The surreal state solution

Sandy Tolan writes:

It’s always bizarre to watch the cheering throng of US congressmen, their pockets lined with AIPAC contributions, fawn over a visiting Israeli leader as if he were a conquering war hero of their own.

But seen on YouTube from the West Bank, Binyamin Netanyahu’s fanciful walk through Middle East diplomacy, and his disingenuous endorsement of peace and democracy – accompanied by an estimated 55 standing ovations – was truly surreal.

If a member of Congress were to actually bother to travel through the West Bank, he or she could be forgiven for wondering what the Israeli prime minister was talking about when he promised to make “painful compromises”.

Huge and expanding settlement blocs cut ever deeper into Palestinian lands, each day making the establishment of a viable and contiguous Palestinian state more difficult to imagine. One settler city of 20,000 – Ariel – sits nearly halfway to Jordan from the Mediterranean. Maale Adumim, population 34,000, lies well east of Jerusalem, on the way to the Jordan Valley.

In support of this settlement project, Israeli military jeeps and armored trucks crisscross the would-be future Palestine. This week, on a three and a half hour round trip drive between Ramallah and Jenin, I saw a dozen such patrols.

Near Nablus, a Palestinian vehicle was pulled over to the side of the road, with a soldier pointing his M-16 at the driver. Further on, an Israeli bulldozer scraped the land, uprooting an olive tree – the heart of Palestinian rural culture and economy.

Now Netanyahu is trying to cement Israeli policy of endless land seizures with a diversionary tactic – insisting that Palestinians acknowledge Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.

Yet he well knows that in the Oslo agreement of 1993, Palestinians formally accepted Israel’s existence and agreed to their own painful compromise: giving up 78 per cent of historic Palestine in exchange for establishing a state on the remaining land in the West Bank and Gaza.

By making a new demand, Netanyahu has moved the goal posts – insisting that a nation where one in every five people is Arab be formally recognised as a state for Jews only. This may make sense for a delusional congress, but why would any Palestinian leader agree to that?

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2 thoughts on “The surreal state solution

  1. Norman

    It should be quite clear to everyone, that the Netanyahu has no intention of giving retreating to the 67 borders. Like a spoiled child, he & his band of followers are going to push, push, push. After all, they have the Nuclear bombs as their back up ace in the hole. The performance from Netanyahu in Washington reminds me of Neville Chamberlain & Hitler in the 2nd 1/2 of the 30’s. Give in, but it’s never enough, until finely, Boom!

  2. delia ruhe

    There is truth in what you say, Norman — especially your point about Israel’s nukes. Here are a coupla paragraphs from the conclusion of McConnell’s paper asking if the “special relationship” is worth it:

    “In an essay in International Studies Perspectives, [Prof. Ariel] Roth argued that the key U.S. interest in the Middle East is stability and unfettered access to the region’s oil. This is indisputable; it is the point James Forrestal made to President Truman more than 60 years ago. And what is the greatest threat to stability? Well, says Roth, it is Israel itself. Because of its unique history and the heavy weight of the Holocaust in the consciousness of Israeli leaders, Israel is uniquely terrified of being “alone” in the international arena. As a result, any suspicion on the part of its leaders that the United States is backing away from it might incite Israel to behave more aggressively than it already does. Those who decry the special relationship “are blinded to how Israel’s sense of vulnerability causes. . . behaviors that have the potential to undermine American interests.” Israel needs constant “reassurance” that it “does not stand alone.” Supporting Israel through “constant affirmation” and generous arms shipments is the best way to pursue American interests “without the fear of a panicked and unrestrained Israel bringing a cataclysm to the Middle East.”20

    “This claim is at once alarming and compelling. Roth is asserting that the principal ally of the United States in the twenty-first century — its main source of strategic advice, the nation whose leaders have an unequaled access to American political leadership — is not a rational actor. The United States is in the position of a wife whose spouse is acting erratically. A “panicked and unrestrained Israel,” armed with an estimated 200 nuclear weapons, could do an extraordinary amount of damage. The only conclusion one can draw is that the special relationship would now be very difficult to exit, even if Israel had no clout whatsoever within the American political system, even if the United States desired emphatically to pursue a more independent course.”

    The entire essay is worth reading:
    http://www.mepc.org/journal/middle-east-policy-archives/special-relationship-israel

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