Jim Lobe Gets Different Takes on Israel Election

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Inter-Press’ Jim Lobe, who also writes the LobeLog blog, has a good piece of analysis out about the impact of the recent elections in Israel on the Middle East peace process.
Lobe interviews Marc Ginsberg, Aaron David Miller, M.J. Rosenberg and me. Miller is the most pessimistic. Ginsberg, who I ran into last night at the Metropolitan Club at a party with Colorado Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, made it clear to me that there is still an opportunity to nudge the key parties together to get a credible process going.
Both M.J. Rosenberg and I think that having Netanyahu in charge actually presents more opportunities than obstacles in that it removes the gauze of believing in moderation from the Israeli side — and gives Obama’s team the opportunity to play tackle ball.
I realize that there are many who disagree with my take — but I think that Israel-Palestine issues are fundamental to any broad resolution in the Middle East, and that we can’t afford for the Middle East peace business to produce and preside over more failure.
Here are some of the perspectives that Lobe wove into his essay:

“I think it’s going to be really tough, because in addition to a …divided Palestinian national movement …you now have to add to that, although the crisis isn’t the same order of magnitude an Israeli divided house,” according to Aaron Miller, a veteran U.S. Mideast peace negotiator now with the Woodrow Wilson Centre here. “And broken houses in the Middle East don’t lead to bold and historic decisions.”
“George Mitchell is an extraordinary negotiator, a talented man. I have profound respect for him,” Miller told public television’s Newshour. “But the Obama administration is all dressed up, but there’s nowhere right now for them to go.”
Marc Ginzburg, a former ambassador to Morocco, agreed, writing in the Huffington Post that “both Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly caught in a vortex of radicalism that is marginalizing the so-called silent majorities on both sides who recognise there is no hope for peace without a two-state solution. That is why the dynamics of the equation must change, and can only change with creative, persistence diplomacy, and, yes, new approaches that require hard choices.”
Some analysts, however, believe the dynamics could indeed change, particularly if Netanyahu forms a solidly right-wing government, and Obama is willing to take him on, much as former President George H.W. Bush took on former Likud Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
“It will be easier for President Obama to deal with Netanyahu than with the almost equally hawkish Livni because… her seeming moderation is a nice cover,” wrote the IPF’s M.J. Goldberg. “A Netanyahu government would have no such cover, (and) any acts of sabotage to the peace process or new misery inflicted on the Palestinians would likely be strongly opposed by the United States. Israel’s most slavish ‘friends’ in Congress – almost all Democrats – would find it hard, although far from impossible, to choose Netanyahu (who is very close to Republicans) over Obama.”
“I think the best path towards peace would be for Netanyahu to form a right-wing government because it will make clear that the Israelis and Palestinians can’t make peace by themselves,” said Steve Clemons, head of the American Strategy programme at the New America Foundation.
“A right-wing government in Israel will show that the only way to purge what has become an increasingly destructive geo-strategic ulcer is for the United States, Europe, the U.N., Russia, and key Arab stakeholders to coalesce around a two-state solution whose outlines are already well known, and impose it.”
“The U.S. and the much of the rest of the world simply can’t afford the recklessness, immaturity and sheer stupidity of leadership on all sides of the conflict to continue,” he added.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

60 comments on “Jim Lobe Gets Different Takes on Israel Election

  1. Muslims Against Sharia says:

    Help stop perpetual crisis in the Gaza Strip: Sign a petition for Egypt to reassert control over Gaza..

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  2. ... says:

    johnh – that is essentially it… say palestine has no leadership to talk with in order to avoid ever having to move towards peace, or negotiation…self justified “i’m not talking to them” is the impression one is left with.. or, “they are all terrorists”, never thinking how that is a description of israels actions increasingly… meanwhile lead folks astray with nice words about the opposite…if only we had some leadership that we could engage, while being on a 24/7 murder campaign towards this same leadership they claim is non existant…

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  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Above post….
    “demonization of IRAN…”

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  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    So, Israel doesn’t want the United States to participate in a UN conference about racism? They’re afraid it will turn into an anti-semitic free for all of criticism of Israeli policy towards Arabs.
    Ya think?
    So, here we have, once again, Israel trying to control American foreign policy efforts, our official stances on morality and human rights, and which UN events we will participate in.
    My bet? We pull out of participation, succumbing to Israeli pressure. This bears close watching, for what Obama does will portend what we can expect in the future from this administration. So far, the rhetoric from this administration has not been encouraging, as it has basically echoed the antagonistic and exagerated demonization of Israel, right down to using the EXACT same wording that can be found on the AIPAC website. Further, so far, we see very little difference between Bush’s official support for Israel’s murderous and inhumane policies, and Obama’s. With Hillary at State, its hard to imagine that Obama intends to deviate from our historical record of being completely subservient to Israel’s demands.
    Last update – 08:32 15/02/2009
    U.S. fends off Israeli pressure, decides to help plan ‘Durban 2’
    By Barak Ravid, Haaretz Correspondent, and The Associated Press
    The Obama administration said late Saturday it would participate in planning a United Nations conference on racism, despite concerns the meeting will be used by Arab nations and others to criticize Israel.
    The U.S. will decide later whether to participate in “Durban 2,” the second UN-sponsored World Conference Against Racism.
    The State Department said it would send diplomats next week to participate in preparatory meetings for the World Conference Against Racism, which is set to be held in Geneva, Switzerland in April and which some countries including Israel have already decided to boycott.
    Advertisement
    In a statement released late Saturday, the State Department said the U.S. delegation to the planning discussions would review current direction of conference preparations and whether U.S. participation in the conference itself is warranted.
    “This will be the first opportunity the (Obama) administration has had to engage in the negotiations for the Durban Review, and – in line with our commitment to diplomacy – the U.S. has decided to send a delegation to engage in the negotiations on the text of the conference document,” the department said.
    “The intent of our participation is to work to try to change the direction in which the review conference is heading,” it said. “We hope to work with other countries that want the Conference to responsibly and productively address racism around the world.”
    Officials in Jerusalem expressed concern that Israel and Barack Obama’s administration are on a collision course over the U.S. decision to participate in the conference.
    The Foreign Ministry has sought to block efforts by senior U.S. officials to convince Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to alter American policy set during the Bush administration not to attend the conference, which is regarded by Israel as a forum of anti-Semitic and anti-Israeli vitriol.
    Israel is boycotting the conference because a declaration equating Zionism with racism is expected to be made there. In addition, it is expected that the organizers and participants will charge that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians, and, like before in Durban, will make anti-Semitic statements.
    continues….
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1064246.html

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  5. JohnH says:

    Dan Kervick makes excellent points about the difficulties implementing internal transfer. Just removing a few thousand settlers from Gaza was touch and go in terms of the potential for armed resistance, though in the end it was successful with little violence. Now multiply that effort by 30x or 90x and the risk of armed rebellion by the settlers rises by similar amounts.
    Wigwag seems to be somewhat typical of American Zionists I’ve had discussions with. The point is to make the Israeli position appear reasonable and, as … says, put the full onus onto the Palestinian side. “Sure we could move a few hundred thousand settlers. Look–it’s been done before. But we have this problem–nobody to negotiate with on the Palestinian side.”
    Of course, in their efforts to create the pretense of Israeli reasonableness they must divorce themselves from context, both historical and current. jdledell and Dan Kervick show why the pretense is false in the current context. I have tried to show why the analogy is false historically.
    Behind the goal of making the Israeli position appear reasonable is the tactic, applied for decades now, of buying time, stalling to give Israel time to get an ironclad grip on all the land, so that the Palestinians have no way to survive except by leaving.

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  6. ... says:

    sara you seem to be suggesting the full onus is on palestine with none on israel… have i read you wrong?

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  7. Dan Kervick says:

    Let’s recall that Kadima’s view is that the West Bank is part of the historic Land of Israel, to which Israel has a rightful claim, but that Israel must be willing to trade away some of what is rightfully theirs in exchange in peace. The right wing parties, or course, have even more extreme views.
    So, bearing that political context in mind, if we want to look for an analogy to what will be called for in the West Bank, we must look for a case in which a government has used its armed forces to execute an internal transfer of some of its own population, a population made up of the same ethnic, national and religious groups as the majority population, and of the armed forces themselves. Are there any such analogies? Or are all cases of successful internal transfers cases in which an ethnic or religious majority has transferred an ethnic or religious minority?
    Now, would this relocation of West Bank colonists *really* be an “internal” relocation? That’s not the way I look at the situation, and that’s not the way many others in the world look at the situation. But it is the way about 2/3rds of the Israelis will look at the situation. They will see it the same way Americans would view the forced, involuntary relocation of the population entire state of Florida by the US Army to other locations in the United States. But it will be worse, because Florida contains no city with the emotional and historic significance of Jerusalem.
    But as for the rest of us, those who are not extreme Zionists, before we start too far down the road of analogizing these possible events to earlier populations transfers, let’s recall that what we are really talking about here is a decolonization movement. Decolonization has occurred before. And when a county decolonizes a militarily occupied country, typically most of the colonists go home along with the military.
    Why dwell on how difficult the task will be? Because we have to realize that, given Israeli self-perceptions, the decolonization of the West Bank probably can’t be accomplished simply by getting the Israelis to the negotiation table. They probably won’t be able to pull this off themselves through their own domestic politics. Ending the occupation and colonization of the West bank is going to require pressure, including credible threats of sanctions.

