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A most moral occupation: Keeping the prisoners in line

Does Israel have the right to turn millions of the people under its control into prisoners simply because it is afraid of what might happen once they are released?

An olive tree in front of the Israeli separation barrier in Bethlehem. (Activestills.org)

An olive tree in front of the Israeli separation barrier in Bethlehem. (Activestills.org)

The UNHRC report on Gaza and testimonies published by local watchdog group “Breaking the Silence” have sparked yet another round of debate over the IDF’s moral standards, or lack thereof. These debates have become yet another way for Israeli society — and at times, the international community — to talk about the occupation without actually discussing it. My heart goes out to the people at Breaking the Silence, since I have a feeling that this time around they are in the midst of a war they cannot win.

The objective of the Israeli occupation is control. In fact, that has long been Israel’s goal vis-a-vis the entire Palestinian people, even before 1967. Unlike many Palestinians, I do not think that the Zionist movement made a decision to ethnically cleanse the land of its residents; 1948 was the exception — not the rule. In the years following the war, and to this day, Palestinians have been removed from their homes and land, but in most cases they are not expelled from the country. In fact, the Israeli strategy stems from a recognition — on the part of the ruling elites, including both Labor and Likud — that the Palestinian population will ultimately remain here alongside the Jewish population.

There is zero chance that Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will ever agree to their current situation of their own volition. And unlike most other occupying powers eventually do, Israel is not interested in granting them citizenship. Therefore, Israel’s only course of action is to control the Palestinians by force. This has been the objective of Israeli policy for decades, again, with the support of Labor and Likud alike.

This objective is the only way to explain the many actions Israel takes, which are sometimes improvised, other times planned ahead of time, and often seem to contradict each other. In practice, they are all put in place to maintain a system of control. This is the line of thinking that connects the anti-democratic legislation in the Knesset, the military operations in Gaza and the prime minister’s declared war on the BDS movement.

Testimonies: ‘This is how we fought in Gaza’

In order to maintain this policy, Israel has turned the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into a giant prison (Egypt helps by sealing in Gaza from the south). Like in all prisons, the guards strip the prisoners of almost all their rights, aside from those that they are willing to grant, usually in return for good behavior. Such privileges can include work permits, travel permits, or visitation rights. A Palestinian needs permission from the army to leave and return to the country. A foreign national who lands in Israel risks deportation should they openly state their intention to travel to the West Bank (save for a few exceptions).

Take note of how Israelis see nearly every “right” granted to Palestinians in the occupied territories as a “concession” or a “privilege”— the privilege to leave the country (which was recently given and then subsequently denied to 500 people due to a single crime that none of them had any connection to); the “privilege” to build homes; the “privilege” to host friends; the “privilege” of being given work permits. None of these rights are granted simply because Palestinians are human. They are carrots and sticks used to leverage an entire population, whose only goal is to maintain quiet (“peace”). This is how prison works. That is how guards speak.

The new camera-equipped weapon installed on the separation wall in Bethlehem. (photo: Activestills.org)

The new camera-equipped weapon installed on the separation wall in Bethlehem. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israel is a democracy that maintains a sub-regime that is a dictatorship. The prisoner cannot resist his or her imprisonment, which is how Israel sees every political (or military) action by the Palestinians. The Palestinians cannot, obviously, attack their guards. They cannot throw stones, they cannot call for boycotts, they cannot turn to the UN, they cannot go on hunger strike, they cannot attempt to sail to Gaza, etc. In the spirit of the times, every single one of these actions is labeled “terrorism”—meaning that they are beyond the pale of legitimate political conduct, and therefore must be fought using any and all means.

Israeli society has become accustomed to this guard-prisoner relationship over the last few decades. The IDF went from being a traditional military, whose expertise is in large-scale, offensive maneuvering, to an army that leads the world in maintaining order (over prisoners, that is). Actually, many places in the West Bank and on the border with Gaza already look very much like a prison. Israel’s technological developments — tracking systems, remote crowd dispersal methods, UAVs, remote assassination methods that cause as little collateral damage as possible — are intended to maintain that prison at both minimal cost and minimal victims. Groups of Israeli generals travel the world in order to market the experience we have gained in holding a civilian population under our control. This kind of expertise will always be in demand.

