For 35 years, I’ve devoted my professional life to U.S. peacemaking policy and conflict resolution and planning — whether in the former Soviet Union, a reunified Germany or postwar Iraq. But nothing has preoccupied me like finding a peaceful and lasting solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
In the past, I might have favored a cease-fire with Hamas during a conflict with Israel. But today it is clear to me that peace is not going to be possible now or in the future as long as Hamas remains intact and in control of Gaza. Hamas’s power and ability to threaten Israel — and subject Gazan civilians to ever more rounds of violence — must end.
After Oct. 7, there are many Israelis who believe their survival as a state is at stake. That may sound like an exaggeration, but to them, it’s not. If Hamas persists as a military force and is still running Gaza after this war is over, it will attack Israel again. And whether or not Hezbollah opens a true second front from Lebanon during this conflict, it, too, will attack Israel in the future. The aim of these groups, both of which are backed by Iran, is to make Israel unlivable and drive Israelis to leave: While Iran has denied involvement in the Hamas attack, Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, has long talked about Israel not surviving for another 25 years, and his strategy has been to use these militant proxies to achieve that goal.
Given the strength of Israel’s military — by far the most powerful in the region — the aims of Iran and its collaborators seemed implausible until a few weeks ago. But the events of Oct. 7 changed everything. As one commander in the Israeli military said, “If we do not defeat Hamas, we cannot survive here.”
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