The Palestinians Think They Are in the Endgame


Among the Jerusalem Post’s blog posts, there is one today by Ira Sharkansky, a Hebrew University Political Science professor, called “Why the Stalemate.” Sharkansky also posts at Shark Blog. To explain why a high ranking US official has said that the “peace process” appears to be “at an impasse,” Sharkansky suggests the following reasons:

There is no free lunch in international relations
You screw us; we’ll screw you
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” may be a spiritual ideal, but the more popular norm in international politics is the simpler one of “Do unto others.”
Israel can live well enough without solving the problem of Palestine.

The Palestinians may pride themselves in their willingness to die for their national cause, but they have committed national suicide. There will be no Palestinian state as long as key factions persist with the dreams of turning back the clock to 1967, to 1947, or to the mid-19th century before Jews began coming to this area.

Sharkansky goes on to suggest that Hamas, the Goldstone Report and Iran stand in the way of any further progress and therefore while “Israel can live well enough without solving the problem of Palestine,” the Palestinians will not gain a state any time soon.

This strikes me as the type of thinking I hear from many Israelis, both in the center and the right of the political spectrum. The consensus appears to be that Israel can continue to grow and thrive while the Palestinians continue to dither and miss opportunities to build their state.

In order to agree with this premise, one has to believe the Palestinians seek a two state solution and their own state.

They don’t.

No, the Palestinians are stalling because they believe they have entered the endgame. They believe they are closer than ever to winning the decades-old war against Israel and are launching what they believe to be a new battle in their war. They appear to believe this stage of the war will last several years, maybe a decade, but this final battle is supposed to culminate in a victory that has the international community imposing and establishing a single state from the river to the sea. That alone will create a serious challenge to the notion of a Jewish state, but the Palestinians most likely believe demographics will complete their task.

Right now, by the Palestinian count, there are around 4 million Palestinians in the Judea and Samaria/West Bank and Gaza (a count which is disputed by some, but the international community as well as many Israelis accept this number). Another 1.1 million Israeli Arabs who are not Beduin or Druze reside inside the Green Line and have Israeli citizenship. In contrast, there are about 6 million Jews living inside Israel. The Israeli birthrate stands at around 20 births/thousand while the Palestinian birthrate was at 39/1000 in 2006 but is said to have dropped to 27/1000 last year. Critically, the percentage of young Palestinians (under 18) is very high so that even if parity in population (from the sea to the river) does not occur within the next decade, the following couple of decades will probably give them a decided advantage, especially if they can vote as a bloc.

Having numeric equality or superiority is useless if the election does not include one’s population. Achieving the right to vote in Israeli elections appears to be one of the goals set out by the Palestinians. As we learned in the recently held Sixth Congress held by Fatah, the party behind the Palestinian Authority, they intend to wage an international campaign against Israel that resembles the struggle against apartheid in South Africa. That struggle ended with a white minority giving equal civic rights to their black population after the world essentially boycotted South Africa to the point where it gave up.

Unlike whites in South Africa, Jewish Israelis are the majority and the Palestinians are the minority. Also, historic ties to Israel place the Jews there well before the Palestinians arrived. These facts don’t seem to matter, the Palestinians have already begun their apartheid-style anti-Israel campaign. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement has received some major press coverage in recent months, including our coverage of one of the movement’s leaders, Omar Barghouti, who advocates for a boycott while studying at Tel Aviv University. One key success was the attack on the Toronto Film Festival (addressed on Jewlicious here), which may have failed to dissuade movie-goers from seeing the Israeli films being shown, but it managed to get coverage around the world for several days. The amount of publicity the BDS movement received was astounding, and most of that publicity involved equating Israel and its policies with apartheid South Africa. This is not an accident, it is a measured and well thought out strategy.

It is also not an accident that most of the signatories on the original letter to the Toronto Film Festival were either Jewish or gay with no Arabs among them. This is reminiscent of the OIC (Organiztion of Islamic Conference – the Islamic countries’ 57 nation coalition at the UN) guided UNHRC to appointing a Jewish rapporteur to report on Israel’s actions against the Palestinians, Richard Falk, and a Jewish judge to head the commission investigating Cast Lead, Goldstone. Recently Mustafa Barghouti, an eloquent Palestinian politician and former PA leadership candidate, was joined by a Jewish woman on a visit to the Daily Show. Barghouti did not need her, but her role is obvious. On campuses, one sees the same developments. The Muslim Student Association on many campuses leads the attacks against Israel and its supporters, but it’s not unusual to see Jews in visible roles within the protests. At York University in Toronto, for example, a Jesse Zimmerman was allegedly a leader in the action taken against the students hiding in the Hillel office. On the internet, some of the leading anti-Israel sites are run by Jews – Mondoweiss, JVP, Muzzlewatch, etc.

The Palestinians, however, are not only counting on the fight for establishing an international boycott of Israeli products and culture. Simultaneously, they are maintaining severe international pressure on the diplomatic front. The Goldstone Commission could not have happened without diplomatic support. In fact, the Secretary General of the OIC has bragged to Al Jazeera that they were responsible for having the Goldstone Commission appointed. Many countries in the EU are placing their relationships with the Arab world far ahead of their relationship with Israel, and both Russia and China are also keeping their toes moist in the Muslim/Arab oil wells. Similarly, on the legal front, the Palestinians continue to try to trip Israel in Europe by attempting to have Israeli officers and leading politicians arrested. It is only a matter of time before an Israeli leader gets arrested on such a visit, opening the door to a media storm, especially if he loses the case.

Demography, apartheid, diplomatic aggression, campus activism and international law are the ingredients, and time is the sauce. Time enables the Palestinians to grow in number, achieve successes on the BDS front, score diplomatic victories, put Israel in the dock, put Israeli leaders on trial, establish the idea of Israeli “apartheid” in the public’s mind and plan for the future.

The last is a key clue to what the Palestinians are doing. Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian PM, has established a two year plan for creating the infrastructure of a Palestinian state. This has been described by the Palestinians as a proactive measure intended to lay the groundwork for peace. However, they have also made it clear that if no “peace” is forthcoming, then they will take their preparations and declare a state unilaterally. While it’s doubtful they would do so, the point of the exercise is to be ready and to function like a proper government in the view of the world’s western nations. It is also, of course to place pressure on Israel because Israel would end up losing a great deal of negotiating leverage if the world accepts a new Palestinian state. Also, becoming a high contracting party gives the Palestinians some advantages they do not currently enjoy on the diplomatic and other fronts.

Along the same lines, is it no accident that Palestinian violence has diminished greatly in the West Bank and is on hold in Gaza. Certainly, Israel’s security measures have achieved success, and Cast Lead hit Hamas hard. However, it seems the Palestinians are satisfied playing the nonviolence game for a while. They consider their efforts at Bilin to be successful – sufficiently large to make a media impact and to tarnish Israel’s image, but not so large that they have to convince a large number of Palestinians to make this effort. In fact, while dozens of activists show up at Bilin, thousands of Palestinians are being trained by the Americans to fight like a proper army. Twenty five thousand Palestinian soldiers, so far. Of course, once those are trained, they will train others. Weapons are being provided by Israel and the US to help the cause.

In the meantime, Iran is arming and preparing the other Palestinians…Hamas… for future rounds against both Fatah and Israel. They are also preparing Hizbullah for a future war. Both armies have rockets that can hit Israeli civilian centers and have now tested and proven that their fighting tactics may not win the battle on the ground, but certainly win the war once the world watches the news. Obviously, arming and preparation requires time. This seems to contradict what Fatah, in the guise of the PA, is trying to do to Israel as I describe above, but it actually plays right into their goals. Both the US and Israel are so concerned about Iran’s influence and Hamas conquering the West Bank, that they fully back the training, arming and diplomatic support that Fatah receives in abundance. The more time passes, the more resources the PA gains in terms of soldiering and arms.

