Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Friday, May 20, 2011

It’s about time!

"The dream of a Jewish and democratic state cannot be fulfilled with permanent occupation."- Barak Obama

Its’ about time that somebody got a bit more aggressive with Israel. You can see how the map of Israel/Palestine has evolved over the years by going to this link. I don't know much about the book and I don't necessarily endorse it. However the map on the cover is a good one and I don't want to risk violating copyright laws by posting the illustration here.

It’s a hackneyed discussion, I know. But I don’t think we should let it pass without comment. The President’s speech was important because it was agile. He had to speak to many people- leaders of the Arab world, activists in the Arab World, and leaders outside the Arab world wondering how Obama would define a new US policy toward the region. I think he succeeded. Obama was smart to place the long standing conflict in the larger regional context of the Arab Spring. This is particularly interesting since Israel was NOT a central issue to demonstrators across the region. It was an issue, but not the most important issue. Changing their governments was the issue. If the demonstrators succeed in getting more democratic, stable governments, this will increase pressure on Israel and provide the US with other options for alliances in the region. Remember, US support of Israel started because Nasser’s overtures to the USSR. Prior to that, the US was very cool toward Israel.

The best I can add is that for any negotiations to take place, Netanyahu must stop the settlements. That’s not a new idea. And he will have to abandon some of these settlements because they were built illegally. Telling Palestinians that Israel should be allowed to annex territory where Israeli settlements have been built is the equivalent to telling them that they will have no state. There just isn’t that much room in this tight corner of the world.

What Israel and Egypt have succeeded in doing is isolating Hamas through tough blockades. This has forced Hamas to work with the Palestinian National Authority. Hamas has not been able to get a foothold in the West Bank. Hamas should go the way of Shin Fein. It should cut its ties with Iran, give up its calls for the destruction of Israel and function as a political party. That said, I recently read the most of Hamas’ funding comes from Saudi via Syria. So there are multiple money sources at play. Hamas will continue to harass Israel with an occasional rocket, seeing if it can draw Israel into another military action. But that should also stop if Hamas’ intents to see some form of peace.


The Law Talking Guy said...

Bibi is just digging in. It's all he has ever known how to do. I think the maps are problematic, btw. The first one shows Jewish-occupied lands de facto and assigns even unoccupied territory as "Palestinian." The last one shows the areas from which the IDF has withdrawn only. The better one for "present" would be showing the path of the Wall.

The key issue is the reference to UN Res 242 and the 1967 borders. It says that the settlements may be a fait accompli as to the land they lie on, but they must be "paid for" with other land. This is the very notion Bibi and the rightists reject - they wanted to just gradually, over time, reduce the Palestinian-occupied lands to nearly nothing, then hand the rump to Jordan or something. Rejecting that is key if there is ever to be peace.

Raised By Republicans said...

The thing I don't get about the Israeli right's position that the 1967 borders are "indefensible" is that they seemed pretty defensible in 1949 and 1967. But then I'm thinking that they could be worried about the rocket launching issue. But Hamas and Hezbullah are getting increasing long ranged rockets. So if this is driven by the range off rockets, then the Likud position implies that Israel's borders should expand as rocket technology improves.

I'm glad that Obama is pushing on this issue. I'm also glad that it appears that his statement really annoyed BOTH the Israelis and the Palestinians. To my thinking, if you're annoying both of them, you're on the right track.

The Law Talking Guy said...

The 1967 borders are, as RBR correctly notes, the 1949 Armistice lines. The issue of their defensibility came up during the Six Day War. Israel launched a pre-emptive strike because it knew it could not defend its borders. It was also under tremendous pressure. Egypt had mobilized on its borders, which forced Israel to do so as well. The difference was that for Israel to mobilize meant essentially shutting down all economic activity while most of the young men an women put on uniforms. Egypt knew, as Israel did, that Israel could not long afford to do so. So it attacked first.

It is crucial, as RBR says, to realize that Bibi said that the 1967 borders are indefensible in a military sense, not that Obama's ideas are indefensible in a moral sense, as he is being misquoted everywhere as having said.

