Anyway, this whole situation with the Obama speech and everything has gotten me pretty wound up. At first, when I just heard the reports of the speech, it didn't sound so bad, and he did say some things I liked, the stuff about not forcing anyone to sign an agreement, the problems with the Hamas deal, etc. Then I read the transcript, which said:
The United States believes that negotiations should result in two states, with permanent Palestinian borders with Israel, Jordan and Egypt, and permanent Israeli borders with Palestine. The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states. The Palestinian people must have the right to govern themselves, and reach their potential, in a sovereign and contiguous state.
It was the word "contiguous" that really got me. Ummm, how exactly can the West Bank and Gaza make a contiguous Palestinian State while maintaining the contiguity of Israel? It almost sounds like Obama believes Israel has no right to any land in the area and they should be happy they are being "allowed" to keep any of it. Another part that got to me was:
Palestinians should know the territorial outlines of their state; Israelis should know that their basic security concerns will be met. I know that these steps alone will not resolve this conflict. Two wrenching and emotional issues remain: the future of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. But moving forward now on the basis of territory and security provides a foundation to resolve those two issues in a way that is just and fair and that respects the rights and aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians.So even after giving up the West Bank and Gaza and a strip connecting them, Israel still can't rely on peace. But wasn't that the whole point of this entire process? Wasn't this all about the formula "land for peace"???? Is it now just, "land for nothing"? Maybe it is "land for maybe we will not look our noses down upon you for a little while but not much else"? I don't remember any party that has been told to just accept the other parties position as their opening position. It really seems that first they will turn the clock back to 1967, then they will turn it back to 1948.
It is always possible that I am wrong about all this. There are really two choices, either Obama didn't comprehend what he said or he is really that Anti-Israel. Reading the Washington Post and the New York Times, it really seems that nobody on the left has really thought this through. They are focusing on the creation of a Palestinian State and not on what that state will do to Israel or what will happen a few years down the line after an agreement. I think the biggest points which are not understood well enough are:
- President Abbas' term ended on January 9th, 2009, so for almost the last 2.5 years this guy has "ruled" the PA without any democratic authority. He was supposed to hold an election but it seemed likely that Hamas would win and then they would be in control of both Gaza and the West Bank. The thing is, as part of his "reconciliation" with Hamas, he has promised to hold elections, likely this fall. So Israel might make a deal with the PA (technically the PLO, but Abbas heads both), but then have to rely on Hamas to implement it. Nothing could possibly go wrong in that scenario could it?
- People seem to brush off the fact that Israel was only 9 miles wide before the Six Day War. I think they are thinking that "hey Israel still has the strongest military in the area so no matter how wide the country is, they will be able to defeat any enemy." That may or may not be true of a conventional war (even the Israelis are in danger if Egypt with their M-1's becomes a full fledged enemy once again), but Hamas fights using non-conventional means. What does a 9-mile width mean in this scenario? It means that the hills of the West Bank are close enough to Tel Aviv, that you can see the skyscrapers. This will make rocket/missile fire that much deadlier. Hamas won't even have to use advanced weaponry anymore to do real damage, they can just launch a bunch of Qassam's, they are bound to hit something valuable at some point at that range.
- What exactly will be Israel's recourse after they give the land up? Once "Palestine" is a member of the UN, even if they are the aggressor, it will be just that much harder for Israel to retaliate against attacks. In fact, you probably will have a UN force there to make sure the Israelis can't make any physical incursions into Lebanon and also limit their ability to retaliate against attacks. I remember seeing a picture of UN forces standing up, telling the Israelis not to shoot, while Lebanese troops were firing into Israel. You can imagine that Israel will really have their hands tied once the Palestinians have a full state and UN membership. Israel will probably be told to take the matter up with the ICC or something (it would be funny if it weren't so sad).
- What about all the Jewish historic sites in the West Bank? We have the Old City of Jerusalem, Joseph's Tomb, Rachel's Tomb, the Cave of the Patriarchs, all very holy and important places. Are we supposed to have faith that there will be full access to Jews to these sites? Before 1967, there was no access to Jews at all, and recently a Palestinian policeman murdered a Jewish worshiper at Joseph's Tomb. That really gives you faith that Jews will have access to their holy sites.
- Palestinians have been murdering Jews well before there was a state, started the PLO before 1967 and don't even talk about actually making peace with the Jews at all, they just talk about how much land they want.