Monday, January 5, 2009

Geography and borders

It's extraordinary to me every time I look at a map of Israel/Gaza/Palestine. So much of the problem in this conflict seems to be mere geography. I wonder, had the partition worked out differently, had the borders been drawn in some other manner--say North and South, with Jerusalem, of course, at the epicenter (or perhaps East and West...) would this conflict have gone differently? It certainly seems that having only one region (say, just the West Bank, no Gaza) to worry about would have been much simpler. The current version of the partition is not the same as the several proposed initially (which the Arabs refused) though I am in no position to claim they may have worked any better.

But just envision your own State, and now imagine cutting it up in the fashion Israel is divided. How would this work? It seems enormously difficult...

Then, too, there was the land seized when Israel became a State, changing even the final UN plan:

And of course post-1967 we have basically the same geography as today, minus the Sinai which Israel gave back to Egypt in exchange for peace.

Another important point to make about the above maps. After 1949 Palestine didn't come into being merely because Israel seized the purple areas. Egypt seized Gaza and Jordan took the West Bank. Palestine didn't exist because of Arab intervention, not Jewish. Israel didn't take those lands for almost twenty more years--and once again, it was provoked by Egypt and Jordan.

Still, the ball is now in Israel's court.