Time matters. Time IS the strategy and buying it is the most critical issue for the Palestinians. They know full well that there is a peace agreement on the table, first put there by Barak and then by Olmert. Their job, as they see it, is to acknowledge it, criticize it as insufficient and wait. Now they are blaming settlements, but last year when Olmert offered everything that was offered at Taba plus an international Jerusalem, they were talking to Israel while settlements were being built. Then they said “no.” Why did they refuse a very generous offer that would have established the first ever Palestinian state? According to Abbas, the “gaps were too wide,” but considering that Olmert offered over the limit of what Israel will ever offer again, this was just an excuse. The “gaps” weren’t the problem. The problem was that a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria/West Bank and Gaza is not the Palestinians’ endgame. To the same ends, we now have friction at the Temple Mount. This is not accidental and it is certainly not happening because of Israel. From the Palestinians’ point of view, some tension that pits the Israeli army against Palestinian civilians is good for publicity and for finding excuses not to discuss peace.

All this is in the hope that their other endeavors will coalesce over the next few years as Israel is pushed up against the ropes, eventually to be forced by external forces and circumstances to yield to a one state solution.

And that’s why they are stalling.

There are now two follow up posts:

The Palestinian Endgame Enters High Gear

More About the Palestinian Endgame

(Dear readers, the comments below include some interesting criticisms of this post and even many choice insults directed at yours truly. I think my responses expand on this thesis so please read on…)


56 Comments

  1. shadai

    11/2/2009 at 5:32 am

    Good and thoughtful analysis TM!

    There could be only one solution to this grave challenge: stop being an Apartheid-style state. There are only two paths. One is the ” Palestinian endgame” you describe in your great article: granting voting and other basic civic rights to Palestinians. This would end Zionism and the Jewish State so it is not preferable from our point of view. The only other alternative is to “return to ’67”, leave the West Bank and make peace with the Arab states as offered by the Saudi Initiative over half a decade ago. It will be painful but that’s the only alternative to avoid the fate of South Africa (or Serbia). It’s a wise strategy what the Palestinians have now, the first wise strategy since their national movement began.

    The problem is that I deeply doubt that a “return to 67″ reversal of strategy could be initiated and implemented by Israel. This leaves Israel and friends of Israel to watch helplessly as the plot thickens.

  2. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 5:50 am

    The only other alternative is to “return to ‘67″, leave the West Bank and make peace with the Arab states as offered by the Saudi Initiative over half a decade ago. It will be painful but that’s the only alternative to avoid the fate of South Africa (or Serbia).

    Shadai, good buddy, it’s been a long time since we’ve seen you here.

    I have to disagree with you about the Saudi Plan. It is a trap for Israel. The Saudi Plan requires not only that Israel leave east Jerusalem, which as you know includes that holy site called the Temple Mount, but it also requires that Israel accept UNGA Resolution 194. UNGAR 194 is a General Assembly resolution and is therefore considered instructive but not actual law, the way that certain Security Council resolutions are. By signing an agreement that makes 194 enforceable, Israel is making it into a legal instrument.

    What is UNGAR 194? It is the provision that purportedly allows Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. When it first came up for a vote in the UN, the Arab states voted against it, but now they clamor for it because they view it as the solution for ending Israel’s Jewish statehood.

    If the Palestinians were treated at the UN like all other refugees, this would not be an issue. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, as opposed to the vile UNHRC) has declared that refugees are so only when they are the actual refugees. That first generation is where it stops. However, the Palestinians are the ONLY group in the world to be considered by the UN to be refugees in perpetuity. This is because they are governed by the rules of UNWRA and their rules include the first and subsequent generations as refugees.

    Some people like to define the portions of the Saudi Plan that discuss 194 as a talmudic solution that will permit the Arab leaders to declare that the return of Palestinians has been achieved, while they actually prevent that from happening. I don’t agree with this parsing of this section of the Saudi Plan and am fairly confident that it will be acted upon by the Palestinians if signed by Israel.

    The Saudi Plan is not going to be the solution Israel accepts because they may as well just give in to the Palestinians now.

    Also, don’t assume that just because this is the Palestinian strategy, that it will succeed. The first stage in fighting back is recognizing their strategy, and I can’t imagine I’m writing anything that many Israeli strategists haven’t already considered.

    My final concern about the Saudi Plan and moving back to 1949 lines (that’s what 1967 lines are) – and I’m somebody who until a couple of weeks ago believed Israel should get out of the Judea and Samaria/West Bank immediately but now have serious doubts about this – is the Goldstone Report. Goldstone has made fighting the Palestinians virtually impossible if his report holds up. If they attack Israel from the West Bank/Judea and Samaria, it will be very difficult for Israel to respond.

  3. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 6:00 am

    Also, Shadai, you didn’t mean to imply that Israel has apartheid or is similar to an apartheid regime, right?

    ;)

  4. Matt

    11/2/2009 at 6:35 am

    Fascinating analysis, thank you.

    Of course this endgame strategy depends on continued Palestinian will to fight. Recent events in Jerusalem suggest that supporters of Israel have reason to be optimistic on this front. In spite of calls to arms from Muslim leaders, the majority of Muslims in Jerusalem ignored it. The Waqf was reported to be pleased at the arrest of Raed Salah’s.

    Most people, Jewish or Muslim, just want a quiet life and to be able to provide for their loved ones. The problem with Palestinian society has always been that the radical minority sets the agenda, not the peaceful majority. This is what needs to be addressed.

  5. Shlomo Toren

    11/2/2009 at 8:25 am

    IMO, a very flawed argument and not even an original one.

    First, I wouldn’t be so hasty basing an entire thesis on demographics because there is disagreement on the real figures (see Rosner’s blog from about two weeks ago). Demographics can also shift through changes in birth rates and migration.

    Second, Gaza shouldn’t be included in the figures – since it isn’t even slightly realistic that they could be incorporated into Israel and there is no justification to do so. [ they have their own territory, and a large enough population to be their own state].

    Lastly, your gist is that Israel should somehow wish upon itself a two state solution that will be acceptable to the Pals even if means uprooting tens of thousands of Israelis from their homes, perhaps denying Israel access to the mountain aquifer and exposing vital infrastructure to rocket fire based from evacuated settlements. Even if Israel were to do all of the above, the said demographic problem wouldn’t change and would probably even get worse since there are another million or so Arabs who call themselves Pals in Lebanon and Jordan who would use whatever territory “freed” as the base for the next step.

    Unfortunately, the “end game” for the Pals is still to put as many Jews on boats and send them back to Europe or even to the bottom of the ocean. So BDS movement aside and all the various Shittermans who support them, Israel definitely can hold out and can even improve her negotiating position with time (just let us see what happens with Iran first – better to prioritize what to deal with first). Bibi, for all his faults, seems to know where he is heading and under good leadership (at least zillion times better than Abu Mazan) time is a resource that can be used to an advantage.

  6. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 10:49 am

    First, I wouldn’t be so hasty basing an entire thesis on demographics

    Tell that to the Palestinians.

    because there is disagreement on the real figures (see Rosner’s blog from about two weeks ago). Demographics can also shift through changes in birth rates and migration.

    Of course there’s disagreement, something we’ve covered here on Jewlicious a number of times. I even happen to agree with the group that claims the Palestinian numbers are false. So what? What matters is what the world believes as it imposes its will on Israel, and the world believes the Palestinian numbers.

    Second, Gaza shouldn’t be included in the figures – since it isn’t even slightly realistic that they could be incorporated into Israel and there is no justification to do so. [ they have their own territory, and a large enough population to be their own state].

    Wishful thinking and this has nothing to do with what the Palestinians think or believe.

    Lastly, your gist is that Israel should somehow wish upon itself a two state solution that will be acceptable to the Pals even if means uprooting tens of thousands of Israelis from their homes, perhaps denying Israel access to the mountain aquifer and exposing vital infrastructure to rocket fire based from evacuated settlements. Even if Israel were to do all of the above, the said demographic problem wouldn’t change and would probably even get worse since there are another million or so Arabs who call themselves Pals in Lebanon and Jordan who would use whatever territory “freed” as the base for the next step.

