walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
Published on: November 20, 2012
Shock the Casbah

Again I come late to the gabfest, this time about the Hamas-IDF confrontation in and around Gaza. So much has already been said, and it falls in the usual categories: the thinly didactic, the fatuous, the banal, the shrewd and, especially, the emotional. The usual irrational Jewcentric crap, of all four sorts, too, can be readily identified: the anti-Semitic, the philo-Semitic, the chauvinist and the self-hating. For those who have endured this conflict in its several manifestations for a wilderness of forty years (or more), the whole thing—the Jewcentric mutterings very much included—is still as heartbreaking as ever. It is also something well worth ignoring for the sake of one’s sanity, which helps explain why I am so late to the keyboard. I tried mightily to resist writing this note; I failed.

So what is there to say after all? I can think of three, possibly useful, things to discuss.

First, in this age of instantaneous amnesia in the segmented American cyberswirl, where the backstory to any telegenic foreign event has long since disappeared into the historical ether, it’s useful to restate for the inexpert observer a little of the relevant history. Not knowing the basics makes it seem like both sides of the conflict are made up of a bunch of hateful and insane yet regrettably determined extremists. As appealing as this description may be to those with no dog in the fight and who have an appetite for violent entertainment, and as apt as it may seem upon substituting the words “one side” for “both sides” to pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian partisans, it is not really accurate. Knowing the history shows why what’s going on is a tragedy rather than a simple, if protracted, act of mutual madness. Both sides are adept at making highly rational tactical calculations, but they find themselves trapped in a merciless strategic framework that turns every temporary advantage into a pointless sacrifice of blood and hope.

Second, it is worth pointing out what is both new and true in essence about the current round of fighting. This round of fighting both is and is not the same ‘ol same ‘ol.

Third, it is also worth thinking through what it would really take to turn this current crisis into an opportunity. There is a way, I think, to transform the aforementioned strategic framework so that this sort of thing actually stops happening on a fairly regular basis. But it is a way that requires multi-party coordination, boldness, courage and foresight. That is another way of saying that while a way out of the mutual Israeli-Palestinian zugzwang is possible, it’s almost certainly not going to happen.

A Very Little History
The history of Gaza goes back a very long time, all the way to Samson and the Philistines, and even, if you like the Muslim tradition, to the time of Jonah. Why? Because according to the folk traditions of the region, the great fish of Biblical lore barfed out the contrite prophet in what is today Khan Yunis, one of Gaza’s largest towns. For present purposes, however, all you need to know is what I call the following Fourteen Points:

