“If someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first,” says the Babylonian Talmud. Hamas has come and will keep coming until it is killed. Killing Hamas is what Israel has been doing since it was barbarically attacked by the terror group on Oct. 7.
But Israel has not quite been given the green light to wipe out Hamas. I would say a flashing orange light. Israel’s allies have said: Yes, we support your efforts to kill Hamas, but do it the “right way.” Do it in a way that lays the foundation for a “two-state solution.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his remarks at the U.N. Security Council Ministerial Meeting on the Situation in the Middle East on Oct. 24, said, “Even as we address this immediate crisis, we all agree that we must redouble our collective efforts to build an enduring political solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The only road to lasting peace and security in the region, the only way to break out of this horrific cycle of violence, is through two states for two peoples.”
In his statement to the Security Council, U.N. Secretary General António Guterres said, “Even in this moment of grave and immediate danger, we cannot lose sight of the only realistic foundation for a true peace and stability: a two-state solution. Israelis must see their legitimate needs for security materialized, and Palestinians must see their legitimate aspirations for an independent state realized, in line with United Nations resolutions, international law and previous agreements.”
In other words, Israel is expected to simultaneously fight on the battlefield and navigate a maze of diplomacy, public opinion and international law. Then, when darkness finally descends on the last Hamas tunnel, Israel is expected to ensure there is a light that leads to a “two-state solution” that assures peace, security and dignity for both sides.
These are noble aspirations, but timing is everything.
Will an opportunity for peace between Palestinians and Israelis rise from the ashes of Hamas’s sickening crimes against humanity and the unavoidable suffering to Palestinians it has caused? Perhaps one day, but now is unlikely to be the time. The basis of peace is trust, and trust between Israel and the Palestinians is close to a historic low.
New York Times columnist Thomas L. Freidman wrote on Oct. 19 that the best way to avoid a “global conflagration” is for Israel to engage in a quid pro quo with the Palestinian Authority. Israel’s destruction of Hamas is given a green light. In return, Israel must commit to negotiating a two-state solution with the P.A. and “end settlements deep in the West Bank.”
“This is not about whether Israel has the right to retaliate against Hamas for the savage barbarism it inflicted on Israeli men, women, babies and grandparents,” he stated. “It surely does. This is about doing it the right way—the way that does not play into the hands of Hamas, Iran and Russia.”
The weakness in Friedman’s argument is that if Israel’s “green light” is tied to its commitment to negotiate a two-state solution, Hamas apologists will take credit for the Israeli concessions that will be inevitably required. The message this will send is a horrific one: terror and savagery work. Iran, in particular, will claim that the “martyrs” of Oct. 7 wrested genuine concessions from Israel.
This outcome would be a disaster for the Israeli people and indeed for the world. Destroying Hamas on the ground in Gaza but giving it a legacy of success will condemn Israel to further horrific terror attacks. The barbarians of Hamas will become martyrs forever remembered for “forcing” Israel to suspend settlement construction and agree to negotiations.
Friedman appears oblivious to the obvious fact that Hamas must not only be defeated militarily but also thoroughly delegitimized in the Arab world, the U.S. and the NATO countries. Failure to do this, ironically, would greatly harm the prospect of peace by leading to the emergence of a Hamas 2.0.
The book of Ecclesiastes states, “Everything has an appointed season, and there is a time for every matter under heaven. … A time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break and a time to build. … A time to love and a time to hate; a time for war and a time for peace.”
Unfortunately, now is the time for war, not peace. Now is the time to kill Hamas and free its hostages. Yes, there will be a time for peace, but we are not there yet—not even close.