    I didn’t discuss what I think Israel should do. In my comment above you have a link to a post called “Leaving the West Bank” that I wrote fairly recently and where I advocate that Israel should leave Judea and Samaria unilaterally to the security barrier with the assumption that it will eventually negotiate a deal that will look like the Taba offer. I don’t support the idea that Israelis who live in Judea and Samaria have to be uprooted, I rather hope that they will be permitted to remain in their homes in a peaceful Palestinian entity. That may not be realistic, but it’s my hope.

    After Goldstone, I am no longer sure that leaving the West Bank is a viable solution because Israel’s defensive capabilities have been challenged in a very restrictive way.

    I don’t have a solution yet for what the Palestinians are doing, but I usually fall on the side of a good offense is usually the best defense. I’ll post something when I figure it out.

    Unfortunately, the “end game” for the Pals is still to put as many Jews on boats and send them back to Europe or even to the bottom of the ocean.

    Maybe so, but this doesn’t change anything that I’ve written.

    So BDS movement aside and all the various Shittermans who support them, Israel definitely can hold out and can even improve her negotiating position with time (just let us see what happens with Iran first – better to prioritize what to deal with first). Bibi, for all his faults, seems to know where he is heading and under good leadership (at least zillion times better than Abu Mazan) time is a resource that can be used to an advantage.

    False. Actually, if you play for time, you’re playing their game. Contrary to your assertions, a few more buildings or even a few more tens of thousands of Israelis moving to the West Bank/Judea and Samaria will not change anything I’ve written above. In fact it plays into their hands, as the latest Amnesty lie shows. Also, you now have seen in Gaza that any military action may place Israeli officers and leaders in the international court at the Hague, and time spent continuing the status quo will be used to strengthen their non-violent movement but if they see the process is moving too slowly, they know the answer is another intifada. The media images of another intifada with the “evil Israeli soldiers” fighting the poor Palestinian civilians will play very poorly in all those countries that will be the ones to boycott Israel in a meaningful way.

    Reread what I wrote and cut out the smug self-assurance. The Palestinians are not stupid at all, and they are far better organized than they used to be.

  7. Shlomo Toren

    11/2/2009 at 12:00 pm

    And who is smug?

    BTW, who says time has to be used to build in Judea and Shomron? Time can be also used to create jobs and infrastructure in all of Israel, explore alternative energy sources et al. The point is that Israel, as oppose to the Pals, have a functioning society, even a thriving one and don’t have to do anything concerning the Pals under pressure. Iran might be another matter, but that reinforces the point that the Pals are not on the critical path. Better to be proactive towards Iran and then deal with our enemy/peace partner.

    Admittably Goldstone , Amnesty , BDS, English teacher unions and all can be depressing. Things change though and with the coming elections in Britain they may even change some more. World opinion doesn’t stay constant either and Goldstone could be also be a start of a backlash. Already there are voices in the USA that have noted that Goldstone is a loose cannon that could go anywhere. The Israeli government, by better management, can have an effect here.

    As for the pals being better organized, perhaps, but Fayad isn’t going to be around if Abu Mazan goes, and would you put your money on Abu Mazan? The threat of a new intifada is just that – an empty threat. With Bibi and Ashkenazi, it wouldn’t be a great idea and would not be very successful. The Pals would loose all their economic growth of the last two years, so who would decide to go down that course in an “organized fashion”.

    And finally, getting back to smug. True, its your blog and you can write what you want to, but IMO I beg to differ. If the Pals are playing for time now, it is because they are weak, have no real way to pressure Israel, and are beginning to realize that Obama isn’t going to help those who do not help themselves. Meanwhile Bibi is pretty secure (until he fumbles – but don’t hold your breath on that one), is saying the right things as far as Obama is concerned, and life goes on.

    Oh, and reread what Sharkansky wrote. And yes, I’ll reread yours too.

  8. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 12:05 pm

    Middle, you’ve gone completely over to the right wing. Likudlicious, anyone?

    As the Israeli right is wont to do, good news gets spun as bad news. Thus, a peaceful West Bank amounts to a “game”, and the increased security the US-trained and supervised PA security force has provided is a prelude to apocalyptic showdown. Not so long ago, the Middles castigated Abbas for permitting a variety of armed groups to run amok. That was then, I suppose.

    One day, Israel’s failure to embrace Abbas, for all his flaws, will be seen as a monumental mistake.

    What’s really got Middle scared is that the Palestinians have raised their game. After decades of terrorism, misrule, and diplomatic ineptitude, they’re finally making sound, well-reasoned decisions in their own interest. Take the reduction in violence on the West Bank, so striking during the Gaza operation. Or the unprecedented, sound economic policies Fayyad has put in place there.

    Sound decisionmaking is evident on the diplomatic front, too. Middle is full of self-righteous scorn for Abbas’s rejection of the plan advanced by a corrupt and discredited Israeli PM and deeply unpopular, lame-duck president. Middle’s not really serious about this, of course. Unless he’s prepared to disagree that, with Barack Obama on the horizon, the Palestinians would’ve been foolish not to wait.

    In fact, as Middle may or may not be prepared to acknowledge, Abbas will do far better with Obama than he did with Bush. Abbas rightly rejected the feeble wares Hillary was peddling this time. He’ll get better offers down the road, surely better ones than Bush’s.

    There’s a panic in Middle’s post that’s quite striking. When Arafat was hijacking planes and killing Jews, Israel could only dream of interlocutors like Abbas and Fayyad. Be careful what you wish for, I suppose. The Palestinians are beginning to act the part of responsible international actors. One might deem this good news. In Middleworld, it’s terrifying.

    • themiddle

      11/2/2009 at 12:58 pm

      I think it’s ironic and telling that I’ve got one guy calling me a right wing loonie and the other claiming my ideas are too soft and to the left.

      I guess that leaves me somewhere in the Middle. Again. ;)

      Shlomo, I apologize if I offended by calling your comments smug. It was perhaps more of a comment about the self-assurance many Israelis possess when it comes to the Palestinians, a self-assurance that is misguided in my opinion. You’ll recall how surprised the Israelis were in 1973 when the Syrian commandos took over the Hermon and their tanks rolled effectively into the Golan. At the time, the Israelis expected the Arab soldiers to turn and run as they did in 1967. They entirely underestimated their enemy, to the degree that Dayan thought they were going to lose the war. Never underestimate your opponent.

      Tom, are you having fun misrepresenting me and what I wrote?

      As the Israeli right is wont to do, good news gets spun as bad news. Thus, a peaceful West Bank amounts to a “game”, and the increased security the US-trained and supervised PA security force has provided is a prelude to apocalyptic showdown. Not so long ago, the Middles castigated Abbas for permitting a variety of armed groups to run amok. That was then, I suppose.

      The “peaceful West Bank” is explained away in the statement of Fatah spokesman Fahmi Al-Za’arir who stated recently, following the Sixth Fatah Congress:

      “It is not possible to rule out or to marginalize the military option…We know that every warrior has a [period of] rest – and also we know that this does not mean the end of the national battle, but only a wait to obtain the goals, and to give the leadership sufficient opportunity for political activity.”

      In other words, a “peaceful West Bank” is an opportunity to play politics while the warrior rests. Yet in the very same Congress, Fatah voted to keep the refugee camps open for propaganda purposes:

      “Fatah considers it essential to preserve the refugee camps until the [refugee] problem is resolved, so that they will serve as fundamental political evidence…”

      They also decided to stall for time because they think it will lead to friction with the US and bring down Netanyahu as reported in the Washington Post: Abbas plans to freeze talks with Israel. All this while they intend to use the apartheid model to gain international support for their movement.

      One day, Israel’s failure to embrace Abbas, for all his flaws, will be seen as a monumental mistake.

      Israel has supported Abbas left, right and center. They supported him when he was in Gaza, protect and arm him now, negotiate with him in good faith and have offered him a peace deal that was more generous than Taba with an internationalized Jerusalem. What exactly do you mean by “failure to embrace?”