  • first, that Gaza was designated part of the Arab state when the United Nations Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) divided the British Mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in 1947;
  • second, that the results of the 1948 war left Gaza outside of Israel’s security perimeter, but inundated by refugees from Jaffa, Ashqelon, Ramla, Lod and elsewhere, leaving Gaza today with a self-identifying refugee population nearly triple that of the West Bank;
  • third, that while the West Bank was soon annexed by Jordan and the Arabs there given Jordanian citizenship, Gaza was occupied by Egypt and its residents were not offered Egyptian citizenship;
  • fourth, that in due course, after the July 1952 Egyptian revolution, Gaza became a source of the fedayeen attacks on Israel that led in part to the October 1956 Sinai War, even as Nasser’s Egypt used Gaza as a lever to advance its bid for pan-Arabism under Egyptian leadership;
  • fifth, that while the IDF overran Gaza in the Sinai War, it evacuated it along with the Sinai Peninsula in 1957;
  • sixth, that as part of the June 1967 War the IDF again overran Gaza, but did not evacuate it when, eventually, after the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty of March 1979, the Sinai was finally returned in full to Egypt in April 1982—and the reason was, essentially, that Egypt refused to take Gaza back;
  • seventh, that as part of a “revisionist” Zionist effort to prevent Israel’s relinquishing any further land seized in 1967, Israeli settlements (eventually totaling 21 in all) were established in Gaza;
  • eighth, that the IDF military administration of Gaza was relatively placid until the eruption of the first intifada in December 1987, after which the costs of the occupation began to exceed any reasonable calculus of benefits, until, at long last……;
  • ninth, in August 2005, after an exceedingly difficult and protracted political debate within Israel, the Sharon government unilaterally disengaged Israel from Gaza after a negotiated arrangement proved impossible;
  • tenth, that almost immediately after the settlements were dismantled and the IDF was out of Gaza, buildings that had been used as synagogues were desecrated and primitive mortars were fired from Gaza into southern Israel;
  • eleventh, that in January 2006 Hamas won a legislative election in Gaza in a vote that never should have been allowed to occur, since Hamas rejected Oslo Accords the framework agreement that established the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the first place—there is plenty of blame to go around for this inexcusable blunder, not to exclude both the Israeli government and an utterly feckless PLO, but the lion’s share of it falls on President George W. Bush and his disastrous early-elections-no-matter-what “forward strategy for freedom”;
  • twelfth, after the Hamas victory Israel, the United States, the PLO and Egypt began to collude in a strategy to unseat Hamas in Gaza, but Hamas pre-empted this effort with a coup in the summer of 2007—after which it immediately closened its relationship with Iran and accelerated rocket attacks on southern Israel;
  • thirteenth, in December 2008 Israel launched Operation Cast Lead against Gaza to suppress the source of escalating attacks against it, hopefully to topple the Hamas government, and in any event and to re-establish its diminished deterrence reputation writ large; and
  • fourteenth, an Egyptian-mediated, U.S.-supported ceasefire ended the fighting and Israel withdrew all forces from Gaza by March 2009 in accord with a ceasefire that more or less held until about a week ago.

What’s New and What’s True
With this basic though completely inadequate history now in mind, let’s list what is both new and true about the current situation.

First of all, what is new and true militarily is that Hamas’s capacity to launch missiles is vastly greater now than it was in 2007-08. It has more missiles and their ranges are much longer than before. Until this bout of fighting, missile attacks from Gaza had not been able to kill many Israelis, despite aiming (if you can call it that) at static targets like buildings housing schools and kindergartens—the Palestinians’ favorites—just across the border. This time missiles have flown to Tel Aviv and the outskirts of Jerusalem, where one killed three people in one family. Israeli ballistic missile defenses have so far proven quite effective, but not perfect given the expanded area they must now cover. Anything less than just about perfect creates an intolerable situation; 50 percent and more of a country’s population cannot live in shelters constantly fearing missile attack.

Second, the motives on both sides are a bit different from before. Most of the 1,947 missile attacks that Israel absorbed this year before the most recent IDF operation began were not fired by Hamas types, but by smaller, mostly salafi Islamist groups. Hamas let them operate, within certain limits, in order to deflect growing opposition to the incompetent, arrogant and narrow neo-tribal base of its post-summer 2007 rule. That put Hamas’s military leader, Ahmed al-Jabari, in a tight spot as a kind of one-man balancing act between his political superiors, these smaller groups and the IDF. Then the rise of a new and presumably more sympathetic Egyptian government certainly tugged at Hamas calculations, pushing them in the direction of more military risk-taking.

Meanwhile, as Israel absorbed these strikes without response, the political leadership and the IDF had to keep several factors in mind simultaneously: the erosion of Israeli deterrence and the broad domestic psychological and political ramifications thereof; the tradeoff between confidence in the IDF’s missile defense and the longer ranges of the attacking missiles; the impact of a military response on a delicately evolving relationship with the new Egyptian government; as time passed, the impact of a response on relations with the Obama Administration amid a re-election campaign; and, of course, Israel’s own upcoming election on January 22.

