Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Follow-up on Leaving the West Bank

Here are a number of responses or follow-up comments to the discussion of my post yesterday, about how Israel should leave most of the West Bank, and disengage from the Palestinians. I have no way of knowing what most readers thought of all this, but the ones who commented tended to be critical of the idea.

1. It occurs to me that I didn't say explicitly what should have been obvious. The entire project of leaving the West Bank will require significant legislation on many topics, which cannot be passed by the current coalition (though it could be by a different coalition in the present Knesset). Therefore, the project will need to be sanctioned by the electorate long before it happens. Having closely watched Israeli politics for almost 40 years, since my late teens, I'm convinced such a proposition, formulated correctly, would be a winning platform for any large political party, though Kadima is currently the best positioned to run with it since it was essentially invented for this purpose. But Likud, Lieberman's party or even the almost defunct Labor party could also run with it, and were any of them to do so, they'd probably win the elections. (The formulation would be important).

Such a move wouldn't be a putsch by Leftists, it would be the expression of the Israeli will as formulated through the political process. As such, it would be accepted by a majority of the settlers.

2. An early part of the legislation, the proposition to assist settlers to move, has already been under discussion for a number of years; surprisingly - or not at all, depending how much you know about the reality - many settlers themselves are eager to have such a law passed. At the moment, many thousands of non-ideological settler families who moved to acquire cheap housing, cannot move out since their homes cannot be sold at reasonable prices. Were the government to alleviate this in some manner, they would move immediately. This piece of legislation alone would noticeably reduce the number of settlers, it would send a message to our friends abroad that we're serious, and would have no impact at all on the Palestinians' ability to harm Israelis. (On the contrary: there would be fewer Israelis on the West Bank to be harmed).

3. Water, aquifers and so on are not relevant in the mid- or long-term. As I wrote recently, Israel is already on the road to supplying its needs by desalination and purification of used water. This isn't because of the West Bank, it's because we've already exhausted the natural resources. Moreover, Israel supplies water to the Palestinians, not the other way around.

4. The line to be moved back to - I offhand said it would be the line of the security fence - is not the same as the line of 1967, though it isn't very far from it, either. So of course the state of war with the Palestinians would continue, and anyone who loves to damn us for any inch of occupation will be able to continue to do so. I never said otherwise. This is inevitable in any case, since reaching an agreed line of partition with the Palestinians is not possible, as I explained yesterday and many times previously. On the other hand, Barack Obama himself seemed in his recent speech to be suggesting the same thing, or at least something resembling it; so far as I understand the dynamics of international relations, such a move, or even merely its initial steps, would significantly improve Israel's relations with foreign politicians who are not automatically anti-Israel. Such figures would include, at the moment, people like Angela Merkel, Nicholas Sarkozy, Silvio Berlusconi, and as I said, Barack Obama. I don't see how this would be bad for Israel.

5. Canny Israeli leaders should indeed be able to get some political gains from America and even Europe for such a policy. There is no doubt about it.

6. Palestinians and Israelis in the remaining narrow parts of Israeli-occupied West Bank: I don't know what would happen to them. Were Israel to annex the areas, the local Palestinians would be offered Israeli citizenship, and all Israeli laws would apply to anyone living there, Jew or Arab. However, I rather doubt they'd be annexed. There are good reasons why Israel hasn't ever annexed these areas, and they'd still be in place.

7. Gilad Shalit doesn't fit into this discussion. Lots of things don't. It's not a suggestion to correct the world's ills, rather to deal with a specific part of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

8. Regarding the objection that I'm advocating fleeing under fire, and that the missiles will rain down on Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (where I live): Guilty as charged, only in the opposite way. Yes, I'm suggesting we leave the West Bank without any expectation of peace with the Palestinians - because such an expectation can't be fulfilled anyway. No, I'm not suggesting that Israel then live with a rain of missiles on Tel Aviv etc etc. I don't regard myself as a fool, nor will the Israeli majority that votes for this project be made up of more fools than any regular electorate. I know all about Gaza (some of you may remember that I had a son fighting there in 2009), and Southern Lebanon, and the mistakes of Oslo, and the Second Intifada, and all those things. I look at all those cases, and see general calm on all fronts, and I deduce that the calm is no coincidence. Hizballah, many West Bank Palestinians, and Hamas in Gaza all hate us as much now as they did previously, and yet over the past few years they've all decided to stop most of their violence against us for the time being. As did the Syrians, Jordanians, and Egyptians before them. At the moment, the weakest link in the chain are the settlers on the West Bank, who are the hardest to protect, just as the settlers in Gaza were effectively impossible to protect before 2005 - a matter never mentioned, somehow, in all the rhetoric about how awful it was that Israel left Gaza.

