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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

We can't trust the 'Palestinians' or Europe. Can we trust the US?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Bret Stephens doesn't get everything right, but he does get a couple of important points. The conflict is existential. The expulsion from Gaza has shown what Israel is likely to get if it gives up territory in Judea and Samaria. And Israel has a lot of good reasons for mistrusting the US:
Then there is the test case of Gaza. When Israel withdrew all of its settlements from the Strip in 2005, it was supposed to be an opportunity for Palestinians to demonstrate what they would do with a state if they got one. Instead, they quickly turned it into an Iranian-backed Hamas enclave that for nearly three years launched nonstop rocket and mortar barrages against Israeli civilians. Israel was ultimately able to contain that violence, but only at the price of a military campaign that was vehemently denounced by the very people who had urged Israel to withdraw in the first place.

As it happens, I supported Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, bloody-minded neocon though I am. On balance, I still think it was the right thing to do. By 2005, Israel’s settlements in the Strip had become military and political liabilities. But there is a duty to take account of subsequent developments. And the sad fact is that the most important thing Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza accomplished was to expose the fanatical irredentism that still lies at the heart of the Palestinian movement.

The withdrawal exposed other things too. For years, Israel’s soi-disant friends, particularly in Europe, had piously insisted that they supported Israel’s right to self-defense against attacks on Israel proper. But none of them lifted a finger to object to the rocket attacks from Gaza, while they were outspoken in denouncing Israel’s “disproportionate” use of retaliatory force.

Similarly, Israel withdrew from Gaza with assurances from the Bush administration that the U.S. would not insist on a return to the 1967 borders in brokering any future deal with the Palestinians. But Hillary Clinton reneged on that commitment last year, and now the administration is going out of its way to provoke a diplomatic crisis with Israel over a construction project that—assuming it ever gets off the ground—is plainly in keeping with past U.S. undertakings.

In the past decade, Israelis have learned that neither Palestinians nor Europeans can be taken at their word. That’s a lesson they may soon begin to draw about the U.S. as well. Which is a pity for many reasons—not least because it gives the settler movement every excuse it needs to keep rolling right along.
Mr. Stephens - a former JPost editor in chief - needs to consider the possibility that expelling all the Jews from Gaza was the wrong thing to do. And I'd love to hear why - given that he admits that there is no chance for peace - he still finds 'settlement building' objectionable. It's time to stop deluding ourselves that peace with the 'Palestinians' is on the horizon and to hold territory in trust for them. Maybe if they saw that they were losing more and more land, they would come to the table and negotiate rather than demand.

But he does get some other things right. Read the whole thing.


At 11:40 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Bret Stephens' point is no compromise peace is possible is because the Palestinians want to destroy Israel. Talk of a two state solution is a mirage in the face of that reality. That is why Israel cannot withdraw from any more territory or make any more concessions.

At 12:47 AM, Blogger Daniel said...

Zugswang!!! MYboychik is president ofhis high school chess club.
The Germans do have some great words.


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