Read: How an army of defense became an army of vengeance

Alongside the generals is an entire system that creates an ideology of occupation — a public sense of justice. We can read about it in the weekend edition of every major newspaper. The differences are insignificant between Yedioth columnist Ben-Dror Yemini with his BDS obsession, the military correspondents who talk about “security challenges in the territories,” Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit’s talk of delegitimization and proper right-wing ideologists. Their goal is to justify the various aspects of controlling the Palestinians, without actually talking about the elephant in the room: the degree to which that control is legitimate in the first place.

Israel has no intention of granting citizenship to Palestinians under its control. In contrast to what Israelis tell themselves, we have no intention of separating from even some of the Palestinians either (full separation is impossible since the two populations are far too mixed at this point). If Israel intended to, we would have already left the West Bank and stopped controlling everything that happens there. But we won’t do it, since such a move carries an internal political price, not to mention serious dangers. The Right’s nightmare scenario  —rockets on Tel Aviv, for instance — is a real possibility.

It is also obvious that no agreement will fully ensure Israel’s security; even if Mahmoud Abbas becomes a card-carrying Likud member tomorrow, there is no telling who will be in charge of a Palestinian state five years from now. Therefore, any withdrawal, regardless of a peace agreement, is a real risk. This was true 10 years ago, it is true now, and it will be true in the future.

Yet this is precisely the issue of putting an end to foreign rule — once you no longer control the other side, you have no idea what it will do, and you need to come up with other ways to maintain relatively peaceful relations with it. The risks is such a case are unavoidable and Israelis are simply not willing to take them. This is why they choose leaders who promise not to reach peace agreements, and why there is a better chance for a temporary agreement with Hamas in Gaza than a permanent accord with Abbas, which could translate to an irreversible loss of control with the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Funeral in Bani Suhaila for the 21 members of the Al-Najjar family, who were killed just before the ceasefire, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014.  The Al-Najjar family flew their homes in Khuza'a to take refuge fi-urther west.  Israeli attacks have killed 550 Palestinians in the current offensive, most of them civilians. Khuza'a has been under heavy attacks and many fled their village as the Israeli army physically occupies the village. Israeli attacks have killed more than 1,000 Palestinians and injured around 5,000 in the current offensive.

Funeral in Bani Suhaila for the 21 members of the Al-Najjar family, who were killed just before the ceasefire, east of Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, July 21, 2014. The Al-Najjar family fled their homes in Khuza’a to take refuge further west. (photo: Activestills.org)

Israel receives special attention from time to time because the occupation is exceptional among the nations of the world. What other legitimate member of the international community seeks to continue imprisoning (at least) a third of its population? This is the real issue that lies at the root of all military operations and their many victims. The occupation systematically denies Palestinians their human rights, and it continues unabated, regardless of the circumstances of every flare up or round of violence.

At the end of the day, the debate over the IDF’s morality — which makes headlines every time an NGO publishes a report or the murder of an innocent person is exposed — is a distraction. It is convenient for Israel and its citizens to cope with that question, since if we prove that the army makes every effort to continue controlling Palestinians with the minimum amount of innocent victims, we will feel better about ourselves and our international image won’t be tarnished. And when we cannot prove as much, we can always replace the question of morality with one of discipline: the soldier who didn’t follow orders, the commander who gave problematic orders. And hey, what is happening in Syria is way worse.

But even if another army killed 4,000 people — or 40,000 — in Gaza, would that make Israel’s policies legitimate? Does this country have a right to turn millions of the people under its control — a civilian population — into prisoners, because it is afraid of what will happen once they are released? Can we expect anything from this policy but repeated cycles of “security challenges” and “military responses?” I do not believe so, but I appreciate the honesty of the few who are willing to say “yes.” Most Israelis simply ignore the question.