Unlike Hizballah, the Palestinians are susceptible to various types of Israeli pressure. Their economy is essentially dependent on Israel's, while Israel isn't dependent on them. They're dependent on Israel for water, electricity, and indeed their very currency (they use ours, for reasons of their own). The thing is, Israel has never had a policy of full disengagement from its control of the Palestinians, and thus has never been in the position to claim that it owes them nothing. Were there to be such a policy, the entire equation would change. True, Palestinian violence against Israeli civilians would remain part of the equation, but only one part among many. I don't see why Israel's cards in that game would be weaker than the Palestinian hand.

Anyway, as I've repeatedly written, the Israeli occupation of Palestine has become the Palestinians' worst weapon against Israel, worse than any military threat they might pose. It's time for Israel to disarm that weapon. That is the base of my position, and all the talk about missiles on Tel Aviv doesn't change it.


Y. Ben-David said...

You have a much more sanguine opinion of the leadership of the country than I do. I don't believe they have ANY red lines and I don't think they care how many Israelis die as a result of their foolish plans. Look how the Oslo "experiment" worked out...thousands of dead and wounded in the suicide bombings. I'm sure you remember all the assurances "you don't think Rabin would do ANYTHING to damage Israeli security, do you"? Well, we know the answer to that. Then came Gush Katif, same assurances..."you don't think Sharon would do anything to damage Israeli security, do you?" Remember his lap-dog journalist Uri Day who stated "Sharon spends everyone waking moment of his life working for the good of the Jewish people". How did he have time to make all his millions? Well, he turned the lives of the people near the Gaza strip into hell.
Olmert, someone born into the Revisionist-Likud aristocracy is preparte to give up the Western Wall, smelling that Nobel Peace Prize and all the millions in dollars that will come with that.

I have lost all faith in the ruling clique and their promises and assurances. I believe the rest of the country has too, and they will not go along with this insane experiment you are proposing.
Finally, the Jews living in the central mountain yishuvim are a differeent breed that thos in Gush Katif. I don't know if they are going to take a mass expulsion lying down, especially as seeing that it would lead to national suicide. People thought destroying Yamit would bring peace. Now, things are different.

Anonymous said...

"Unlike Hizballah, the Palestinians are susceptible to various types of Israeli pressure"
Just like Gaza I'd wager. we all know what they elected and keep on electing...

"the Israeli occupation of Palestine has become the Palestinians' worst weapon against Israel"

And your solution doesn't have any bearings on that "occupation". In the eyes of the Palestinians and the world the occupation will still remain. The fact that some pro-Israel head of country may say some nice thing about Israel will be covered by the clutter of the antagonists and the violence to come. It happened before... several times.

Moreover, I fail to see any correlation between Israel policies and international support, Countries support according to their own interests, as long as supporting Arabs is mutual exclusive to supporting Israel, and the fact that Arabs have oil and a firm foothold in many countries around the world, I do not see any shift in alliances.

Saul Lieberman said...

I'll let you have the last word.
I am going to let my subscription lapse.
Be well.

Dimitry said...

Yaacov, I think you are wrong about the electorate. Unless there is an explicit provision about the IDF remaining behind in the Jordan Valley and key points of the WB, such a proposition would never pass (after all, isn't it, essentially, the Israeli negotiation stance? Why would Israel retain less in a unilateral move than it seeks to do in a negotiated settlment).

One additional point -- I am sorry, but the level of violence coming out of Gaza is tolerated only because it is directed at sparsely populated areas and there are few people killed. Were this to happen in urban areas in Jerusalem or Gush Dan, the reprecaussions are far worse and would quickly lead to escalation (it almost did in the Gaza area after the shooting at the bus and an increase in Qassams).
In short, by leaving the IDF, but not the settlers Israel would improve its strategic posture, but it would gain very little in terms of international relations (or for a very short time as the Gaza disengagement showed).