      What’s really got Middle scared is that the Palestinians have raised their game. After decades of terrorism, misrule, and diplomatic ineptitude, they’re finally making sound, well-reasoned decisions in their own interest. Take the reduction in violence on the West Bank, so striking during the Gaza operation. Or the unprecedented, sound economic policies Fayyad has put in place there.

      I have no problem with the reduction of violence or the sound economic policies. Why do you suggest that scares me? The question is whether this approach is about coming to peace with Israel or fighting a different type of war against Israel. Based on the BDS, diplomatic and informational campaigns that I see, it appears to me to simply be a different type of war with the same goal as with the violence. In fact, the game is even more sophisticated now because Fatah can play off the violence exhibited by Hamas even as they support it.

      Sound decisionmaking is evident on the diplomatic front, too. Middle is full of self-righteous scorn for Abbas’s rejection of the plan advanced by a corrupt and discredited Israeli PM and deeply unpopular, lame-duck president. Middle’s not really serious about this, of course. Unless he’s prepared to disagree that, with Barack Obama on the horizon, the Palestinians would’ve been foolish not to wait.

      Really?

      You’ll excuse me while I fan away the putrid smell of that statement.

      Listen, Israel has offered the Palestinians a state three times in the past decade. The last two offers should have ended the conflict. They did not. You can justify it with the reasoning that Olmert was a bad or weak PM, or excuse it by saying they were waiting for an Arab-friendly US President, but the bottom line is that you’re justifying the denial of a historic end to this century-old conflict. There is no excuse for this. None. It is negotiating cynically with no intention of closing a deal, because the negotiations have become one of a number of tactics in their war. You want to say that’s understandable and smart strategy, but I say it is the tell-tale sign that nobody here intends to achieve peace.

      In your view, Israel needs to “embrace Abbas” even as he refuses to hug back. Israel should seek to give up more while he bides his time with apparently no intention of closing a deal.

      In fact, as Middle may or may not be prepared to acknowledge, Abbas will do far better with Obama than he did with Bush. Abbas rightly rejected the feeble wares Hillary was peddling this time. He’ll get better offers down the road, surely better ones than Bush’s.

      So far, he has not been willing to play. The call to end all “settlement” construction includes east Jerusalem and Abbas knows he has set terms that will preclude even getting to the negotiating table, much less benefiting from having Obama there. The Palestinians are delaying. Ask yourself why and reread the post without the facile name-calling.

      There’s a panic in Middle’s post that’s quite striking. When Arafat was hijacking planes and killing Jews, Israel could only dream of interlocutors like Abbas and Fayyad. Be careful what you wish for, I suppose. The Palestinians are beginning to act the part of responsible international actors. One might deem this good news. In Middleworld, it’s terrifying.

      Oh please. Did you miss the part where I noted that while the Palestinians have dozens of so-called non-violent protesters in one village, they have a 25,000 soldier army being trained and armed by the US? So far the Palestinians have refused to acknowledge that Israel is a Jewish state, have refused to accept sweeping offers of peace and statehood, have initiated violence in Gaza and on the Temple Mount, have maintained their anti-Israel rhetoric at home and abroad, run (and I believe it’s run from the PA) a broad and ugly Boycott and Israel vilification campaign all over Europe and North America, continue to deny Jewish links to Israel and Jerusalem and have done nothing to indicate that they seek an end to this conflict.

      I’m not “terrified.” I’m aware and I’m in tune with what they’re doing.

      When I was writing the posts about the Toronto Film Festival boycott, I came across a broad network of anti-Israel activist groups in Canada and Europe. The American network is growing as we write. One of the interesting things I came across were at least 3 Palestinian graduate students just in Toronto (the Internet is amazing!) whose emphasis was international law and who were actively pursuing strategies of calling for a single state or “ending apartheid in Israel” which can be translated in the same way. You’ll note these educated advocates for the Palestinian cause, one of whom even serves as an adviser to the PLO, are not fighting for a two state solution or for Abbas to close the deal with Israel.

      Likudnik, my tuches. :lol:

  9. noam

    11/2/2009 at 12:23 pm

    one comment: the P didn’t agree to Olmert’s offer because Olmert was a walking dead man at the time (there were even reports that Israeli leaders sent Abu-Mazen messages telling him that Olmert’s promises don’t worth much).

    beside that, I for once agree with you that the one-state solution (or the civil rights movement) will gain momentum in the near future. unlike you, I think it’s great news, and the only possible way out of the political deadlock.

  10. Michael

    11/2/2009 at 12:50 pm

    Very interesting analysis. I agree with some of the points, but I have no idea what to make of the other.

    What’s wrong if Fayyad is building up Palestinian infrastructure, government institutions, and security force so he can declare independence? What additional “cards” will they gain? A seat at the UN? Since when did the UN actually bend the West against Israel? Have you looked at the UNHRC’s voting on the Goldstone Report? The Third World (with only a fraction actually caring) on one side, Israel, US, and Europe on the other.

    Maybe the Palestinians won’t be considered refugees after they declare independence? Any Arab in Lebanon who declares Palestinian nationality can’t possibly demand access to Israel when his country, Palestine (West Bank) is right next door. How many Palestinians in Jerusalem will risk losing access to Israeli benefits? Their Dayton forces can’t confront Israel in armed combat.

    What will the common people protest? Borders? They know only their leadership can negotiate that. The wall is defacto border.

    Far-Leftist Jews such from Mondoweiss and Co. can no longer fantasize about a South African or 60’s US end to Israel since any Israeli infraction into Palestine/West Bank is not about equal rights, but about security (though something that they can’t see in the current situation).

  11. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 12:57 pm

    Oh, and re the one-state solution: the Palestinians would be idiotic not to promote it, right? If you don’t have a final settlement, a last/best offer, etc., you put your maximal demands out there. This isn’t nefarious, it’s common sense– Negotiating 101. It doesn’t mean they won’t eventually settle for less, however.

  12. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 1:18 pm

    Noam, it doesn’t matter that Olmert was weak. The offer was on the table. How can you justify not accepting it? If Olmert makes that offer and the Palestinians accept, it would be nearly impossible for Israel to get out of the offer. There would be a deal and a Palestinian state. There is no other way to view the results of an accepted offer. Most Israelis, as you well know, want peace and will go quite far in compromising. If Olmert’s offer had been accepted, we’d have a Palestinian state.

    Michael, you raise a great question by asking what the benefits will be of unilateral statehood by the Palestinians and I will update the post to deal with this.

    Part of the strategy, in my opinion, is to scare Israel into believing the Palestinians will actually unilaterally declare statehood. The way they will do it in order to get approval and recognition by other states is to couch their language carefully so it appears they agree to 1967 borders including Jerusalem, but the weak language will permit the Palestinian entity to actually pursue statehood encompassing all of Israel.

    The benefits of statehood are many. Right now, on many international conventions, the Palestinians have no status because they’re not a “high contracting party,” i.e. a state. The minute they become a state with status among all nations, they can make many demands that they are precluded from making right now. Just as one example, consider that they had to ask the UNHRC to deal with the Goldstone Report by having other countries do their bidding. As a state, they could have taken diplomatic steps directly and on their own. The Hague and UNESCO conventions also deal with high contracting parties differently than with non-state actors.

  13. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 1:24 pm

    Middle, thanks for the response. Abbas isn’t hugging Israel back because, as you may nor may not know from personal experience, it’s different in a three-way. You don’t deny it, so I’ll assume you agree: Obama’s a game-changer. He’s maleable, certainly, but Marty Peretz is right, Middle– he’s the friendliest US president that Palis have ever had. Abbas is right to wait. Obama’s crucial to the endgame, if indeed that’s where we are.

    I don’t see this as mere delay for its own sake, as you do. Again, there is a rational and so far successful, long-term Palestinian strategy at work. Why should they condemn Goldstone or acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state?

