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Sunday, March 01, 2009

'Radical new approaches' really nothing new

A Washington Post story on Hillary Clinton's upcoming visit to our region describes the 'tough options' available to Mrs. Clinton and the 'radical new approaches' that some people have called for toresolve the conflict. Here are what the Post describes as radical new approaches (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
The issues are so complex that some analysts are advocating a radical rethinking. Elliott Abrams, a deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush who is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, proposed scaled-back goals in a recent article in the Weekly Standard that was highly critical of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's efforts to reach a deal. "It is time to face certain facts: We are not on the verge of Israeli-Palestinian peace; a Palestinian state cannot come into being in the near future; and the focus should be on building the institutions that will allow for real Palestinian progress in the medium or longer term," he wrote.

From the other side of the political spectrum, Nathan J. Brown, senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, wrote in a paper published last week that the effort to create a two-state solution "has come to a dead end" and that it is "time for a Plan B." He advocated a clear and perhaps even written cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which could be broadened into an armistice. The effort would require breaking the taboo against speaking to Hamas, but he argued that the taboo has been broken because of indirect negotiations. "The question is whether to make a virtue out of necessity of declaring it open," he wrote.
The Post mischaracterized what Abrams wrote. Abrams, like John Bolton and Daniel Pipes has actually called for placing Israel's security in the hands of Egypt and Jordan, an approach I criticized in each of the posts linked above.

Nathan Brown's paper is here. Here's his bottom line:
In fact, meaningful negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are taking place right now. But they specifically exclude mutual recognition and permanence.

The real negotiations are taking place not between Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, but between Israel and Hamas. The talks are indirect but deal with some familiar issues—the terms of Israeli withdrawal, the nature of the cessation of hostilities, the role for international forces, the release of prisoners, the flow of goods, the patrol of borders, and the supply of weapons. But they are doing so in some unfamiliar ways. Negotiations are now integrated with violence rather than posited as an alternative; and the two parties proudly proclaim their rejection of the other’s legitimacy.

There may be no Nobel Prize to be had here, but making sure these real negotiations succeed—and then immediately worrying about the next step—is a far more promising approach than pretending that the parties can be cajoled, muscled, and jawboned into a final and comprehensive settlement under current conditions.
In other words (at least as I read him), Brown is advocating living with the status quo and hoping that there may be some way to reach an agreed resolution in the future. That certainly makes a lot more sense than trying to force a solution or to hand it off to Egypt and Jordan. The downside is that it is likely to lead to 'Palestinian' violence (which the world will excuse as impatience). As long as Israel is given freedom of action to protect itself as it sees necessary, I think we can live with that.

At Yourish.com, Soccer Dad notes that the WaPo article is not even-handed: It fails to mention 'Palestinian' terror as an obstacle to peace, instead designating the not-yet-empowered but already condemned as 'extreme right' Israeli government as the obstacle. I am less concerned with whom the mainstream media designates as the obstacle so long as they acknowledge that 'peace in our time' just isn't going to happen and they stop pressuring Israel to pretend otherwise. If a Netanyahu government is able to fight terror without impediment from the 'international community,' we here in Israel will be a lot better off.


At 5:25 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

I think that so long as the genocidal ideology of all "Palestinian" groups is routinely ignored and not a part of the equation, absolutely nothing but ever-increasing violence can be expected against Israeli civilians.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ashan, the Palestinians will not renounce terror against Israel. Israel will simply have to engage in "management conflict" for a long time to come. But that's far better than pretending phony negotiations will lead to a permanent settlement. As Carl pointed out, the Palestinians have clenched their fist over the last 15 years and they killed the "peace process." The Israeli Right may be talking about a "Palestinian State" but you can bet the maximum it will offer the other side is a lot less than what the other side wants and which happens to be what Israel can't give. Given that gap, its never going to happen.

At 8:38 PM, Blogger Charles said...

As an American, it is hard for me to understand why Israel permits itself to be held hostage to such an extent by the Gilead Shalit issue. Shalit may not even be alive. I believe his life is extremely valuable, but the lives of many Israelis may be lost in the future if too much is pledged (e.g., 1000 terrorists now in Israeli prisons)for his return. This position seems so reasonable, that I am at a loss to understand Israel's position on the matter. Can you help me out?

At 8:13 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...


Nothing the Israeli Left can offer the 'Palestinians' will satisfy them either. Even the Left won't offer the 'right of return.' Even the Left understands that the 'right of return' is the end of the Jewish State.


(Is this THE Charles with the green football?).

Israel has a strong commitment not to leave soldiers behind in the field. That used to mean that we sent soldiers in to rescue wounded soldiers on the field of battle, or soldiers who had been kidnapped, even if it meant risking more lives. That was reasonable. But we never negotiated with terrorists. Think Entebbe.

Over the last 20-25 years, Israel started to negotiate with the terrorists, beginning with the Ahmed Jibril exchange of 1985, which released hundreds of terrorists in exchange for live Israeli POW's. A similar exchange was made for Elhanan Tanenbaum and three dead bodies of kidnapped soldiers in 2004. But that exchange only worked because Tanenbaum was alive and Israel believed he was being tortured and disclosing IDF secrets.

That all changed with the Goldwasser and Regev exchange last summer. It was the first time Israel exchanged live terrorists for dead bodies. It was something most of the country would have opposed had people not still held out hope that the two were alive. In that trade, for the first time, Israel did not insist on evidence that they were alive before making the trade.

Goldwasser, Regev and Gilad Shalit are all part of the same equation, except that there is more reason to believe Shalit is alive (we know that he was at least as of July 2007). All three families are financially well-heeled families who have run a campaign that has turned the families into the issue and has corrupted the notion of not leaving soldiers in the field.

Their campaign is helped by a more general trend in which the IDF avoids casualties at all costs and therefore does not complete assignments. That was a widespread problem in Lebanon in 2006 (where admittedly there were other operational issues), and it was the real reason why Operation Cast Lead was stopped when it was: The next phase of the operation was seen as carrying an increased risk of casualties.

Those of us who point to the statistics about the return of terrorists to terror once they are released are derided as insensitive to the families' plight.

Will that change once the Netanyahu government takes power. Maybe, but I wouldn't bet on it.


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