One final point, full disengagement from the Palestinians is not plausible in the near-to mid-term future. So, let's not kid ourselves that it'd happen.

Anonymous said...

I would have agreed with you 10 years ago, but a lot has happened since then.
First, the slow response to the Al-Aqsa intifada soured many people on the capabilities of our elected political leadership to deal with terrorism without waiting for a large number of dead Israelis. Should it really have taken the Pesach bombing to finally do something?
Second, the even slower response to kassams out of Gaza, especially after the Disengagement. I remember reading commentators who said, Now we will respond harshly to even one mortar. It took years for that response.
Third, the world's reaction to our response soured us on any unilateral withdrawal; if we can't go back in to take out terrorists, why should we leave, taking our intelligence resources with us? Related to that is Goldstone. He has single-handedly, with his report, helped destroy the possibility of any deal with the Palestinians.
But if (big if) we ever do withdraw from any areas of the West Bank, it should be conditioned on American support as follows---not missiles or troops, but a commitment (in writing--Obama taught us that) that every resolution in any international forum (like the UN) deemed by us to be anti-Israel would result in an automatic loss of 25% of American funding for that group. Let the Arabs put their money where their mouth is. And this step would be immensely popular in the States, where Israel is loved and the UN is not. And if we can't get something relatively minor like that from the U.S., then what kind of more material support could we expect?
David Gleicher

Silke said...

as to 2.
I hear a lot on radio about cities/towns/villages which suffer from thinning population. I myself live in such a town where in perfectly decent areas way too many apartments in perfectly well-kept houses stand empty. At least that's how it seems to me who moved to here from boom-area but then maybe this here maybe the normal and boom-area the to be deplored.

Anyway mayors of thinning out communities seem to have a hell of a time keeping the rest serviced, so when you furnish the willing to move out of the settlements with help, what about the help the remaining will require?

as to 4.
Angela Merkel allowed her party to vote for the flotilla resolution in German parliament last year. According to what I learn about Sarkozy on German radio nobody seems to be sure that he has any preferences at all. Berlusconi I don't know I keep hearing only about his scandals and lots seem to be eager for him to fall.
Then there is Geert Wilders and the influence he wields which may turn out to the good or to the bad but who is pro-Israel without all this "if you do as we say we may start to be nice". I think there maybe similar stirrings in Denmark and Finland but whether they share Wilders' pro-Israel bias I don't know.


BTW one question an no I am not trying to be facetious - which route will flotillas take to alleviate the suffering of the West-Bankers if for one reason or another Israel should decide a bit of blockade is required?

and again which bone will you throw to the BDS-crowd to gnaw once "illegal" products are gone?

Anonymous said...

I generally agree with Yaacov's points here. However, I think that

-- freezing construction in the MAIN settlement blocs after a withdrawal; and
-- offering Israelis in the West Bank money to move from all of the settlements, instead of only the ones beyond the fence
would be
(a) an obvious encouragement to Palestinian maximalism and
(b) a probable encouragement to the international opinion that Israel has no legal right to any part of the main settlement blocs because they're past the 1967 lines.

yesjb said...

Mr. Lozowick,
Perhaps you have seen this:

"The Zionists must acknowledge publicly, in front of the world, that the
Jews have no connection to the Palestinian Arab land, upon whose ruins arose
the colonialist settler Zionist plan that settles and expels, represented by
the Israeli apartheid state. That which occurred two thousand years ago
(i.e., the Jewish/Israeli presence in the land), assuming that it is true,
represents in the book of history nothing more than invention and
falsification and a coarse and crude form of colonialism."

[Al-Hayat Al-Jadida, May 27, 2011]

Depressing isn't it?
Since we're dealing in the long term, perhaps it is the Arabs who should be induced with financial emoluments to leave the West Bank and not the Jews.
Those Arabs in East Jerusalem have aslready indicated their willingness to live under Israeli sovereignty.
I also believe its only a question of time before Jordan's monarchy falls leaving it as another "Palestine"
If the Palestininians want to keep hammering Israel, they should hammer right back (and I don't mean militarily).

David Gruber said...