All of this, and especially the combination of factors, made for a unique problem compared to 2008 and earlier. Israeli leaders knew that if they struck Gaza Hamas would respond with its own much more voluminous and longer-range missiles—as indeed it did. It fired more than 1,200 missiles in just a few days last week. But to have waited indefinitely while the Hamas arsenal grew in numbers and sophistication could have hardly been an appealing prospect. It is clear that the Israeli targeting of Ahmed al-Jabari, the man responsible for keeping the ceasefire, after all, signaled that the deteriorating situation was no longer tolerable. Whether this decision was the right one we’ll come to in a moment.

Also new and true is that the role of the Morsi-led Egyptian government clearly took pride of place on both sides. The Hamas leadership, seeing its sister Muslim Brotherhood movement come to power in Egypt, naturally expected a more supportive hand. Not that the Mubarak government had been an outright enemy to Hamas. Yes, it joined Israel in embargoing Gaza from the sea, but at the same time it played a complex double game, operated by Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman himself, with respect to the tunnels under the Egyptian-Gazan border, without which Hamas could never has amassed its missile arsenal. (This tunnel double-game was and remains a very, very complex affair, and this is not the time or place to go into details about it.) But the Morsi government seemed a dream come true for Hamas. Sure, that government was still young and not yet ready to qualitatively downgrade its relationship with Israel, partly for fear of triggering the sequestration of its critical aid money from the United States. But it would be pulled by its faith ultimately to side with Hamas and thus to deeply harm Israel’s security situation by essentially repudiating the 1979 peace treaty. A clarifying act of violence would speed the process.

Israelis feared that this, indeed, is what the future probably looked like, which is one reason they were reluctant to trigger that clarifying act of violence. Another reason is that they still think it possible that the Egyptian military/intelligence leadership will oust Morsi before the year is up, thus shifting the likely shape of the future altogether. That is also why the violence-abstaining Israelis conducted an ongoing moving private seminar with American officials at all levels in an effort to gain credit in Washington for their forbearance, a credit that might be redeemable not only with regard to Gaza, but also possibly Iran at a future time. From the looks of things so far, the effort worked: Obama Administration support for Israel in this crisis, from the mouth of the President on down, has been full and vocal. I think it entirely reasonable to ascribe this stance to the logic and justice of Israel’s position. But it doesn’t hurt that the Netanyahu government has managed this time not to blunder its way to another mess in U.S.-Israeli relations, a most uncharacteristic and refreshing turn of events.

Finally with regard to this second theme, there are some who claim that, precisely because of the key role of Egypt in what has transpired, the events of recent days show that the Arab-Israeli, or Palestinian-Israeli, impasse really is central to American interests in the region as a whole. This is wrong. The Palestinian-Israeli impasse is obviously not irrelevant, but it is not central either.1 Central are the rise of Sunni radicalism and the joining of conflict between it and Shi’a radical mobilization; the related rise of Iranian hegemonic ambitions and, to a lesser extent, Turkish re-entry into the Arab region; and the political futures of Egypt and Syria. Israelis and Palestinians battling each other affects these larger stakes marginally, but those stakes would still exist even if the ceasefire had never been broken.

Insofar as the Palestinian issue impinges most on these other problems, it does so with regard to Egypt. But from the U.S. point of view, it is crucial to get straight what matters most to what. For many decades, as a matter of peace-process habit more than cold-blooded strategic assessment, Egypt was important instrumentally to the United States as an agent in managing and, hopefully, one day resolving the Palestinian and other Arab-Israeli issues. Today, we have to reverse the arrows: The ups and downs of the Palestinian impasse, like whether it is kinetic or not at any given time, have become instrumental with regard to the far more consequential future of politics in Egypt. Egypt is now less reliably useful to the United States as a mediator in Israeli-Palestinian affairs, but it has become far more important to the United States because its uncertain future will ramify across the entire, now destabilized Arab world, and also impinge significantly on the role of Iran and Turkey amid the Arabs. This does not make the Palestine impasse central to U.S. interests in the region, but its importance rises in rough proportion to how it impinges on the future of Egypt.