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  8. Sara says:

    I believe the two state solution is the right track but so much needs to be done prior to even thinking we can start moving to status talks.
    First, CPL Gilat has to be returned. That would be a sign by Hamas that they are serious about compromise.
    Second, the moderate Palestinians in the PLA need to be supported, don’t know if Bibi has it in him to do that. This though is critical, without the reality of an effective government in the West Bank in delivering services the government of the PLA is not credible. This involves a whole series of things, jobs, services, security, transportation, … the list goes on.
    Third, Hamas is not reeling but it severly underestimated the ferocity of the Isreali attack into Gaza. There is a possiblity of splitting Hamas into at least two groups, basically, those willing to talk and those not willing to talk. We have to effect that split and weaken the hard liners in Hamas. Opening up Gaza is the key. There has to be sustained effort at opening it up with economic activity. Hamas will siphon off some but we should just accept that as a tax or cost of doing business.
    Only if these issues are addressed can the parties move onto status talks. The West Bank moderate PLA elements are too weak to talk right now, they are not credible in the eyes of the Palestinians.
    Maybe, although I doubt it, Bibi is like Nixon. Maybe only Bibi can negotiate a lasting peace.

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  9. WigWag says:

    “If you can’t come up with anything other than bad analogies…”
    I guess it just depends on what your definition of a bad analogy is. You apparently think it will be harder and more disruptive to move 100-200 thousand Israeli settlers than it was to move 12-15 million Hindus and Muslims during the creation of Pakistan. To me, your point of view seems silly.
    While most of the people forced to move have to do so against their will, you think it’s harder for a government to move its own people than to force members of a different ethnic, religious or national group to leave. I think it will be easier (not easy but easier).
    Remember, if and when there’s a peace agreement Israeli settlers will be offered compensation to leave. Many of the settlers moved to the West Bank because they were induced to with subsidies; does anyone doubt that they can be induced to leave with subsidies? The religious settlers are another story; they are the equivalent of Hamas; religious fanatics who think the deity is on their side. They will have to be forcibly removed. I never implied that it would be easy, just that it’s doable and history proves it’s doable.
    Supporters of Palestinian aspirations better hope I’m right. If I’m not than the Palestinians truly are history.
    “Could it be that, to the extent this formulation is accurate, it is/must be a principle subject to negotiating as is the exclusionist language in the Likud charter?”
    Perhaps, but because land for peace is no longer the current priority of a majority of Israelis or Palestinians it doesn’t look like we will be finding out any time soon.

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  10. WigWag says:

    “I think what you’re suggesting is the continued radicalization of both parties in this dispute and a move away from peace is in israels long term interest..”
    Not exactly. What I’m suggesting is that just because neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis can muster majorities in favor of a two state solution at tne moment, doesn’t mean they won’t be able to in the future.
    As for Israel’s long term interests, it depends what you think those interests are. I don’t doubt that many but certainly not all Israelis think it’s in Israel’s long term interests to delay.
    I do think its pretty self-evident that over time the quality of the deal Palestinians can negotiate for themselves will get progressively worse.
    The fact that Palestinians are experiencing a civil war which makes it impossible for them to develop a unified negotiating position works to their disadvantage. The Israelis are also deeply divided but it doesn’t hurt them nearly as much because they are holding all of the cards.

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  11. DonS says:

    Wigwag suddenly reveals the formulation that “the Palestinians are unwilling to pursue a two state solution and insist that Islam must have dominion over the entire former British mandate”
    Could it be that, to the extent this foumulation is accurate, it is/must be a principle subject to negotiaing as is the exclusionist language in the Likud charter? And should both of these be viewed equivalently, essentially principles that will have to be scraped in negotiation? It seems that citing either in a framework that evokes emotion is counterproductive to a solution.

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  12. JohnH says:

    Wigwag–“your historical summary of massive population transfers while true are irrelevent.” Agreed. And it totally ignores the broader context of what was happening in those areas at the time. People got uprooted during WWI and WWII–they were called refugees (as were the Palestinians). Others got expelled because they became part of a reviled ethnic group in the immediate aftermath of a war. It’s a lot easier to resettle people who have been uprooted than those who have a state with nuclear weapons doing everything it can to make sure their people colonize another land.
    If you can’t come up with anything other than bad analogies, then you might as well admit that removal of hundreds of thousands of settlers during peacetime is unprecedented, though certainly worth trying. Or you might suggest arming the Palestinians so they can reclaim their land and expel the settlers. That situation would at least have some historical precedents.

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  13. ... says:

    wigwag – thanks for the response.. i think what you’re suggesting is the continued radicalization of both parties in this dispute and a move away from peace is in israels long term interest.. i could be wrong, but it would be easy to read your comments in that way, and for many to come away with the impression that some in israel think it is better to hold off on peace…
    poa – that comment at the end was meant just for you as a sign of support, but if you’re always on a war footing it will be difficult for you to see much else.. i never thought there wasn’t a method to your madness, just that some fail to see it.. again – peace –

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “One of these days I will lay out my proposed peace plan which is totally out of the box – something I think will be needed to break this Gordian knot”
    Ya better hurry, something tells me that Israel is about to accelerate its genocidal treatment of the Palestinian people. Remember, while we comfortably bang away on our keyboards, the Palestinians are living behind a blockade, digging out of the rubble of Israel’s most recent eradication efforts. If you wait too long, there undoubtedly won’t be a Palestinian problem to deal with, because the Palesatinian people will have been ceded over to the pages of history, right next to Hitler’s victims.

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  15. WigWag says:

    “WigWag – Your historical summary of massive population transfers while true are irrelevant. 70 years ago massive displacement of people was considered acceptable – it no longer is.”
    I see no evidence for this. Are you suggesting that if Israel inked a peace deal with Palestinians the international community would object to Israel removing its own people (who most nations think are illegal settlers) from what would become Palestinian lands?
    Your comparison with Serbia and Kosovo is invalid. MiloÅ¡ević tried to exile hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians. It would be like Israel trying to exile the Palestinians. No one would have objected if MiloÅ¡ević had tried to remove Serbs from Kosovo, in fact the world might have applauded. Just like the world will applaud if Israel agrees to remove settlers from the West Bank. In fact, not only is the world likely to applaud; it’s likely to subsidize the move.
    As for Hamas saying that Abbas can negotiate any deal as long as its approved in a Palestinian plebiscite, this is for the most part a legend. Lot’s of Hamas spokespeople are reputed to have said alot of things, but there’s one thing we know for sure, both Marshal and Hanukah claim that Abbas is no longer the President and is in fact illegitimate. Any objective observer would have to say that at the very least, they have a point.
    If they think he’s illegitimate they don’t think he’s entitled to negotiate anything

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  16. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “The only thing that is clear is that time is on the Israelis side. For the Palestinians, time is slowly but surely running out”
    ROFLMAO!!!!
    Heres Wig-wag, agreeing with Dan Kervick over a point he just wasted an entire thread contesting.

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  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Gads…
    Get a sense of humor, will ya?
    We all post in our own style, and if you don’t want disatractions, perhaps you shouldn’t close a comment with…
    “their is another way to say all this in very few words…”
    I am sure, when you take the full body of my posts, you can percieve that I have purposely adopted a kind of personna that reflects the intent of my chosen monicker, and not neccesarily the actual make-up of my offline personality. You might not like it, but it is the way I have chosen to offer my opinion. Biting, sarcastic, and abrasive, it seems to engage a certain kind of poster, dragging them out from under the mask of moderation that propagandists seem to favor hiding behind. Do you really buy into someone being a world traveling member of the diplomatic corps when they resort to insulting a tradesman for his calling? Or accept the slanderous accusations of some online defamer who refuses to engage direct and insulting commentary on his obviously shallow and deceptive attempts to assasinate the character of a Palestinian statesman through vague and inaccurate associations? Do you deny that such a person deserves a great big robust “FUCK YOU”?
    Lighten up, …, theres a method to my madness.
    Besides, I like being PissedOffAmerican. Its kinda fun.
    Louie says hi. Jake’s too busy chewing on Louie to comment, but I’m sure, if he was to take the time this morning, he’d tell ya to lose the corncob.

