Hamas is a fundamentalist hyper-Islamic cult, with absolutist beliefs based on an extreme literal interpretation of the Hadith. Its charter calls for a final solution to Israel, and among other things, perpetuates the old myth of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The Government of Israel contains similar religious ideologues whose beliefs are based on absolutist interpretations of ancient scriptures.
Caught between these two groups of fundamentalists, whose ideologies can only lead to murder, are millions of ordinary human beings who wish for nothing but to live in peace and win a sustainable living from a land that is desperately short of water. This is the reality that we as greens should be addressing. It is an achievable goal, and in realising it, the Middle East could create a model of development that could be a standard for the rest of the world to follow.
To attain that goal, it is first necessary to understand that we are dealing here with an irrational system of self-sustaining hatred and violence based on militarism. We have to come to the understanding that militarism is the problem, not the solution. The Israeli Defence Force is currently demonstrating the complete unacceptability of militarism.
Both sides blame the other for the violence. Israel absolves its soldiers of all blame for civilian deaths, blaming the rocket attacks for Israel's action. Hamas justifies its rocket attacks for the oppression, ethnic cleansing and collective punishment that Israel is carrying out on its people. "If your land had been occupied, would you not fight?" asks Hamas. "If you had someone firing rockets at you, would you not fight?" asks the Israel Government. This is nothing but a self-sustaining cycle of destruction.
The Israeli response is clearly disproportionate, and is rightly attracting worldwide condemnation, with the exception of the Bush administration. The Qassam rocket attacks are tragedies for the families affected, but are a strategic pinpricks. In response to these pinpricks, the Israeli government has responded with a knife attack.
It is utterly pointless for us or anyone to try to come to a conclusion about which side is right and which side is wrong. What is wrong is the belief that military violence is any kind of a solution. We are dealing with an irrational, dysfunctional system of self perpetuating, mutual hatred and violence that at the moment is in danger of leading to a war that could quite possibly go nuclear.
The alternative to ever-escalating violence is a ceasefire (which seems imminent), the lifting of Israel's blockade on Gaza, and systems put in place to stop imports of arms into the region. America's support for the Israeli military machine must stop, and imports of arms into Gaza for Hamas must likewise be stopped. This is an opportunity for us to put forward the policy we passed at our last Conference, using dogs to identify transfers and caches of ammunition. This is a practical and tested solution which is in routine use: it just needs an effort to train the dogs, and an agreement on who runs and protects the sniffer dog patrols.
Once the instruments of violence are out of the way, the next step is for a massive economic effort to transform water use in the whole region, focusing on water conservation, rainwater harvesting, and afforestation, beginning at the coast. Afforestation will modify the local climate, and bring rainwater inland. The money for this should come from the EU and other players, and as far as possible, people from both communities should be enabled to cooperate in these projects.