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Rightists say bring down the Wall, leftists say let's keep it

Noted right-wingers call to demolish the separation wall. True, they are driven by a desire for annexation, but the Left finds itself in an unseemly position – defending one of the great injustices of the occupation in the name of the distant prospect of two states. 

Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens yesterday told Ma’ariv he thinks the separation wall – which snakes its way around the West Bank and has been responsible for cutting tens of thousands of people from their livelihoods and from each other – should be torn down. “The wall is no longer of any use and it’s only doing Israel harm,” he told the website. “It’s obvious today that the separation wall [sic] is completely useless. It’s damaging Israel in the international arena and it causes hardship for the Palestinians in their day-to-day lives.” Arens, a noted hawk who has served as defense minister in three different Likud cabinets (Begin, Shamir and Netanyahu), attributed construction of the wall to hysteria rather than strategic thinking. “There was panic. When terror attacks occur almost every day, sometimes twice a day, and the Shin Bet comes to you and tells you it’s impossible to block terrorism without a wall, you get convinced. I was also convinced, but today it’s clear there is no connection between the wall and the cessation of attacks.”

The former defense minister instead attributed the slump in Palestinian political violence to IDF activity within Palestinian areas and the collaboration of Palestinian police forces, adding that “the wall is ugly. It’s like a scar on the face of the Land of Israel. There have been walls before and they fell down.” Finally, he said, “we should remember many Jews live beyond the wall,” and some fear the wall might someday become a political border.

In my mind, the last argument is the most important – both for Arens himself and for the settler politicians who rallied to his support. MK Yoni Chetboun of Habayit Hayehudi party (led by annexationist Naftali Bennett) argued to Ma’ariv that “the wall actually increases motivation for terrorism among the Palestinians by projecting a message of weakness, defensiveness and entrenchment.” Chetboun, who sits on the pivotal Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, credited the wall with a “short term” role in stopping waves of attacks, but said, “what Israel needs is freedom of action within the Palestinian cities, not walls and fences… in some places there’s no operational logic to the wall, and it seems the considerations driving the planners of the wall were made with political motives and with regard for the future border line.”

Orit Strock, possibly the most notorious right-wing hardliner on the Habyait Hayehudi list, said that “building the fence was a mistake that should be mended… Israel spent a fortune on a wall that, according to all the reports by the IDF and the Shin Bet, is not what prevented the terror attacks. Terrorism prevention was made possible and is still made possible today through the presence and activity of the IDF in the Arab cities of Judea and Samaria.”

There are some political subtexts here that indicate shades of opinion within the Right, and are therefore worth highlighting. Arens himself is a noted supporter of the one-state solution and has written and spoken in support of annexing the West Bank and granting full civil rights (including the right to vote) to its Palestinian residents on many occasions (this op-ed from 2010 is particularly worth a read). As a result, he has no problem referring to the barrier by the derisive and highly accurate moniker, “the separation wall.” Of the three, Arens also is the only one who explicitly refers to the hardships the wall causes to Palestinians (which, if nothing else, obviously generates a security liability in the long run) and offers some credit to the Palestinian Authority’s security forces for clamping down on Palestinian armed groups. Chetboun, the next to the right, doesn’t mention Palestinian needs or contributions, but at least refers to them by their proper name.  Strock, finally, doesn’t even recognise the Palestinians as a nation – to her, they are mere residents of “Arab” cities within [Jewish] Judea and Samaria and what’s needed is not only “freedom of action,” but actual “presence” of the IDF within those cities. In short, she is advocating a straightforward resumption of complete, direct military control over the West Bank, without even the fig leaf of the Palestinian Authority.

What all three have in common, however, is the concern that the wall might one day demarcate a political border with a Palestinian state, thus affecting the “Jews beyond the wall” (step forth, Jon Snowowitz) and the IDF’s freedom of action there. Considering that the wall, built entirely on the increasingly vacant pretext of “security,” already eats up much of the miserly territory afforded to Palestinians under the two-state solution paradigm, this reluctance to give up even the little that’s left might seem appalling to two-staters. But the comments of the left wingers quoted in the piece paint the two-state camp in Israel in an even more depressing light.

