On the Record

Gaza Violence: Middle East at a Critical Turning Point

Martin S. Indyk

In progress

ELEANOR HALL: Martin Indyk, what is your reaction to the fighting that seems to be tearing apart the Unity Government in the Palestinian Territories?

MARTIN INDYK: Well, I see it really as a coup by Hamas designed to grab control of Gaza. They’ve done it in a very systematic way and they’ve effectively completed the job in some 48 hours. There may be some pockets of resistance particularly in Gaza city from Fatah but I think the game is basically up and the consequences of this in terms of the facts on the ground is that Gaza will become Hamas span if you like. And the West Bank will be Fatah land.

ELEANOR HALL: So a further splitting of the Palestinian Territories?

MARTIN INDYK: Yes and we will have a two state solution just not the two state solution anybody had in mind. The Gaza and the West Bank are physically separated. Israel’s in between. There’s been very limited connections between the two in any case because Israel has prevented the flow of traffic between the two security reasons. And now I think it will become complete.

ELEANOR HALL: So this is an extraordinary change. To what extent would Israel see this as a negative and to what extent a positive?

MARTIN INDYK: I’m not sure that I can tell you what they think because this is all a fairly new situation and the, everybody’s still coming to terms with it. But I suspect that they would see it as a positive in the sense that it’s like a man wearing a suit with a long arm and a short arm, and it makes it very difficult to function and so from an Israeli perspective you’d probably see some advantage in what is, in effect, a separation on the ground.

But I think that they maybe short sighted over time because what Israel will have on its southern border is a, in effect, a Jihadist state, and a failed state at that, that will be open for business for all the bad actors in the region, from Iran to Hezbollah and potentially al-Qaeda as well.

And that rump state wedged in between Israel and Egypt is bound to create trouble. In fact, I think that it’s really only a matter of time before the Israelis are so provoked by attacks from this area that they’ll end up going in with their army, something which they’ve been reluctant to do in these situations.

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