Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Well, yes, pretending that Palestine is The Gate and The Key to unlocking the many and more entangled geopolitical and regional interests in the Mideast is not a productive mode of thought.

However, at a bare minimum, any proposal to solve anything in Palestine and the immediate environs will need to address three questions:

  • Where do the refugees in the camps go? Nobody wants them, except - maybe - a future Palestinian state. Nobody knows where the refugees themselves want to go, because they're not being asked. Are we just going to designate a random patch of the Sahara, pipe in desalinated water from the Mediterranean and try to set up a state for them with or without their consent? Because unless that is your plan, you don't have anything resembling a coherent policy until and unless you have a lineup of states that are or should be willing to take the refugees and to which the refugees have any desire to go.

  • Would conditions for the Palestinians on the West Bank and in Gaza be better under Israeli sovereignty, Palestinian sovereignty or Jordanian (resp. Egyptian) sovereignty (who else is there, realistically, who can exercise sovereignty over the areas)? And the latter option is conditioned on the Egyptians and Jordanians not running away screaming when they hear of a plan that involves them sticking their heads into the hornets' nest... Here you need to show your math - hand waving about culture or religion is not a substitute for economic, strategic and political analysis.

  • What are you going to do with the Israeli settlements? Without either dismantling them or integrating them into Palestine/Jordan (or integrating the entire West Bank into Israel - but that would be effectively the same thing as dismantling the settlements...), the West Bank will be little more than a cruel parody of an American Indian reservation. And if you dismantle them or attempt to integrate them in any way that isn't outright Apartheid, how are you going to deal with the hissy fit that the settlers and various Israeli fundagelicals are gonna throw?

These are not trivial technical details that can be shoved under the carpet for later solution - they are the material and political linchpins of the Palestinian conflict. A proposal that doesn't at least attempt to address them is, with apologies to Wolfgang Pauli, not even wrong.

Undermining, eliminating or co-opting the colonial powers, the local oligarchs and the other shady characters who benefit from continued conflict is certainly a good idea. If for no other reason, then because undermining, eliminating or co-opting colonial powers is usually a good idea all on its own... But I am not convinced that this will do anything to actively resolve the conflict, although it might prevent gratuitous addition of fuel to the fire.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 7th, 2009 at 02:02:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you want to let the entire resolution be determined by a group of magic sand people? It is a given that there are irrational and unyielding people on both sides, but they cannot continue to block the desires of everyone else.

That they have so much apparent influence is because they are granted it by those who want to maintain the status quo.

As for those trapped as refugees in other Arab states, the new component that I'm suggesting is giving them a big pot of money. You would be surprised at how the prospect of having a group of people with money to spend alters the attitudes of local officials towards immigrants.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 7th, 2009 at 02:58:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, I'm perfectly prepared to strong-arm even a very large number of magic sand people. But there are underlying economic and political issues that cannot necessarily be solved simply by throwing money at the problem. If you don't have water, it doesn't matter how many euro you have. If you don't have a house, it doesn't matter how many euro you have. If you don't have citizenship somewhere, it doesn't matter how many euro you have.

The Palestinian population, both inside and outside Palestine, is currently confined to an area that cannot sustain their population in any but the most abject poverty. This can change in three ways:

  1. The population can collapse.

  2. Some or all of them can move somewhere else.

  3. Land can be appropriated for them in the immediate vicinity of their current location.

Deliberately triggering 1) would be a crime of unthinkable magnitude (this, by the way, seems to be Israel's strategy for Gaza). 2) requires that a place can be found to put them. And unless you're prepared to deport them, it requires that they're willing to move there. 3) requires that the people currently occupying the immediate vicinity are either persuaded or compelled to leave and go somewhere else (which creates a type 2) problem on its own).

These considerations have nothing to do with magic sand people and everything to do with physical facts on the ground.

So unless you're prepared to countenance genocide, you'll have to either

  1. Find a country (or a number of countries) who are sufficiently attractive to the Palestinians that all but the hardcore magic sand people would want to move there and who are willing to let them in.

  2. Find a place to put them where they can survive in reasonable conditions, and then deport them there.

  3. Entice the Israeli settlers to resettle in Israel proper (which can certainly support their numbers).

  4. Deport the Israeli settlers to Israel proper.

I personally favour attempting 3), and going with 4) if and when 3) fails. Because:

  1. The settler population is much smaller than the Palestinian population.

  2. The concentration of magic sand people is probably greater in the settler population than in the Palestinian population (since non-magic-sand Israeli have the option to live in Israel proper).

  3. There is an obvious place (Israel proper) to lure/force the settlers to relocate to.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.
by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jan 7th, 2009 at 03:48:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
All the displaced Palestinians are already living someplace else. Just look at the camps in Lebanon and the battle that took place there last year.

They don't have to go anywhere else if the local government would just let them integrate into the general population. They wouldn't make a substantially greater impact on the host country either, they already take up some land and use water. At most their resource use might increase slightly as their standard of living improved.

The money that they would be given would get spent in the local economies and could be used to improve the lot of people generally, even if indirectly. If a child was given enough money to pay for their total education then it would not be a drain on the local tax base to educate them.

The problem isn't demographics or resources it is strictly political. The oligarchs want to keep the refugees apart as a way to apply pressure and prevent a resolution of the issues.

I live in New York and I've seen wave after wave of people come to the area and adapt and many of them have much larger cultural differences than do the Palestinians and, say, the Lebanese.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 7th, 2009 at 04:56:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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