The Left clings to the wall 

MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) paid tribute to Arens’ achievements, but lamented the “wrong” motivations for his desire to bring down the wall. “It’s actually another step towards the bi-national state in which he believes. It’s not the wall that makes us look bad across the world, but the profound diplomatic deadlock caused by Netanyahu. The only thing that will bring down the wall is an agreement with the Palestinians. The wall is a terrible thing from a humanitarian point of view, but that’s not the reason why Arens wants to remove it.” Chairman of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, also chips in: “Those who want to completely dismantle the fence seek to create the reality of a single, bi-national state, either non-Jewish or non-democratic. The fence must be moved to the future border based on the 1967 lines and the land taken away from Palestinians from its construction must be returned to them.”

The wall and the entire separation paradigm (“we’re here, they’re there,” as Ehud Barak once put it ) is first and foremost a center-left construct; it’s not for nothing that the most avid champions of the wall were Barak himself and Ehud Olmert. Both progressive public figures seemed more threatened by the remote prospect of a bi-national state than concerned with anything like equality or justice, even in the short-term – otherwise there should have been no problem for them to demand both the immediate demolition of the wall and a return to two-state negotiations.

Oppenheimer’s desire to rebuild the wall on the 1967 border is particularly bizarre, considering he advocates a peace agreement with the Palestinians that would make such a gargantuan fortification superfluous, and considering such reconstruction would necessitate the confiscation of yet more land, causing further hardship.

But it is Cabel’s comments that shed the starkest light on the current condition of the center-left’s two-state project. With the rise of the annexationist Right, the Left, which should have been demanding the demolition of the wall forthwith has now come to hinge upon the wall as its last hope for preserving a nation-state through separation. The size, viability and contiguity of the Palestinian state that will result from this can go to hell, as can the immediate needs of the Palestinians who are catastrophically affected by the wall. Eventual separation is now such an urgent priority that everything and everyone else can wait – let the wall stay where it is, so long as we get two separate states in the long run.

New room for manoeuvre 

The division of opinion here indicates once again the slow redrawing of the political map in Israel: The Right is emerging as the more politically daring and flexible, ready to radically challenge the status quo and offer significant changes, up to and including enfranchisement of Palestinians and/or bi-national power-sharing, even if it is unlikely to offer or accept full individual and collective rights from the get-go. The old Left is becoming more entrenched and conservative-nationalist, determined to preserve the status quo without any profound or systemic changes.

For better or worse, it seems the agenda in the next few years will be set by Arens, Bennett and co., and if the wall is indeed brought down, it won’t be through the efforts of the mainstream Left. The more interesting question is how Palestinians will respond to this change: will they continue to ally themselves broadly with the partitionist, fading Left, which is happy to drive them into ever narrower confines (with friends like these…), or will they utilize and push to expand the much broader room for maneuver inadvertently being created by the annexationist Right.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. rsgengland

      The wall/fence has almost become the de facto border.
      There would need to be some alterations, but it is very much a reality on the ground.
      Despite all comments that the ‘barrier’ has not been effective, feet on the ground control in Judea and Samaria [called the West Bank after Jordan invaded, occupied and annexed the area after 1948] has been made more simple, by mostly keeping the ‘enemy’ outside.

      Reply to Comment
      • sh

        It’s as much a reality on the ground as the Berlin wall was. It wasn’t there before, it’s there for a while and once it’s gone it’s as though it never was. The only realities on the ground are rivers, mountains and the ocean. Nor, as +972 has shown in articles by Haggai Matar, has anyone who really wanted to get in (whatever “in” is) been permanently deterred by the wall.

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        • Kolumn9

          One can ford rivers and cross mountains. The ability to cross the wall for those willing to put in an effort does not make it any less a reality on the ground which changes perceptions about what is ‘out’ and what is ‘in’. Additionally the ability for people to enter at a relatively quiet time doesn’t properly reflect what the wall can do when the army and shin bet are fully deployed to prevent someone from crossing.

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          • K9′s conditional statement is right. If bombers come from the east in waves, the Wall would be effective. It won’t stop a handful of bombers. But many–yes, for the deployment reasons K9 states. If we want to live in a world where that seems plausible if not likely, then K9 is right. The question is whether the assumption of a wave has to be plausible–and that depends on the social order.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >It won’t stop a handful of bombers.