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  18. WigWag says:

    “wigwag – where is political will in Israel for such a relocation of the settlers?”
    Actually during the election campaign Foreign Minister Livni was questioned by a reporter about whether she was really prepared to remove 100 thousand or more settlers. Her response was that Kadima was because it believed in a two state solution. She said Israel had removed settlers from Gaza and would be prepared to remove them from the West Bank regardless of how difficult it woild be.
    You can doubt her sincerity, but she made that statement at a time when it offered her virtually no political benefit and probably cost her politically. As the lawyers say it was a “statement against interest.” A better legal metaphor might be a “dying declaration.”
    Of course Livni’s party won the largest number of seats although she will probably not form the next government and whoever does will lead a government disinterested in land for peace.
    So yes, at the moment, the majority of Israelis are against pursuing a two state solution; they are unwilling to remove the settlers. And the Palestinians are unwilling to pursue a two state solution and insist that Islam must have dominion over the entire former British mandate.
    But I’m not the one who said there were silent majorities in Israel and Palestine in favor of a two state solution. It was Steve Clemons, quoting Marc Gizburg who said that.
    So let me say it again; Ginzburg is wrong. For the moment at least, Palestinians and Israelis have rejected the idea of a compromise based on land for peace; both sides have elected parties that appear unwilling to pursue a two state solution.
    I think that over time, that is likely to change; but who knows? I can’t predict the future any better than anyone else.
    The only thing that is clear is that time is on the Israelis side. For the Palestinians, time is slowly but surely running out.

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  19. DonS says:

    CEE, the “masada” reference belongs to jdledell at 8″55 p.m. My attempted merging of quote may have gotten a bit muddy.

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  20. jdledell says:

    WigWag – Your historical summary of massive population transfers while true are irrelevent. 70 years ago massive displacement of people was considered acceptable – it no longer is – especially by first world countries such as Israel. Even second world countries like Serbia were not allowed to do it in Kosovo. Some population transfers are still happening in Africa but not with the world’s approval – look at Darfur and Sudan.
    There are roughly 450,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel hopes to be able to keep 350,000 of them in any deal with the Palestinians. In order to do this and have the remaining Palestinian land be a viable state would be very problematic.There would have to be Palestinian tunnels under Jewish roads etc in order to provide orderly contingious access. My comment about Kiryat Arba shows the difficulty of even moving 100,000 settlers. Kiryat Arba is located next to Hebron and those Jews are the most radical and committed settlers. They are armed to the teeth with not only small arms, but also RPG’s and small bore mortars. They will fight the IDF to the last man, woman and child before they move. Peace is impossible with Kiryat Arba still standing and in control of the center of the city of Hebron.
    WigWag – Hamas has repeatedly stated that Abbas can negotiate a peace agreement with Israel and as long as the Palestinian people approve it in a plebeicte – Hamas will honor it. But as others have stated it is not in Israel’s interest for peace for then they will be prohibited from establishing Israel in Judea and Samaria – the heart of the ancient Israeli kingdom.
    One of these days I will lay out my proposed peace plan which is totally out of the box – something I think will be needed to break this Gordian knot.

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  21. ... says:

    another poster given over to distractions, lol…. happy valentines day poa..

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  22. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “their is another way to say all this in very few words…”
    Yeah, but when I do, you moan about it.

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  23. ... says:

    wigwag – where is political will in israel for such a relocation of the settlers? is there a particular party that is advocating this and are they being given any support? israel has become radicalized to the extent that one can’t tell who is who when reading kotzabasis’s comment of a “fanatic religiously motivated leadership and a rational secular leadership”…that is increasingly how the outside world appears to be viewing both sides in this ongoing conflict…
    i do find you rationale for the relocation a distraction, in keeping with most of your other posts… like all of your commentary it doesn’t acknowledge the reality on the ground or where israels political options have gotten it to this point… israel of today is moving in the opposite direction of your prescribed solution and you’re either too inflexible or dishonest to acknowledge it.. instead you come across as a propagandist for a side that has the continued financial and political support of a completely immoral country – the usa – while supporting another one – israel… israel continues with an agenda in direct opposition to your stated idealism…. their is another way to say all this in very few words…

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  24. Cee says:

    It would be Masada all over again
    Don,
    Masada was a myth
    Placing the story in a larger historical, sociological, and psychological context, Ben-Yehuda draws upon theories of collective memory and mythmaking to analyze Masada’s crucial role in the nation-building process of modern Israel and the formation of a new Jewish identity. An expert on deviance and social control, Ben-Yehuda looks in particular at how and why a military failure and an enigmatic, troubling case of mass suicide (in conflict with Judaism’s teachings) were reconstructed and fabricated as a heroic tale
    http://www.wisc.edu/wisconsinpress/books/0117.htm
    Livni Bibi and others are also not entitled to any land.
    Shattering a ‘national mythology’
    By Ofri Ilani
    Of all the national heroes who have arisen from among the Jewish people over the generations, fate has not been kind to Dahia al-Kahina, a leader of the Berbers in the Aures Mountains. Although she was a proud Jewess, few Israelis have ever heard the name of this warrior-queen who, in the seventh century C.E., united a number of Berber tribes and pushed back the Muslim army that invaded North Africa. It is possible that the reason for this is that al-Kahina was the daughter of a Berber tribe that had converted to Judaism, apparently several generations before she was born, sometime around the 6th century C.E.
    According to the Tel Aviv University historian, Prof. Shlomo Sand, author of “Matai ve’ech humtza ha’am hayehudi?” (“When and How the Jewish People Was Invented?”; Resling, in Hebrew), the queen’s tribe and other local tribes that converted to Judaism are the main sources from which Spanish Jewry sprang. This claim that the Jews of North Africa originated in indigenous tribes that became Jewish – and not in communities exiled from Jerusalem – is just one element of the far- reaching argument set forth in Sand’s new book.
    In this work, the author attempts to prove that the Jews now living in Israel and other places in the world are not at all descendants of the ancient people who inhabited the Kingdom of Judea during the First and Second Temple period.
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/966952.html

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  25. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Its also important to bear in mind the framing of this issue by the RW/Zionist propaganda mill, headlined by these pieces of shit like Hannity, Savage, Limbaugh, etc.
    In the words of Micheal Savage, “Israel will never trade land for peace”. In other words, in the instant that Israel steals Palestinian land, poof, it becomes Israel’s property, and to cede that land back to the Palestinians in any “peace agreement” would be to “trade land for peace”. There are a HUGE number of Americans, listening to this shit, and accepting it as reality.

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  26. DonS says:

    Of course the population ‘could’ be moved, but I agree it would be bloody, if not civil war, because in Israel the radical tail wags the dog, and the dog ain’t so non-radical itself. And I imagine that not a few Palestinians would be caught up in the retribution.
    Some of the Gaza removal moments, and the occasional outpost removal give a hint of what the God-infused radicals think of the concept of transference.
    But it could be done, and I imagine the US would be the main financier, complete with new microwave, 60″ flat screen, and a chicken in every pot. Sorry for the snark.

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  27. PissedOffAmerican says:

    For an up to date chronicle of the expansion, the areas expanding, the laws that are being broken to enable the expansion, and the efforts of Jewish citizens to stop the expansion, I find the Peace Now website quite informative.
    Its really a shame seeing a number of Israeli citizens fighting the good fight against the actions of their own government, knowing that the efforts are for naught. The Israeli government not only lies to the world community about it’s expansive policies, but it lies to the Israeli community as well, circumventing Israeli law in order to continue the expansion of the settlements and outposts, and slowly rob the Palestinian people of their land, their livelyhoods, their futures, and their humanity.
    To see any discussion of this topic that does not start with the realization that Israel fully intends to eliminate, rather than assimilate, non-jewish citizens and neighbors, is ludicrous.
    http://www.peacenow.org.il/site/en/homepage.asp
    Summary of Construction in the West Bank 2008
    Hagit Ofran
    Annual summary for 2008
    The figures are based on aerial photos and site visits by the Settlement Watch team in the last year.
    General Picture:
    • The number of settlers in the territories as of 2008: 285,800.
    • The number of new structures built in the territories in 2008: 1,518 (including 261 in outposts).
    • 61% of the new structures (927 structures) were built west of the route of the separation fence and 39% (591 structures) east of it.
    • A quarter of the new structures east of the fence were built in outposts.