This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

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    1. Pedro X

      If Palestinians are prisoners, it is a result of their own choices and actions. During Israeli rule there was freedom of movement in Gaza, Israel, Judea and Samaria and the West Bank. Since Palestinians obtained autonomy in 1993 under the Oslo Accords, Palestinians have lost that mobility and have chosen to not build the mechanisms and institutions of a democratic state but to engage in terrorist infrastructure and massive terrorism, corruption and cronyism. Palestinians deny themselves the freedoms which were granted to them under Israeli rule. They deny themselves freedom of speech, political affiliation, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of religion including the right to criticize Islam, freedom from torture and arbitrary arrest and detention and many other freedoms. Given the ability to do so, they would deny Israelis the right to their own state and the right to life.

      Palestinians have rejected a sovereign Palestinian time and time again. They chose not to accept a separate Palestinian state if it meant living in peace next to an Jewish state on any portion of land in the middle east. In 1937, 1947, 1977, 2000, 2001 and 2008 Palestinians were offered self rule. In 1993 Israel permitted the PLO to set up shop in Gaza and Judea and Samaria. The result was not the building of institutions and infrastructure of a modern state but a network of terror cells and massive corruption which continue to this day. In 2005 Israel pulled out of Gaza completely and left Palestinians to rule themselves. The Gazans instead of building a Singapore of the middle east, built a terror state which attacked Israel with thousands of missiles while neglecting the needs of its civilians. In every case Palestinians have responded with violence to Israeli efforts to create a Palestinian state separate from Israel.

      Poll after Poll by Palestinians of themselves show that a core of the Palestinian population in the 28% range want Israel destroyed and many those want a genocide of the Jews in Israel. Worse yet in any period of conflict the Palestinian public overwhelming supports acts of terror and violence against Israel. In the aftermath of the 2014 Gaza war 80% of Palestinians supported Hamas actions and tactics and the majority of Palestinians wanted to see Hamas weapons and tactics transferred to the West Bank. During the second intifada more than 90% of the Palestinian population supported the Palestinian intifada. A majority of Palestinians even supported the kidnapping and murder of 3 Israeli teenagers last June.

      It is clear that if a Palestinian state was established in the West Bank and Israel completely withdrew its military, the West Bank would become the terror hub to attack Israel just like Gaza became the hub to attack Sderot and other border communities. This is not a possibility, not a probability, it is a certainty.

      Today it was announced that the top Hamas commander in Judea and Samaria had been arrested and he is charged with having recruited cells, procured guns and terrorists in multiple locations for the carrying out of a wave of multiple deadly attacks against targets in Judea and Samaria. 4 Israelis were shot yesterday in Judea and Samaria. One has life threatening injuries. A terrorist attack took place in Hevron today. In the past two days two gun toting terrorists, including a 15 year old youth with a machine gun, were intercepted on the way to commit terrorist attacks in Israel of a nature which happened in Tunisia. A couple of days ago an Israeli ambulance in Judea and Samaria was sprayed with 15 bullets. Last week a 25 year resident of Lod was shot dead near a spring in Judea and Samaria and a soldier was seriously wounded at the Damascus gate by a knife wielding terrorist.

      These terror attacks, and the will to carry them out, are not aberrations of normal conduct in Palestinian society, but are considered laudatory and to be emulated. Terrorists are glorified as heroes. They or their families are granted life time salaries, the more deadly the terrorism the greater reward. Palestinian society indoctrinates its society from cradle to coffin in Jew hatred and incitement to violence. Take away the IDF which prevents Palestinian society from realizing on its hopes and plans to kill Jews and you will give them the opportunity which was given to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza. Palestinians if given a chance would accumulate and use the same weapons as Hamas and Hezbollah now possesses.

      If the IDF was removed from Judea and Samaria attacks would multiple and would force another IDF operation as Ariel Sharon had to lead during the second intifada except that Israel would no longer control the roads and corridors into the West Bank which would insure a much bloodier and deadlier conflict than has been seen to this date. This would be an existential conflict which would see great destruction of Palestinian towns and society. The Palestinians would have a new Naqba too talk about having run away.

