West Jerusalem must work towards a two-state solution or risk the conflict spiraling out of control, Ben Wallace has warned
Israel’s heavy-handed approach to its war against Hamas is weakening its position both morally and legally, former UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace warned in an op-ed published by The Telegraph on Sunday.
Wallace cautioned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “killing rage” – punishing the entire population of Gaza for the October 7 attack his government failed to predict – was turning the world against Israel and destroying any possibility of peace for generations. West Jerusalem must change its tactics, he insisted.
“Going after Hamas is legitimate; obliterating vast swathes of Gaza is not. Using proportionate force is legal, but collective punishment and forced movement of civilians is not,” Wallace wrote. He argued that Israel was “radicalizing Muslim youth across the globe” with its tactics of massive retaliation.
While Wallace stressed that he was not “calling for a ceasefire with Hamas,” he urged Netanyahu to prioritize a two-state solution, arguing it was the only chance Israel had to attain a lasting peace. Wallace announced his departure from politics in July, stepping down after four years as defense minister after his bid to become the next chief of NATO was reportedly rejected by the US. He was replaced by Grant Shapps in August.
While the UK abstained from Tuesday’s UN General Assembly vote calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, Foreign Secretary David Cameron on Sunday joined his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock, to demand a “sustainable ceasefire,” insisting “too many civilians have been killed” in an op-ed for the Sunday Times.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak echoed the sentiment on Monday, telling reporters that while Israel had “a right to defend itself,” it was “clear that too many civilian lives have been lost and nobody wants to see this conflict go on a day longer than it has to.”
Even the US is reportedly pushing West Jerusalem to shift to “small-scale” raids, sending Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to Israel this week to discuss a strategy said to involve small groups of elite troops conducting intelligence-driven missions against Hamas leaders and rescuing hostages.
Washington has routinely vetoed UN Security Council resolutions aimed at forcing Israel to comply with international law in the occupied territories in the past, and voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza last week.
Widespread dissatisfaction with Israel’s handling of the war has spread within its borders as well, especially after Israel Defense Forces killed three hostages carrying white flags in Shejaiya on Friday, claiming to have mistaken the trio for “a threat.” Opposition leader Yair Lapid has urged Netanyahu to step down, claiming the country’s longest-serving PM had “lost the trust of the people, lost the trust of the world, and lost the trust of the security establishment.”
At least 19,453 people have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, the Gaza Health Ministry reported on Monday. Another 52,286 are said to have been wounded.