Are U.S. officials capable of reversing the arrows? Are they capable of a genuinely nuanced view of the region as a whole, one that finally grasps the intricacies and cleavages in intra-regional relations, or will they remain fixated on the more or less Manichean drama of Israel-Palestine? The jury is still out on that one, but I’m not holding my breath.

Exiting the Treadmill
Everyone who really understands the underlying strategic realities of the present crisis knows that the best that can be achieved for now is another Hamas-Israeli ceasefire, after a suitable amount of pain and blood have been exacted. There is no possibility of a genuine reconciliation between Israel, with whatever government it may elect, and Hamas, at least as long as Hamas remains what it is: a particularly nationalized Palestinian form of the Muslim Brotherhood, itself a deeply authoritarian and atavistic movement. Now, it is true, as I have written before that significant changes are afoot in Arab culture, not least of them the fact that religion as a political symbol has been decisively pluralized. All sorts of interesting things percolating into Arab politics, even some positive ones, could flow from that in due course—but not very soon, not easily, and not smoothly. If we wait until a liberal democratic force rises to governance in Gaza, or even in the West Bank for that matter, we’ll be waiting not just until the cows come home, but until their bovine progeny learn to churn their own butter.

Nor, for the time being, is there any prospect of the PLO regaining control over Gaza and uniting the PA under a single political-territorial umbrella. Indeed, this whole business in Gaza weakens the PLO in the West Bank, through probably not fatally so. Not that a reunified PA would then want or be able to waltz itself into a final settlement with even a center-left Israeli coalition. But it would at least be a thinkable prospect.

Given those realities, the prospect is for ceasefire followed by mini-war followed by ceasefire followed by another mini-war and so on, with each successive burst of violence more destructive than the one before. With all due respect to my old friend, Ehud Ya’ari, his most recent whack at the piñata in Foreign Affairs really doesn’t amount to much. Yes, it’ll be harder to get a ceasefire now thanks to the uncertainties of the Egyptian role, but so what? Another ceasefire will be born only to be broken.

So is there any way off this treadmill? Yes, there is.

I promised above that I would comment on whether Israeli decision-making in this crisis has been wise or not. Well, not being in the midst of the process makes it impossible for anyone to really bring judgment; it is, as already discussed, a hellishly complex problem set, with lots of moving parts and uncertain causal vectors. But if the Israeli government is going to whack al-Jabari but not seek an overthrow of Hamas rule, then what it is really trying to do is persuade the next cast of Hamas characters to enforce a ceasefire a lot more strictly, and not let the smaller groups running around the place drag Hamas policy by the nose. A bombing campaign is the right sort of tool to accomplish that limited objective, but a ground incursion would be doing too much for too little. It wouldn’t change the basic dynamic. At best it would buy more time for the next ceasefire, before the next mini-war. Either way we’re talking about management techniques, not attempts at a real solution. We’re talking, ultimately, about the hell of half measures.

The only way to really end the cycle is to remove the Hamas government in Gaza. If Israel is going to move into Gaza on the ground, the aim should be to occupy the area for as long as it takes to change the tone of governance there. That simply cannot happen, however, unless the operation simultaneously manages to empower the PA to the point that it can reassert itself in Gaza and then set up a Palestinian state whose nature is pre-negotiated in private with Israel and is ratified in effect, if not formally at first, by the Arab League. Of course, the U.S. and Egyptian governments would have to be in on this from the start, and America’s regional allies and associates would have to be carefully and discretely briefed, and their timely public support secured.

So what, in very simple terms, would this plan look like as it unfolds to an unsuspecting observer?

Day 1: The IDF mounts a massive invasion of Gaza.

Day 1+4 : Gaza is secured; the Hamas government ceases to exist.

