The Plan

Josh Marshall:

I agree with Gadi Taub who said recently that while peace is the ideal the highest priority for both peoples right now is partition. Netanyahu’s position makes that impossible. The 1967 lines are the only practical and politically conceivable basis for such a division — with mutually agreed upon swaps of territory along those lines. Netanyahu’s plan is simply to withdraw from areas of dense population within the West Bank. In fact, I think that overstates the case. I don’t think Netanyahu has a plan beyond holding his coalition together and himself in the prime ministership. The rejectionists’ ‘plan’ is simply to hold on for as long as possible and play for time.

The man is a fool at so many levels. But there’s no denying that he speaks for a very large chunk of the Israeli electorate.

I hear this a lot, but I think it’s wrong. I actually think the Israeli politicians with no plan beyond short-term politics are the moderates of the Barak/Olmert ilk who avow the urgent need for partition but can’t ever seem to bring themselves to dismantle a settlement or speak the truth to the Israeli population.

For the right-wing politicians, I think we should to a greater extent take them at their word. There is a genuine religious nationalist view that the Jewish state has to incorporate in an important way the religiously significant city of Jerusalem and its environs and not just the coastal strip where the bulk of the early (secular) Zionist settlement occurred. There’s also a perfectly genuine view that there’s really “no such thing as a Palestinian” other than as a kind of generic “Arab” who happens to live in the former area of the British colony of Palestine. On this view, the entire Palestinian national movement is either a kind of cynical ruse deployed by Arab despots or a bad-faith mask for a desire to destroy the entire Jewish state.

If that’s right, then the best plan really is to build a security wall that incorporates lots of Arab land in and around Jerusalem or otherwise adjacent to the Green Line, cut Gaza and the West Bank off from each other, count on the might of the IDF, the diplomatic protection of the United States, and the growing political strength of Israel-friendly European far-right parties to protect you from hostile neighbors, and cross your fingers hoping for a change in Arab opinion that will allow for the incorporation of Gaza into Egypt and the main West Bank centers of Arab population into Jordan.

I don’t think any of this is correct, and it all founders (both in premise and in conclusion) on the assumed inauthenticity of Palestinian nationalism, but it should be acknowledged that it “makes sense” as a theory of the world.