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  28. WigWag says:

    JohnH, your comment is incorrect in almost every respect. 12-15 million Hindus and Muslims were forced to move as a result of the birth of Pakistan. It wasn’t the war that required them to leave, it was the birth of a new country; Pakistan. The idea that the birth of a new country, Palestine would require population movement by Israeli settlers is remarkably similar and will undoubtedly be carried out far more peaceably.
    You also say, “the affected areas were for the most part stateless. Alternatively, new or victorious xenophobic governments took advantage of a momentary international power vacuum to expel ethnic groups.”
    This is historically inaccurate. The 1.5 million Poles expelled from the Ukraine at the end of World War II were not stateless; they had lived in the Ukraine for generations. They were forced to leave by a state that became a component of the Soviet Union.
    The 7 million ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia were not stateless; they had been living in those countries for generations. Are you claiming the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia were all xenophobic? Maybe they were, but for what ever reason they displaced far more people than will need to be displaced as part of a peace deal between Israel and Palestine.
    The Treaty of Lausanne which required the forced movement of nearly 2 million people was signed to settle a war, but I don’t think it was a “cataclysmic war”; it was a war that in many ways is startlingly reminiscent of the long war between Israelis and Palestinians.
    Winston Churchill is considered to be a great hero by millions of Americans and others around the world. He is widely admired by Presidents of both political parties. This is what he said about forced population movements in a speech to Parliament in 1944,
    “Expulsion is the method which, so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting. There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless trouble. A clean sweep will be made. I am not alarmed at the prospect of the disentanglement of population, nor am I alarmed by these large transferences.”
    He cited the Treaty of Lausanne as a precedent, showing how even the leaders of liberal democracies had concluded that only radically measures would eliminate the causes of ethnonational aspirations and aggression.
    It’s simple, JohnH, the idea that 100-200 thousand Israeli settlers can’t be moved as part of a peace deal is inaccurate. The precedents for it are everywhere.

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  29. Dan Kervick says:

    The population transfers of the 20th century don’t seem to me like a useful analogy. The fact that a hostile army can succeed in transferring or expelling a subject population, or that some population might willingly emigrate en masse from a place where they no longer feel safe, doesn’t tell us much about whether Israeli soldiers can expel fellow Jews from places that both the colonists and the very nationalistic and increasingly religious soldiers believe is the Land of Israel.
    I have a friend who told me he and some others in his synagogue have for years been part of some organization that has worked to create a large fund for the relocation of the West Bank colonists. I have no idea whether such financial incentives will work. Many of those settlers seem quite committed and tenacious.

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  30. JohnH says:

    Wigwag outdoes himself in snarkishness or disingenuousness when he states, “moving the number of settlers that would need to be moved to facilitate a two state solution is possible.” Wigwag conveniently fails to note that the precedents he cites, the massive population movements of the 20th century occurred in the aftermath of cataclysmic wars.
    The affected areas were for the most part stateless. Alternatively, new or victorious xenophobic governments took advantage of a momentary international power vacuum to expel ethnic groups. (Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from most of Palestine immediately comes to mind as well.) None of the precedents he cites were implemented against the will of a strong, functioning government, much less a nuclear power.
    The only way for Wigwag’s analogy to hold is for Israel to suffer a cataclymic war and have its West Bank settlers forced to move back within the 1967 borders. I don’t think that is what he is proposing.
    More likely is that Palestinians will continue to suffer ethnic cleansing.
    Interesting that no one is proposing a South Africa type solution. How strange! That solution worked!

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  31. DonS says:

    corrected 9:40 first paragraph:
    jdledell says “WigWag – these settlements are not and cannot be evacuated even for a peace agreement. It would cause a civil war. As an example – Kiryat Arba(where my neice lives) is well beyond any line discussed as remaining in Israel. Do you really think these people would move? It would be Masada all over again.”, and wigwag retorts “why do you say that and cites other population transfers in the 20th century.

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  32. DonS says:

    jdledell and “WigWag – these settlements are not and cannot be evacuated even for a peace agreement. It would cause a civil war. As an example – Kiryat Arba(where my neice lives) is well beyond any line discussed as remaining in Israel. Do you really think these people would move? It would be Masada all over again.”, and wigwag retorts “why do you say that and cites other population transfers in the 20th century.
    Perhaps, without putting word in his mouth, jdledell says this because, though comparatively few in number, the expansion policy is more central than apologists (intentional or naive apologists) acknowledge. Certainly the move right in the Israeli political spectrum suggests this.
    So while transfer is “possible”, it is not possible if it is the antithesis of the plan. “Greater Israel”. What fact of good faith can be pointed to counter this assumption?
    Much comes back to the influence of the political outreach and blackmail of the Israeli propaganda machine, it’s accomplices like AIPAC, and the laziness, gullibility, and greed of the American political class. So the thesis to accept the current status quo, encourage “slightly less violen[ce]”, in Wagwags’s words, is really a prescription for more violence against Palestinians, and more Israeli expansion — when has Israel ever acted in good faith on the West Bank to curtail settlement over 20 or 30 years?
    And true American engagement will never have effect unless Obama changes the mindset that has afflicted virtually all US politicians that coddles Israel.

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  33. rich says:

    jdledell,
    Welcome to the hotly contested Washington Note comment section. I really appreciated your post at TPM recounting your experience moving to Israel, permanently. I found it very moving, and Americans need to hear more from you and families with a similar outlook. That perspective just doesn’t get out there enough.
    And btw, I posted a comment here linking to your story, with an excerpt. People were really glad to find it!
    Take care,
    rich

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  34. WigWag says:

    “I was using the Bt’selem numbers, WigWag”
    The CIA Factbook Numbers published earlier in February (and taking into account the latest estimates which are from July of 2008) is that there are 187,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank and 177,000 Jewish settlers in East Jerusalem. Perhaps the Bt’selem numbers are more accurate or perhaps the CIA numbers are; I don’t know.
    The Clinton plan of 2000 would have required approximately half of the West Bank settlers to leave. I think it’s fair to say that reports of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the last year suggest that the agreement they were working towards would (after land swaps) require somewhat more (but less than 60 percent) of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank to leave.
    As for the Jerusalem metropolitan area, (which Israel officially annexed many years ago) Jewish neighborhoods and Arab neighborhoods are densely packed and abut each other, especially in what would be the Capital of the new Palestinian State, East Jerusalem. Both the Clinton Plan and reports of the discussions between the Israelis and Palestinian Authority would require only a relatively small number of Jewish East Jerusalem residents to leave (although some certainly would). The idea apparently under discussion is that each of the two nations would have jurisdiction over neighborhoods in East Jerusalem where its residents reside.
    Different ideas have been floated about control of the “Old City” which has proven to be one of the most contentious issues. Joint sovereignty has been discussed; international sovereignty has been discussed, but certainly no consensus has been reached.
    Regardless of precise number of Jewish settlers who would have to leave, it is certainly less than 200 thousand which is trivial compared to many other forced population movements in the 20th century. For example it is about 1.5 percent of the number of people required to move as a result of the birth of Pakistan.
    Is land for peace dead? Certainly Hamas ridicules the notion in its charter; and as you have pointed out, Hamas is the most popular political party amongst the Palestinians. On the Israeli side Likud and Yisrael Beitenu are noticeably unenthusiastic about land for peace and that’s putting it mildly.
    But I don’t think a two state solution is dead; I think it’s hibernating. But it could be a cold winter and a long one.
    Time will tell, but as you have pointed out on several occasions, time is not on the Palestinians side.
    We disagree about alot; we agree about that

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  35. varanasi says:

    after further consideration, i agree with you steve, albeit for slightly different reasons.
    i think nixon and china is an apt analogy here. perhaps only bibi – and i’m very cynical about him – might be able to make a deal. even sharon became a pragmatist.

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  36. Dan Kervick says:

    I was using the Bt’selem numbers, WigWag. Those numbers include the East Jerusalem settlements, and estimated the total number of settlers in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank combined at 443,702 by the end of 2006. Won’t both groups of settlers have to return to Israel?
    There might be some Israelis among whom it is generally acknowledged that these land swaps will have to occur. But in several of the accounts I read during the election campaign, it was reported that land-for-peace is effectively dead among a majority of Israelis.

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  37. Dan Kervick says:

    Kotzabasis,
    My view is that the imposition of an international final disposition plan will require mobilizing governments and their peoples to be prepared to impose firm sanctions on one or both sides, if either side fails to abide by the mandated terms of the plan.
    This is challenging since the Arab world is full of apologists for Palestinian terrorism and gangsterism, and the American and European side is full of apologists for Israeli ethnic cleansing, brutality and collective punishment. But pressing the international legal case against violators on both sides will diminish their reputations. It will be harder for American supporters of Israel and Arab supporters of the Palestinians to cry “foul” over sanctions if some Israeli and Palestinian soldiers and leaders are on trial before international tribunals for their crimes.
    If the global public case is more effectively built that these are *two* outlaw enterprises, that will give foreign governments the political cover they need to take a harder line and threaten sanctions. The case is actually quite easy to make. We just need the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ many global allies to stop running so much interference for them.
    You should re-read my proposal, because I explicitly rejected an approach based on “getting the parties to the negotiating table”. My view is that we are at the point where the international community needs to mandate a solution, and then impose it on the parties with carrots and sticks. There is no longer anything to negotiate. We all know the shape of the solution, and this long-running gang war is a dangerous and costly threat to peace and stability.
    I am not sure what you are talking about when you shout about shooting people for their war crimes. I assume you are speaking figuratively. I am only contemplating jail sentences and the threat of jail sentences. The important thing is to start putting people on trial.

