Israel-Palestine violence explodes: what happens next?

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Happy week to you. I thought we would do a quick take as we often do talk a little bit today about the latest in the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians, still going on. Thousands now of Hamas' rockets raining down on Israel, hundreds of Israeli air sorties, also tanks and artillery hitting Gaza, as well as some violence locally in the West Bank and a fair amount across Israel Proper between Arabs and Israeli Jews living in the country.

I'm pretty optimistic at this point, if you can even use that word, that this is not going to escalate further in the near term. In other words, this doesn't become a ground war. A couple of reasons. First, the Israeli defense forces over the weekend put out a statement showing how much they had already done to degrade Hamas' military capabilities. And historically, they don't do that until they're ready to show success and wrap up their military operations in relatively short order. So that implies a quick pivot, at least to opening negotiations with the Palestinians as to a ceasefire.

I'd be really surprised if this goes much more than the end of this week. Certainly not additional weeks or months, and very unlikely to see a ground war. Secondly, there is more international pressure now, more outcry, particularly from the media following the Israeli strike on this building, mixed use building with the Israeli say. Hamas operatives using the building, though proof hasn't yet been provided to the US government on that. Also, headquarters for Al-Jazeera Associated Press and other international media organizations. Almost an hour of warning was given so everyone could evacuate. Nobody died, but clearly the international media response is this is a huge story and helps to shift the narrative against the Israelis to a greater degree.

Having said all of that, the United States continues to provide an awful lot of support to tolerate the Israelis continuing with the military strikes that they're doing. First point because the major proximate escalation did come from Hamas when they started to launch all of these rockets across Israel Proper, something that they hadn't done outside of war historically. And secondly, because the US considers Israel to be by far its strongest ally in the region. And we've now seen the Biden administration in addition to calling out the Palestinians and supporting repeatedly the Israelis to have the right to self-defense. So there's no question that the US isn't trying to act as an honest broker here, but also the fact that the US has singularly blocked three United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire, all of the other Security Council permanent members supporting it, the Americans blocking it. The Americans of course like the other permanent members have a veto.

I think that if you had asked a lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans, ex ante, this is going to happen. This is the kind of explosion of violence we're going to see in Israel-Palestine, will they Biden administration block a cease fire call? I mean, clearly Trump would have, if he was in power. I think the answer for most people would have been no. And indeed, you're seeing the level of alignment and actual policy between the Biden administration and the Trump administration on Israel-Palestine is really very high and that is I think something that isn't well appreciated and doesn't necessarily play well, given just how politically divided the country and the media is right now, but is nonetheless bearing out in the way we're seeing diplomacy work.

I would argue that while we can get to a ceasefire in relatively limited amount of time, you still have a situation where there are no elections for the Palestinians, where Hamas has become only more popular, especially in Gaza. You've got already 40,000 additional Palestinians displaced from their homes, living in an incredibly difficult environment and the level of radicalization will grow.

And you also have, and here's the part that's most challenging, you have growing extremism and radicalization among fringe groups of Jews and Arabs living in Israel itself. And that's something that the Israelis are going to have a hard time putting a lid on. Problems in Gaza as ugly and unfortunate as it is, a couple of things worth mentioning. First of all, the Americans, the Europeans, the West learn so much more about what's happening among the Palestinians than we do in Syria or Yemen or Venezuela, because you just don't have the media there in large presence and you do on the ground in the occupied territories. So I'm not trying to in any way minimize the suffering that the Palestinians are going through, but I do think it's interesting and notable that there is a more balanced discussion going on the pro-Israel side and the pro-Palestinian side than you would normally get.

I mean, look at what's happened in Ethiopia recently and the incredible human rights abuses with the fight going on recently with the Tigray just got virtually no presence at all in the international media. The plight of the Palestinians, even though not much happens as a consequence does get a lot more focus. But in Gaza itself, if you look at the ability of the Israelis to build a wall that you can't actually get across, very unlike US and Mexico, that is massively well defended with defense forces that will shoot on site if someone tries to breach it, you've got sensors underneath the ground preventing member of Palestinians in the occupied territory from digging tunnels to get into Israel proper.

You have Iron Dome, which means that the number of Israeli casualties is so much lower than the Palestinians, despite the fact that all of these rockets get launched, and you have an incredible emergency response system, including Israelis with the infrastructure that's filled well with bomb shelters. So the ability to protect themselves is just so much greater. So an ongoing level of violence and rocket strikes and the rest, if Hamas' military and leadership has been degraded, is something that the Israelis are capable of tolerating to a much greater degree. On the other hand, greater radicalization among Israeli Jews and Arabs leading to more violence inside the country, that's something that could actually create domestic demands for political response.