            Wall combined with checkpoints and network of collaborators has proven to be rather efficient to stop even one single bomber.

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      • Danny

        De facto for Israel, not for anyone else. Once Palestine gains worldwide recognition based on the June 4th 1967 borders, Israel will be in violation of said borders, with all the repercussions and potential sanctions associated with it. The wall will then have to “move” to the internationally-recognized border, or Israel will face sanctions.

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        • Aaron Gross

          Actually, Israel would not be in violation of those borders. The normal case of belligerent occupation is to occupy an enemy’s sovereign territory. Palestine is atypical in that the occupied territory is not under anyone’s sovereignty. Granting Palestinian sovereignty would just make the occupation more normal, like that of the Golan. Legal, in any case.

          The settlements would not be in violation, either. Even granting that some or even all were established illegally, their continued existence is not illegal.

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          • aristeides

            They obviously breed for sophistry in Israel.

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          • Piotr Berman

            Such scant appreciation!

            I am planning a book on oxymoron and I am putting the finishing chapter on “Mature content” (which involves jokes that may capture the imagination of pre-schoolers).

            “The normal case of belligerent occupation” has a nice ring to it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron Gross

            Piotr, here’s a nice quote for your entry on normal occupations in your upcoming book on oxymorons: “The most persistent myth is that the occurrence of belligerent occupation is an anomaly or even an aberration.” That’s from the very first paragraph of Yoram Dinstein, The International Law of Belligerent Occupation. The point being that occupation is a normal situation in war.

            So, you’re welcome. Best of luck with your book, and I’ll be looking for my name in the Acknowledgements.

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          • David T.

            “Actually, Israel would not be in violation of those borders. The normal case of belligerent occupation is to occupy an enemy’s sovereign territory.

            Palestine is atypical in that the occupied territory is not under anyone’s sovereignty. Granting Palestinian sovereignty would just make the occupation more normal, like that of the Golan. Legal, in any case.

            The settlements would not be in violation, either. Even granting that some or even all were established illegally, their continued existence is not illegal.”

            It’s no surprise that supporters of colonialism are stuck in an interpretation of international (customary) law pre 1919.

            Since the establishment of the mandate system – which prohibited annexation of these territories – the inhabatants/citizens of a country are its rightful souvereign and have the right to self determination. It doesn’t matter if the exercise of their souvereignity is limited or surpressed by mandate or occupation.

            Israel occupied land beyond the borders in which it legally binding declared independence. It has no right to allow the colonialization of this land by its citizens, wether they are Jewish or not. It has not title to any part of this land at all. Even Israel itself was not established in accordance with the right to self determination of all citizens of Palestine.

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          • Aaron Gross

            The so-called right to self-determination was a right to national self-determination. (Hence the debate over whether the Palestinians are a nation.) It applied to the breakup of the Ottoman and Habsburg empires. What you’re talking about – self-determination of residents of a territory, with no regard to nationhood – is much more recent.

            There’s no contradiction between a right to self-determination, in the current sense of the word, and occupation by a foreign power. As I said, the normal, legal situation is occupation of another state’s sovereign territory, where the sovereign rights are even clearer.

            Also, just to correct another of your obvious mistakes: I’m not a defender “colonialism,” of Israeli settlement of Judea and Samaria.

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            “The so-called right to self-determination was a right to national self-determination. (Hence the debate over whether the Palestinians are a nation.) It applied to the breakup of the Ottoman and Habsburg empires. What you’re talking about – self-determination of residents of a territory, with no regard to nationhood – is much more recent.”

            Palestinians (citizens of Palestine) became a nation after Palestines detachment of Turkey and the term was legally defined in 1925. Ottoman Jews and Arabs habitually residing in Palestine became “Palestinians”. The right so self determination in Palestine was a right of its citizens and not of Arabs or Jews living anywhere else. And more than half of the Jews in Palestine hadn’t even acquire citizenship in 1948 and had not right to self determination in Palestine at all.

            “There’s no contradiction between a right to self-determination, in the current sense of the word, and occupation by a foreign power.”

            Occupation is the ultimate contradition to the right of self determination.

            “As I said, the normal, legal situation is occupation of another state’s sovereign territory, where the sovereign rights are even clearer.”