Day 1+5: Directly on the heels of this clarifying act of violence, Israel and the PA, in Jerusalem, announce preliminary agreement on a peace settlement that includes new borders more or less along the 1967 lines (only as regards the former Israeli-Jordanian armistice lines), the withdrawal of Israeli settlements and settlers from areas inside Palestine, the application of the right of return only to Palestine, the bi-national administration of the Old City of Jerusalem and the permanent granting of sovereignty to God and God alone, the demilitarization of the Palestinian state, and an irrevocable quit-claim on both sides to any further aspect of the conflict. Both sides commit to seeking parliamentary ratification at the earlier possible moment. Phased implementation of the agreement is to start immediately upon ratification and take no longer than one year. The turnover of Gaza to PA administration and full withdrawal of the IDF is to occur as soon as possible.

Day 1+6: Israel exchanges diplomatic recognition with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Morocco, Yemen, Oman, Tunisia, Iraq, Kuwait and, if it can be arranged, Lebanon, Sudan, Algeria, Libya and Qatar.

Day 1+10: The Arab League endorses the Israel-Palestine accord and announces the formation of an Egyptian-led peacekeeping force to advance the transition of Israeli-occupied Gaza to a PA-controlled Gaza. NATO agrees to participate temporarily as an adjunct of the Arab League force, particularly for its assistance in training PA police and self-defense forces (short of an army). (If someone wants to get a UN imprimatur for any of this, fine; but under no circumstances should UN personnel be seriously involved in any of this.)

Day 1+12: Israel and the EU deepen their association agreement; the PA announces new legislative elections for the first all-Palestine parliament for Day 1+120. Meanwhile, the PA and the PLO Executive Council endorses the peace deal until such time as the Palestinian legislature can ratify it.

The purpose of this whirlwind process would be to jolt everyone’s imagination so hard and so fast that the usual objections to everything new would be temporarily deprived of oxygen. The idea is to create a new psychological reality with a shock, and to do so along the lines of an agreement that all serious people have known for years must look pretty much the way this one looks, as described just above. If the painful concessions of both sides can be grouped and made simultaneous, there is a much better chance that leaders in concert can spin the result to make the deal stick against the crush of opposition—some of it no doubt violent—that will inevitably arise.

If it were carefully enough planned and executed by adroit and courageous leaders, could this shock peace actually work? I believe it could, yes. Is there any chance of something like this really happening? Of course not.

1For more detail on this point, see chapter 12 of my Jewcentricity; my “How to Deal with the Arab-Israeli ‘Condition’”, in David Pollock, ed., Prevent Breakdown, Prepare for Breakthrough (Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Focus #90, December 2008); and Robert Satloff, “Middle East Policy Planning for a Second Obama Administration: Memo from a Fictional NSC Staffer”, Policywatch #1995, November 9, 2012.

show comments
  • Micha

    It is hard for me to imagine a scenario in which

    1) the Israeli army conquers Gaza from the Hamas — which will probably be very bloody for both sides and for Israeli civilians, and will be followed by constant insurgency.

    2) Hands it over to the PLO.

    3) The PLO willingly accept Gaza from Israel.

    4) PLO succeeds in holding Gaza or the West Bank and preventing attacks against Israel .

    5) After all that Israel and the PLO quickly succeeding in bridging all of the problems that have prevented them from reaching peace before.

    6) And the PLO then gets the support of an increasingly Islamic Arab world, who are willing to prevent attacks against Israel.

    I just can’t see any of these things happening, alone or together.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      I didn’t say this is going to happen; I said it wasn’t, twice. I said it could, were there truly genuine leadership on several sides. And I still think that’s true and that your assessment demonstrates a failure of imagination.

      For example, Israel held Gaza for years with no insurgency, and could hold it again for a few months if it determined to. Israel would hand it over to the PLO and the PLO would resume its rule there if a peace deal made it worth their whiles. Such a deal is possible and both sides have known the basic terms for years. The PLO could prevent attacks if it were fortified with an Arab League/NATO force in coordination with Israel. It has prevented attacks from the West Bank for some time now, has it not? And yes, the Arab states I mentioned would support a non-Islamist Palestinian state precisely because they fear the Islamist tide in the region. You misread the incentive structures all around.

