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  • - You can't have this conversation on CNN or Fox.

  • You can't do it, right?

  • Because if you are only talking about

  • how the Israeli Defense Forces are responsible

  • for these brutal killings,

  • or if you're only talking about

  • what Hamas did on October 7th,

  • and you don't talk about the broader context, right, you are

  • absolutely not understanding what's happening

  • in this war right now.

  • - Today on Big Think, we're gonna be talking to Ian Bremmer,

  • president and founder of Eurasia Group

  • and GZERO Media about the ongoing conflict

  • between Hamas and Israel.

  • Ian, thank you so much for joining us today.

  • - It's great to be back with Big Think.

  • - This region has been embroiled in turmoil for thousands

  • of years, so there's many historical

  • factors we could discuss.

  • But I would like to know from your standpoint,

  • is it more helpful to focus on recent history

  • to better understand this conflict?

  • - Both the Jews and the Palestinians have long,

  • long running and legitimate claims to live

  • on this territory.

  • Palestinians, some 700,000 plus were

  • kicked off these territories

  • after 1948 post-Holocaust.

  • The Jews had lived on these territories for millennia,

  • and a number of empires have kicked them off.

  • We can talk about that.

  • There are people that are far more expert on those histories

  • than I am, but the reality is that for the Jews

  • and the Palestinians that are fighting over this land today,

  • they've been living there for their lifetimes and,

  • and so it's really not about who has a right

  • to live on the territory.

  • It's rather that they need to find a way

  • to live together in peace.

  • And what has happened over the past years is that

  • everyone in the world has basically given up

  • on finding a peaceful solution

  • because they've tried for decades, it's too hard or

  • because they're not interested;

  • they have other things that they would rather do.

  • That's where we are today.

  • The last time that the Americans

  • who are not an honest broker for peace in the region,

  • the United States, a principle ally in the entire Middle East

  • is Israel.

  • So you can't say, "Oh, well, you know, they're the ones

  • that can broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians,

  • because they're equally trusted."

  • That's not true. But they do have the dominant military

  • presence in the region, and they also have the dominant

  • diplomatic capability on the region.

  • So they've been the ones

  • that have played the most significant role.

  • And the last time an American senior diplomat was

  • really invested on trying to figure out a way to bring peace

  • to this region was when John Kerry was Secretary of State

  • in the first couple of years

  • of the Obama administration.

  • And he did shuttle diplomacy between the Israelis,

  • the Palestinians, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, I mean,

  • all the time, for 18 months

  • this was his top priority.

  • He wanted a Nobel Peace Prize for it. He failed.

  • And after that, basically the Americans gave up.

  • It was the pivot to Asia.

  • It was no longer focusing as much on the Middle East.

  • And then when the Russians invade Ukraine, it's

  • focusing on Europe too.

  • But no one's spending real time on the Palestinians,

  • the Gulf States, who had been providing so much money

  • for humanitarian support

  • for Palestinians living in the West Bank,

  • and particularly Gaza, as well as refugees in other places

  • that they were saying there could be no peace

  • in the Middle East unless the Palestinian-Israel

  • issue is resolved.

  • Well, it turned out they were willing

  • to make peace with Israel.

  • They're, they're willing

  • to engage open diplomatic relations, allow Jewish tourists

  • to come to their country, trade

  • and investment, technology cooperation, security cooperation.

  • But what about the Palestinians?

  • Well, too hard to resolve, and Israel,

  • and particularly this far-right,

  • Netanyahu-led government has been willing to not only

  • expand illegally, the settlements in the West Bank, reducing

  • the territory that the Palestinians can live on,

  • and making it harder for them to get to work, go to school,

  • you know, have a possibility for a viable future.

  • But also, Netanyahu's government was engaging more

  • with Hamas in Gaza at the expense

  • of the Palestinian authority,

  • because they never wanted to pursue a two-state solution.

  • So they forgot about the Palestinians too.

  • So when you look at everyone around the world

  • that was committed to the Palestinians, finding a way

  • to live viably on their territories,

  • the answer is this has not been a priority for anyone

  • for a long, long time.

  • And their own government in the West Bank that

  • recognizes Israel's right to exist, as opposed to Hamas,

  • which does not, they were corrupt.

  • They were divided.

  • They couldn't speak for Palestinians in Gaza,

  • and they were being weakened by the Israeli government.

  • So, I mean, this was a long introduction

  • to talk about the history,

  • but the point is that if you are looking for people

  • that are responsible, historically,

  • for why we are in the mess that we are in today,

  • and it is an unholy mess,

  • and I use that term very literally, you know,

  • you can look everywhere

  • and you have people to blame that

  • that is where we are today.

  • - Thank you for that. I'm, I'm curious, you know,

  • to talk about some of the domestic politics within Israel,

  • because that's something that I think has not been paid

  • enough attention to

  • and specifically the actions of the Netanyahu government

  • and the people who they are partnering with as it relates

  • to this conflict, but also just internally inside of Israel.

  • What does it look like in terms of the partnerships

  • and the dynamics that are happening there?

  • What has been the lead up to this conflict in terms

  • of the internal politics with Israel,

  • and how has that had an effect on just the general

  • relationship between Israel

  • and the Palestinians in the various places?

  • - You know, Israel is a very political society.

  • The average Israeli citizen reads

  • a lot about news and politics.

  • If you go to a cafe in Tel Aviv or in Jerusalem

  • or Herzliya, you're gonna hear a lot

  • of people talking about politics.

  • It's also a very fragmented society.

  • There are a lot of different political parties.

  • And, and in order

  • to get a government together in the Knesset,

  • you can't govern by yourself

  • because you'd never get a majority.

  • You have to find a coalition with other partners.

  • And Netanyahu, who has, you know, faced all sorts

  • of internal corruption scandals and,

  • and who's Likud party has also been painted

  • with a lot of those challenges.

  • The only way he could form a government this last time

  • around was with a hard-right group.

  • A party that specifically has, you know, said some

  • of the most horrible things about wanting

  • Palestinians removed from the West Bank, about wanting

  • to take over their territories.

  • In some ways, the hard-right partners

  • of Netanyahu have been as unyielding

  • and aggressive about the Palestinians not having rights in

  • the occupied territories as Hamas has been

  • about the Jews not having the right

  • to have an Israeli state.

  • Now, that does not reflect the opinions

  • of the Israeli people as a whole, but it has meant that

  • before the events of October 7th,

  • the terrorist events against the people of Israel, you had

  • enormous domestic instability.

  • That domestic instability was the people of Israel

  • revolting against Netanyahu, attempting

  • to change a very strong, independent judiciary of

  • that country to basically report to the executive

  • and report to whoever was in charge in the Knesset.

  • And the reason for that, more control for Netanyahu