            Palestine was a state even during Britain’s occupation before mandate times (allthough Palestine was recognized as a state ex tunc when receiving the mandate). A state is a state even when its souvereignity is exercised by others because of occupation, mandate or protection. It might not be a “normal” case, but nothing about Israel’s occupation is or its establishment was “normal” anyway. The clear majority of the citizens of Palestine were against partition and because the rights of Jewish Palestinians were not fundamentally violated they couldn’t even make the case for a remedial secession. A Zionist paramilitary Junta just took over the territory and it was clear to the Meirs and Ben Gurions that there was not other way to get a state after Britain’s White Book of 1939.

            “Also, just to correct another of your obvious mistakes: I’m not a defender “colonialism,” of Israeli settlement of Judea and Samaria.”

            Than why do you – like Israel – use ancient Hebrew terms for this region and argue that it is not occupied, its borders not violated and the settlements not illegal? Would it be different if you were talking about “Bohemia and Moravia”?

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >Palestinians (citizens of Palestine) became a nation after Palestine’s detachment of Turkey and the term was legally defined in 1925. Ottoman Jews and Arabs habitually residing in Palestine became “Palestinians”. The right so self determination in Palestine was a right of its citizens and not of Arabs or Jews living anywhere else.

            From Treaty of Lausanne, art. 30:
            “Turkish subjects habitually resident in territory which in accordance with the provisions of the present Treaty is detached from Turkey will become ipsofacto, in the conditions laid down by the local law, nationals of the State to which such territory is transferred.”

            At the time the only local law was the British mandate, meaning that Palestinian Arabs had no legal right to deny Jews equal rights and homeland.

            >And more than half of the Jews in Palestine hadn’t even acquire citizenship in 1948 and had not right to self determination in Palestine at all.

            Acquired citizenship from who? Palestinian Arab congress?

            >Occupation is the ultimate contradition to the right of self determination.

            If the right of self-determination of any given (pseudo-)nation is based on discrimination of minorities, there is nothing wrong with occupation, as it enforces peace and equality.

            >Palestine was a state even during Britain’s occupation before mandate times

            Nonsense.

            >A state is a state even when its souvereignity is exercised by others because of occupation, mandate or protection.

            More nonsense.

            >The clear majority of the citizens of Palestine were against partition

            The clear majority of citizens of Palestine were for oppression of Jewish minority.

            >and because the rights of Jewish Palestinians were not fundamentally violated they couldn’t even make the case for a remedial secession.

            Denial of right to have a homeland is not fundamental violation. Right.
            Denial of right to seat by the Western Wall is not violation either.

            >A Zionist paramilitary Junta just took over the territory and it was clear to the Meirs and Ben Gurions that there was not other way to get a state after Britain’s White Book of 1939.

            After the racist Palestinian Arab congress of 1919 it was clear to Haims, Moishes and Itzhaks that Arabs won’t let Jews to have a homeland.

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            “At the time the only local law was the British mandate, meaning that Palestinian Arabs had no legal right to deny Jews equal rights and homeland.”

            The nationality law of Palestine dealt only with the question of citizenship. And there is not a single document confirming any rights to a homeland. But if equality is so important for you: The majority of the country had the right to rule immigration like in any other country. And Britain had not right to enforce immigrants upon a country it never posessed.

            “Acquired citizenship from who? Palestinian Arab congress?”

            It was the mandatory who stopped immigration. And it should have been majority rule to decide upon it.

            “If the right of self-determination of any given (pseudo-)nation is based on discrimination of minorities, there is nothing wrong with occupation, as it enforces peace and equality.”

            Oh, so the occupation of Israel wouldn’t be wrong? After all it keeps a large amounts of Nonjews expelled and denationalized.

            “Nonsense.”
            “More nonsense.”

            Very sophisticated arguments! But all class A mandates were states. The Permanent International Court of Justice ruled in the Mavrommatis case that Palestine was a successor state. The chairman of the Permanent Mandate Commission of the League of Nation declared that Palestine was a state and Palestinians formed a nation. And there where many states (inluding the USA) who had bi- or multilateral state contracts with Palestine which were concluded by the Mandatory on its behalf.

            “The clear majority of citizens of Palestine were for oppression of Jewish minority.”