    You’re likely incapable of this thought experiment, but look at it from their point of view. Why give ground on any issue before further negotiations?

    Here’s what I think (and I may be wrong) you don’t understand. Sharkansky is spinning a fantasy. There will be a Palestinian state. The status quo is an incipient catastrophe, much as Likudniks like you think it can be indefinitely sustained. Israel should have as much interest in Palestinian statehood– on terms acceptable to it– as the PA, and should aggressively move in this direction.

  14. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 1:29 pm

    Tom, this comment by you suggests to me that you either didn’t read the post at all or didn’t read it carefully. Try again.

    I don’t see this as mere delay for its own sake, as you do. Again, there is a rational and so far successful, long-term Palestinian strategy at work.

    You do realize that is EXACTLY the point I’m making, right?

    You Likudnik!

  15. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 1:33 pm

    Oh, and dear Likudnik Tom, just to be perfectly clear, not only am I capable of this thought experiment:

    Why give ground on any issue before further negotiations?

    But it is one of the key premises of this post. Of course they are giving nothing up in negotiations. That’s because they are not negotiating to close a deal, but negotiating to buy time. That’s the point of the post.

    Also, your statement about me agreeing with Sharkansky is completely off. I am critical of his article. Here’s what I wrote above aout Sharkansky’s thesis:

    This strikes me as the type of thinking I hear from many Israelis, both in the center and the right of the political spectrum. The consensus appears to be that Israel can continue to grow and thrive while the Palestinians continue to dither and miss opportunities to build their state.

    In order to agree with this premise, one has to believe the Palestinians seek a two state solution and their own state.

    They don’t.

    Get it? I am dismissing his POV as false.

    Come on, Tom, you’re making this too easy.

  16. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 1:34 pm

    Middle, Middle, Middle….

    “Listen, Israel has offered the Palestinians a state three times in the past decade. The last two offers should have ended the conflict. They did not. You can justify it with the reasoning that Olmert was a bad or weak PM, or excuse it by saying they were waiting for an Arab-friendly US President, but the bottom line is that you’re justifying the denial of a historic end to this century-old conflict. There is no excuse for this. None. It is negotiating cynically with no intention of closing a deal, because the negotiations have become one of a number of tactics in their war. You want to say that’s understandable and smart strategy, but I say it is the tell-tale sign that nobody here intends to achieve peace.”

  17. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 1:38 pm

    Middle, they’re negotiating to make a deal. You’re truly living in a right-wing fantasy land…. You’re mistaking their refusal to make concessions as belligerence, when in fact it’s sound deal-making.

  18. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 1:49 pm

    “Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian PM, has established a two year plan for creating the infrastructure of a Palestinian state.”

    Yet they’re not interested in a Palestinian state.

    Sure.

  19. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 1:49 pm

    Reread the post, Tom. Do it.

    As for,

    “You’re mistaking their refusal to make concessions as belligerence, when in fact it’s sound deal-making.”

    Just as keeping the refugee camps open is sound strategy, vilifying Israel as an apartheid state is sound strategy, publishing hateful textbooks is sound strategy, launching minor disturbances at the Temple Mount is sound strategy, etc., etc., etc., etc.

    It’s all sound strategy, if you believe the Palestinians are seeking a two state solution. However, while you say they have no reason to accept Israel as a Jewish state since that’s also sound strategy, I see it as affirmation that the reason the “gaps are too wide,” even when you make Jerusalem international, is that their intention is not two states. Other than continuing with your nonsensical insults about my political beliefs, do you actually have any evidence that what I’m saying is wrong? Anything at all?

  20. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 1:52 pm

    “Salam Fayyad, the Palestinian PM, has established a two year plan for creating the infrastructure of a Palestinian state.”

    Yet they’re not interested in a Palestinian state.

    It’s a win-win strategy. If you threaten a state with all the implications, it may get the Israelis to give up more. If they don’t fall for it and you actually declare a state, you couch your language in a way that keeps claim over all of Israel (since negotiations were never completed) and you benefit from all the benefits attendant to high contracting parties.

    Is that also Likudnik fantasy, Tom, or a well-reasoned claim?

  21. noam

    11/2/2009 at 3:21 pm

    the middle, as always, you ignore Palestinian internal politics completely. for Palestinian leaders, getting to the table is the hard part, since most of their concessions are symbolic (i.e. recognizing Israel, its borders, etc.). for Israelis, the hard part is the actual territorial concessions, while talking is cheap. you can see this dynamic at work right now.

    as for Abu-Mazen, agreeing to what Olmert offered and ending up with nothing would have cost him dearly. I also disagree with you saying that Israel protected of helped Abu-Mazen. Netanyahu played into Hamas’ hands since the start, and all but brought Abu-Mazen’s resignation.

    but all this is not so important. your bottom line is correct, and if I may, consistent with what you wrote in previous posts: the Israelis are wrong in thinking that the WB is the Palestinians’ problem. the debate over one state solution is around the corner. Israelis might think that they can live with it, like Micheal here says. I wouldn’t be so sure. it is a dangerous bet at best, which might result with losing everything – like the whites did in SA.

  22. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 3:22 pm

    Evidence, Middle? Cast your mind back, oh, twenty-four hours or so, when the US Secretary of State engaged in public (and admittedly inept)…. negotiating with the Palestinians. For a group that you claim has no interest in its own Palestinian state, or in negotiations, its actions say otherwise. I know, in your view, it’s all a demonic, cynical ruse, but such is the mentality of a conspiracy theorist.

  23. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 3:34 pm

    Tom, that isn’t evidence of anything. Last year they negotiated while settlement construction was ongoing, this year they won’t. Delay, delay, delay. You still haven’t proven the falsehood of anything I’ve said, you’ve just insulted me a number of times. Unimpressive.

    Noam, I am not ignoring internal Palestinian politics, I am ignoring the conventional wisdom about such politics. Abbas could have accepted the offer and it would have cost him nothing dear as you say. If it would have, you are just proving my point that such a deal is not what they are seeking. A deal on the table is something serious if you’re serious about peace. They were not serious which is why they could reject it and then mumble some excuse about “gaps” in positions even as Israel agrees to an international Jerusalem and everything from Taba.

    But yes, we are in agreement about the danger inherent in staying in Judea and Samaria.

  24. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 3:51 pm

    Middle, the Palestinians adopted what was US policy a few short months ago, i.e. a settlement ‘freeze’ as a condition precedent for negotiations. There’s a new US president, by the way– it’s in all the papers, and it should be plain to you that the Palestinians have spent the past several months supporting Obama’s pressure on Israel.

    Negotiating is evidence of an intent to negotiating. Though I understand your reliance on your well-connected, inside sources in Ramallah.

    All you offer, Middle– like the current Israeli gov’t.– is a rationale for doing nothing. The Palestinians won’t negotiate and want Tel Aviv, the world increasingly rejects Israel, but there’s nothing to be done except stave Obama off for as long as possible. Sounds like a plan to me.

  25. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 3:52 pm

    Oh, so it’s dangerous to stay– but we can’t leave.

    Now I get it.

  26. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 4:21 pm

    Tom, are you reading or not? In the second comment, I link to my previous post called Leaving the West Bank where I advocated for a unilateral Israeli withdrawal to the security barrier. I have since written a couple of times in this discussion that the Goldstone Report has caused me to rethink this position because it renders Israel incapable of defending itself.

    What’s going on with you today?

    I offer a rationale for doing nothing?!!

    I would gladly offer the Palestinians what Olmert proposed. Today! My vain hope is to see Netanyahu tell the Palestinians publicly that if they accept, he will propose a referendum in Israel over Olmert’s offer. That’s my prescription.

    The problem with my plan, Tom, is that the US under Obama screwed up seriously by making a demand even the Palestinians weren’t making, and by doing so they played right into Palestinian strategy to delay. I know they want to delay because unlike you, I don’t read the rejection of a peace offer that includes an international Jerusalem as a tactic, unless it’s a tactic in the endgame I describe. So maybe the problem isn’t my plan or Olmert or Netanyahu or the Pope, maybe the problem is the one you haven’t addressed: do the Palestinians seek peace with a two state solution?

