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
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