            The Arab delegation to the UN in 1947 proposed a secular democratic state with minority rights. The Jewish Agency rejected this proposal, because it wanted its own state. But what to do with the majority of Nonjews who didn’t want to live under Jewish oppression? Until 1966 they even ruled the Nonjewish citizens of their state under military law.

            “Denial of right to have a homeland is not fundamental violation. Right.”

            A right to a “homeland” does not exist in international law. And the homeland was allready established by 1939 – see the White Book of ’39. But wouldn’t you say that the majoritry of citizens of a country have a right to decide their future goverment? Or is it different, when they are not Jewish?

            “Denial of right to seat by the Western Wall is not violation either.”

            It doesn’t justify a remedial secession.

            “After the racist Palestinian Arab congress of 1919 it was clear to Haims, Moishes and Itzhaks that Arabs won’t let Jews to have a homeland.”

            So Jews have a right to takeover any country by force, if the majority of its inhabitants don’t want them to do what is decided by Jewish foreigners on a “racist” congress in Switzerland in 1897? ROFL.

            Reply to Comment
      • ‘Keeping the enemy outside’? Despite the cherished belief that Arrabeh and Tamra and Nazareth are populated by some species of unicorn, quite unrelated to those people living on the other side of the wall, the fact remains that they are very much related and they comprise 20% of Israel’s population. Even if people try to start viewing the wall as a border (and a strange kind of border it is, considering that when drawn on a map it would more closely resemble a mad woman’s knitting than anything else) the mere existence of those people and their community connections gives the lie to any effort to split Palestine.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Why would the presence of an ethnic minority give lie to an effort to partition a territory? The world is full of countries with minorities and if we don’t partition the territory then wouldn’t there be a minority in either case?

          As for ‘keeping the enemy outside’. Were the suicide bombers to come from Tamra then you might have an argument, but they don’t. The suicide bombers come overwhelmingly from the other side of the wall.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Wrong tense, K9.

            You can stand out there all day and night, and odds are you won’t spot a single suicide bomber climbing over the wall.

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          • Kolumn9

            The construction of the security barrier started in 2002 when suicide bombers were coming into Israel on a weekly basis.

            Whether the tense I used was correct or not is entirely dependent on events that neither you nor I can foretell.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Only if you can’t tell the difference between present and future.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Aristeides, you post comments on 972mag. The only way that my tense is wrong is if you stop posting on 972mag permanently.

            Reply to Comment
          • This isn’t quite the point I was making. The language that is commonly used for Palestinian Israelis – ‘demographic threat’ – does suggest that there are enemies within When people talk about borders, security from suicide bombers isn’t the issue: preservation of Israel’s Jewish character is. For proponents of two states, this can be achieved in the same way as solving a Rubik’s cube: a line must be created that leaves most of the Arabs on one side and most of the Jews on the other. But even if this feat of engineering could be managed physically (doubtful, given the number of settlers in the WB and the distribution of Palestinian communities in Israel), human geography wouldn’t easily permit it.

            This is what I was getting at. Palestinians living in Bethlehem share a connection with Palestinians living in Galilee, whether that is through something as basic as blood/familial relationships, a common history and culture, or simply contact with a certain church in a certain village. The same can be said for the relationships between Israeli Jews living within the Green Line and those living in settlements. These relationships would go on existing in spite of partition, with Israel’s Palestinian minority serving as a constant unpleasant and unwanted reminder of Palestine. The disquiet that this causes is already obvious in the contradictory claims that are made about them (“They’re a fifth column” and “They aren’t Palestinians, they’re Israeli Arabs”). Safeguarding the Jewishness of the state doesn’t just mean limiting their number, but minimising their connection with the wider Palestinian community.

            For their part, Palestinian nationalists have to similarly downplay Jewish (and especially Ashkenazi) connections with places and people in the OT. This is the result of an approach that defines the conflict in purely territorial terms and attempts to solve it by cutting up the land like a cake. I don’t see how it can achieve anything except to generate further trouble.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            >The language that is commonly used for Palestinian Israelis…

            What “Palestinian Israelis”, exactly?

            Druze? Bedouin? Samaritans? Armenians? Jews?

            You are operating with some extremely generalized category which does not actually exist.