And let's keep in mind, even though we are farther and farther away from a two-state solution and more land in the occupied territories has been taken by Israeli settlers. And there's no interest in Israel right now to really engage in negotiations even. There's not an effective Palestinian government to have negotiations with Hamas itself, which was elected in the last elections, which from a decade ago in Gaza doesn't even recognize the right of Israel to exist. So clearly, the Israelis aren't going to negotiate with them. But the fact is that there's been a move to the right of the entire Israeli political spectrum so much that there is no longer political support for a party to say we have to have a two-state solution or else there's an existential threat to Israel.

No one believes that in Israel anymore. So the way you get votes among progressives in Israel is to talk about better social safety net for the people in Israel itself. But it's not for treatment of the Palestinians, the occupied territories. And that's been even more true with the normalization of Israel relations of the countries in the region. When it comes to Israeli, Arabs, and Jews living inside the country. If you start seeing a lot more hate crimes and you see much, much more extremism inside the state itself, I think then the potential that that could have more political impact on the Israeli political spectrum is real. And that's probably the thing to watch most carefully as you think about what the longer-term implications of this explosion of violence, the worst we've seen in almost a decade is likely to be.

I don't think it's going to matter much geopolitically. I mean, there'll be people in the US that will say, how can you possibly do a deal with Iran now? Iran has been supporting Hamas. I don't think it's going to stop the US from getting back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. I don't think it breaks the Abraham Accords and the normalization of Israeli relations with a number of countries across the region. But I do think it could have an impact on domestic Israeli politics longer term, and that's what we need to watch in my view most carefully.

So anyway, that's it for me. That's a quick take for today. Everybody be safe, avoid fewer people, and I'll talk to you real soon.

An aerial view of a forest of trees

From accelerating our net zero timeline to creating digital tools for more sustainable consumer choice, Mastercard is working to build a more sustainable and inclusive digital economy. Watch and learn how we’re uniting in climate action with our network of banking customers, merchants and consumers – and helping to reforest the planet through the Priceless Planet Coalition.

A year of Biden

Joe Biden’s first year as US president included two major historic accomplishments and a series of (often bitter) disappointments that has his party headed toward likely defeat in November’s midterm elections. Biden’s own political future is increasingly uncertain.

More Show less
Hard Numbers: Angry Spanish farmers, South Korea foots Iran’s UN bill, China tests Taiwanese air defense, Turkish journalist jailed

4.7 billion: Spanish farmers protested on Sunday in Madrid against the leftwing coalition government's agricultural and environmental policies, which they claim are depopulating rural areas. No way, says the government, which has set aside $4.7 billion to stop the rural exodus.

More Show less
Two children and a robot. We have to control AI before it controls us, warns former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

Listen: Tech companies set the rules for the digital world through algorithms powered by artificial intelligence. But does Big Tech really understand AI? Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt tells Ian Bremmer that we need to control AI before it controls us.

What's troubling about AI, he says, is that it’s still very new, and AI is learning by doing. Schmidt, co-author of “The Age of AI: And Our Human Future,” worries that AI exacerbates problems like anxiety, driving a human addiction cycle that leads to depression.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

COVID has accelerated our embrace of the digital world. The thing is, we don't always know who’s running it.

Instead of governments, Ian Bremmer says, so far a handful of Big Tech companies are writing the rules of digital space — through computer algorithms powered by artificial intelligence.

The problem is that tech companies have set something in motion they don't fully understand, nor control.

More Show less

If omicron makes cases explode in China, the country's leaders will have to choose between weathering short-term or long-term pain.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, predicts that sticking to the zero-COVID approach at all costs will hurt the Chinese and global economy. In his view, learning to live with the virus is the way to go.

More Show less
The Graphic Truth: How do US presidents do in their first year?

Joe Biden's approval rating has taken a big hit during his first year as US president. Biden is now just slightly more popular than his predecessor Donald Trump at the same point in his presidency. While Biden has made a series of policy and political blunders that might be reflected in polling, this is also a sign of the times: US politics are now so polarized that presidential approval has a low ceiling. We compare the approval ratings of the last five US presidents in their first year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi in Moscow, Russia January 19, 2022.

Iran and Russia heart each other. The presidents of Iran and Russia have little in common personally, but they share many geopolitical interests, including in Afghanistan and Syria. They also have a common resolve in countering "the West.” These issues are all on the agenda as Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi held their first in-person meeting in Moscow. Raisi is a hardline cleric who leads a theocracy with nuclear ambitions. Vladimir Putin, meanwhile, is a wily autocrat who enjoys provoking America and Europe, and has ambitions to return to the glory days of the territorially expansive Soviet Union — as seen with the Kremlin's recent provocations on the Ukrainian border. With the Iran nuclear talks on life support and Joe Biden already bracing for Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, Tehran and Moscow now have even more reasons to scheme and cooperate. Indeed, Moscow and Tehran have increasingly been cooperating on energy and security issues (Iran might be buying Russian military technology) as their respective relations with the West deteriorate.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

A year of Biden


Can we control AI before it controls us?

GZERO World Clips

Should China learn to live with COVID?

GZERO World Clips


Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal