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The Pullback May Outflank the PA

Reader comment on item: Sharon Loses His Way On Israeli 'Settlements'

Submitted by Jonathan Pfeffer, Feb 11, 2004 at 23:06

I usually agree with your views, but forgive me if I can't agree with you on this one. You give two arguments against an Israeli pullback and I must strongly disagree with both. Keeping in mind that Sharon is drawing the border (I hope) at Israel's most optimistic line.

You seem to want to express the "losing face" argument that appearing weak vs strong are the central issues of this conflict. You don't use the term ‘losing face' as many others do, but you do stress the question of Arab perception of Israeli weakness. An Israeli pullback is neither a sign of weakness or an appeasement. It is however, an opportunity for Israel to out maneuver the Palestinians should Israel make the right moves. And furthermore while these maneuvers are taking place, it is not that important that Israel explain the moves to the Arabs so they can understand them. Nor do we need to worry so much about whether they feel empowered by these moves. The question is; Are these the right moves? In time, the Arab adversary will understand what Israel's move was really all about. Until then, let them be fooled. Let them have a false sense of victory. It won't be the first time, or the last time in history in which a nation has been outflanked after being lulled into a false sense of victory.

Concerning your second point about whether the settlements are an obstacle to peace. You correctly point out that they are only a minor obstacle. I don't think however, that Sharon's move has anything to do with unblocking an obstacle to peace. Sharon is not trying to bring the reluctant Arabs to the table. Au contraire, Sharon is trying to keep them away for a while. Just long enough so he can ‘be forced' to act unilaterally and not be blamed by the road mappers in Washington.

I believe as you do that a popular myth clouds most peoples thinking on this conflict. The myth is that for peace to happen both sides must compromise and sign a permanent peace between two equals. Sharon is turning to plan B. Plan B involves engineering circumstances in the absence of Palestinian cooperation. Sharon wants to transform the conflict from one of a conflict about the ‘plight' of a people to one of borders. Motivated by good old national vanity. Just as Chile and Argentina are eternally squabbling over which deserted island down at the tip of South America belongs to whom, so will the conflict between Israel and Palestine be transformed into a squabble over which hill really belongs to which Middle East state. What do you think the Palestinians will do after the Israeli pullout? Refuse to allow their people to get on with life in Palestine until Israel redraws the line?

The Palestinians need Arab civilians under Israeli feet. This is the policy of mayhem practiced by all Palestinian factions. It is the means by which they carry out their war against Israel. The pullback in a sense, calls the Palestinian bluff. The "brutal occupation' is really what the Palestinians are fighting against. Well in that case, Israel agrees, let's end it.

By abandoning these territories to Arab control, Israel strengthens her own position. Israel creates a situation where Arab intransigence works to Israel's advantage not detriment. With everyone on the right side of the line/border/wall or whatever you call it that separates the two peoples, time can only erode the political details of this conflict and serve to weaken any claims the Arabs have regarding the fairness of the line. To me a much bigger issue is just making sure that the right people end up on the right side of the fence.

Mr Pipes, here is the bottom line. The pullback eliminates the displaced and wretched Palestinians as a contemporary issue that needs immediate attention. Displaced Palestinians will then only be a theoretical issue. The Palestinian strugglers of today, thrives on displacement and victimization. They need to be oppressed, starved, check point delayed, have their olive trees picked by Jewish ‘settlers'. These are the elements of victimization that sustains the war on Israel. In one fell swoop Israel will be castrating their cause of its central theme. The only thing that they will have left will be a theoretical border issue, an historical claim against the Jewish state. Israel may deal with these issues on day, but only when the tantrum has been abated and terrorism eliminated. Then, perhaps Israel will give back a hill or two in exchange for Palestinian acceptance.
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