What should have israel done instead?


#21

That's probably best for long-term prospects of this working out, although I suspect it's unacceptable to Israel.

If you want to take things from the Israeli perspective it would be a huge risk. First, there's a good chance of terrorist groups bringing in much more sophisticated weapons. Also the Palestinian government would be able to fortify along the lines of what Hezbollah has done in Lebanon, which would limit Israel's ability to maneuver if the peace agreement went badly -- i.e., Israel wouldn't be able to bully their new neighbor.

From the Palestinian point of view though, anything less than a real government allowed to govern without interference just looks like the prison inmates have been allowed to pretend they have a government. Plus any government which depends on Israel's goodwill in order to prevent their border from being blockaded potentially is going to look like a bunch of Israeli collaborators or stooges.

Anyway, it's obviously a very hard problem, and it's made harder (possibly made unsolvable) by radicals on both sides.


#22

I agree - it would take a huge amount of trust and faith on both sides of the divide to even start to work towards what we're talking about. From that point of view, we're really just engaged in intellectual masturbation here but I'm not sure that the alternative is sustainable or desirable to all but a handful of entrenched hardliners on both sides.


#23

I guess you are advocating a military solution similar to the one imposed on Germany and Japan: a peace imposed by overwhelming destruction.

The problem with this argument is that the Palestinians have already been destroyed to this level, several times. This kind of destruction could surely lead to a peace enforced temporarily by one side, but it wouldn't last. Peace in Germany and Japan wouldn't have lasted more than a few years, if the Allies had treated the population like Israel treats the Palestinians, e.g. building militarised settlements around Tokyo.

If we were to look at the Israelis as an empire, wishing to deal with unruly natives, the most successful empires have followed force with freedom and/or integration into the empire. The Romans didn't enforce their regimes, they conquered and then allowed the states to run themselves, with their own laws, religions and customs. The same for the Mongols. Even the British empire gave those it occupied more freedoms than it gave its own citizens, hence the indignation in Parliament when the American colonists demanded more.

Israel, as an occupier, gives little freedom to the Palestinians. Even when it withdrew from Gaza, it created a huge open prison by controlling its borders. This led to economic disaster, with many Palestinians on the brink of starvation. This is guaranteed to increase militant activitity, not reduce it. Being part of the Roman empire meant safety, security and economic prosperity. Give people that and there is little reason for them to be gathering into militias to fire rockets at you. Israel only needs to look at history for a way forward.


#24

You're right, sorry. Still, annihilation of one side (or its will to keep going) through violence is not a realistic possibility. Besides, wouldn't resolving the conflict in such a way be markedly worse than not resolving the conflict, if one is concerned about civilian dead? Preventing civilian casualties by massively increasing those casualties for some indefinite time seems to be rather counterproductive. The estimated number of total (combatants included) during the operation in Gaza (ca. 570) has exceeded the UN's figure for total number of dead in 2007 (409). Assuming the proportion of civilian dead is roughly equal for the two numbers, one might estimate that two weeks of the current level of conflict will produce roughly the number of dead seen in a year of the previous level of the conflict. Six weeks at this level would mean more dead than in the worst year of the conflict, 2002, which saw 1453 killed. (A greater proportion of that last figure would have been civilians, however, as that number includes 421 of largely civilian Israelis).

A return to the level of conflict seen in the last half of the 1990s, where the total number of dead was over 100 only in 1996, might seem like a better idea.


#25

It's not just civilian death but also the general disruption of society. In an attack like the recent Russian attack on Georgia there is a short period of intense fighting, people on the run and whatnot. But when the battle is considered done, it's done. You can return to your home and no risk remains that a shell is going to mess up your couch. With a terrorist threat like suicide bombings and rocket attacks the threat is constant and therefore far more disruptive.

Strictly looking at the deaths one should look at the total sum of death over the timespan of the conflict plus all the people that are likely to die every year this conflict continues. That number exceeds the current body count quite a bit. This only flies of course if the current attack on Gaza will end Hamas and other terrorist threats once and for all, which it won't. So in that regard this is just another desctructive footnote in the overall conflict.

I guess you are advocating a military solution similar to the one imposed on Germany and Japan: a peace imposed by overwhelming destruction.

I'm advocating a solution that will break either side's will to fight. I specifically worded it like that in my initial post. I'm not in favor of military destruction but given the current situation I don't think that any other way is possible. They either require Israel to make substantial concessions, which I personally believe they will not make, or the state of Israel ceases to exists.