Yaacov, I think you are right in this and the last post. An attempt to establish separate lives for separate peoples seems, in many ways, to be a more creative solution (even if it is not meant to be a permanent solution) to the current situation than going back to a moribund process of negotiations.

Barry Meislin said...

No, not a permanent solution.

Just a final one.

NormanF said...

Ya'acov is dead wrong on two points: the West Bank Palestinians have had self-government since 1995. The Gaza Arabs have had it since 2005. There is NO Israeli occupation.

Like I said yesterday, if Israel annexes Area C and the Jordan Valley, there would be no additional conflict. So what you write is a red herring that has no real relationship to the truth.

No one in Israel supports re-occupying Area A or Gaza - I would say there is greater support in Israel for turning the Little Triangle over to the Arabs than there is for dismantling Jewish settlements in Area C.

I don't see the latter ever happening. Where would you resettle a million Jews? You are throwing sand in the eyes and engaging in demagoguery if you imply that's possible. Israel to this very day has still not found a solution for the Jewish refugees it violently uprooted from their homes in the Gush Katif.

Again, I am in favor a complete separation from the Arabs with strategic depth for Israel. I am in favor of a small Greater Israel anchored by a core United Jerusalem. This is pretty much how things stand today and will be for the foreseeable future.

Silke said...

I've read "Right to Exist" only recently and very fresh in my memory is that you said in it that Israel having left the big cities to the Palestinians opened wiggling space for the intifadas. Did I get you wrong on that?

I am only now reading the comments on Dare to Leave ... but since the conversation has moved to here:

Experience has taught me that when you remove an irritant from a conflict you have to consider carefully what to replace it with before removal. You should by no means just hope for the best and allow the hostile party and her supporters to pick their own replacement or replacements. The resulting void needs to be filled and it is much better if you are the one who fills it ... and if it would be by flying a golden or blue sparkling huge Star of David balloon above the temple mount. It needs something to be sufficiently brazen and provocative to take the fancy of the chattering nutters, from HRW to Fatwa issuing Imams and something that gets you sympathies not only with those who dream of Israel being brazen and daring while they live the risk-free life themselves.

an afterthought for how to cope with thinning population density in settlements - German towns/cities seem to disneyfy the empty spaces, fill them up with tourist attractions, culture centers etc. etc. I have no idea whether any of these projects is economically viable but I guess they are better than wasteland and rotting empty buildings.
Even if the first step of what you propose is a long long long time in the future it'd be careless to work in that direction without assembling now ideas of how to dominate the consequences.

Hope for Int'l power holders is a compliment to them but worth not the piece of paper written on.

And as to getting from the US in writing? Were the guarantees for access through Eilat before the 6-day war just based on a hand-shake or was there something in writing?

Anonymous said...

Firstly, when discussing the "gains" that Israel will get from such a pullout I doubt even a canny politician can get any - I propose South Lebanon as exhibit A and Gaza as exhibit B. Remember Israel will still be "occupying" the West Bank and if Gaza is any precedent, even the bits Israel pulls out of will still continue to be "occupied". This is of course assuming "canny" Israeli politicians and journalists being honest enough to represent what they actually say.

Secondly, I don't recollect when Israel was in Gaza daily rockets on Sderot. I also don't recollect grads on Ashqelon and Beer Sheva. I also missed the guided missiles at school buses but then again I don't remember hundreds of missiles being fired at Haifa, Safd and Tiberias prior to 2000.

Thirdly, it is simply indisputable that the pullouts from Gaza and Lebanon hurt Israel's friends and allies and massively strengthened her most lethal enemies.

Fourthly, yes the Palestinians are vulnerable to pressure but Israel will never ever apply it. I remember Dan Gillerman boasting about how the world "understands" Israel just cutting back on electricity. Within hours that electricity was restored. Israel held back some tax, the EU rushed a payment to make up the difference.

The bottomline the "occupation" will not be disarmed by any pullot - no matter to where - anymore than pulling out to the mm in South Lebanon did or Gaza did. To suggest otherwise is delusional.


Silke said...

please don't leave -

where else would I hear your voice ?

Yes I know there are partisan blogs but to hear it in here, against here, in the context of here, is dear to me - sorry I can't give you a good reason why that is so, it just feels that way.

Brooklyn said...