            Yeah, by the way, the inability of Palestinian Arabs to reach any kind of national unity is due to the fact that there are numerous tribes, clans and ethnicities, but no “Palestinian People” or anything similar.

            Reply to Comment
          • This is pretty much exactly what I was referring to when I wrote about attempts to expunge or at least minimise relationships between Palestinian communities on both sides of the Green Line. Replacing the name ‘Palestinian’ with the more blandly palatable ‘Israeli Arab’ makes Palestinian presence within the Green Line easier to swallow, as it’s less threatening to the idea of a Jewish state.

            Secondly, a community can be like a patchwork, containing multiple subgroups (e.g. Druze and various Bedouin tribes). Those patches may also overlap significantly, with people being comfortable describing themselves as both Druze and Palestinian and Bedouin and Palestinian – or, God forbid, maybe even Bedouin and Palestinian and Israeli. These aren’t mutually exclusive. (You can see this from looking at your own society – there are enough Jewish subcommunities in Israel.)

            Go and ask around Nazareth and you will find plenty of people who call themselves Palestinian Israeli or Palestinians of Israeli citizenship. You insisting that this category doesn’t exist won’t change the fact that they feel it’s a good descriptive fit for their experience. All this identity politicking is just a way of trying to demarcate and then police borders of the twin nationalisms. People and their lives are far too messy for this approach. It doesn’t work and eats up time and energy that could probably be better spent elsewhere.

            Reply to Comment
          • The Trespasser

            So what does “Palestinian” means?

            Tribe? No.
            Ethnicity? No.
            Nationality? No.

            Until 1948 everyone who resided in Palestine was called a Palestinian.

            Now Jews are excluded from the list. On what basis?

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            “So what does “Palestinian” means?

            Tribe? No.
            Ethnicity? No.
            Nationality? No.”

            Nationality. Until 1948 according to the nationality law all citizens including all Jews, who became citizens during the mandate (half of them in 1948 hadn’t). After 1948 according to PLO definition not including Jews who became citizens during the mandate. It’s still a national term – unlike “Jewish” which was never a nation in the sence of citizenship. So what does “Jew” mean, if you even can convert to become one?

            “Now Jews are excluded from the list. On what basis?”

            Not Jews as such, see PLO definitition. And on the base that most of them are Israeli citizens.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            When people talk about the wall, security from suicide bombers was the primary driver.

            In the case of partition there would be an Israeli Arab community in Israel and possibly a Palestinian Jewish community in Palestine. Human geography is not set in stone. All the borders in this region have had the effect of creating borders to human geography and over time these become real and the human geography changes. Culture changes, identities change, etc.. In 1965 you are unlikely to find a Palestinian who didn’t say that his primary identification is as an Arab. Now the primary identification is as a Palestinian and in the future it might be as a Muslim or a Christian. These identities and the human geography they spawn are somewhat arbitrary and fleeting. The same is true for family ties and points of cultural significance. None of this forms any particular barrier to partition.

            There are already cultural barriers between the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank and between Israel and these territories. There isn’t anything particularly unusual here since there are fundamental differences in the lifestyles and cultural influences of these groups. In the case of partition and a permanent peace agreement these differences will likely only grow. Absent the fear of a persistent demand from Palestinian nationalists to overturn the state of Israel (which should lessen with partition and a peace agreement) there would be no particular barrier for a more full integration of Israeli Arabs in Israel. Will that come at the expense of their Palestinian identity? Almost certainly. Is this particularly a bad thing? Nope.

            Reply to Comment
          • I was talking about the wall as a potential border, as the article does.

            I agree that human geography isn’t set in stone. (Another reason why I’m sceptical of the 2SS, as it presents ‘Jew’ and ‘Palestinian’ as two rigidly immutable categories.) But there is a significant difference between organic change that occurs gradually over time (e.g. through increased exposure to other cultures, loan words in language, etc.) and deliberately trying to engineer a sharp change in how a community lives and the way it sees itself. A Gaza friend has often said to me that she worries the day will come when Gaza ‘won’t even look Palestinian any more’. This doesn’t make her keen to embrace a new Gazan identity. It makes her frustrated, angry, and profoundly conscious of loss. This is what happens when you attempt to forcibly reorganise the pieces of a fractured community into a different puzzle. It doesn’t create peace. That was the theory behind the treatment of Palestinian refugees – they’ll be absorbed into the tissue of neighbouring countries, they’ll forget, their kids won’t grow up Palestinian, and there will be peace. It beggars belief that this argument could be made with a straight face by individuals who come from a community that has retained a particular sense of peoplehood in spite of undergoing numerous forced displacements and assimilating into multiple different societies over the course of millennia. So while partition might bring about the change you describe, I wouldn’t bank on it.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron Gross