  • Martin Berman-Gorvine

    Excellent, excellent article. It is far and away not only the best but almost the only worthwhile thing I have seen on this mess.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      thank you

  • Pedro Marquez

    Does the binational administration of the Old City imply an open border between Israel and the newly-formed Palestine? I can see a Vatican-style Palestinian embassy in Jerusalem, but actually dividing the city– with either open or closed borders– seems to me utopian, and I’ve spent many hours wandering along the Bar-Lev line.

    • Adam Garfinkle

      Open borders within Jerusalem, not otherwise; not a re-divided city. There are several ways to do this; it possible to divide citizenship from physical geography to some extent.

      The Bar-Lev line was the line along the Suez Canal that the Egyptian Army breeched in 1973. I think you have your lines mixed up.

      • Pedro Marquez

        Indeed I did mix up my lines. Thanks for the correction.

        Re: Jerusalem, it still seems like this implies a border crossing/security checkpoint between East Jerusalem and the rest of Palestine, presumably to be controlled by the Israelis or a third party trusted by the Israelis. Then there is also the question of whether East Jerusalem Palestinians will continue to receive Israeli benefits. If EJ Palestinians do continue to receive said benefits, and other Palestinians have to cross a border to enter their capital, it starts to look a lot like Israeli sovereignty combined with a mostly symbolic official Palestinian presence. Which is fine with me, but will it meet Palestinian demands?

        • Adam Garfinkle

          In a short post in which I mentioned Jerusalem really only in passing, I obviously did not devote space to a full explanation of what all this would look like. That would have been distracting and impossible. But people have written tomes about all this, including a lot in Hebrew, and I have written on it too. My basic view is that if the question of symbolic sovereignty is set aside by granting it in perpetuity to God, then all practical matters will be easier to solve. My argument on the next level is that if it is possible to create a permissive environment that both sides want to keep in their own interests, then several unconventional arrangements can work, the main one being that territorial and citizenship identities can be separated to some extent.

          So the answer to your question about Palestinian Arabs receiving benefits from Israel, no, they would not. Wherever in the city limits they live, they would be citizens of the Palestinian state, meaning they would pay taxes to and vote in and receive benefits from Palestine. Jews in the city, wherever they live, would do so as Israelis. Now, obviously, as a practical matter, since there would be some mixed zones or neighborhoods, to make services reasonably equal some kind of offset payments between governments would be necessary, since at least for a long time Israeli taxes and services would be higher than Palestinian taxes and services. Perhaps the Vatican and other do-gooding Christians can be fleeced for this amount, who knows?

          Your question about Palestinians passing from their state into their conjoined-with-Israel capital is a good one, but this too is easy to handle if we are in a permissive (not security-challenged) environment. I don’t foresee a need for checkpoints between East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and if there are checkpoints they would be manned by Palestinian security/police forces, not Israeli ones. This would enable Palestinians to pass from, say, Ramallah into Jerusalem and then across to West Jerusalem and from there into Israel, I know. But it would also allow Israelis to pass from Israel into East Jerusalem and from there, say, to take the road past Ma’aleh Adumin down to Jericho and then along the Dead Sea to Ein Gedi and down from there to Eilat. Everyone has an identity card, and everyone’s car has a tag–just like we use for EasyPass (same technology) and like FedEx uses to track packages. So if anyone does something nasty and terroristic, it’ll be a lot easier to find them and deter others than it has been in the past. If a major security issue develops, there has to be a security plan to deal with it that is pre-agreed between the sides.

