In this post, I am going to attempt to cover the period between 1967 and now. It is not going to be easy. After this, I intend to write one more post. This will be on the future. I have not had a chance to have anyone edit this post. So all you folks that keep sending me emails about my grammar and spelling mistakes and some time factual mistakes will have to forgive me. Maybe you can you the time to post something of your own.
I leave Israel today, after living her this time 3 1/2 months. I don’t have a lot of time to write so I may have to give up being subtle and I will have to be brief. Will not be able to go through the time line. There is just to many events in the more than 45 years from the six-day war. I really want to write about the future and the alternatives I see so I am just going to list a few highlights to take us up to the present.
Israel should not have kept the West Bank and Gaza.
Not only did this place the Jewish Nation in the uncomfortable role of being an occupying power but it also made it possible for the settlement movement to take route.
Israel should never have allowed Arafat and the PLO to take charge of Palestine.
Arafat was a criminal who exploited his people for his own personal gain. Abbas who succeeded him is probably a well-intentioned criminal who together with his cronies are stealing so much of the money meant to support and develop Palestine.
The USA has not helped the situation by trying to mediate.
Both the Israeli’s and the Palestinians use the situation to bargain for stuff from the USA.
I know that many will disagree but I don’t see how the USA has had much of a positive impact on the situation. Every American President and Secretary of the State with the possible exception of George Bush, wanted to be the one that brought peace to the region. It is hard to understand the level of energy given all the other problems in the world. Clearly it started out as both a love of oil and a love of American Jewish political power. Now the only thing that the Israel and Palestine can agree on is that they can’t stand Kerry.
The USA forced “free elections” in Palestine which resulted in Hamas getting control of Gaza and creating more a less a civil war between the Palestinians.
Hamas is a terrorist organization that has the intent of distorting Israel and pushing the Jews into the sea. I have no doubt about this. Gaza is an awful place. It is a jail. Its neighbors, Israel and Egypt do not want to allow open access to Gaza. It is located just 40 miles for Tel Aviv. Periodically, people there fire rockets into Israel. Israel then goes back in and targets those responsible but since they often hide in civilian areas, Israel may end up killing innocent people who is frankly, one of the objectives of Hamas in my opinion.
Most Israelis believe that Gaza is an example of what the West Bank would become if a two state solution was in-acted. I think the Palestinian Authority fears this even more than the Israelis because the leaders of this organization would be the first to be killed.
The Second Intifada combined with the increase in Settlements has pretty much distorted the chance of a two state solution
Rather than accept the Camp David Accord in the Middle of the year 2000, Arafat, choose to renounce it and start a period of terrorism against Israel which included suicide bombers targeting civilians. There have been a series of bad choices taken by both sides but if I was going to pick one that might actually may have resulted in making a true peace between Israel and Palestine, I would choose this one. The result was a total breakdown of trust by Israeli’s in the concept of security with the Palestinians.
The second most destructive decision belongs to the Israelis. That was the decision to aggressively contract settlements through the West Bank which also required Israel to slice and Dice the West Bank with roads connecting the settlement to Israel proper. These roads had to be secured and the result was chopping up the West Bank.
Arab countries don’t really care about the Palestinians but use their cause for their own selfish political aims.
It continues to amaze me to see how little the rich Arab states have done to help Palestine. And not state other than Jordan has granted Palestinians refugees citizenship. This is the opposite of what Israel did when it took in more than 700,000 Jews who were expelled from Muslim countries. Now with the Arab spring, the mess in Syria and the rise of Iranian power, even less attention and support is being given to Palestine which is becoming weaker and weaker while Israel become stronger and stronger. The only exception and an important exception is on the world stage where Israel is seeing more a more aggression against it policies including boycott activities. Israel does not like this of course and considers it unfair but if the choice is being “liked” or “secure”, Israel will choose the latter. The question of course is can Israel ever be secure.
The Separation Barrier made Israel safer and created a prison out of Palestine.
A great deal of Palestine is separated from Israel by massive walls. These walls were the direct result of the second intifada. Israeli general believe that the Walls have resulted in a period of significant security for Israel. Palestinians disagree. But it is far more complex like most things here. The Barriers create a great deal of anger amongst the Palestinians. I would be angry too if I lived on the other side. The wall makes them feel that they are in prison. It slices up the west bank. But I actually support it in general only because I believe without it, there would have been much more violence on both sides. However, I do believe that they are sometimes place with the explicit intention of creating psychological damage to the Palestinians.
The West Bank has a better economy, health care and education than any arab county. The only arabs besides the Oil rich ones that are doing better are the arabs living in Israel proper. It is no accident. There is a lot of positive spill over from the Israeli economy. Israel also provides a great deal of security for the leadership of Palestine. But one could only imagine how much better of Palestine would be having peace with Israel. You only have to visit Arab cities in Israel to understand that.
Another great blog post. I pretty much agree with everything you’re saying, but I’m not sure most US Presidents wanted or certainly expected to be the peacemaker. They had to make an effort to keep the Arabs (i.e. Saudi Arabia) placated and reliable oil suppliers to us. So I think their efforts were mostly for perception, not reality. You’re very right that the Israelis and Palestinians don’t need us if they really want a deal.
It is a real danger to Israel that the West Bank under Palestinian leadership could become another Gaza, but unless Israel commits to multi-generation colonization via settlements, what else can they do? Peace with a Palestinian West Bank state would be a risk, but what’s there now is the disenfranchisement of a population and the moral low road. And despite, or perhaps because of being 47 years after the 1967 war, it looks like there are groups that will use that stance to start a disinvestment movement.
So the options I see for Israel are: (1) long-term West Bank settlement colonization, (2) pull-out and hope for the best, (3) status quo with some modest international sanctions growing. I suspect option (3) is what will happen. Option (2) would be a gamble, but holds a vision of the best for everyone.
I appreciate your writing and you’re much more knowledgeable than most writers on the topic, but I disagree with some points.
“Israel should not have kept the West Bank and Gaza” – Israel did not have any intention of keeping them in 1967. But with the Arab “3 No’s” Israel had no reward for giving up the birth cradle of the Jewish people and the holiest sites in Jerusalem, Hebron and Schem.
“A great deal of Palestine is separated from Israel by massive walls.” – first of all, there is no “Palestine” except the vague geographic area including Israel, Jordan, parts of Lebanon and Syria. Secondly – “a great deal”? From Wikipedia: “Some sections (less than 5% of total length) are constructed as a wall. […] Wall construction (5%) is more common in urban settings […] because it is narrower, requires less land, and provides more protection against snipers.” 5% is not “a great deal” by any rate.
Michael, thank you so much for your comments. I truly appreciate them. We disagree about keeping the West Bank and Gaza. By keeping those areas, Israel turned itself into an occupying force. It could have decided to annex those areas but it did not.
I should have been clearer about the separation wall. What matters is not the amount of physical area but the number of people that directly effected and expose to the wall.I stand my my statement. It is a bit like the Palestinians saying the the Israeli Military controls 60% of Palestine (which is true) but not saying that only 4% of Palestinians live in these areas.