            Vicky, I support cutting up the land like a cake, so here’s what I think it can achieve: peace. The idea is that while Israel would still be polyethnic, the Jews would still be the clear Staatvolk, by numbers if nothing else, so Jewish-Arab relations would not degrade into civil war.

            A similar situation would exist in Palestine, if Jewish settlers were allowed to stay. The Jews would be powerless, so again, no civil war. Ideally, the Jews would move into the State of Israel when a Palestinian entity is established, which would make that entity entirely Arab.

            Obviously, neither Arabs in Israel nor Jews in Palestine would feel entirely part of their state or whatever. Contrary to many here, I don’t see that as a horrible thing at all.

            Reply to Comment
          • Aaron, this vision of peace rests on the idea that the minority community would pose a threat to that peace – and must therefore be kept at a manageable number. In short, the same suspicion and mistrust that have contributed to the conflict are now to be embedded in the solution. This isn’t peace in any meaningful sense of the word.

            This isn’t to say that a two-state solution couldn’t achieve a just peace (supposing two states were possible on a practical level). But the axiom on which that argument rests does need to change significantly. When Peace Now released its infamous cartoon in support of Palestinian statehood, the Muslim call to prayer was played in the background by way of sinister mood music as the narrator darkly intoned the demographic risk incurred by the occupation. How do I explain this to the kids who come to our centre, kids who have already been treated as though they’re dangerous? ‘This is how they still see you, this is what they think of you even now, but try not to mind, at least they’ll give you Nablus and we can go and get some decent knafeh’? It is not possible to have peace while people are still looking at each other like that – and what’s more, not seeing anything wrong with it.

            My final problem with the usual arguments for the 2SS is the way they reduce the conflict to a simple territorial question that can be answered by straightforward territorial division. It’s an escapist approach. There is a lot more to the conflict than this and the resolution needs to take that into account.

            Reply to Comment
          • Leen

            Aaron, you are describing a negative-peace, a peace that is not long-term. It is similar to the Balkan states. They ‘might’ have peace… for now with their own respective states, but no one would bat an eyelid if it errupted in a bloody war again.

            Reply to Comment
    2. aristeides

      So all these right-wingers are out to destroy Israel, by advocating annexation to create a single state.

      Good to know.

      Reply to Comment
      • Roberto K

        Next step would be to fight for voting rights, right to elect and be elected to the Knesset for all inhabitants of West Bank and Gaza. That would be good.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Aaron Gross

      There are a few mavericks on the right who’ve been talking for years about a single democratic state west of the Jordan. Only a fool would confuse them with “the right.” All the more foolish to see in them some future direction in Israeli opinion. Mainstream Israel still firmly believes in “us here, them there,” as it has for the last twenty years.

      The separation barrier – “wall” is not an accurate term for the whole thing, sorry – was always resisted by the settlers and their friends on the right. Sharon finally gave in only reluctantly. As I remember, it was Haim Ramon on the center-left, more than Barak or Olmert, who was really pushing for the separation barrier.

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    4. The Zionist Left is Zionist; they want a Jewish State. They know that is ultimately impossible in one binational State, so want to keep the wall precisely because the hard nationalist/religious right wants to subjugate and/or dwindle the resident Bank population, returning the land once associated with the Jewish monarchy. Monarchy–there can be no democracy in the hard right dream, and the Zionist Left neither wants that nor the subjugation. The only operational problem is the PA is needed for security, and the PA will ultimately diwndile itself in the forward motion towards One State.

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    5. berl

      This article is misleading: a journalistic simplification. No one among leftwing voters – whatever leftwing means to you – wants to keep the wall. They simply support Palestinian self-determination; they want a Palestinian state that will cooperate with their neighbours.

