The West Bank's economic improvements contrast with the lack of diplomatic progress on the creation of a Palestinian state. Negotiators focus on the "top down" issues, grappling with legal and territorial problems. But the West Bank's population is building sovereignty from the bottom-up, forging the law-enforcement, civil, and financial institutions that form the underpinnings of any modern polity. The seeds of what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called "economic peace" are, in fact, already blossoming in the commercial skyline of Ramallah.Rational and informed observers (that sort of narrows the field, I'm aware) will have to notice that when Israel is faced with a reasonable Palestinian partner it behaves one way, even as it behaves another way when faced with an unreasonable Palestinian partner. Someday this ought to strengthen the perception that Israel, even under a right-wing government, would eagerly welcome a peaceful prosperous sovereign Palestinian neighbor; moreover, the Palestinians can impact Israel's positions. Peace seeking Palestinians will encounter different Israelis than war mongering ones.
The vitality of the West Bank also accentuates the backwardness and despair prevailing in Gaza. In place of economic initiatives that might relieve the nearly 40% unemployment in the Gaza Strip, the radical Hamas government has imposed draconian controls subject to Shariah law. Instead of investing in new shopping centers and restaurants, Hamas has spent millions of dollars restocking its supply of rockets and mortar shells. Rather than forge a framework for peace, Hamas has wrought war and brought economic hardship to civilians on both sides of the borders.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
The Ambassador and the Message
Regular readers may remember that I was very approving of the decision to name Michael Oren as our ambassador to the US. Here's vindication in a WSJ article about how things are getting so much better in the West Bank.