      Michael Oren in his new book “Ally” talks about the lack of reality which predominates discussions about creating a Palestinian state at the current time. There is no doubt that a Palestinian state based upon an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would result in a terrorist entity on the borders of Israel followed by massive warfare.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ben

      Noam is right on target as usual and he is of course right to point out the very real dangers and risks for Israel if and when it gives up total control of the Palestinians but at the same time this can cross over into a feigned helplessness–both in terms of cooperation with the new state on many fronts to feed the moderates and starve the extremists and strengthen the civil and security institutions of the state that wants peace, etc., etc., etc., and in terms of dealing with any breakthrough terror elements. It is not a forgone conclusion that “a Palestinian state based upon an Israeli withdrawal” from the occupied territories would “result in a terrorist entity on the borders of Israel followed by massive warfare” (and having a coveter of those same territories pronounce upon that is like having the fox inside the henhouse decide the future of the hens–in the modern west we usually bring in disinterested consultants to advise us on difficult questions, not consultants who stand to gain from the decision made).

      Israel has handled many very complex operations when it wants to. It could apply that ability to this situation if it wanted to. Nor would it be helpless if five years from now rockets were fired on Tel Aviv. It was and is not helpless against a far more formidable enemy with rockets pointed at from its northern border: Hezbollah. I know it is not the same situation: the West Bank is much closer–but it would not be the same situation inside the West Bank either for a terrorist entity. So the equivalence fails both ways. If and when Israel made a fair and genuine peace with the Palestinians it would have the massive, overwhelming support of the entire western world in retaliating ferociously should any bad actors act terroristically from the Palestinian state. But what all this doomsday scenario nurturing also fails to factor in is that, look, already, with Israel humiliating and starving Abbas daily it still gets his excellent security cooperation. Now, you give the Palestinians a state that has dignity and respect and represents a fair final status agreement, give them something to lose in other words, and then you recruit all the energies and resourcefulness of that population that now go (with minimal available means) to resistance against Israel–you take those same energies and resourcefulness backed by abundant means and recruit them to defending a state they have a stake in, and you’ve reversed the tide. This worrying about “what if” strikes me as understandable and needful and sensible on the one hand but also fueled by a cynicism and a failure of imagination by people in startup nation unmotivated to imagine solutions–solutions to a problem they created. Because they are either too comfortable with the status quo–they being those masses that “simply ignore the question”–or hate the very idea of relinquishing “Judea and Samaria” at the same time as they see it as just a given that Abu Mazen relinquish Safed. Only “we” feel pain. If you don’t want to do something you can find all sorts of reasons not to do it. And ignore the reasons to do it. Noam is on target. And if you don’t agree, and we are sure you won’t, well then welcome to the reality Greg Pollock refers to above: confederation or One State.

      The Israeli right put 48 years of massive effort and ingenuity into making sure, deliberately, that withdrawal would be as difficult as possible no matter what. Let’s see them put even one year of ingenuity into making withdrawal work. Instead of crying how difficult it is. They made the bed they lie in and cry about. If the Israelis put even one tenth of the energy and resources and ingenuity they put into occupation and settlement instead into withdrawal and peacemaking and state building, they’d solve this problem. But they have to want to solve it. And all “BDS” is really saying is look, are you going to solve it? Or shall we solve it for you? It’s your choice. If you really want to instantly take the wind out of the sails of the negative and less well meaning elements of BDS, then solve it.

      Reply to Comment
      • Milkshake

        1) It is pretty much a foregone conclusion that any entity that rises in the West Bank will be hostile. Noam basically accepts this as a given as well.

        2) The “overwhelming support of the entire world” if we were shot from there was the argument Sharon gave for withdrawing from Gaza. It was also the argument for withdrawing from the cities of the West Bank. It was also the argument for the withdrawal from Lebanon. When attacks started from those places the support was superficial, temporary and half-hearted. This argument is debunked garbage.

        3) Abbas continues cooperation with Israel because (1) it is the only thing keeping him in power (2) it is the only thing keeping the Palestinians out of the chaos that ruled after they stopped that cooperation in the early 2000s (3) he believes that violence against Israel is counterproductive in persuading the West to put pressure on Israel. As Noam points out whether Abbas or another more-or-less pragmatic government will be in power in 3 years is very much an open question. Likewise it is more likely that after achieving a Palestinian state Palestinian domestic politics will shift towards preparing for the next war against Israel than it is to shift towards cooperation. This is true for the same reason why the Israeli right continues to be in power in Israel.. And Israel has very little control over how this plays out.