      Moreover, Judea is the name for the Kingdom of Judea and for the Roman Province of Judea, and those extended way beyond the West Bank, and included Jerusalem and went as far west as to the Mediterranean Sea. In Biblical times, Samaria “reached from the [Mediterranean] sea to the Jordan Valley”
      Don’t you think that the name Judea should connote a swath of land that extends far beyond just the West Bank, to include the Hasmonean Kingdom of Judea and the Roman Province of Judea?
      What is the ideological basis for separating the “Judea” of the West Bank from what Judea actually means- the ancient province extending to the sea?

      Finally, Jews, according to they mythology, descend from Judah, and not Ephraim, Manasseh etc. who were ancestors of Samaritans. Most Samaritans converted to other religions after VI-th century, and the largest number of both Samaritans and their descendants is in area of Nablus.

      Samaritans were not affected by the expulsion of Jewish rebels by Romans and their population was large enough that they rebelled when Byzantines tries to forcibly convert them to Christianity in VI-th century.

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    6. Joe

      “Terrorism [snip] was made possible and is still made possible today through the presence and activity of the IDF in the Arab cities of Judea and Samaria”

      The hard truth is that if Palestinians were determined to sacrifice themelves wholesale then the wall would not stop them. The suicide missions have stopped because armed Palestinian groups have decided that they serve little positive purpose.

      But hey, believe anything you would rather.

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      • Kolumn9

        The hard truth is that Palestinian terrorist groups were rooted out wholesale from the West Bank while the Palestinian Authority realized that the pain that was being caused by continued suicide bombings to its own population was unproductive and started cooperating with Israel.

        Hamas and Islamic Jihad didn’t stop the suicide bombings until they were stopped by a combination of IDF/Shabak military action and PA cooperation. Basically the wall and checkpoints drained the swamp and the attacks on terrorist leaders decreased the effectiveness of the terrorist groups. At that point the PA and Shabak can concentrate on those that remain and round them up or kill them.

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        • Joe

          No evidence of that at all Kolumn9. You are deceiving yourself.

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          • The Trespasser

            >The suicide missions have stopped because armed Palestinian groups have decided that they serve little positive purpose.

            Rubbish.

            Suicide missions had stopped *solely* because bombers could not get to their targets due to checkpoints, walls and intelligence.

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          • Kolumn9

            The objective fact is that the suicide bombings stopped. The objective fact is that in places where the fence was built attacks stopped and was redirected towards places where the wall had yet to be constructed. The objective fact is that the PA didn’t resume security cooperation with Israel until 2005 while Fatah’s own people carried out suicide bombings after 2005. At the same time and without PA security cooperation Israeli security measured drastically cut the number of suicide bombings. It wasn’t that the number of attempts to carry out the bombings went down over this time, but the number of successful attacks that dropped vastly. That demonstrates that, no, the Palestinian groups did not stop trying to attack, and that, yes, Israel was able to interdict or prevent more and more attacks over the time period. So, neither the argument that the militant groups stopped the attacks out of their free will nor the argument that it was cooperation with the PA that caused them to stop makes any sense whatsoever.

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        • I have little doubt K9 is right. Stopping bombers is a distinct question than the genesis of bombers. I think, however, saying the PA “realized” is had to cooperate is a bit unclear. Network competition within the PA lead to dominance by the cooperation faction, but a single PA mind did not change.

          However, the Wall is not complete, with I think 1000′s of workers moving across the line daily. There has been no new genesis of active bombers, and I do not think that solely for the reasons K9 states.

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    7. carl

      occupation is a form of violence and terrorism, Kolumn.

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    8. un2here

      I actually never thought of Labor as being “Leftist”

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    9. Emily

      I think it’s worth pointing out here that it’s not only those on the right that prefer a one-state solution – it’s not a clear divide between one-state/two-state and right/left, I think that’s an unhelpful distinction that’s made in this article.
      The difference is, one state proponents on the left would suggest one state involving equal civil rights to all citizens, the right of return for refugees, and a shared Jerusalem – a Democratic Republic of Israel and Palestine, if you will. Whereas the one state solution from a rightist perspective is simply annexing Palestinian land and making it all Israel – they’re very different things.
      To sum up, I don’t think the Left is uniformly “partitionist” (in fact, it’s unhelpful to label them so), in the same way that not all on the right are calling for a binational solution.

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