    Now once again, explain to me how everywhere you turn all over the world, the Palestinians’ advocates are demanding a one state solution, but the PA which has contact with many of these Palestinian NGOs and supporters, direct and indirect, is actually advocating for a two state solution? Isn’t my proposal in this post, that they are playing a two-faced game where for political purposes they claim they seek two states while they delay in the hopes of achieving a single state through all their international advocacy efforts, logical?

    Of course it’s logical. There is nothing paranoid or sinister or terrified or Likudnik or conspiracist about it. I am simply looking at information that is plain as day and showing you how transparent the ruse has become.

    Contrary to what you suggest, that my suggestion undermines the reason for potential efforts by Israel to pursue peace, my suggestion as I think about this problem thanks to your comments, is to stick it right back to the Palestinians by publicly offering them the Taba deal (without the horizontal Temple Mount sovereignty BS) as loudly and publicly as possible. I would go to every conference, every public diplomatic forum, every newspaper available for an interview and exclaim that I’m ready to bring that deal to the Israeli public tomorrow.

    How do you think the Palestinians will respond?

  27. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 5:00 pm

    They would probably decline any offer that really isn’t the very best they could probably get under any reasonably foreseeable scenario. Stated differently, if the most pro-Palestinian president in history told them, sorry, this is the best you’ll be able to do, that would be your ‘endgame.’

    Short of that, as you note, world opinion is trending in their favor, and even a substantial part of the US Jewish community would support, or at least acquiesce in, hard US pressure on Israel. So they do well to hold fast for now. Who knows, maybe Obama will revive the settlement freeze. The situation is still fluid and, thanks partly to Obama, uncertain, and in this context no doubt the Palestinians would decline any renewed, Taba-style offer.

  28. Tom Morrissey

    11/2/2009 at 5:06 pm

    But why leave it up to them? The oddly passive, hunker-down Likud approach perversely empowers the Palestinians, who in every material respect are in a grossly inferior position vis-a-vis Israel. Why not shape the situation affirmatively? Bibi should be courting Obama with a peace plan of his own, not just playing defense.

  29. Michael

    11/2/2009 at 6:10 pm

    themiddle,

    “Just as one example, consider that they had to ask the UNHRC to deal with the Goldstone Report by having other countries do their bidding.”

    Non-Palestinians have represented the Palestinian cause for over 60 years. How many times have you heard the dictator from Libya giving a speech on behalf of Palestinian rights? Even hard-lefty Jews have campaigned on behalf of the Palestinians. Chavez, Afterdinnerjazz, and Ghaddafi have all campaigned on behalf of the Palestinians. Perhaps if the Palestinians did declare independence, they could speak for themselves at the UN instead of these loonies.

  30. themicah

    11/2/2009 at 6:51 pm

    I have to say I largely agree with Middle here (man, that’s twice in a week that I’m defending the guy–next thing you know I’ll be dusting off my own Likud membership card!).

    As long as the right of return for all 1948 refugees and their descendants is a Palestinian precondition for coming to the table, it’s very difficult to say with a straight face that the Palestinians would accept a two state solution.

    I agree with Tom that this doesn’t mean we should stop trying to work toward a two-state solution anyway. But I’m not sure that Middle is disagreeing with that either.

    What we need are possible alternatives to the right of return to put on the table and force the issue. For example, $1 million in “nakba reparations” for each Palestinian family (to be distributed per stirpes) that can reasonably demonstrate it lost a home in Israel’s war of independence. Yeah, the Palestinians will reject it as trying to put a price on an inalienable right they have (after all, EVERY Palestinian family owned a priceless mansion and an ancient olive grove in 1946, right?). And the Holocaustism-is-the-new-Judaism crowd will reject it for drawing moral equivalency between the Shoah and the nakba. But it will force the issue out into the open instead of the two sides batting it back and forth as an excuse not to negotiate.

  31. themiddle

    11/2/2009 at 8:48 pm

    Themicah, the Taba deal includes an offer of $30 billion in reparations. If there are 6 million Palestinians, that’s about a million households. You will see that’s a very generous offer.

    Michael, let them declare independence. If they do, I will bet anything that the language of their statehood declaration will not preclude them from maintaining a posture of seeking all of Israel for themselves. I doubt it, though, because I think they believe they are just a few years away from the international community slapping Israel around.

    Tom, wow, no insults there. No ad hominem attacks. I’m surprised.

    They would probably decline any offer that really isn’t the very best they could probably get under any reasonably foreseeable scenario. Stated differently, if the most pro-Palestinian president in history told them, sorry, this is the best you’ll be able to do, that would be your ‘endgame.’

    And then,

    The oddly passive, hunker-down Likud approach perversely empowers the Palestinians, who in every material respect are in a grossly inferior position vis-a-vis Israel. Why not shape the situation affirmatively? Bibi should be courting Obama with a peace plan of his own, not just playing defense.

    Why would the right-wing Israeli leader act any differently than what you propose for the Palestinian leader? How is it to his advantage? He needs to come to the Israelis and say, “This is the best deal we will ever get.”

    But your notion is false, Tom. The idea that Israel will give up more than has been offered is false. Olmert crossed a line that could have failed in a referendum. I doubt that Israel will ever offer more than what he offered. If you believe that the Palestinians should expect more, even with Obama in power, you are just as wrong as Abbas. Abbas must have known this. He just thinks it costs him nothing to wait. I realize you think that’s good negotiating, but I view it as a crime. There could be peace.

  32. dahlia

    11/3/2009 at 9:23 am

    great post! :)

  33. Tom Morrissey

    11/3/2009 at 12:21 pm

    Middle, if Olmert “crossed a line that could have failed in a referendum”, why would you urge his proposals on the Palestinians? Isn’t the idea to do a deal that will have legitimacy on both sides?

    “Why would the right-wing Israeli leader act any differently than what you propose for the Palestinian leader?”

    Because Palestinian waiting has been more fruitful than Israeli waiting. It wasn’t so long ago, after all, that Palestinians lacked recognition as a people. Meanwhile, as Obama noted in his now-infamous, “daylight” meeting with Jewish leaders, what did 8 years of nearly-unlimited US backing do for Israel? Growing isolation, legal scrutiny, rocket attacks– you know the litany.

    Bibi should be proactive because, while he’s won a Pyrrhic victory over Obama on the settlements ‘freeze’, he’s got 3 to 7 more years of struggle ahead. As the collapse of Obama’s domestic agenda continues apace, he’ll look for foreign policy milestones to create a legacy. He wants to do for Palestine what Truman did for Israel. Bibi should be at work now on selling Obama on a final settlement which Obama can depict to the Palestinians and the world as the P’s last and final opportunity. The Palestinians will continue to wait absent such a clear signal.

    The US– our military, our diplomatic coalition, our economic aid, our ransom for the right of return– will end this, not the parties and mere bilateral efforts.

    If you want a rough template for this, look at Obama’s policies vis-a-vis Iran’s nukes. The mullahs will get us to bargain against ourselves and play for time until they’re given an ultimatum. No deadline, no final demands, nothing will get accomplshed.

  34. Kung Fu Jew 18

    11/3/2009 at 2:24 pm

    I think the core of middle’s argument is bogus — you don’t quote or reference a single Palestinian or Arab opinion poll. There are people who do that work. You’re living in a made up world, middle. Any accuracy is coincidental.

    Although I too support a two-state solution and hope the fearmongering of middle that the Jewish state will cease to exist without one will spur people to DO something to support its creation.

  35. themiddle

    11/3/2009 at 3:14 pm

    KFJ 18, are you kidding me?!

    Here’s a poll conducted by a peace movement called OneVoice dated to April of 2009.

    I’m quoting some of the Palestinian responses, but you should read the entire poll. The percentages I quote reflect the word “essential” of the four choices given to those polled.

