Defining the Palestinian territories: the problem for Israel

In my last post, I looked at the problem from Palestinian writer Hussein Ibish’s point of view.  My friend Kevin had some insightful questions in the comments of that post that I did my best to respond to (as you can tell, I still have so much to learn about the Middle East).  In my response, I noted the tough problems that Israel faces in trying to come to a settlement with the Palestinians, and offered this post by Jeff Goldberg (an American Jew, liberal Zionist, and former Israeli army member).  I thought that I would also post briefly about it.  Goldberg writes about why Israelis are skeptical about the creation of a Palestinian state:

But about those Israeli doubts: For the typical Israeli (and again, I’m not talking about settlers, but about people who have, in the past, agreed in principle that the Palestinians should have an independent state) two events in particular have soured them on the chance for compromise. In 2000, the Israeli army pulled out of Lebanon. It was hoped that this pull-out would lead to peace on the northern border, but instead it led to rocket attacks by the Iranian-sponsored Hezbollah. In 2005, Israel unilaterally pulled its soldiers and settlers out of Gaza. Again, rockets followed. The saving grace of these rockets attacks — both the Lebanon attacks and the Gaza attacks — was that the rockets did not reach the center of the country — Tel Aviv, as well as Israel’s only international airport, Ben-Gurion.

Now, of course, the peace process, such as it is, hinges in part on an Israeli willingness to withdraw from the West Bank, including the hills of the West Bank that overlook Tel Aviv, the airport, and the entire thickly-populated central region of the country. This withdrawal will not be happening anytime soon, because there is a high degree of certainty among Israelis that a withdrawal from the West Bank hills would be followed not by peaceful reconciliation, but, again, by rockets.  No Israeli wants to be a freier, a sucker, and right now the Israelis feel like suckers. Twice in ten years they’ve withdrawn from territory, and twice they’ve been hit by rockets. They are not doing this again, not until the politics of the Palestinians — and the politics of Iran — change dramatically.

Goldberg also summarizes the challenges that Israel faces: pressures from the Obama administration, which has a different view of how to achieve peace and stability in the Middle East, the blockade of Gaza, those who don’t accept Israel’s legitimacy, the peace process with the Palestinians, and Israeli rule over the West Bank.  He puts it together much better than my brief summary does.  Check out his post (it’s not overly long) if this is a topic that interests you.


One comment

  1. Good summary of the Israeli perspective. I think the factioning that you noted previously makes it hard for me (and Israel) to come to a similarly coherent understanding of the Palestinians.

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