With civilians bearing the brunt of the current conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians, both sides ñ as well as the international community ñ need to focus on how to end the violence, according to University of Notre Dame historian Asher Kaufman, whose areas of specialty include the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“The question that needs to preoccupy Israelis, Palestinians and the international community is not who started this round, but how it could be stopped,”says Kaufman.
“Israel is not interested in re-occupying the Gaza strip, nor is it capable of destroying Hamas.And Israel cannot be eliminated by Hamas.”
The best the two parties can hope to achieve is a return to a ceasefire agreement that would involve an end of Palestinian rocket firing at Israel, and an end of Israeli closure of the Gaza Strip.
But a commitment by the international community to help enforce the agreement is needed to help bring an end to the current conflict.
“This is one of the first and most important foreign challenges of the Obama administration, and the president-elect needs to address it sooner rather than later, even if there is ‘only one American president at a time,’”Kaufman says.
A member of the Notre Dame faculty since 2005, Kaufman specializes in the modern history of Lebanon and Syria, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.He currently is working on a project focusing on boundaries, territoriality, conflict, and identities in Lebanon, Syria and Israel.
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