Sentimental reasons aside (such as religious and historical feelings) most of my objections to a West Bank withdrawal are practical. You keep stressing that ultimately what it will do is buy goodwill even if it won't end the conflict but that flies in the face of everything that we have seen happen so far. A concession of territory, especially territory that is the biblical heartland is a painful sacrifice that is supposed to be done for the sake of a actual tangible gain.

Leave the West Bank and end the occupation is the thesis here but even if we put aside that almost all the Palestinians live under their own government what makes you think that anyone will agree that the occupation is over once you do leave the West Bank? Isn't Gaza still claimed as an occupied territory regardless of the reality of the situation?

Yaacov said...


We're out of Lebanon. Only Hizballah and Mondoweiss say otherwise, which means: no one. Moreover, in the 11 yeas since we left there have been no rockets, and very few attacks of any sort from Lebanon - accept for the one time our leadership foolishly went to war there. Even then, you may remember, we were backed by most of the world, and the reason we didn't win decisively was because of our feckless leaders, nothing else. So allow me to chalk Lebanon up to my side of the discussion.

Gaza: I don't have the numbers, but I expect that if you go looking for them you'll find there were more attacks from Gaza between 2001 and 2005, while we were still there, than since 2009. On the other hand, the thousands of rockets and mortars shot at the settlements in Gaza have stopped completely - 100% - because there are no settlements left there. People used to get wounded or killed there too, remember, and now they don't. So all in all, I feel comfortable in chalking Gaza onto my side of the balance, too. Even before we take the final step and truly disengage from there, which we soon will now that the Egyptians have opened their border.

Silke said...


I have of course no idea who the readership of your blog is but slowly I am getting a bit baffled, where is the support for your suggestions?

If a majority of Israelis would vote for your approach where are they? Shouldn't they be showing a bit of enthusiasm?

Yaacov said...

Most Israelis, Silke, don't read English language blogs. Most of my readership are not Israelis, tho there are some of them, too.

Dimitry said...

Yaacov, rocket/mortar attacks from Gaza tripled after the withdrawal until the operation that brought the temporary truce.
And you still don't address the issue. Even the level of violence coming out of Gaza at the moment would be intolerable if it were directed at the densly populated areas of Jerusalem and Gush Dan. We have what, a couple of hundred rockets a year. If even one plane is brought down in Ben Gurion or one rocket struck a school with kids, or a Tel Aviv skyscraper. Things would get nasty really fast.

As I told Carrie, downplaying the danger makes no favors to your argument.

Silke said...

During Netanyahu's visit to Washington I saw one remark about Israel providing always a reliable harbour for the American fleet - that was the first time I saw that mentioned, though it seems like a given I wonder is that so and if yes where is their home.

Dimitry said...


Avi from Jerusalem said...

I have been busy the last few days showing friends and family around Jerusalem and so have not had time to see and comment on Yaacov's latest writings on the options for the future.

Having looked at them I must say that they are excellent; based on reality and providing viable options for our future actions.

It is a pity that our leadership is too timid to act for the future good of the nation rather than looking at opinion polls every 20 minutes in order to maximise support now. I thought that the role of leadership was to look at all the options critically and make decisions. At present we are run by people looking to do whatever is needed to assuage public opinion as it stands rather than changing it.

Silke said...


Yaacov says that properly presented the public would like his ideas - so since the leadership must be interested in appealing to the majority I can't see how their looking at the opinion polls is a a bad thing. Shouldn't they give them a hint which direction would be the right one to take?

i.e. you can't have it both ways. Either Yaacov is making a case appealing to the majority then the leadership should be eager to lead the pack (unless of course they aren't interested in winning the next elections) or Yaacov's ideas do not appeal to the public then it would indeed take a very daring leadership to work against the public will.

Dimitry said...

Silke, the problem is as follows -- the ideas expressed by Yaacov had a large appeal in 2005-06 (before the war). That's why a party created solely on this idea (Kadima) gained much traction. The appetite for this move significantly diminished, however, after '06 war and especially after Gaza in '08. And for a good reason.

I disagree with Yaacov here. I think that any plan that doesn't leave a relatively long term IDF presence in at least some of the areas of the WB is doomed to a minority status. On the other hand, a move that leaves IDF presence would not give much of a diplomatic return, which is bound to be forgotten half a year later anyway.

