Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Two States and the Settlement Question

From discussion elsewhere, in a follow-up to this post...

Commenter:

I think you hit the mark dead on concerning the point of the idiocy of Walt's hypothetical. One point you do not discuss is the context leading up to the 6 Day War. Why was "Palestine" not founded sometime during, say, '44-48? (Lack of will and Arab assistance.) Why was land set apart for a Jewish state in the first place? (Holocaust.) Certainly Walt doesn't address this. So, you correctly squelch his premise.

One point I will pick with you is the issue of settlements. The stubborn Palestinian insistence upon rejecting Jews in their midst has led to even more separatism, let alone the economic consequences. If the whole world insists upon integration of Arabs into Jewish Israel, why do they not condemn Palestinians for their discrimination? Would not both of the "two nations" be better off for inclusion of the other? More discrimination will just result in more separatism. Indeed, it has with the outlawing of Arab political participation this week in Israel.

By far, Palestinians are guiltier of insisting upon separation...while still insisting upon freedom to come in and out of Israel at will...while publicly threatening suicide bombings. They are not known for their reason.

Me:

Why was land set apart for a Jewish state in the first place? (Holocaust.)

Not at all, actually. The Zionist movement and British support for it predated the Holocaust, which came later and did, indeed, spur global Jewish support (and immigration). But no, that was not why land was set aside--in fact, much land was actually bought and paid for by the Zionists, though after 48/49 the borders were re-drawn and indeed some land was stolen from the Arabs.

The reason Palestine was never founded was that Jordan and Egypt occupied the West Bank and Gaza, and now Israel does.

One point I will pick with you is the issue of settlements. The stubborn Palestinian insistence upon rejecting Jews in their midst has led to even more separatism, let alone the economic consequences.

Again, I'll have to disagree. The Israelis simply have no business building settlements in the West Bank. They have every right to defend themselves, to even (to some extent) redraw the pre-1967 borders, but until they exit the West Bank it will be literally IMPOSSIBLE to achieve a two-state solution. Find me one Israeli settler who would live willingly in a Palestinian State, not as an Israeli settler, but as a citizen of Palestine.

If you can't find any, then there is no reasonable way to assume peace can be achieved at the same time as massive and widespread settlement of the West Bank. It is counter-intuitive and, I think, comes at too great a cost.

I agree that an ideal Two-State solution would include Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Jews...but the latter is simply not practical. Israelis will never consent to Palestinian rule, and thus have to go back to Israel if Palestine is ever to be realized.

Commenter:

Yes, you are correct about the Jordan/Egypt lack of interest in the Palestinian state before Israel got possession of the land.

You think Israelis have no business in Gaza, what do you think about Palestinians living in Israel? No inconsistency there vis-a-vis long term solutions? Smarter people than I have agreed with you on the settlement issue and I have yet to hear a coherent answer to these questions.

Me:

Palestinians--well, actually Israeli Arabs live in Israel, many of whom consider themselves such, some who would rather go to Palestine if that State were created. It's not really inconsistent, as by all rights, under the initial agreement (which Egypt and Jordan broke, not the Palestinians) Israel was given a certain territory, and the Palestinians were given a certain territory. Never once, save by the law of the sword, was Israel ever permitted to settle Gaza or the West Bank.

And I would say, regarding the law of the sword, "He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword."

There must be a better way.

How to go about un-settling the West Bank? It's so hard to say. This is where American aid becomes so vital, I think. Israel unilaterally withdrawing from Gaza, and the subsequent FOOLISH push for elections there by the US, was such a messy affair that we ended up getting a quasi-legitimate Hamas.

In any case, anybody serious about Two States has to figure out what to do about the settlements. Terror can be fought, but these settlers have political weight within Israel. It's going to be much more difficult to find a way forward there than against the Hamas threat.

Also important to remember is many of the West Bank settlers were born there, and are not guilty of anything whatsoever. All they've known is life in the settlements. Yet they will eventually pay a price for it, guilt or no.

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I thought it was a good supplement to the post, anyways. Am I wrong in my responses?

5 comments:

Max said...

Your commenter might be interested to learn that Ha'aretz ran an editorial a few months ago in which it was proposed to solve the settler problem by simply nationalizing them as Palestinian Jewish citizens in a separate state. The idea was not met with a great deal of enthusiasm.

I think it's a bit rich of him to suggest that somehow the Palestinians are to blame for objecting to the settlers; it's a 'blame the victim' argument on a national scale. But regardless, the fact remains that settlers in general hold strong anti-Palestinian sentiment, and could not be a civil component of a Palestinian state. That should be argument enough for forced removal.

I don't know what he means by 'vis a vis long term solutions', but if he's making a demographic argument then he has a point. It's a poorly kept secret that, upon the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel may adopt stricter immigration policy, perhaps even developing incentives to persuade Israeli Arabs to move. The argument from self-interest that encourages a Palestinian state to preserve a demographically Jewish Israel is a double-edged sword in that respect.

E.D. Kain said...

Max, thanks for the information. Any chance on getting a link to that Ha'aretz story?

I agree, blaming the Palestinians for not wanting to integrate with the settlers is just nonsensical--though I might say, "uninformed" is the better word for it.

I know if I were a Jewish settler in the West Bank, I sure as hell would not want to be governed by Fatah or any Palestinian Government, thank you very much.

Max said...

here you go: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1014952.html

it's not actually a new idea but it made waves on publication as being one of the first times a mainstream outlet had made the suggestion. of course, with the new war, that whole dialogue has been lost.

personally i don't think it's a terrible idea for the certain breed of settlers i talked about, who aren't settlers out of ideology but rather economy or history. assuming they would be protected in the first months of the formation of a state, one of the best ways to build mutual trust between israel and new palestine would be to maintain substantial minority populations in each country. but as i said, you would be hard pressed to find many settlers willing to take the risk, or sacrifice the racial 'dignity', to live under palestinians.

TNC said...

"But regardless, the fact remains that settlers in general hold strong anti-Palestinian sentiment, and could not be a civil component of a Palestinian state. That should be argument enough for forced removal."

Is this also an argument for the forced removal of anti-Zionist Arabs from Israel? If not, why not?

E.D. Kain said...

I'm not sure, TNC. Do anti-Zionist Arabs pose a political logjam to the Two-State solution? I think Israeli settlers hold much more sway over the Government.

That said, there could be a case for forced removal of anti-Israel elements in Israel proper, though expelling them to an actual Palestinian State would be much easier...