Shock the Casbah
Published on: November 20, 2012
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  • 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.

  • 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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