Even IF the Israel-Palistinian conflict was resolved through some more peaceful means there is still the threat of certain other Middle-East nations who would love to firebomb the place into oblivion. Israel is very aware of that and that's why they will never make the concessions needed for the "smaller" conflict with the Palistinians to be resolved peacefully.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, all they can do is try to blow up the rock.


#26

But that's just it. Israel left Gaza. It is under no obligation to open its borders to a 'zone' that is at war with (including its airspace). I believe the Sinai crossing is now controlled by Egypt. Israel does control ocean access, so an argument for isolation can be made.

If my neighbor wants to kill me, why should I let him into my house? I understand Gaza doesn't have the ability to sustain itself, but in the longterm is that Israel's responsibility once they leave?


#27

Don't be behind the times. This line already got zinged on the Daily Show. If you forced your neighbor to live in your hallway for forty years and made him show his papers every time he had to take a dump, that might have something to do with it.

Israel provokes violence through mistreatment of Palestinians, that's a fact. You can't use the fact that people are unruly because of the bad things you do to them as a reason to continue to do the bad things. Just because some militants blow up cars does not mean that you have the right to oppress an entire population. It was wrong when South Africa did it.

The world needs to stop letting Israel get away with practicing Apartheid.

That's my solution, Israel needs to stop practicing Apartheid.


#28

Dear Ydejin, I noticed that your, "Colonel Lang," uses a peculiar title for his blog.

Does that phrase mean anything to you?


#29

I don't follow this too much, but it seems like Israel would be best served by reducing ties with the United States, no matter which course of action Israel actually decides to take (peace or violence).

It appears that every time they go on an offensive, the US tells them to stop it after a couple of weeks. But on the flipside, I think the hardliners in America lend support to the same attitude in Israel. Whether they want to crack down or engage in peace, they'd be better off if the US didn't butt in so much to maintain status quo. (And so would we!)


#30

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#31

What about Israel's responsibilities to its own people? If they want peace, then this kind of behaviour is not going to accomplish that.


#32

Well, no shit. Israel is under no obligation to open it's own borders, sure, but that kind of hands-off argument also assumes that Israel would let Gaza use it's other border, and the sea, freely.


#33

I think the argument can be made that keeping enemies of the state outside your borders will keep your people safe. Obviously very short sighted since the ultimate goal is to make peace with those people.

But the point wasn't "How can Israel make peace with the Palestinians?" It is, "What is Israel's responsibility to Gaza?" Yes, treating people like shit will make them angry at you. No debate there. But they are done with Gaza, you can't practice Apartheid without having a presence.

Maybe another simplistic analogy can be made. We are at war with Canada. They close the border to Alaska, but we can still fly in by avoiding Canadian airspace. Does Canada have a duty to let us through?


#34

Are you kidding me? If Canada ever closed the border to Alaska, we'd use our superior navy and blockade all their ports and starving them into submission along with using our superior fire power and shelling Vancouver and Toronto everyday. And we'd use our superior air force and drop phosphorus bombs on them along with daisy cutters.


#35
  • Remove all Israeli settlements from the West Bank
  • Build a very large wall (note: this has already been mostly done)
  • Deal with the sources of low-level conflict as they happen (see: raids and counter-raids during 1948-1967)

The main reason for Gaza's isolation is that it still economically is a dependency of Israel. They get the vast majority of their food, electricity and fuel from a country they despise and are literally at war with, and Israel cuts those links whenever they want to show Gaza who's boss (which, since Hamas took over, has been fairly constant). An indepedent Gaza would derive all of these from a more friendly power instead (Egypt comes to mind) but it's in the interests both of the Egyptians and the Palestinians themselves to refuse to acknowledge Gaza as an independent state; so instead they remain dependent on Israeli handouts and demand them as "the duty of an occupying power under the Geneva Convention" despite Israel not technically occupying Gaza. The long term answer is to sever those bonds and make Palestine (both Gaza and the West Bank) a truly independent entity, but it's in the interests of almost everyone involved (including civilians, who would die without Israeli food and fuel) for that not to happen.


#36

I thought the Egyptian government and Hamas aren't exactly the best of friends...


#37

The very large wall neatly walls in most border settlements though, so point 1 and 2 are in conflict.


#38

Exactly


#39

and now we see the problems with the Gaza prison.


#40

So what happens if Israel pulls in all the settlements, builds a bigger, stronger wall, stops disrupting any water or air traffic that doesn't cross Israel proper's borders, and then cuts off everything at the wall (including all supplies and power)?

Probably international outrage and condemnation. But it would be awesome to see it happen... in a book.