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  38. WigWag says:

    According to the Central Intelligence Agency World Factbook dated February 10, 2009 the total population of the West Bank is 2,407,681. Of these 187,000 are Jewish settlers. Note that this excludes East Jerusalem.
    It is generally acknowledged by both Israeli and Palestinian sources that after expected land swaps approximately 50 percent or slightly more of the West Bank Jewish settlers will have to leave.

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  39. Dan Kervick says:

    Isn’t the latest estimate of the number of Jewish colonists in the West Bank closer to 450,000?

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  40. kotzabasis says:

    Dan Kervick’s rationale is ‘perfect’ from his side of the coin until he flips it on the other side and destroys his argument by his own suggestions. On the one hand he advocates a “strong prescriptive diplomacy from the OUTSIDE, along with clear and credible promises of sanctions and INCENTIVES,” and on the other, “the US could do more to support and publicize INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIONS into war crimes stemming from the Gaza conflict, whichever side is accused of committing those crimes.” That is, while he is putting either Palestinians or Israelis against the wall and SHOOTING THEM FOR WAR CRIMES, he still believes, after his provocative and ‘incendiary’ suggestion, that the “international community” will be able to force the two parties to the negotiating table that will “result in a durable peace.”
    It’s obvious that Kervick is an impresario in vaudevillian strategic scenarios. And of course he will not reply to this post and address and bridge this huge gap in his argument as he lacks the moral and intellectual fortitude to do so.
    P.S. In my previous post the quote is from Lobe, but Steve himself is a strong believer in this equivalence between the two parties as he argued recently in his posts.

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  41. WigWag says:

    jdledell, thank you for your comment. I was last in Israel in 1999. I spent 8 weeks living in Beer-Sheva and spent most of my time travelling around the Negev. Unfortunately I will never be able to return.
    You say, “these settlements are not and cannot be evacuated even for a peace agreement. It would cause a civil war.”
    I wonder why you say this. This is a brief history of population movements in the 20th century caused by the creation of new states or the cessation of war:
    1)During the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 half a million people left their traditional homelands. Muslims were forced out of areas controlled by Bulgarians, Greeks and Serbs; Bulgarians left Greek controlled areas of Macedonia and Greeks were forced to flea from regions of Macedonia ceded to Bulgaria and Serbia.
    2)In 1923 the Treaty of Lausanne forced 1.5 million ethnic Greeks to leave Turkey and resettle in Greece; 400 thousand Muslims were expelled from Greek controlled lands and fled to Turkey.
    3)Between 1944 and 1945, 5 million ethnic Germans were expelled from the Eastern part of Germany and resettled in the West.
    4)Between 1945 and 1947, 7 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia.
    5)In the former British mandate of Palestine, a Jewish state was established in 1948 and was promptly greeted by the revolt of the indigenous Arab community and an invasion from the surrounding Arab states. In the war that resulted, regions that fell under Arab control were cleansed of their Jewish populations, and Arabs fled or were forced out of areas that came under Jewish control. Some 750,000 Arabs left, primarily for the surrounding Arab countries.
    6)In the years afterward, nationalist-inspired violence against Jews in Arab countries propelled almost all of the more than 500,000 Jews there to leave their lands of origin and immigrate to Israel.
    7)Between 1945 and 1950, 220,000 Jews who survived the War were forced by anti-Semitism to leave Europe; most headed to the United States or Israel.
    8)Between 1945 and 1950 1.5 million Poles living in what became the Soviet Union were expelled to Poland.
    9)Between 1945 and 1950 500 thousand Ukrainians were expelled from Poland and sent to the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.
    10)The partition of the British Raj in 1947 resulted in 12 to 15 million refugees with Hindus leaving their ancestral homelands in what became Pakistan and Muslims leaving their ancestral homeland in what became India. At least 1 million people died in the process.
    In light of this history, it is difficult to imagine why anyone thinks moving 100 thousand or so Jews from the West Bank will be so difficult. Ugly, yes, unpleasant, yes; unprecedented, no. In fact moving that many Jews from the West Bank will be trivial compared to these other forced population movements.
    For goodness sake, the end of World War II resulted in millions of people forced to leave their ancestral homes; the partition of the subcontinent resulted in a larger exodus than that.
    Moving the number of settlers that would need to be moved to facilitate a two state solution is possible. The proof is that moving that number of people has been done before.
    Repeatedly.

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  42. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Whatever coalition is established in Israel is immaterial – the status quo will prevail. In 5 years a viable Palestinian state will be 100% impossible given the breadth and depth of the settlements. What is left is apartheid or transfer”
    Bingo. Which is precisely why Israel refuses to use modern military technology to halt the Hamas rocket attacks, and maintains the blockade that is intended to be incendiary and antagonistic, as well as debilitating. The continued intransigence of the Hamas radicals is nurtured by the Israeli leadership, provided the justification for expansion and the continuing destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure and societal cohesion.
    Israel will NEVER allow a peace process, because their design for the region does not include the Palestinian people. The Palestinians are being eliminated at a rate that the world community can abide, albiet barely. And I firmly believe the Israelis are capable of designing and executing an event that will justify the acceleration of the Palestinian’s demise. And they are not beyond killing a few thousand Americans, or more, to add an exclamation point to their agenda.

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  43. kotzabasis says:

    My dear Steve,
    You seem to be afflicted with an incurable cancerous growth in your continued rambling ‘cogitations’ of equating “the recklessness, immaturity and sheer stupidity of leadership on ALL SIDES.” To perceive a political equivalence between a fanatic religiously motivated leadership and a rational secular leadership is to cancel your own intelligence.

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  44. Dan Kervick says:

    It is good to see you here, jdledell, and helpful to get a first-hand view of events in Israel. I am concerned that the dominant US views of Israel, heavily over-dependent on the view from Israel’s English language press and declining center-left old guard, is dangerously detached from political reality.
    Yesterday, I posted something on Stephen Walt’s blog in response to his link to the recent article in the Nation by Neve Gordon:
    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090223/gordon?rel=hp_currently
    I’m re-posting my comment here, below the dotted line. I’m wondering if you think I have it right.
    ……………………..
    I’m afraid that Neve Gordon’s commentary, like so much of the commentary we read on Israel these days here in the States, is about a decade out of date. We are no longer living in 1995.
    Gordon represents the amazing shrinking Israeli left, which has strong ties to the West and whose views, while congenial to many of us, are vastly overrepresented in the United States as an expression of mainstream Israeli opinion. The Israeli left and center-left seem not to grasp just how marginal they have become in their own country. Americans will be led astray and into utter failure if they continue to embrace the vague wishful thinking offered up in Gordon’s *Nation* piece as a practical plan.
    We now face a landscape in which Likud, long the benchmark of ultra-zionist right wing rejectionism and militarism in Israel, is the new “center” in the Israeli spectrum, and Kadima, the party of the hawk Ariel Sharon, is seen as the new “left”. The former mainstream center-left is now the far left. There is a vibrant new right which is even further right than Likud.
    The Likud platform is clear in its outright rejection of a Palestinian state, and in its affirmation of Israeli title to the entire West Bank as part of the Land of Israel:
    “The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting.”
    “The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.”
    Yisrael Beiteinu claims to support the creation of a Palestinian state, but their plan calls for the annexation of so much of the West Bank as to render a Palestinian state utterly non-viable. YB’s Palestinian state would just be another stop-gap scam on the way to further pressure, economic constriction, Palestinian depopulation and conquest.
    Kadima, for what it’s worth, also regards the West Bank as part of the Land of Israel, but is willing to trade away some portions of it, outside the large settlement blocks, in exchange for a peace deal. It apparently regards this as a magnanimous concession of what is rightfully Israeli territory. Kadima very firmly opposes the division of Jerusalem, which it believes belongs to the Jewish people and must stay with the Jewish people.
    Gordon presents the standard two-state solution package that has been bandied about for years, but gives not the slightest hint how to accomplish that steeply uphill and increasingly illusory task. Where is the Israeli constituency that has both the inclination and political strength to carry this plan forward? Unless the United States is prepared to apply much more stringent and punitive sanctions than most Americans yet realize, Israel’s progressive colonization and eventual annexation of the West Bank cannot be stopped. And yet it is virtually impossible to imagine the United States Congress applying any sanctions of any kind whatsoever to Israel.
    Granted, I don’t know Israel first-hand. But from were I sit in the United States, Gordon represents a dwindling cultural elite that consoles itself with the fantasy that the colonization of the West Bank is just some political nuisance created by a “sizable minority” of obnoxious settlers, rather than an expression of the very aims of the State of Israel and the views of the majority of the Israeli people. The ultra-nationalist right has now captured Israel’s political culture, its youth and its armed forces.