And even that comment is lunacy. Obama did not say that Israel had to take the 1967 borders, merely that the starting point for negotiation had to be the 1967 borders. This is not what Israel's right wing wants, which is rather to keep the settlements and all the land behind the "security wall" without having to offer some quid pro quo to the Palestinians. They want to start negotiating from their present position of strength rather than from the position required by UN Res 242 (the "land for peace" resolution).

Obama is right morally. Any settlement has to be perceived by all sides as fair, and fairness means not rewarding Israel for its unilateral actions in planting settlements and building a wall. He is also right practically. Currently Palestinians have five things to bargain away: the claim to the 1967 borders, the claim to East Jerusalem, the claim to the "right of return", the refusal to recognize Israel fully, and the refusal to offer Israel a lasting peace. (The sixth thing - an end to terrorism - cannot be considered). It is notable that these are all abstract rights. Yet Bibi wants them all for "free" as "preconditions" (meaning "conditions" in nonmedia-speak) to the negotiation. That is a nonstarter, for obvious reasons. The real plan: to expand settlements and continue to inflict the misery of occupation until Palestinians cry "uncle" is not going to work to achieve peace.

USWest said...

Israel and the US have been in a cooling cycle since Obama took office. The fact that Obama necessarily made US relations with the Arab world a key part of his foreign policy has worried Israel.

The US has also held Israel back on key actions, such as bombing Iranian nuclear facilities. I also think Israel has toyed with re-invading Gaza, but has been held back by the US.

Israel is used to having full, uncompromising support from the US and this may be changing with the Arab Spring. That is why Israeli conservatives and lobby groups are blowing this out of proportion. They can't blackmail the US anymore with "we are your only true ally" in the region.

Israel is also concerned what will happen to it's own security as the sands shift in the Arab world.

Dr. Strangelove said...

Perhaps because of a total lack of trust, the Israelis and Palestinians really do seem to prefer to negotiate with each other in the most extreme, hard-line way possible: They simply refuse to compromise. Both sides believe that the only way to get what they want is to accept nothing less. For example, as LTG pointed out, in his recent speech to Congress Prime Minister Netanyahu claimed to be prepared to make "painful" compromises, but then proceeded to demand everything up front before even agreeing to talk. Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority pretty much refuses to admit that Israel even has the right to exist.

In such an environment, reasonable suggestions for compromise are dead in the water. U.S. Presidents have tried that past, and all of them have failed. So by insisting on starting from the 1967 borders, I think Obama might just be staking out a position from which to negotiate. At any rate, it certainly seems to me that nothing less than hard-line tactics are going to force either side to move, so again, perhaps Obama is starting to move in that direction.

Raised By Republicans said...

Dr. Strangelove,

Here is another alternative that is not inconsistent with what you are saying... Solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the most important thing to either side. It could be that the Palestinian leaders care more about being the biggest big shot in Gaza or the West Bank than they do about actually getting an independent Palestinian state.

At the same time, Israeli leaders figure that, so long as the existence of Israel is not at stake, they would rather look tough and win reelection than look soft and lose the next election (or be assassinated).

Dr. Strangelove said...

RbR, I would say both alternatives are at work. Neither has a particularly strong incentive to negotiate, as you say--and when they do, they now do so in a completely hard-line manner.

An MBA friend of mine once told me that there are three reasons negotiations fail: (1) there is no mutually acceptable solution; (2) at least one of the parties prefers not to reach a deal; or (3) at least one of the parties does not know how to negotiate. He went on to say (and this is the interesting part) that pretty much everyone likes to blame reason #1 or reason #2, but in the business world reason #3 is by far the most common.

Is there a similar belief in foreign affairs that reason #3, which is sort of equivalent to saying the actors are not fully rational in the economic sense, is common?

Raised By Republicans said...

There's another option... One of the two sides can't make a deal stick even if they reach one. I think that applies to both sides too. The Israelis can't commit future governments to abide by deals struck now. The Palestinians have a commitment problem too because of Hamas.

Right, I think there can be a lot of causal factors at work here at the same time. Both sides know the other is unreliable. Both sides also care more about winning within their own community than sealing a deal that might benefit the community. Some of the negotiators may be fools or psychopaths or both.