    Historic Palestine – From the Jordanian river to the
    71%

    Two state solution – Two states for two
    peoples: Israel and Palestine 38%

    Right of return AND compensation 87%

    Right of return without compensation 17%

    Refugees who do not wish to return to Israel
    should be offered compensation for their loss 31%

    All the settlers should leave the occupied
    territories/West Bank and settlements demolished 98%

    Settlers can stay in Palestine/a future Palestine
    if they take up Palestinian citizenship 10%

    Am I in fantasy-land, KFJ, or are you?

  36. themicah

    11/3/2009 at 4:13 pm

    Here’s a proper link (PDF) to that report (the one Middle posted was broken).

    Middle, I think your use of those stats is a bit misleading. Looking at the numbers in context, I find the responses of “unacceptable” (out of choices of “essential,” “desirable,” “acceptable,” “tolerable” and “unacceptable”) more illustrative.

    While 71% of Pals consider Greater Palestine “essential,” only 24% of Pals consider a two-state solution “unacceptable,” which seems to suggest that the meaning of “essential” wasn’t well understood by the people being polled (it looks like it was interpreted as “most desirable”). Also, it’s interesting that far more Pals find a single shared solution “unacceptable” (43-59%, depending on what kind of shared state) than find a two-state solution unacceptable.

    The more disturbing statistic, however, is that 75% of Pals polled find it “unacceptable” to limit the number of refugees returning to Israel. Yet I find that hard to reconcile with the responses #6 and #7 on Table 3, which gives me hope.

  37. themiddle

    11/3/2009 at 4:33 pm

    What is it with the insults on this thread? Now I’m misleading with the stats? I encouraged you to read the poll for yourself and provided links to the report and the organization.

    Second, the issue is not whether 24% consider a two state solution unacceptable, what matters is how they view the two states. For example, I showed a 38% “essential” response to the question in the same section that asks “Two state solution – Two states for two peoples: Israel and Palestine” That seems to be the best news on here and far better than your reading of the “only” 24% consider a 2 state solution “unacceptable.”

    How do they view the two states? What the stats I quoted show is that the state we’ll call Palestine will have absolutely no Jews in it, since 98% of Palestinians believe it is essential that all the settlers should leave the occupied territories/West Bank. The question doesn’t state whether this includes east Jerusalem, but I suspect that for many of them it does.

    The other state they would allow (if we accept your generous reading of those who would accept a two state solution) will be called Israel. It will be composed of Jewish Israelis, non-Jewish Israelis of whom most are Arabs, and… all those Palestinian “refugees” (by which they mean all Palestinians) that also move into Israel. We know that they view this as part of the second state because a full 87% of them state it is essential that refugees be given the right to move into Israel AND receive compensation. A full 48% consider any alternative as unacceptable and 75% are in the “unacceptable” column regarding any sort of limitation on the numbers of refugees – “The number of refugees returning to Israel should be limited to family members and numbers agreed between Israel and Palestine/the Palestinians” 75% “Unacceptable.”

    I don’t think I wrote anything misleading, do you still think so?

    I also think that this poll reflects what I wrote in the post above. The Palestinians think they are at the stage where they can get what they want if they just push hard enough over the next few years. You could make the argument that in name they agree to two states, but in fact, they are seeking to make Israel into another Palestine. I don’t think there is another way to read to 87% “essential” that refugees be given the right to move into Israel with 75% “unacceptable” on denying a limitation on refugees who move into Israel.

  38. josh

    11/3/2009 at 6:59 pm

    Very weird that someone called middle a rightie! There are some ‘realistic elements in this piece but maybe the only novelty here is that middle is getting a bit more realistic, but just a bit. Many, many fallacies in the piece.

    Morrisey, the Palestinians are not negotiating at all. They have shown that they do not budge on anything and do not even verbally suggest compromise. They just show up to the negotiating table, we offer something, and then there are negotiations about how much we will give them/away. For example; they claim to need police. They say they need 50 000 para-military equipped soldiers, we say 10 000 policemen (like in Israel). They counter and say 50 000 with assault guns, we counter with offering 5000 AK-47s, etc…

    And the demographics are BS, unfortunately middle did mention this but kept with the sky is falling news instead. Plunging birthrates occur when society gets materialistic. The young Arabs look at us, leasing cars, plasma tvs, and other items and decide that having so many kids prevents enjoying this.

    I still don’t understand why you are proud to be in the middle. On one side, the left with a deathwish to take us down before the religious take over the country, and on the other side the patriotic right-wing.

  39. themiddle

    11/3/2009 at 7:29 pm

    Point out the fallacies

  40. themicah

    11/3/2009 at 8:12 pm

    No insults intended. Just further discussion.

    In this survey, “the person being interviewed…was asked which options they considered to be ‘Essential’, ‘Desirable’, ‘Acceptable’, ‘Tolerable’ or ‘Unacceptable’ as part of a peace agreement.”

    There is major dissonance between 71% of Palestinians considering it “essential” that a peace agreement include “Historic Palestine — from the Jordan river to the sea,” and only 24% considering it “unacceptable” that a peace agreement include a “Two state solution – Two states for two peoples: Israel and Palestine,” since these two features of a peace agreement are incompatible.

    If I understand you right, you reconcile the two numbers by saying that the overwhelming support for right of return means that the 76% majority of Palestinians who find a two state solution at least tolerable are assuming that both states will end up being Palestinian by virtue of demographics.

    But there is dissonance in the right of return numbers as well. How is it that 49% of Palestinians will at least tolerate resettling refugees outside of Israel without any compensation at all (and 25% consider it essential!) when 87% consider it essential to have both right of return AND compensation?

    I agree with you that demands for full right of return moot any talk of a two state solution. But these numbers are very hard to interpret.

    Perhaps something is getting lost in the translation between what the Palestinians were asked in Arabic and how the numbers are being presented in English? Or am I missing something else?

  41. themiddle

    11/3/2009 at 9:02 pm

    I don’t think there’s dissonance. The questions are broken up into sections that make things confusing. But take a look at each section with a broad overview. Forget the details for a moment and just seek out the larger percentages. The picture becomes clear instantly.

    The way to reconcile the problem you bring up is answered by the demand that 98% of Palestinians want every last settler gone from “settlements.” In other words, they want the Jews elsewhere and not among them. As you know, this was what Jordan did in 1948 and 1949 to any Jews who were still on land they conquered, so there is a historical precedent.

    The question that so confuses things for you is the one where the Palestinians are asked whether a peace agreement should include two states for two people. This isn’t so confusing when you think about the Palestinians seeking to evict every last Jewish settler. Your answer is that they want the Jews “over there” and not “over here.”

    At the same time, the Palestinian public is adamant that all refugees, without limitation, should be eligible for “return” to the land upon which Israel sits today. This is a core belief almost as powerful as the core belief that not a single Jewish settler may remain in their home and live with Palestinians. The 71% supporting “Historic Palestine — from the Jordan river to the sea” are also providing a very solid majority, in fact almost an unassailable majority considering that 59% of them believe this for religious reasons.

    So:
    – A state from river to sea
    – All refugees can “return” without limitation
    – No Jews can live among Palestinians in the new Palestine
    – There needs to be another state for the Jewish people

    Obviously, the average Palestinian who is being interviewed wants the Jewish people to live “elsewhere,” just not in the land where Israel sits today because that will have to be Palestine.

    The good news is that nobody asked the Palestinians whether they should use violence to remove all the Jews from the state where they are not supposed to be, the one from the river to the sea inhabited by Palestinians from all over the world.

    I actually don’t think the survey is suggesting genocide or ethnic cleansing other than in Judea and Samaria/West Bank where all the settlers are expected to leave. I think the survey is giving the Palestinians a wish list and it just so happens that what they really want conflicts with the reality, namely the fact that they can’t really get rid of the Israelis. In their wish list, therefore, they give the Israelis a second state…without being clear where it would reside. Maybe in Kansas.