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  45. JohnH says:

    “What is left is apartheid or transfer.” Or one man/woman, one vote. That’s the real solution!

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  46. ... says:

    bargaining in bad faith, or not bargaining is israel approach towards palestine… keep on putting off any concliatory actions, or give them lip service only while continuing with the long range agenda of settlements as described in jdledells post…

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  47. jdledell says:

    Having just returned from Israel, I attended political rallies of all the major parties – even Yisrael Beiteinu. What I found most interesting was maps on the walls of the Likud events showing 7 Palestinian “reservations” or euphamistically called economic zones. Each of these zones, including the entire Jordan Valley were totally surrounded by Jewish territory meaning all ingress and egress would be controlled by Israel. This has always been Bibi’s plan.
    WigWag – I don’t know when you last visited Israel and saw the West Bank but you will be amazed at the settlement process. Go out the E-1 corridor and you will see tremendous construction going on to connect Ma’ale Adumim to Jerusalem thus cutting off the south from the city as well as the northern west bank.
    I also went out to Ariel where my sister’s family lives and noticed the eastward expansion to connect to a number of small eastern settlements which when finished will cut Ramallah off from the rest of the west bank. This does not even take into consideration the new settlement of Adam East where my Aliyah hosts recommended we move. Everywhere you look, you will see settlements expanding. It is NOT natural expansion – most of these new houses are to be filled with transplants from Israel or via Aliyah. All of this is happening with the help of Israel’s current Kadima government. There is no Israeli government much less one headed by Likud who will even slow this creeping annexation down.
    WigWag – these settlements are not and cannot be evacuated even for a peace agreement. It would cause a civil war. As an example – Kiryat Arba(where my neice lives) is well beyond any line discussed as remaining in Israel. Do you really think these people would move? It would be Masada all over again.
    Whatever coalition is established in Israel is immaterial – the status quo will prevail. In 5 years a viable Palestinian state will be 100% impossible given the breadth and depth of the settlements. What is left is apartheid or transfer.

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  48. JohnH says:

    I fail to understand why Wigwag rejects engagement with Hamas out of hand. To do this is to reject most of the legitimately elected representatives of the Palestinian people. In fact, this is what Israel fears most–doing serious negotiations with groups who will truly represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people. They much prefer to negotiate with quisling, corrupt parties like Fatah, which was rejected by the Palestinian people in a free and fair election precisely because of its corrupt and quisling nature.
    If you are to solve the problem, not just have Israel dictate terms of surrender, you have to have negotiators who truly represent their people.
    Funny, isn’t it, that before Fatah became totally corrupt, Israel kept constantly whining that they had no partner for peace. As Avraham Burg points out, if Hamas were to negotiate away Palestinians’ rights, then someone else like Al Qaeda would step in to represent Palestinians. At that point, Israel would wax nostalgic about the good old days of Hamas rule.
    The prelude to any settlement is to inform Israel that they are no longer in a position to dictate terms. It must be a win-win settlement.

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  49. questions says:

    Perhaps Hillary is the answer — women in Iran, according to an NY Times story, are pushing for rights. Women can be pretty amazing liberalizing forces regarding divorce, children’s rights, education, family support, work and dignity. If Iranians can do this some 30 years after the revolution, even with one of the hostagetakers as head of state, then maybe Hamas’s women can make demands.
    Ideologies that demand fervor cannot last forever. We all get old and tired and move on, or we no longer see the point of it, or we cannot do adult stuff with the regime we liked in our twenties.
    I think that gay rights makes a nice model for this. Fervor on the right opposed it and many others didn’t care enough to stop it. TV shows pop up, neighbors and kids come out, politicians come out, soldiers come out, an athlete here and there…. And eventually gay marriage seems almost acceptable. The right still has some religious fervor on this one, but a lot of teens can’t get themselves into a sweat over it.
    Could Hamas go through this kind of transformation from radical kill ’em popularity to helpfulness? Well, they gained a fair amount of support simply by being a social service agency without any competition. I think there’s room for soft power’s ability to soften. But soft power demands narratives and images and identifications.
    As much as I may think your hyper-realist characterization of the area’s politics is at least close to spot on, we all have to admit, realism at this level is one of the unlovelier human characteristics…. Soft power and feminism and making it easier to be alive. Not sure Israel could do any of this directly, but maybe indirectly they can facilitate 3rd party trade.

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  50. Sweetness says:

    Wig writes: “but I see very little evidence that engaging Hamas in a
    political process will either alter their world view or inhibit their
    rejectionist philosophy.”
    They can keep their philosophy…as long as they don’t act on it.
    Same for the settlers. IOW, they don’t have to change their heart as
    long as they change their actions.

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  51. WigWag says:

    You raise an interesting point, Questions. I don’t want to put words in Steve Clemons mouth, but I think what he, Daniel Levy and others would say is that by engaging Hamas their recalcitrance and perhaps even their militancy can be tempered.
    To be fair, there is some evidence that this is true. During Israel’s attack on Gaza, Hezbollah did not permit large numbers of missiles to be launched against Israel in support of Hamas. In part this is because they were deterred by the threat of a massive Israeli military response. But Hezbollah has become much more engaged in the political process in Lebanon and they are competing in upcoming elections to play a major role. Hezbollah was almost certainly restrained from involving itself in the Israel-Hamas imbroglio by its political aspirations in Lebanon.
    If political aspirations can restrain Hezbollah from launching military attacks, perhaps Hamas can be similarly restrained if only it is fully incorporated into the political process. Of course this would require the United States, Europe and eventually Israel to recognize the legitimacy of Hamas. That’s why Clemons, Levy and others would like the process of reaching out to Hamas to start now; even if it has to start out slowly and surreptitiously.
    It’s not much different from the argument that I think Steve would make about Castro and Cuban communists. He would say that engagement is far more likely to ameliorate their behavior than isolation will.
    In the case of the Cubans I think this is right; in the case of Hamas, I’m not so sure.
    Communism (of the Soviet variety) is a dying ideology and Cuba is one of the last hold-outs. Engagement, trade, cultural exchanges could easily move Cuba in the direction of social democracy rather than Stalinist communism.
    On the other hand radical Islam is an ascendant ideology especially in Asia and the Middle East. I’m very skeptical that fundamentalist religious ideologues can be moved in a more liberal direction through engagement. Yes, the form of Islam advocated by Hamas is not as radical as the form advocated by al Qaeda (yet); and yes Hezbollah’s recent behavior is mildly encouraging, but I see very little evidence that engaging Hamas in a political process will either alter their world view or inhibit their rejectionist philosophy. By the way, I also don’t see any evidence that engagement or respectful dialog with fundamentalist Jewish settlers in the West Bank will move them in a more liberal direction either.
    But certainly reasonable people can disagree about all of this.

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  52. DonS says:

    “[Hamas] charter doesn’t just reject a two state solution; it ridicules a two state solution and it insists that Islam is entitled to dominion over the entire Middle East”
    And Likud charter binds Israel to holding territory taken and taking action against the formation of any independent Arab state on the West Bank.
    Hamas may or may not be part of a Palestinian future in some way. The Likud is more likely to be an enduring institution. But we are to say their charter is not a fundamental impediment?
    Outside actors, particularly the US could have a major impact on moving the parties if the US could act more forcefully in its own interest and the interest of the region, matching the intransigence of the primarily parties with some of the same use of power (but diplomatically) it seems to find easy to throw around for fabricated reasons.

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  53. questions says:

    Following WigWag,
    One more dimension might be Hamas’s ability, or lack thereof, of sustaining itself at its current level of intensity. Interest groups burn out after a time unless they can generate new and crazy panic or come up with new and improved services of some sort. It might be an interesting idea to try to repeat today’s border opening for flowers to cross for Valentine’s day. Perhaps there could be sponsored trade in which various nations agree to deal with the cost of inspections and shipping hassles and let some Gaza-made stuff cross the borders. If cooperation is rewarded, Hamas has less of a hold on sustaining the citizens of Gaza. Machiavelli reminds us that it is best to be feared AND loved, bad to be hated, and a good idea to make sure that the people are well cared for. If the goal is to weaken Hamas’s radicalism and strengthen Fatah’s hand, then Fatah should somehow negotiate shipments out of Gaza despite its lack of political support in Gaza. Maybe food and trade can beat radical chic?

