Under The Sun

Sunday, May 04, 2003



Steven Den Beste:

"The quest for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians has been a frustrating one. Plan after plan has been floated; deals have been made and broken. The single biggest reason why is that through it all the Palestinians have never given up the ambition of wiping Israel off the map and retaking control of the territory they possessed in 1947, which is to say all of it.

"There have been negotiations, pious statements, agreements, treaties, mediators, promises – but no important progress. All we have to show for it is a lot of graves, a lot of maimed people, economic ruin for the Palestinians, and Israel's economy damaged.

"I think we're finally on a path which will bring about peace. But that's because there's finally a leader in the US who has been willing to stand up and tell the truth: the Palestinians are the real problem, especially their leaders. There are only three ways that peace can come to the region: if all the Israelis are dead, if all the Palestinians are dead, or if the Palestinians give up the struggle. Israelis won't accept the first, and are too decent to will the second, so that leaves only the third alternative."

Is this right? No but yes: the reason why it's technically not quite right is exactly the reason why it gets at the truth. The problem is that from the political perspective, there is no such entity as "the Palestinians". "The Palestinians" can't participate in any process, let alone a peace process, because they lack the political cohesion necessary to act as a unit. Yes, the fact that Isreal prevents them from having an economy makes it harder for the them to cohere. But that's a surmountable problem, and they haven't surmounted it. Until they do--until their right hand is able to keep their left hand away from the explosives--there can be no negotiations, because there is no one for Israel to negotiate with.

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