        4) Very optimistic of you to believe that the Palestinian state will succeed and that people will look past the fact that their ideology and narrative insists that Israel must be destroyed. More likely though is that the Palestinian state will fail because its financial support will dry up and its infrastructure will collapse of corruption and ineptitude while it is flooded with several million Arabs recently thrown out of the Arab countries which have no particular stake in a Palestinian state.

        5) We are indeed very comfortable with the status quo. Alternative proposals must at the very least offer some superiority over the status quo for it to be rational to consider them. When you and others bring forward clearly inferior options built on wishful thinking and riddled with uncertainties, and when you do so with an air of enlightened superiority, the only rational reaction is to go tell you to go play with yourself.

        6) Greg Pollack can continue to propose his silly alternatives but the truth is that they neither reality nor are they particularly realistic. They are wonderful representations of the false choice fallacy. Blah blah blah or these are the only two possible choices. Except there are plenty of other options not listed including the obvious one of the continuation of the 48 year old eminently sustainable “unsustainable status quo which can not go on” but clearly will last for quite a while.

        7) Again, why would anyone invest time in what is clearly a terrible choice – withdrawal and allowing the creation of a terrorist state next door? There will be no withdrawal unless our security is assured. The problem is that the Palestinians want to kill us. The solution is the military control of the West Bank, which though rather expensive works reasonably well. The proposed step of withdrawing doesn’t solve anything because the primary problem is that the Palestinians want to kill us, so it isn’t actually a solution. We really can’t solve this underlying problem. Only the Palestinians can solve it with the support of their friends, but instead their friends are busy feeding the Palestinian narrative which supports the legitimacy of killing Jews and wanting to destroy Israel. To do so and still continue to insist that they are looking for a solution is an incredible feat of hypocrisy.

        8) BDS is really saying that its supporters will only be satisfied once Israel is eliminated. Others are riding along with BDS claiming they will jump off before the train hits that station, but who is who is made purposefully blurry for their naive supporters. Fortunately BDS has no real capacity to “solve” anything one way or another so it can be safely ignored when considering options and solutions.

        Reply to Comment
        • Ben

          The flaw running through this argument is the fact that Sharon simply withdrew settlers and troops from the interior of Gaza while maintaining otherwise a stranglehold on Gaza that continues to this day and is the reason for the flotillas. And he did so openly stating that his reason for the withdrawal was to enable Israel to maintain the occupation of the West Bank. This is not in the slightest analogous to a situation where a final status and end to conflict agreement is signed and some measure of justice and dignity is achieved and good faith efforts are made to have serious ongoing economic and security cooperation between the two states living side by side. All the ingenuity and effort and problem solving I spoke of.

          Reply to Comment
          • Milkshake

            1) The stranglehold over Gaza is the result of the Hamas takeover of Gaza. When Sharon withdrew from Gaza, Abbas was in charge and every single argument you listed for why there would/could be friendly relations with a Palestinian state were rolled out to create support for the withdrawal from Gaza. A year later Abbas’ soldiers were getting kneecapped and thrown off tall buildings while an Islamist militia dedicated to Israel’s destruction took over power there and started building up an arsenal of missiles which has gradually extended its range over time. The flotillas are PR garbage organized by Hamas’s friends in Europe, not all of whom understand the game that is being played.

            2) Sharon did not state that his intention for withdrawing from Gaza was to maintain the occupation of the West Bank. In fact he also withdrew several settlements in the West Bank and had plans for withdrawing many others.

