Could Sharon save us?

The Israeli Parliament has voted to support Sharon’s plan for the removal of Israeli settlements from the Gaza strip, and also four of the least defensible settlements in the West Bank. It’s clear enough that Sharon does not intend this as the beginning of either a land-for-peace deal or a unilateral withdrawal from the West Bank. Rather, the idea is to freeze the peace process and remove the obstacles to the annexation of large slabs of the West Bank.

But events have a dynamic of their own. Sharon has broken, probably decisively, with the settlers and may well be forced to break with the rejectionists among his own supporters, such as Netanyahu. He’s going to need support for the fight against them, which will be bitter and possibly bloody. He won’t get that support for a plan based on permanent occupation of large parts of the West Bank, with a wall/barrier/fence cutting a “Palestinian entity” into a series of separate Bantustans. But he probably could get it for something close to Clinton/Barak, with two contiguous states, and border adjustments that brought most of the big “suburban” settlements into Israel in return for a trade of unoccupied land elsewhere, with or without the agreement of Arafat. This kind of policy would drive a wedge into the settler bloc, separating the ideological supporters of Greater Israel from those who just want somewhere to live in peace.

Given the long and miserable history of this dispute, a bad outcome is more likely in the short run. But, as I pointed out a while back, this is a problem with only one solution, and everyone knows what it is (to within a few square kilometres and parenthetical clauses). Sooner or later, that’s where things will end up. Since every day that this goes on adds more recruits to the ranks of Al Qaeda, I hope it’s sooner rather than later. Withdrawal from Gaza is a step in the right direction.

33 thoughts on “Could Sharon save us?

  1. Having watched fog of war last night,I reckon that curtis lemay would have nuked all of them-a final solution and the only solution.
    All palestinians,jewish and arab are mad-we’d be better off without them.

  2. Can someone please explain it to me? I read discussions like on this blog or in the news media and I do not understand why it is that there is so little discussion devoted to the current circumstances the Palestinians find themselves in.

    The Gaza Strip has the third highest population density of any country in the world with 3,681 people per square kilometer of total land area. Total includes land currently occupied by Israeli settlements. Gaza is behind Hong Kong (6,579) and Singapore (6,377), both are significant trade gateways supporting much of their excess population. The West Bank has 410 people per square kilometer and Israel 305.

    The Gaza strip has an equivalent population density of putting the entire Australian population in a 5,410 square kilometer area, an area just over twice the size of the Australian Capital Territory at 2,358 square kilometers. All of us in a land with equivalent natural resources to the ACT, no iron ore, no coal, no beef, no vast fields of wheat.

    According to the CIA World Facts book the combined West Bank and Gaza exports were $603 and consisted primarily of olives, fruit, vegetables and limestone. Imports were $1.9 billion.

    The Gaza Strip had a per capita GDP of $600 in 2003, the West Bank $800 in 2002. Israel had $19,800, Australia had $29,000 and Somalia had $500. Even the Jordanians managed a per capita GDP of $4,300. (CIA World Factbook)

    Palestinian Bureau of Statistics puts the rate of unemployment in The Gaza Strip at 44.1% and the West Bank at 30%

    The change in Palestinian circumstances, their dispossession from what is now Israel, is recent. A twenty-year-old can look at an Israeli farm and say ‘that was my father’s farm, his father built that fence, his father built the house, it would have been mine’.

    Almost every Palestinian family living in Gaza or the West Bank will have had a member killed by the Israelis since 1947.

    The Palestinians do not live in North Korea and they see how we in the west live. They have satellite TV and DVDs. They also visit Israel. In 2003 there were 145,000 Internet users in the West Bank (CIA World Factbook).

    If you could separate the factors that contribute to the hatred the Palestinians have for the Israelis into religious and current circumstances couldn’t most of the hatred be explained simply by current circumstances? How will statehood affect current Palestinian circumstances?

    Why are we surprised that it is the young, educated and ambitious who blow themselves up? They hit the ceiling first.

    Why do we feel the need to explain the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in religious terms when it is so clearly a conflict over access to resources?

  3. Hear hear to Andrew and his comments about the circumstances of the Palestinians.The Palestinian people have not just bled literally, they are being destroyed economically and culturally. They cannot possibly reverse this process without significant outside help.
    The only possibility for a peaceful settlement between Palestine and Israel is for the Israelis and their US sponsors to openly recognise this economic and social destruction of the Palestinian people and to put in place a long term plan of infrastructure development and intensive education of Palestinian youth.
    An agreement about land is only one step. The Palestinian people must be put back on their feet after decades of misery and this must be done whatever the cost. The US government no longer cares about deficits so let them dig deep to put right the consequences of their proxy war against Palestine.

  4. Andrew, while agreeing with your sentiments regarding the plight of Palestinians (although hard to reconcile the DVDs and poverty scenario – I know what you are trying to say), you seem to place all the onus on Israel and the US. Israel has failed dismally to resolve the situation, as has the US. Yet the Arab nations deserve as much criticism, if not more. For example, try not to forget the role that Jordan played in the plight of the Palestinians.

    Andrew states: “Almost every Palestinian family living in Gaza or the West Bank will have had a member killed by the Israelis since 1947.� Andrew, please don’t discount the toll on Israelis.

  5. Sharon, DeGaulle and the Colons
    Two days ago, the Israeli Knesset approved disengagement from Gaza by a solid majority of 67-45 (8 MKs abstained). Despite a major rift in the Likud (almost half the party’s MKs voted against) and behind-the-scenes maneuvering by 6 prominent Likud…

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