Yaacov said...


I seem to remember that Kadima got the most votes in 2008, not only 2006. The next time we go to the ballots will be after the Palestinians have been recognized as a state by the UN, and Israel will be under intense pressure to do something significantly different than it's doing now. Large segments of the Israeli electorate will think this is a plausible demand. Shaul Mofaz, former commander of the army and minister of defense, will either be heading Kadima or he'll be it's number two man. He'll be loudly advocating something similar to what I've been saying here. Yet you, and many of the people commenting on this blog, think that the magic word "kassams" will make all this go away.

Perhaps. I doubt it.

As for the kassams, I agree with you that Israel will have zero tolerance for them. Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are not Sderot - more's the pity for Sderot. In October 2000 when Palestinian gunmen were shooting at Gilo, in Jerusalem, the IDF brought in tanks and helicopters and shot up the neighborhood in Beit Jallah from which the gunmen were operating, and soon enough they were either all dead or all gone. The same will happen, only on a larger scale, if the Palestinians try something like that during the process I"m suggesting. The world may perhaps scream and moan, or perhaps it won't, but either way, we'll respond very harshly. And then the shooting will stop, and the policy I'm advocating will happen (or continue happening). Or something very much like it - which amounts to the same, since I haven't been precise anyway, I"m merely outlining the principles.

What won't happen is that Israel will slip ever deeper into international pariah-hood, just so as to protect some settlements or out of fear of kassams. Israel is a county of people who do things to make things better, not a country of complainers who blame the world for everything and hope for salvation: that would be the Palestinians.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov, actually if you cast your eye back to 2006 after the war, the UN spent nearly a year muttering about the Shebaa Farms. Now you may - quite rightly in my view - put the UN in the same camp as Mondoweiss and Hizbollah but there are people who respect them. For example the current president of the USA. As for the number of rockets, I would love to do a comparison between the number of rockets that fell on Israel is the ten years since the pullout and the ten years before. Also the value of damage caused. In the latter case, I would feel quite comfortable claiming more has been caused since. That is apart from the virtual destruction of most of Israel's spy network against Israel's most lethal enemy as a result of throwing Israel's allies to the wind with an additional chilling effect on recruitment elsewhere.

As for the "world support", where was this? In the UN? The French were trying to terminate the fight as soon as it began. The US? Can you honestly see a case where Bush would have not supported Israel and the State Dept most certainly did NOT support Israel. The UK? Apart from words from Blair there was zero support. EU? If Blair was not PM then Israel would have run out of guided bombs because no other country was willing to let US fly arms planes to Israel stop over in their country. Russia? China? Where was this mythical world support? And this was in a clear-cut unprovoked attack on undisputed Israeli sovereign territory.

As a matter of curiosity if you chalk this up to you what exactly would have to happen for you NOT to do so?


Yaacov said...


the war in 2006 went on for about a month, because Israel said it needed time, and enough of the members of the Security Council were willing to give us the time. Only after a month, most of which we squandered, did the UN step in and call for a cease fire. That's what I call world support. We screwed up, not the world.

In January 2009 the same thing happened again. We went into Gaza, and our friends in Europe and of course America held off any decision at the UN until we could finish the job. In the event we didn't completely finish it, because degrading Hamas when Hamas was mostly refusing to fight, all in the middle of a city, proved hard to do, but still we spent about three weeks at it, and left late in the afternoon of the day Obama was inaugurated: we didn't want our military action to be the first thing he'd have to deal with. And also, it must be said, we had succeeded in much of what we'd set out to do.

Would I prefer world support for Israel to be sanctions against Arab supporters of Hamas? I would. But that's not the world we live in. So instead, I find satisfaction when our friends in the West - and we still have some, contrary to what some readers of this blog seem to think - enable us to do the things we need to do.

For them to stake such positions, we need to follow policies they can understand as somehow plausible. I've never advocated taking steps that would harm us, just because of public opinion. Never. But to take steps which will benefit us, and along the way also play into the hands of our friends: this seems to me a reasonable thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov, yeap enough of the UNSC was willing to give Israel time - one, the US under Bush with Bolton representing them. Do you honestly think if Israel had not pulled out in 2000 Bush would NOT have supported Israel?

