Thursday, December 03, 2015

Naftali Bennett's Big Ideas

Shorter Naftaili Bennett: "A demilitarized Palestinian state wouldn't be sustainable in the long-term. But a permanent arrangement whereby Palestinians are only allowed to vote on local matters and are precluded from free movement in the vast majority of the state that they are deemed a part of? That sounds like something everyone would be cool with. I am a serious and realistic thinker."


8e1c37d4-d286-11e4-b580-4b7432e703be said...

I think you've misrepresented what he said in this interview. He didn't say that a demilitarized state isn't sustainable. He said that it's not a thing. You can't both be a State and not have control over your military/borders. Specifically: "That is a creature that does not exist according to international law. You cannot force a state to be demilitarized. Even if a state enters a treaty where it commits to be demilitarized, there’s no way to reverse statehood if it violates it. The term demilitarized Palestinian state is an oxymoron."

David Schraub said...

So obviously there can be a "demilitarized state" in the sense that it doesn't have a military and relies on other neighboring states for its protection (e.g., Andorra). What one can say is that a sovereign state can, juridically, change its mind and decide to militarize -- so there's no guarantee that a demilitarized Palestinian state would remain that way and no juridical enforcement mechanism for a breach. But that's just a fact of sovereignty -- I could say the same thing about Bennett's plan (there's no guarantee that Israel, in its sovereign capacity, wouldn't eliminate Palestinian voting or movement rights within its territories).

stickytuesday said...

I don't read it that way. I see it more as Israel won't allow the Palestinian State to become militarized so they will always lack in the sovereignty that would make them a State. Not that allowing them to exist as demilitarized isn't sustainable because they could just militarize. I don't think this is nitpicking - he's not speaking to sustainability at all. He's speaking to security.

David Schraub said...

There are two ways we can read "won't allow".

(1) Israel would retain the military capacity to crush any incipient efforts by Palestine to militarize.

(2) Israel would retain the juridical authority to determine whether Palestine was militarized.

In the former case, Palestine remains a state. In the latter case, it wouldn't be.

So Bennett clearly thinks that what matters is preservation of the juridical authority to nullify Palestinian militarization. But that juridical authority couldn't just be restricted to preventing militarization -- it would equally extend to all aspects of Israeli governance over Palestinian civic life.

stickytuesday said...

"In the former case, Palestine remains a state. In the latter case, it wouldn't be."

I think this is where you and Bennett disagree. I think he is arguing that if you maintain the ability to crush any effort to militarize - both implicitly and in an active intervention scenario - you cannot consider the non-militerized entity a true State. Consider the argument made that Gaza is still under occupation (I don't recall where you fall on this question). One of the biggest arguments in favor of the proposition is that Israel maintains military domination over the territory - even when it is not actively using that domination. I don't think Bennett considers Gaza a State and I don't think he'd consider a similarly designed WB a State either.

David Schraub said...

If that's Bennett's view -- and I don't think that it is -- then a huge number of microstates, aren't. All of them could be crushed if they attempt to militarize. But this would be an odd position for Bennett to take, since I doubt he really cares about semantics (if this were his view, I'd imagine he'd say "call Palestine what you want, so long as Israel retains the ability to stop it from militarizing"). What he does seem to care about is Israel's juridical authority, not its functional capacities, and that's what Palestinian statehood would take away.