            3) The situation is analogous to one where the best intentions and capabilities of the Arabs is assumed. So was the withdrawal from the Palestinian cities during the Oslo accords when we were told that we are on our way to peaceful coexistence and besides it is inconceivable that the Arabs would use them as launchpads to attack our cities with bombers. So was the withdrawal from South Lebanon where the prevailing argument was that once the IDF withdrew from Lebanon Hezbollah would effectively cease to be a threat because they are a patriotic Lebanese organization that exists only to expel Israeli forces from Lebanon. The argument continued on to claim that Hezbollah would put down their weapons and become a political party. More garbage from the same factory whose products you are attempting to peddle when selling me this silly mirage of a peaceful Palestinian state living next door.

            4) No ingenuity and no problem solving can work while the other side continues to preach that the one and only truth is that Israel is illegitimate and must be eliminated. This is the underlying cause of the violence against Israelis and the underlying reason why Israel must continue to have military control over the West Bank. Because no, the alternative is not a peaceful Arab state next door. The alternative is a chaotic barely functional collapsing state next door thoroughly infiltrated with Hamas, ISIS, and other operatives and where prevailing political opinion continues to insist that attacks on Israel and Israelis are legitimate.

            5)The Palestinian State will be a failure. It will start at a distinct disadvantage since it would be illegitimate in the eyes of much of its own population were it to make peace with Israel and will be susceptible to sabotage and intrigue from the various other players in the region. The existing institutions of the Palestinian Authority mirror the institutions of the various other Arab states that are at present collapsing under their own weight. It is questionable they would even prove capable of enduring after an Israeli withdrawal, as Gaza demonstrated. Even the whole idea of “statehood” has questionable legitimacy in the region since the rise of transnational organizations like ISIS, MB, and AQ. The Palestinian state would face more challenges than all of these other, already failed, Arab states. It would have to try to meet them while its funding dries up as European and American subsidies disappear and as it is flooded by millions of Palestinians that are kicked out of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan. The failure of the Palestinian State will explode in our (that is, no your) faces because organizing people against us is the most reasonable and logical means of organizing support among a population that dislikes the status quo and continues to believe in the illegitimacy of the existence of Israel. I am pretty certain that you would not put your own money on the odds of the Palestinian State succeeding and living in peace with Israel. Yet you suggest that we put our lives on this bet.

            6) The truth is that those Palestinians, like Fayyad, that actually do want to create a Palestinian state as a goal in itself are a tiny minority. Everyone else rides on the symbolism and belief that “some measure of justice and dignity” is only achievable once Israel is eliminated. This is the reason why Abbas is unwilling to commit to ending the conflict and the reason why he refuses to accept the principle of two states for two peoples. Because were he to do these things it would permanently put an end to the dream of most of his people to see Israel eliminated and it would be his political end. As long as the Palestinians continue to embrace and worship their belief that Israel must be eliminated there will not be peace and there will not be a withdrawal. As long as this remains the case any such withdrawal would be a truly stupid move on our part.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            Hmmm. It seems that yesterday’s post did not go through due to my including two links in it. I shall have to divide it into two. No matter.

            You leave out critical information in your account. The critical gaps are (1) about Hamas itself, and (2) about what happened before what you call “the Hamas takeover of Gaza” and in particular what happened in the year between the Israel withdrawal from Gaza and what you describe as “a year later Abbas’ soldiers were getting kneecapped and thrown off tall buildings.”

            Readers should compare your view with that of Jewish Voice For Peace.

            https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/content/hamas-wins-palestinian-elections-questions-you-need-answered

            This document should be read carefully, to dispel preconceived notions about Hamas, because it was written before what amounted to the U.S.-backed and engineered, Fatah-led, attempted coup against the democratically elected Palestinian government. Hamas was elected with 74 of the 132 parliamentary seats compared to Fatah’s 45 seats. That election was transparent and fair

            Reply to Comment
          • Milkshake

            1) Hamas itself is an Islamist fundamentalist organization dedicated to Israel’s destruction, though occasionally demonstrating its pragmatism in understanding that such destruction is not imminently achievable.