Ditto with Cast Lead. I agree Israel did not make the most of the time as it seems have forgotten about the age old truth of milchemet ha-shaon.

Israel has lots and lots of friends in the West and the far east. The idea that Israel is becoming isolated is yet more media BS.


Dimitry said...

Yaacov, do you have factual support for Mofaz advocating pulling everything back without leaving the IDf behind? Because that's what I am saying. There isn't a majority of Israelis who'd agree to that. Not even close.

As for your comment about 2008 elections -- Kadima canibalizing the left in a desperate push to prevent a Netanyahu premiership doesn't translate into a support for pulling everything back without even leaving military presense behind. It is doubtful that even large chunks of Kadima and Labor would support such a move. But even if it did, how many votes are we talking here? According to recent polls, Kadima gets what, 27 mandates, Labor 9, Meretz probably 3 and 10 to the Arab and Communist parties. That's less than fifty mandates.

Again, to reiterate, I am not suggesting doing nothing, but I think that the withdrawal will be with IDF left behind for a considerable period of time.

One other thing, the rather possible reprecaussions of things exploding in Jerusalem and Gush Dan and Ben Gurion, unfortunately, not limited to the world moaning when Israel respnds. They are a large scale escalation similar to Defensive Shield and the flight of capital from Israel.

By the way, did Israel immediately bring tanks to stop the shootings at Bat Hefer, too? I think I missed that point. But even if you are right on this, what will be the future? They shoot, a school is hit, a plane is brought down etc. Israel responds forcefully, there is a short (or not so short) escalation. Israel is condemned for using disproportionate force. Things calm down for half a year and then return back. I seem to remeber something similar happening between '67 and '70. It is now called the War of Attrition. And the impact of such a situation on the Israeli economy, most likely would be devastating.

Barry Meislin said...

Zero tolerance, zero tolerance.

Now where have I heard that before?

P.S. Those INTOLERANT Israelis had better make sure that its "zero tolerance" is "proportionate"....

Jeff said...

Your argument is strong. But isn't its essential weekpoint the refugees of '48?

The instinctual refusal of the Arab world to resettle them has resulted in a great strategic tool for the Palestinian side of the conflict: These poor people have nowhere to go except back to their homes.

I agree that the best thing Israel can do is simply vacate most of the West Bank and lift the Gaza blockade.

But when that happens, the problem of the refugees moves to the forefront.

Logically and fairly, there ought to be a solution that resettles them outside Israel proper.

But I have to say I think that once you leave the occupied lands, the next thing on the agenda of the world will be a resettlement of the refugees.

The Palestinians on the West Bank will be smart enough not to let them back in. They will plead that there is no room for them. They must go back to their original lands.

And instead of blaming them for obstreperousness, the world will agree with them.

I very much fear that whether one supports it or not, the Zionist project is essentially unstable. Israel--with or without the West Bank--will face an increasingly Islamized, increasingly hostile world. And one with a weakened and irritable America, less and less able to pay the price of supporting it.

What's the solution to that?

Just a Thought said...

"such a move, or even merely its initial steps, would significantly improve Israel's relations with foreign politicians who are not automatically anti-Israel. ... Canny Israeli leaders should indeed be able to get some political gains from America and even Europe for such a policy. There is no doubt about it."

Temporarily, Yaacov, temporarily. Where are Israel's political gains from leaving Lebanon and Gaza? From leaving Area A? From signing Oslo, bringing in Arafat, and giving him a government? All the political gains were temporary, in historical terms evaporating quickly. In fact, the concessions encouraged Arab aggression, with Israel's eventual retaliation not only wiping out the political gains from the concessions, but perhaps even leaving Israel's political position even worse than at start.

"I look at all those cases, and see general calm on all fronts"

Only after a war on each of those fronts! Furthermore, the "calm" is only part of a saw-tooth pattern which has existed for at least half a century: Calm, punctuated by Arab attrition tactics (as in th 1950's), slowly but steadily increasing attrition, Israeli patience and restraint, more attrition, until finally Israel strikes back; then a mediocre period of calm, and the attrition starts all over again.

But it's not us Anglos you have to convince, Yaacov. It's Israelis.

Carrie said...

