeli authorities. Sheik Ahmed Yassin, a wheelchair-bound member of Hamas, was allowed to continue his activities in Gaza. The Israeli government’s strategy for peace has been to destroy the Palestinians, using the Dahiya Doctrine, which involves the demolition of civilian infrastructure and the deployment of disproportionate power. China, a neutral intermediary in the Middle East, has been seen as a more neutral intermediary, focusing on economic development rather than multi-billion-dollar weapons sales.
China brokered discussions between Saudi Arabia and Iran in March and outlined its vision for brokering peace between Israel and the Palestinians in June. China has historically had close diplomatic ties with Palestinian leaders and deepened relations with Israel, investing in infrastructure and technology. This year, Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas made his fifth official visit to China. China’s approach is paced by stability and cooperation for economic development. Both the US and China have a role in the region, but it is time to give peace and development a chance.