BC Expert: Fighting in the Middle East
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Professor of Political Science
Professor Deese researches the international dimensions of political economic reform in developing, resource based states and the Middle East region in particular; leadership of international bargaining and negotiations; and the interaction of economics and security in US foreign policy. In January 2013, he was appointed to the United States Fulbright Program national roster of Fulbright Specialists. He is the author/editor of several books including, Globalization: Causes and Effects; The New Politics of American Foreign Policy and World Trade Politics: Power, Principles, and Leadership.
Ignoring the will of the United Nations and United States, Israel is continuing its assault on Gaza today, focusing its air attack on the homes of Hamas leaders, Hamas media, and a Palestinian power plant. The intensified attacks prompted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn his people of a prolonged fight.
“The deeper side is that neither side really has any motivation to stop fighting,” says Boston College Political Science Professor David Deese. “And the Israelis of course have even less motivation because their strategic and tactical situation is such that their advantage right now is while they’re in there and while this operation is underway is to take out as many tunnels and get at as many of the storage spots for rockets as they possibly can.”
Israel’s largest bombardment yet comes after Hamas militants killed five Israeli soldiers Monday night after using a series of cross border tunnels to infiltrate Israel. Part of the Israeli offensive is to destroy those tunnels, the rocket arsenal of Hamas, and part of the Palestinian infrastructure - targeting the only power plant on the Gaza Strip would cut off power to more than 1.8 million residents there. This morning, the Palestinians offered a 24-hour truce.
“With the division of the two sides in Palestine, the Israelis know they have a weak partner but a single partner in the Palestinian Authority and they’ve got a stronger but also more aggressive partner in Hamas,” says Deese, an expert in international foreign policy. “Neither one of those groups is strong enough to negotiate a peace settlement alone. They tried to combine - they announced that they had combined - but they’re in two geographically separated areas. They have different sets of constraints and motivations so they’re really not a single authority. And the Israelis know they’re better off dealing with a single weak authority even if the Palestinian Authority doesn’t have a lot of muscle right now.”
Now in its 22nd day, the war has led to the deaths of more than 1,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 53 Israeli soldiers, the largest toll since Israel’s 2006 war with Lebanon. There is mounting international pressure for both sides to stop the fighting and make a deal; U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon again is asking Israel and Hamas to end the bloodshed while the White House is calling for a humanitarian ceasefire.
“The US is under pressure especially from the Europeans to always be the deal makers because we’re the only one with any leverage over Israel,” says Deese. “But it’s a near impossible situation because every few years the Israelis go in and take out the majority of the rockets and then they leave and the tunnels are rebuilt and the rockets are acquired again.”
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