  42. Tori

    11/4/2009 at 12:48 am

    Time could be a good thing for Israel too. If Israel develops an alternative to oil (or any country) then the “game” will totally change.

  43. Tori

    11/4/2009 at 12:51 am

    Another thing to think about: The world may indeed become more anti-Semitic as a result of this propaganda. But what will happen if it does? Maybe more Jews will move to Israel. Maybe even a few hundred thousand, or even a million depending on how bad it gets. This isn’t good news (the violent anti-Semitism), but it just goes to show that nobody can predict the future. The Palestinians may be banking on this “time” game, but it doesn’t mean anything.

  44. themiddle

    11/4/2009 at 1:19 am

    You may be right. I didn’t predict victory for the Palestinians. I am just writing about what I believe is their current game plan.

  45. themicah

    11/4/2009 at 11:48 am

    So you’re saying that the 76% of Palestinians who find a two state solution at least tolerable are assuming that the Jewish state would be located somewhere completely different?

    And I still fail to understand how it can be that 49% of Palestinians find it at least tolerable to resettle refugees outside of Israel without any compensation at all (and 25% consider it essential!) when 87% consider it essential to have both right of return AND compensation. That means at least 12% of Palestinians consider it “essential” to BOTH resettle refugees elsewhere without compensation AND to resettle refugees in Israel proper with compensation, which makes absolutely no sense given how the statements are phrased.

    The bottom line is that you can cherry pick specific responses from this survey to support just about any argument, because the responses seem to be all over the map.

  46. themiddle

    11/4/2009 at 1:35 pm

    Here’s another poll, from March, 2009.

    pcpsr.org/surv...

    There is a proposal that after the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and the settlemnet of all issues in dispute, including the refugees and Jerusalem issues, there will be a mutual recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people and Palestine as the state of the Palestinians people. Do you agree or disagree to this proposal?

    1) Definitely agree

    5.6

    2) agree

    44.3

    3) disagree

    36.9

    4) definitely disagree

    10.6

    5) DK/NA

    2.6

  47. themiddle

    11/4/2009 at 1:57 pm

    Oh, and today Saeb erakat informed the world that the Palestinians may have to forego any further discussion of a two state solution.

    haaretz.com/ha...

  48. Tom Morrissey

    11/4/2009 at 2:37 pm

    Not the “world”, Middle. Rahm, Ax and Barack.

    Erekat is astute enough to know that Obama’s the potential game-changer. You rather infrequently reference our president these days; one infers that your singular brand of Likudnik/Obami politics is still very much a work in progress. (How do you think your first choice for prez did on her Middle East tour?)

    You may not be engaging in ‘fearmongering’, but your analysis is grossly fear-driven. Who gives a rat’s ass about Palestinian public opinion? What do you think the result would be if you polled Serbs whether they want Kosovo back? Think most Russians would love to topple the Kiev government and retrieve Ukraine? How is this relevant to anything? Who cares whether the Palestinians want all of Israel in a perfect world?

    Reading you these days, you’d think Palestine had the nuclear weapons, incomparably the strongest army in the region, the support of the world’s hyperpower, etc.

    My point about proactivity is this: A Palestinian state is either in Israel’s interests or it isn’t. Bibi, one suspects, thinks not (despite his grudging endorsement of a two-state approach). If you agree with me that it is, your focus should be on urging policies designed to bring that about– and opposing pollcies, like WB expansionism, that retard it.

    Or should we hold all of this hostage to Israel’s lousy poll numbers in Nablus?

    It’s hard not to conclude that your writing these days amounts to a defense of (a defense of) the status quo– in that regard, you line up right behind Likud.

    (btw, as we learned again last night, if you choose to trust polls, make sure it’s Rasmussen.)

  49. themiddle

    11/4/2009 at 2:53 pm

    I infrequently mention our President these days because I have nothing to say as he bumbles and maneuvers. It would be nice if he actually finished something. My first choice for prez sucked on her current Mid-East tour. If the Republicans hadn’t been so, so, so, so, so, so terrible for our country, there might be days when I would reconsider my opinions about voting for McCain. Then again, in defense of Hilary, she is espousing the views of her boss.

    My analysis is not “fear driven” and it is not “fear mongering.” It is an analysis. When you know what you are up against, you change tactics. The idea is that we’ve entered a period where the Palestinians intend to use means other than suicide bombs to achieve their goals, and what I’m reading from their behavior is supreme confidence about the outcome of their various campaigns around the globe.

    Your comment about who has nuclear weapons is ridiculous. You can’t explode one in Gaza without getting the fallout on your own people. So nukes are out. It also turns out that if you fight as an army against the pseudo-armies the Palestinians use, then you are committing war crimes. So that’s out as well. The silliest thing about your comment is that for a sports fan you seem to forget that the game is played even when there is an overwhelming underdog because sometimes the underdog wins. Even if they don’t win, just by playing they can cause injuries to your players or harm to your team.

    As for being pro-active, you seem to forget that prior to Goldstone and the Toronto Film Festival protests, I wrote a lengthy post about being pro-active. I recommended and then defended at length the proposition that Israel should unilaterally leave Judea and Samaria/West Bank. Today, I have serious doubts whether the outcome of Goldstone’s commission leaves that option dead. At the same time, we saw the face of the new war the Palestinians are waging in the letters and media war run by the film festival protesters and boycotters. Apartheid and ethnic cleansing were on the menu. Tel Aviv itself was dismissed, essentially making the claim that nothing in Israel is actually justifiably there.

    I’m really unsure why you are so adamant about lining me up with or next to the Likud while some of the others here are busy lining up next to the Communists. Instead of labeling me, which is a silly exercise, why don’t you try to remember that I am independent of any group or particular ideology. I am very supportive of Israel, obviously, but my ideology is to try to be pragmatic in my views about Israel and this conflict and that’s about it.

  50. Tom Morrissey

    11/4/2009 at 3:07 pm

    If Israel didn’t think nuclear weapons worth the trouble, Middle, I assume it wouldn’t bother maintaining them. As for conventional use of force– I don’t think, and surely you don’t think, that Israeli military tactics going forward will be trimmed to meet with Goldstone’s approval. No one believes that, right? (Sadly, time will probably tell.)

    Underdogs can improve their positions at the margins, but no– they really don’t win. Not unless the stronger power, to use Paul Kennedy’s term, engages in imperial overstretch.

    Applying a Kennedy analysis to Israel– isn’t that the problem with its potential death-grip in the WB? Even if it withdraws from most of it, terrible things are likely to happen, just as horrible suffering attended European decolonization in the 40s and 50s. It’s nonetheless in Israel’s interests, regardless of what Erekat is telling the press.

  51. themiddle

    11/4/2009 at 3:21 pm

    Oh, we agree that it’s in Israel’s interest to leave most of Judea and Samaria, even if it’s the cradle of Jewish civilization. However, we disagree about the impact of Goldstone and its implications for establishing some defense perimeter for Israel. Judea and Samaria sit right next door to some of Israel’s most populous centers. If the Gaza experience is repeated, especially with the IDF’s arms ties behind its back, the situation will become very challenging and will lead to a brutal war. Israel needs to wait to see developments before the WB is back on the menu.

    Your comment about underdogs doesn’t hold water. I seem to recall the Giants winning a Super Bowl just a couple of years ago after a mediocre season. Never underestimate an opponent.

  52. Tom Morrissey

    11/4/2009 at 4:10 pm

    Talk to me if Pedro wins tonight.

    You know, George Mitchell is retiring at the end of the year. You should send your resume for a gig as aide to the next Middle East czar, Jon Corzine.

  53. themiddle

    11/5/2009 at 1:12 am

    Very funny about Corzine. You think he’d hire a person who goes by an alias? I actually would be pretty good at the job.

  54. themicah

    11/5/2009 at 11:15 am

    I’d support a Corzine + themiddle team for Middle East czar.

  55. themiddle

    11/5/2009 at 1:15 pm

    I can be diplomatic, you know.

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