            2) Hamas won an election among the Palestinians. Hamas, which was up until the election sending suicide bombers to murder Israeli women and children on buses and in restaurants won an election among the Palestinians. As an aside, it is interesting to note that the majority of Palestinians still believe that it is legitimate to murder Israeli civilians. In any case, this hardly bodes well for the future of the ‘moderates’ in a Palestinian state, nor for the prospects of such a state being a peaceful neighbor to Israel. Whether Hamas comes to power by kneecapping Abbas’s foot soldiers or via elections doesn’t really matter from an Israeli point of view. What matters is that the Palestinians are entirely open to being ruled by an Islamic fundamentalist organization that rejects peace with Israel and carries out massacres of Israeli civilians.

            3) That Hamas can come to power despite a “U.S.-backed and engineered, Fatah-led, attempted coup” should seriously make one question the value of American security assurances and of the capacity of Fatah to maintain power in a Palestinian State. You also forgot to mention that it was the clueless Americans that forced the election to happen in the first place because the geniuses in the State Department refused to accept the possibility that Hamas might actually win. Because, you know, the Palestinians just want like peace and prosperity so why would they vote for Hamas? Right?

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            The JVP document bears closer reading than you appear to have given it. It is an effective antidote to a one-sided hasbara. And Hamas “came to power” as a democratically elected power-sharing majority in a parliamentary election and BEFORE not despite a U.S.-backed and engineered, Fatah-led, attempted coup. The rest of your argument might be said to fall into the category of ‘finding “reasons” not to do something we have no intention whatsoever of doing in the first place.’ And the same argument has not gone away: Would you like to solve this problem? Or shall someone else do it for you? Noam’s question at the end presupposes persons who say ‘yes, we CAN expect something other than repeated cycles of “security challenges” and “military responses.”‘

            Reply to Comment
          • Yogurt

            This comment system is terrible.

            How Hamas came to power is historically interesting but not particularly relevant. The point is that the day after an agreement Hamas could easily come to power in a Palestinian state, repudiate the agreement and all its clauses that have to do with cooperating on security with Israel. As such any agreement that bases Israeli security on the goodwill of the Palestinians is a terrible option. Netanyahu is right in insisting on Israeli control of the Jordan Valley and on ironclad explicit wording in the agreement which grants Israel full legal right to defend itself against attacks coming from the new Palestinian state guaranteed and backed by the force of UNSC resolutions. Anything less than that is inferior to the status quo.

            Your willingness to disregard all arguments that point out how risky a withdrawal would be and take to risks with Israeli lives is indeed commendable for someone who has no skin in the game.

            The problem is that the Palestinians overwhelmingly support murdering our civilians and refuse to come to terms with living in peace next door to us, which explains both the strength of Hamas and the unwillingness of Abbas to accept the principle of two states for two peoples. We are solving this problem the best we can until that reality changes. If someone wants to force us into taking entirely unjustified risks with the lives of our civilians they are welcome to try, though I don’t see much of a chance of such a process working.

            Reply to Comment
          • Ben

            After reading that, scroll to the section titled “US post-election impediments” here to understand what happened:

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palestinian_legislative_election,_2006

            ”…The report said that instead of driving its enemies out of power, the US-backed Fatah fighters inadvertently provoked Hamas to seize total control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. David Wurmser, who resigned as Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief Middle East adviser a month after the Hamas takeover, said he believed that Hamas had no intention of taking over the Gaza Strip until Fatah forced its hand. “It looks to me that what happened wasn’t so much a coup by Hamas but an attempted coup by Fatah that was preempted before it could happen,” he was quoted as saying. Wurmser said that the Bush administration engaged in a “dirty war in an effort to provide a corrupt dictatorship [led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] with victory.” Wurmser said he was especially galled by the Bush administration’s hypocrisy. “There is a stunning disconnect between the president’s call for Middle East democracy and this policy,” he said. “It directly contradicts it.”…”

            Reply to Comment
    3. Cowboy

      This is a great day for 972!
      Brian and his silly,,repetitive, know-nothing talking points were utterly destroyed. Brian has been exposed as the lying propagandist that he is; amusingly unable to even construct his own arguments, resigned to merely copy the are of others which he does not understand..

      Ideally,,we can expect Brian to retire his litany of cut and pastes.

      Milkshake,thank you so much for getting rid of this fools arguments once and for all.

      Reply to Comment
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