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  54. WigWag says:

    Don S says “Your ultimate wish to downplay the “natural growth” of Iran’s influence (enhanced by the US’ stupidity), and marginalize Iran, is of course an ultimate dream of Israel, but not necessarily a good outcome for the US, and in fact shortcuts the US stated intention to begin more normalcy with Iran. Here US and Israeli interest quite likely diverge given your preferred stasis of Israeli domination of occupied regions.”
    You may be right that many Israelis don’t see it the way I do, but I think improved relations between the United States and Iran would benefit Israel. And I think it would be the height of stupidity for either Israel or the United States to attack Iran. I would rather see a right wing government led by Livni instead of Netanyahu because I think a Prime Minister Livni would be more circumspect about attacking Iran than a Prime Minister Netanyahu might be.
    Iran is a normal regional power with normal political and military aspirations for a nation its size and endowed with its natural resources. Whether or not it obtains nuclear weapons it can be deterred in all of the normal ways. The methods of deterrence have been well worked out over the 50 year history of the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.
    Improved relations between the United States and Iran will never stop Iran from supporting or shipping arms and financial aide to Hezbollah and Hamas; but improved relations might inspire Iran to somewhat limit its support for those organizations. That would be beneficial for Israel. While Hezbollah and Hamas are likely to remain Iranian proxies (I understand that they are more than just Iranian proxies) an Iran mollified by improved relations with the United States might restrain it allies, at least occasionally.
    But given the animosity between Persians and Arabs and Sunnis and Shiites that is both longstanding (and long predates the founding of modern Israel) and severe, Israel’s Sunni Arab neighbors are likely to view Iran suspiciously for a long-time.
    Israel can have the best of all worlds; a deterred Iran that won’t attack it (or proliferate any nuclear weapons it may someday develop), an Iranian-American rapprochement that lessens (but doesn’t eliminate)Iran’s support for Israel’s enemies and a still bellicose Iran that scares the hell out of Israel’s neighbors motivating them to maintain a closer relationship with Israel.
    But if either Israel or the United States stupidly attacks Iran, all bets are off.
    As for Hamas, only someone who longs for perpetual war between Israelis and Palestinians would support that organization. Whether you support a one state solution, a two state solution or a three state solution, Hamas and its rejectionist philosophy makes all three solutions impossible. Their charter doesn’t just reject a two state solution; it ridicules a two state solution and it insists that Islam is entitled to dominion over the entire Middle East. Anyone who supports a one state solution (as hopeless as that is) would have to admit that it’s a lot easier to contemplate Israelis living in communion with secular moderates like Abbas than religious fundamentalists like Mashaal and Haniyah. If Fatah can’t form a single state with Hamas, the Israelis won’t be able to either.
    For those who support a three state solution (which is equally absurd), neither Jordan nor Egypt will be willing to bring the West Bank and Gaza under their control as long as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood that they despise and fear has substantial traction in those territories.
    The simple reality is that Hamas doesn’t just make a two state solution impossible, it makes any solution impossible.
    If Hamas makes any political settlement impossible, the question naturally arises whether Hamas can achieve a Palestinian military victory over the Israelis. Of course anyone who thinks that Hamas can achieve a military victory is truly delusional. But Hamas is delusional, just like Israel’s religious settlers are; they each think they have the deity on their side.
    It has been pointed out by the Washington Note commentator who identifies himself/herself with three dots that Israel has no right to complain because their past policies facilitated the rise of Hamas. This is partly true. Israel is certainly not completely to blame; militant Islamic movements are sprouting up all over the Islamic World. But the Israelis did a role in fostering Hamas, just like the policies of Zbignew Brzezinski and Jimmy Carter facilitated the rise of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. And just like the policies of John Kennedy fostered the development of the anti-Castro Cuban groups that had terrorist leanings of their own.
    But Israel’s stupidity in fostering the rise of Hamas as a counterweight to Arafat’s PLO (that to be fair was much more intransigent and violent than the current Palestinian Authority is) doesn’t change anything.
    The existence of Hamas makes virtually any solution between Israel and the Palestinians far less likely.
    Until the Palestinians recognize this (which could take years or decades) a formal peace is highly unlikely.
    In the absence of peace, all we can hope for is a “peace process” that makes thing slightly less violent.

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  55. Dan Kervick says:

    The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a hazard to global security and US interests. So it may indeed be the case that the United States and other countries want and need peace more than the Israelis and Palestinians themselves do. Just as police forces have to quell neighborhood violence that is a threat to the broader community, so it is in the global interest to end this conflict, even if some of the parties engaged in the conflict have to be coerced into resolving it.
    The Israeli-Palestinain conflict has been prolonged for years by incendiary enabling from the outside. Substantially more pressure than is realized can be brought to bear if the international community – everyone outside Israel and Palestine – manages to recognize its common interest in terminating this persistent threat to peace and stability, and shuts down the flow of assistance and support for the perpetrators of the conflict.
    Trying to manage the conflict will freeze the current status in place. That will raise expectations among Israelis that the eventual settlement will ratify the existing facts on the ground. This is a recipe for long-term failure.
    I don’t think the current informal entente among Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel is as significant as it looks from the United States, where it is sometimes hyped, or is likely to endure. To the extent that working relationship depends on tactical alignments based on current US-Iranian relations, those dynamics are likely to change in the near future. The United States needs to begin position itself on the side of the region’s future, not its past. Mubarak and the Saudi Royal gamily are not the people we need to be hugging as we court the next generation of Arabs and Muslims in the region. The US and Iran will soon be cooperating in Afghanistan and their destinies are further joined by their common interests in stabilizing Iraq and Gulf security. The US focus in the Middle East is shifting eastward.

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  56. DonS says:

    Wigwag, my quick impression of your recipe for Israel is more of the same deception, if I may call it that. Pacify the Gaza (read neuter the Palestinians), while waiting up to 5 decades for a peace deal. An immediate reaction is that at the rate the Israelis are “engaging” in Gaza, 5 decades more of this sort of engagement will eliminate the Palestinians.
    You present your program as being most helpful to the Palestinians, disingenuously so if I may say. While you propose magnanimous financial aid on the west bank you would throw the burden on other Arab states, who are unlikely to act in the absence of a real settlement, not a “managed” situation as you recommend. You would greet their failure to do so I guess with a ho hum, we suggested it.
    As the US role, you offer you Hillary to negotiate, what, a basic status quo on the settlements, i.e., Israel gets to retain all it’s stolen. Mighty generous of you to employ US “carrots and sticks” to induce the Israelis to keep all they’ve stolen.
    Your ultimate wish to downplay the “natural growth” of Iran’s influence (enhanced by the US’ stupidity), and marginalize Iran, is of course an ultimate dream of Israel, but not necessarily a good outcome for the US, and in fact shortcuts the US stated intention to begin more normalcy with Iran. Here US and Israeli interest quite likely diverge given your preferred stasis of Israeli domination of occupied regions.
    Your program has its usual ring of reasonablesness cloaking it’s duplicity and one-sided advancement of Israeli interest.

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  57. WigWag says:

