Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No Wonder Everyone Wants To Vote For Kadima

Labor and Likud have come out with their security/peace proposals.

Labor: Lease large settlement blocs from the Palestinians in exchange for cash. Supposed to be like the Hong Kong agreement where the British leased the province for 99 years, after which China took it back.

Obviously the idea is to avoid having to evacuate hundreds of thousands of settlers, while giving the Palestinians sovereignty over 100% of the West Bank.

I don't know where to start with this idea. What happens at the end the lease? All those settlers go under Palestinian control? I realize that won't happen for another 100 years or so, but what kind of deal requires hundred of thousands of Israelis to be transferred to Palestinian control?

There are certain areas that majority of Israelis do not want to cede. Gush Etzion is legendary. Even the symbolism is important. Granting the Palestinians sovereignty would undermine one of our symbols.

Would the Palestinians even support this plan? Sure they'd have sovereignty, but it would be a meaningless form. They'd be paid, but they've been pushing for control over all the West Bank with the settlers leaving. While they've allowed for land swaps, I can't see the current Palestinian leadership accepting a deal that denies them effective control over large parts of the West Bank. And it seems like the Peretz wants to work with these Palestinian leaders.

Likud: Withdraw to defensible borders after negotiations. This plan makes sense if we assume that a Palestinian state or other parts of the Arab world are a military threat and that we need borders to defend ourselves. It allows Israel to avoid having to control Palestinians, and therefore they don't have to deal with the demographic problem.

Netanyahu is very vague on what he intends to keep. The article includes "settlement blocs in Judea and Samaria." Is that all of the blocs? That's quite a bit of land (and they don't even get to collect rent). Who in their right mind thinks any Palestinian leadership will allow Israel to keep large swaths of the West Bank? They need some land to built a state.

Both these plans avoid the difficult problems of creating a Palestinian state. The Palestinians need a legitimate amount of the West Bank to build their state. Because of that, some Israelis (probably a decent number) will have to be evacuated. No one wants to talk about that, so they go on about defensible borders (keep the land) or lease it (and thereby avoid removing them).

Barak's answer was in the middle. We keep the major settlement blocs (including Ariel). No leasing (because that solves nothing). We give up the rest (no talk about defensible borders because no Arab country is remotely a threat to Israel). It's called compromising. Israel and the Palestinians will need to do it when push comes to shove.

I doubt Sharon will go as far as Barak, but if he's willing to give up 85 - 90% that will suffice. Keep the settlement blocs that are too difficult to remove and give the rest up. That's the only reasonable way to achieve peace.

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