Saturday, June 20, 2009

Footnote to the preceding, Four

A couple of months ago, in the wake of the Gaza War, in an exchange at another blog, I was asked by a pro-Israel commenter what I thought would be a "reasonable" course of action for the Israelis. So I listed a few proposals, quoted here:

- Stop trying to claim the role of innocent victim. ("And before you jump," I told my interlocutor, "I didn’t say you were making that claim, I said the Israelis - or, to be more exact, the various Israeli governments - have done so.")

- End the blockade of Gaza, which has even included things like cement, steel, glass, spare parts for water and sewage treatment plants, medical equipment, and spare parts for hospitals, the latter two of which somehow did not meet Israel’s definition of humanitarian aid. Stop engaging in collective punishment, which is both immoral and contrary to international law (and counterproductive to boot).

- Abandon the fantasy that Hamas now could (any more than in the past Fatah could) simply snap its fingers and all terrorist, including rocket, attacks would immediately stop. Hamas can control rocket attacks, as it did during the summer 2008 ceasefire: During the period July-October, a total of 11 rockets were fired out of Gaza. But it can’t eliminate them, as it is not the only group firing them. In fact, the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center says that the rocket attacks in November 2008 were the first with evidence of the direct involvement of Hamas.

- Specifically and clearly avow a commitment to the establishment of a viable Palestinian state and mean it. No, Israel has never done that except in a vague philosophical sense and always with a string of preconditions. Offer to meet without preconditions with a joint Hamas-Fatah delegation to discuss how to achieve that end. Publicly accept that matters such as security guarantees will come as part of such an agreement, not as precursors to it.

- Pledge to accept the results of elections among the Palestinians - even if you don’t like the outcome.

- Prosecute Israelis who committed war crimes in Gaza.

- Tear down the sections of the so-called “separation fence” that extend beyond the Green Line. (I actually think the whole thing should be torn down, but the right of Israel to build it inside the Green Line can’t be reasonably denied.) Dismantle the apartheid imposed on the West Bank and put an end to the routine humiliation of Palestinians at border checkpoints, humiliation which has nothing to do with security and everything to do with bigotry. Discipline soldiers who engage in such humiliation.

- Stop expropriating Palestinian lands, especially in and around Jerusalem.

- Stop being the side to break a ceasefire the vast majority of the time.

As I said then, I expect I could think of more. In fact, right now I could add stop making bogus "offers," stop all settlement construction, accept "in principle" a Palestinian right of return, and stop threatening the civil liberties of Arabs and Palestinians.

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