#1)To those of you making the argument that once Israel leaves the WB, kassams will rain down on Jerusalem and Tel Aviv-you guys know very well that Hezbollah and Hamas can shoot rockets right now into those cities. They do not need an empty WB to do it. Fact: They do not do it because they fear Israeli retaliation, and another Lebanon 2006 and Cast Lead. No matter what the likes of Mondoweiss says, I do not think Nasrallah likes spending his entire life in a bunker and I do not think Haniyeh would either.

#2 Jeff is correct about the refugees being the next card they play. I always assumed that even if there were a peace agreement and an end to the occupation, the Palestinians would then move on to step 2 of destroying Israel. I assumed they would just continue with the delegitimization campaign using Arab Israelis who would say they were living under intense discrimination and would compare themselves to African Americas in the US under Jim Crow.... Now that there will be no peace agreement, they are going to use the refugees. The Arab ISraelis will remain in their pocket for future use.

But we should still be optimistic. Between ending most of the occupation and the Palestinians' next move, Israel could develop an oil alternative or at least an amazing electric car(look at Shai Agassi) that would reduce oil dependency, and then I assure you the world will magically not feel so bad about those poor Palestinians...

Silke said...

I have no opinion on what the state of Israel should or should not do. It is none of my business

My gut reaction is that those all over the world who find it "a truth universally acknowledged" that an area should be emptied of Jews should be told off. I have no idea how to do that and I certainly don't think it is Israel's obligation to somehow achieve that by deed or by word.

My paper pusher advice is, don't take away the complaint the world is used to and which in all likelihood by now bores lots of "masses" to tears without replacing it with a much more boring and tedious one with equal appeal to the humanitarian crowd.

The BDS-sers will not stop, no matter what happens and when they lose one bone to gnaw they will replace it with another. Make sure the next bone they'll gnaw is chosen by Israel and designed to make them look even more dubious.

My little inquiries with the "masses" convinced me that those can easily be turned against the flotillistas just by mentioning that they sawed the reling to pieces i.e. they indulged in vandalism, which everybody with a little piece of land with flowers on suffers from occasionnally and hates, really really hates. Maybe only in not treading on the gras Germans, but I doubt it. I found all "masses" I got close to and being one myself ticking very much alike.

Y. said...

This post makes no sense, as does your previous one.

A) Israel will gain nothing from this. Even formally, the 'Occupation' will continue.

B) The Israeli security situation will become worse, though how much worse has been debated in the comments.

C) This has no support for this in the Israeli public. Eluding to Kadima's mediocre 2008 performance misses that the party changed its platform from 'unilateral withdrawal because there's no partner' to 'We have a peace deal around the corner'. It also misses that it cannibalized its support from the rest of Israeli Left. And future prospects for the Left are bleak - the young generation is much more right wing.

Ultimately, I sense the entire shebang is in order to satisfy some amorphous international community. Nevermind that it cannot work - more important is the recognition that Israel's rights and security matter more than public opinion, and sometimes we have to take costs for them - even if it hurts the Israeli elite (read: Left) standing in the world right now. In the long run, they will respect us more for standing us for ourselves.

Y. said...

Also, it is misplaced to talk about how much time the last wars took and to count it as a victory for withdrawal policy.

This is because it assumes Israel's victory is a given, and that Israel can use the extra time to do something other than keep being bombed. The problem is the withdrawal policy and the reasons behind it prevent Israel from winning decisively in the first place, so the extra time is not a positive.

There are only two ways for Israel to win such wars and stop missile attacks:
A) A massive bombing vs civilian targets. We do not want to go there, and it will have far more negative intl. consequences Yaacov then current policy.
B) Invade and (Re)occupy the territory. This worked in 67', but will be obviously blocked if we adapted Yaacov's strategy. After all, the entire cornerstone of this strategy is _not_ to occupy territory. Any government which will do so would be both condemned (insert all the current Left arguments) and make itself look foolish (esp. after withdrawing).

This is why Rabin/Peres didn't break Oslo when it was obvious Arafat was supporting the bombers, and why Olmert wasted a month in Second Lebanon - neither had any good options within withdrawal strategy. This only good recourse is to use a strategy which is actually useful.

P.S. June 6, 2011 3:14 PM post in the farewell thread is mine. I accidentally pressed on 'anonymous' field.