          I think that the rest of the border needs to have gates in it, too, so that Arabs can get to Lod to use the airport and Israelis can still go vegetable and trinket shopping in Qalqiliya and Tulkarem. There needs to be a border, but it needs to be permeable within reason. Look, when I’m in Jerusalem, I don’t want to drive half way around the country to get to Ein Gedi and the Dead Sea–I want to be able to take the road down to Jericho, and Arabs are going to have to be able to get from Hebron to Gaza and back. A two-state solution needs basic security to allow it to come into existence and to persist, of course, but it also needs carefully permeable borders to persist as well.

          Some of this is admittedly very complicated, but the situation now is complicated, too. The point is, again, that if the symbolic issues can be defused and a sense that a new status quo is better than the present one can be created and nurtured, all technical issues can be solved.

          And let me now repeat what I said in the piece: Is any of this going to happen? Probably not, but showing that it could makes it ever so slightly more likely. If everyone has to live with the present mess, so be it. But let’s not live with it owing to a mere failure of imagination.

  • Gary Hemminger

    There was a Star Trek episode in which two planets had been at war for centuries, but instead of actual war, it was simulated war, which both planets felt was much more civilized. Of course Kirk and Spock destroy the simulators and force them to confront the horrors of “real war” rather than their civilized “simulated war.” In a way, that is what we have here, with the culprits being the international community. As soon as any fighting breaks out, the international community calls for an immediate cease-fire which of course never lasts and never solves the underlying problem. What is the solution? I am afraid to say, the solution is war. It is time the international community got out of the way and the two sides fought it out and feel the real sting of war. Nothing will solve this but war.

  • K2K

    Step #1 means forcing the palestinians to change all of their maps, and textbooks, to show Israel.
    Both Fatah and Hamas believe all of “Palestine” is occupied.

    Might want to insert that all of these nations FIRST offer a path to citizenship for all arab muslims designated as permanent refugees by UNRWA before anyone can expect diplomatic recognition from:
    “Day 1+6: Israel exchanges diplomatic recognition with Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Morocco, Yemen, Oman, Tunisia, Iraq, Kuwait and, if it can be arranged, Lebanon, Sudan, Algeria, Libya and Qatar….”

    Just take Sudan off any list.
    Israel stands with newly independent South Sudan.

    There are no “1967 borders”.

    And, Jerusalem?

    sorry – just stop thinking ‘everyone knows what final status looks like’

    • Adam Garfinkle

      Let me comment on only one point, not implying that I agree with any of the others. You are quite wring to say that there are no 1967 borders. Israel’s border with Egypt and with Lebanon and Syria were international borders at the time, and these were not legally affected by the 1949 armistice lines. The armistice lines between Israel and Jordan, which is what I think you’re trying to refer to, were never international borders, but armistice lines are provisional borders. Calling them “borders”, which even Israelis typically did and still do, is not a great stretch.

  • K2K

    I truly do appreciate the effort in including the recent history of Gaza by Adam Garfinkle.

    When one scans the five thousand years of Gaza history, I think Gaza City holds the record for conquest-destruction-rebuild by a succession of empires.
    Which makes me wonder why? For the first four thousand or so years, it must have been about geography.
    Where is Robert D. Kaplan on this?

    • Adam Garfinkle

      You’re welcome.

      Megiddo probably rivals Gaza as far as destruction and rebuilding is concerned.

      As for Kaplan, in his new book his reaction to this issue is one of prayer. And he is not a particularly religious person, so that should really tell you something.

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  • mannning

    I must also thank you for the only insightful frame of reference on Gaza I have seen, even as it hits just the peaks of the situation.

    It may be trite to say that while some segments of Judeochristianity and Islam can live side-by-side in relative peace,in a larger and more historical sense they are fundamentally die-hard enemies both within and without the region, and that is only magnified by the continuing centuries of war and their atrocities.

    There are long memories and religious tenets on both sides that refuse to damp down on demand, most especially from Islam and its Jihadism. You can’t get there from here.

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