    “Marc Ginzburg, a former ambassador to Morocco, agreed, writing in the Huffington Post that “both Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly caught in a vortex of radicalism that is marginalizing the so-called silent majorities on both sides who recognize there is no hope for peace without a two-state solution.”
    Marginalizing the so called silent majorities on both sides who support a two state solution? Really?
    What is the evidence for a majority on either side supporting a two state solution, at least at the moment?
    A few short years ago the Palestinians in a fair election devoid of fraud, elected a political party, Hamas, whose charter specifically ridicules a two state solution. If the pundits are to be believed, Israel’s attack on Gaza has radicalized the Palestinians still further and made Hamas, even more popular.
    Earlier this week, the Israelis rejected the parties of the left which were most enthusiastic about a two state solution. Instead the next coalition government (regardless of who heads it)will be run by political parties like Likud and Ysrael Beiteinu which are hostile at best to a two state solution.
    The “silent” majorities Ginzberg is referring to must really be silent; after all, they not only don’t speak, they don’t even vote.
    A far more realistic assessment is that neither a Palestinian majority nor an Israeli majority thinks pursuing a two state solution is their highest priority; at least now. Someday this might change, but recent elections in Palestine and Israel demonstrate that the time for a two state solution has not arrived.
    So where are we?
    A two state solution is not possible because neither party is interested in pursuing it.
    A one state solution is not possible because if Belgium can’t be held together as a viable state and Hamas and Fatah are unwilling to live together in a unified state, the idea of a unified state consisting of Israelis and Palestinians is laughable.
    There seems to be reemerging interest in a three state solution where the West Bank is governed by Jordan and Gaza is governed by Egypt. It’s not only neoconservatives like John Bolton and Charles Krauthammer who have reintroduced the idea but so has neoliberal Tom Friedman in a recent column. But this seems as absurd as a one state solution; there’s no evidence any of the Palestinians want it and there’s no evidence the Egyptians or Jordanians are interested. It’s a pipe dream.
    In light of the recalcitrance of the parties, the United States and the Europeans (the only world powers who give a hoot about Israelis or Palestinians) have few options. Can they impose a settlement like they did between Serbia and Kosovo? Maybe, but it’s extraordinarily unlikely. The Israelis are not Serbians and the Palestinians are not Muslim Kosovars. The practicalities of imposing a settlement that the parties themselves don’t support would be so difficult that it’s hard to imagine either the U.S.or Europe having the political will (let alone the resources) to accomplish it.
    For the moment, all that can be hoped for is an interim arrangement. The best approach and the most realistic, is to do precisely the opposite of what Steve Clemons recommends. Instead of pushing for a peace that cannot currently be achieved, the United States and Europe should be pressing to actively manage the crisis in a way that alleviates as much of the suffering of the parties as can be alleviated.
    To manage the crisis, the United States can and should pressure Israel to stop all settlement activity in the West Bank including the natural growth of current settlements. The new government in Israel probably can’t be successfully pressured to stop the natural population growth of Israeli communities in East Jerusalem but with the right carrots and sticks, it should be achievable in the West Bank. My guess is that the only politician respected enough by ordinary Israelis to successfully urge this is not George Mitchell or Barack Obama; it’s Secretary of State Clinton.
    The international community should mount a massive development campaign in the West Bank with aid measured in the tens of billions of dollars. A significant portion of this can be financed by the Saudis and the Gulf Arab states. At the same time, a significantly greater aid package needs to be put together for Jordan which is experiencing one of the worst economic crises in the Arab world. While improving economic conditions in the West Bank may not marginalize Hamas in a month or even a year, sustained economic development in the West Bank can, marginalize Hamas over a period of many years.
    Israel’s new found alliance with the Egyptians, Jordanians, Saudis and Palestinian Authority brings important strategic benefits for Israel and for these Arab parties. It promotes stability in the region and may eventually facilitate a two state solution. The desire to maintain the alliance with its new Arab partners should have a moderating effect on Israel’s behavior and greater cooperation between the intelligence agencies of Israel and the Sunni Arab states should deter terrorist incidents throughout the region.
    Hopefully Israel will be smart enough to realize that this new found partnership needs to be nurtured and that it has its root in fear of Iran. Partnership with Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Fatah/Palestinian Authority brings greater benefit to Israel than a belligerent Iran threatens Israel. Israel should not attack Iran and instead should enjoy the benefits that Iran’s belligerency provides. Israel should not hope for a neutered Iran. With Iran neutered, relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors would return to where they were before the Iraq War. The West should do everything it can to strengthen this new found partnership between Israel and its former adversaries.
    Because every Israeli attack on Gaza is destabilizing to Israel, its new found Arab allies and to the rest of the world, the United States and Europe should do everything possible to make these attacks unnecessary. This requires a redoubled effort to prevent Iranian weapons from being smuggled into Gaza. New patrols being mounted by the Americans and Europeans off of Egypt’s Mediterranean Coast are already helping. The West should also do everything it can to encourage Egypt to find and destroy smuggling tunnels and to accept Western assistance, surreptitiously if necessary, to facilitate this. Now that Hamas has acquiesced to Fatah guards controlling the Rafah border, an increased flow of civilian items can flow into Gaza to alleviate the suffering of ordinary Palestinians.
    A major effort should be mounted to promote direct peace talks between Israel and Syria. Peace between Syria and Israel is achievable; in fact it’s so achievable that virtually everyone knows what the terms will be. An Israeli-Syrian peace deal will lessen Iranian influence in the region, it will solve Israel’s problem with Lebanon over the Sheba Farms region, it will institutionalize peace between Israel and the last of its neighboring states and it will make peace between Israelis and Palestinians more likely. Most importantly, it is far easier to contemplate a peace settlement between Israel and Syria than it is between Israel and the Palestinians; there’s no reason not to pursue it aggressively. While Turkish rhetoric over the Gaza crisis has removed the Turks as a realistic interlocutor, several other potential interlocutors exist, President Sarkozy being one of the most obvious.
    The idea that a permanent solution can be implemented between Israelis and Palestinians in the short run is contradicted by the evidence and, like all false ideas, it makes things worse not better, especially for the Palestinians.
    For now, the Middle East crisis should be managed; the time will surely come when the parties are ready for a peace deal; it may take a year, it may take a decade; it may take five decades. In the interim, the Americans and Europeans should be doing everything they can to alleviate the suffering and to pave the way for the eventual settlement.
    The reality is this; the United States and Europe can’t want a peace deal more than Israelis and Palestinians do.
    Failure to recognize this reality is a recipe for failure.

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  58. ... says:

    steve – you mention “immaturity and sheer stupidity of leadership on all sides of the conflict”.. i’m wondering if you could define the palestinian leadership? it seems to me until this is openly acknowledged by the usa and israel, the scapegoating of hamas will continue.. further to Jonathan Guyer’s comment, if the leadership is hamas and the usa and israel define this as unacceptable leadership to work with, how do you suppose anything can move forward??
    before anyone suggests hamas is a terrorist group remember 2 things, israel helped to get them going as a counterbalance to the plo and israels actions in the past few years are state sponsored terrorism.. this leaves them in no position to be calling a kettle black, or to use it as a reason to not move towards a peaceful resolution to the madness..

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  59. Jonathan Guyer says:

    So now Hillary’s heading to the region too?
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1063806.html
    What should we make of this, Steve? As Hillary has pigeonholed US policy into avoiding Hamas, I can’t imagine much success at this upcoming Gaza reconstrution conference in Cairo… and then Sen. Kerry is off to Syria.
    This could be a very exciting (or very dull) month.

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  60. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve,
    I saw the quote from you this morning in Lobe’s column. Well-said.
    I hope we are seeing the emergence of a consensus that the US needs to put much more emphasis on an outside-in process grounded in international law and the major powers in the international community, a process that can supplant, or at least complement, the old approach of an inside-out process grounded in our relationship with the Israeli government and its political parties.
    But for the outside-in process to work, a very strong consensus must be reached among the major international players so they can form a durable and unified front, put forward credible threats of sanctions and credible offers of assistance, and see the process through in the face of the political and propaganda storms that will rage on both sides of the conflict as dissenters work to obstruct or destroy the international peace venture.
    I’ve been more pessimistic than you about the opportunity offered by the Israeli lurch to the right and its increasing embrace of extreme nationalism. But I think we can agree that this shift only provides an opportunity *if* the United States government is willing to seize it, and change its diplomatic approach. The problem in the past has been a failure by the US government to take firm positions on the substantive claims made by both sides, and the international legal issues involved, and to give a clear shape to the eventual resolution through US public diplomacy. This sort of ambiguity only provides space for every kind of obstructionism, game-changing, slippery slope and undermining activity by extremists and rejectionsists.
    Traditional “peace processism” has it that the goal of the United States is to “get the parties to the table”, where it will then all wonderfully work out. This is inadequate. Given the gross power asymmetry between the two sides, no process aimed at bilateral negotiations without strong prescriptive diplomacy from the outside, along with clear and credible promises of sanctions and incentives, can result in a durable peace.
    The US, working with international partners, needs to begin to convey the message that these are *two* radicalized camps of adversaries, given to increasing lawlessness, violence and intransigence. In support of that message agenda, The US could do more to support and publicize international investigations into war crimes stemming from the Gaza conflict, whichever side is accused of committing those crimes. I worry that Obama’s inclinations are to think these kinds of investigations of the past get in the way of “moving forward”. But I think the opposite is true in the current environment. The ability of the US and international partners to assert control over an outside-in peace process depends on undermining the credentials and international standing of the two embattled parties. The US should be doing more to publicize and condemn the rise in brownshirt-like thuggishness, assaults and racist incidents against Arabs in Israel and the occupied territories. At the same time, the US should publicize the similar activities among Hamas in Gaza, which include physical intimidation, assassination and anti-democratic political gangsterism. As the reputations of both sides sink in the court of global public opinion, the ability of both sides to mobilize their global supporters to mount successful obstruction of the international peace venture will be diminished.
    Yisrael Beiteinu presents a problem the US hasn’t confronted before, because its ideology is in many ways unlike the ones we are used to on the Israeli spectrum. It is ultra-nationalistic and chauvinistic, but secular; not opposed to a Palestinian state in its rhetoric, but opposed to a viable Palestinian state in practice. And its domestic policies are themselves indirectly related to the future disposition of the Israeli relationship with the Palestinians.
    Since Ysrael Beiteinu *claims* to support a Palestinian state, in contrast to Likud, it would be very easy for politicians in the United States to be taken in by this rhetoric, and see YB as more moderate and workable than it in fact is. But I have found it very difficult so far in researching the topic to find any concrete plans for this alleged Palestinian state. On the other hand, there is all sorts of imprecise but ominous talk about keeping most of the already-colonized territory. My understanding is that YB is dominated by the Russian immigrants who are all over the West Bank, and so we can expect them to support keeping all those people right where they are. At the same time they want to keep immigration flowing at a heavy rate. My interpretation is that their support for a Palestinian state is a clever, but not that clever, tactical stopgap. It’s a way of buying some international support or deflecting international opposition, as the nationalists’ process of gradual conquest continues.

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