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Israel: a two state solution? « Previous | |Next »
April 16, 2004

So it has come to this and this.

CartoonRowe1.jpg
David Rowe, Peace Meal

Bush's support for Sharon will erode Arab support for an American agenda in the Middle East. You can kiss the Road Map goodbye. The neo-cons have achieved a major shift in US foreign policy, that had been in place since the 1960s.

The agreement does not bode well for a two state solution to the conflict.

Israel has actively fostered the spread of Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank in a pattern deliberately designed to prevent a viable two-state partition agreement. Sharon's strategy is to achieve a chain of Palestinian enclaves surrounded by Israeli settlements. It aims to compel the Palestinians to accept an autonomous entity mislabeled a "state", based on non-contiguous or barely contiguous enclaves in around 50 percent of the West Bank.

It is not a viable two-state solution. A state cannot be viable when it is made up of patches of territory with little political authority and control. Nor was the Sharon strategy ever intended to enable a viable Palestinian state.

The messsianic right-wing settlers and their supporters, claim the occupied territory as the Jewish people's legitimate and exclusive national heritage and completely reject the notion of Palestinian statehood in the territories. To achieve their Greater Israel, they have proposed a variety of ways to deal with the Palestinian inhabitants: "transfer" (in effect, ethnic cleansing), limited residency rights, Jordanian citizenship, and resettlement in Egyptian Sinai.

They, and their supporters such as Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, see the growing Israeli Arab population (ie., Palestinian Arabs with Israeli citizenship who live within the State of Israel) as an undermining the two-state solution. This was seen as the way to preserve Israel as a democratic Jewish country. The Israeli Arabs who constitute the "real" demographic timebomb. The only realistic solution is the transfer or disenfranchisement of all Palestinians west of the Jordan River.

That right wing needs to be prevented from gaining control of the Israeli state.

A more fine grained analysis of the implications of Bush's letter can be found here. And over here Jonathan argues that Bush left himself lots of wriggle room, that Bush's support may help to isolate the settlers and Likud right wing, andthat more pressure would be placed on Sharon to withdraw from Gaza.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 1:10 PM | | Comments (2)
Comments

Comments

It may be mere election politics, of course - sewing up the retiree vote in Florida for the GOP. I'm hearing the neocon goal of a sustainable US presence in the Arabian Middle East in mutually supportive embrace with a strategically powerful Israel is the whole idea, but I'm not sure driving the desperate Palestinians into Hamas's arms whilst Iraq remains wholly unmanageable is good mid-term thinking. It makes the position of professed US allies that bit harder to maintain, too. All the costs of isolationism with all the costs of interventionism combined, sorta thing. Bad policy on all counts, for mine.

Gary:

You are incorrect that the Bush letter constitutes " major shift in US foreign policy, that had been in place since the 1960s." This is a common fallacy, but a fallacy nonetheless. Since the Rogers peace plan in the 1970s, the United States has implicitly recognized that Israel will not make a strict withdrawal to its June 5 1967 boundaries for two reasons:

A) The "Green Line" never attained the legal status of an recognized international border because the Arabs refused to negotiate peace with Israel after the 1948-49 war of independence. Because the Arabs universally refused to recognize Israel as a legitimate nation, they never recognized Israel's international boundaries because they wished to retain the option of waging war to wipe the Jewish state off the map. Thus, the border between the West Bank and Israel was only categorized in law as a cease fire line, not a recognized border. This lesser status was recognized by the authors of UN Resolution 242 because that document DOES NOT require a full and complete Israeli withdrawal from the territories captured in 1967. In fact, Lord Caradon, Britain's UN ambassador who was instrumental in drafting 242 subsequently stated that the forgers of the resolution intentionally wrote it in such as way so as not to require such a total Israeli withdrawal. Thus, the legal inviolability that usually adheres to international borders does not apply to the Green Line cease fire boundary.

B) The 1967 border is indefensible in the event of a sustained military assault. A return to such boundaries would recreate a slender waistline through Israel's centre region that is a mere 14 km wide at its narrowest point. A return to the 1967 border would mean that 80% of Israel's population would reside along the the narrow Mediterrenean coastal plain that was completely dominated by the high ground of the West Bank just a few kilometres away. Even former Israeli foriegn minister Abba Eban, a noted dove and peacenick, referred to the 1967 frontier with Jordan as an "Auschwitz border" because of the indefensibility of that line.

This Israeli unwillingness to place its security in jeopardy through a return to the 1967 borders was implicitly recognized by successive US administrations. This was true from the Rogers plan of the 1970s implied that there would be substantial territorial modifications in any Arab Israeli peace deal, to the Clinton peace initiatives of the late 1990s which specifically laid out plans for Israel to retain certain portions of the West Bank.

Thus, the only thing that can really be said about the statement of President Bush is that it lays out explicitly what US Adminstrations have been saying implicitly for decades. And I thought you were all in favour of plain speaking in government!

Moreover, at the Camp David/Taba talks of 2000-01, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians a viable state within contiguous boundaries on 97% of the West Bank. Arafat responded by spitting in the face of both Barak and Clinton and resorting to the war that continues to this day.

So, if the Palestinians want to blame anyone for the fact that Israel has decided to move unilaterally, they should take a long hard look in the mirror. After 3 and a half years of incessant violence, the Israelis have concluded that there is no honest negotiating partner on the Palestinian side. Thus, Israel is going to do what it has to do in order to protect its citizens from terrorism, and ensure that it has defensible borders.

You and your compatriots on the left have been bitching and moaning for years about the need for an Israeli withdrawal from the territories. And, now, when Israel finally decides to pull out of Gaza, you still find reason to kvetch.

In your eyes, Israel is damned if it does, and damned if it doesn't. So, after 1,000 dead from Palestinian terrorists, the Israelis finally said, the hell with it, and took unilateral action. Good on 'em!