Sunday, June 05, 2011

Red State, Part II

Reacting to border clashes with Syria stoked by Palestinian activists attempting to cross over into Israel, Bibi Netanyahu claimed the events as proof that Palestinians are not interested in a state based on 1967 borders. Which, if my understanding of the past few weeks' events is correct, puts them in the same camp as the U.S. Republican Party. Moral incoherence makes for strange bedfellows, indeed.

Of course, the substance of Bibi's claim is, at best, woefully underproven. At most, the clashes on the Syrian border demonstrate that some Palestinians (to wit, those involved in the clashes) don't want a state based on 1967 borders. Their intentions, however, cannot be transmuted onto all Palestinians. For example, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas has indicated his willingness to work off of the French peace proposal I wrote about Friday, one which calls for two states for two peoples on basis of '67 borders. Bibi, by contrast, has made no definitive moves with respect to the proposal.

The fact of the matter is that both sides have elements which don't support a '67-based, two-state solution to the conflict. Simply cherry-picking extremists and holding them out as the epitome of the Israeli or Palestinian position is not good-faith dealing. Unfortunately, it is becoming more and more evident that Netanyahu has no interest in a good-faith pursuit of a negotiated settlement to the conflict. Earlier in his tenure, it was the PA which was jerking Israel around; now it seems like the situation is reversed.

What's sad is that the second I read about the French proposal, I figured that it was simply a race to see who could agree to it first -- at which point the other side would be obliged to find some reason to reject it. It seems both sides are just incapable of having sane leadership committed to resolving the conflict at the same time. If one side starts to behave reasonably, the other side becomes beholden to its extremist irredentist wings.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Haaretz, 6 June 2011 ("The Naksa does not belong to the Palestinians"):

QUOTE BEGINS: Then comes a Syrian killjoy and turns this claim upside down. "We must freely admit, there is no such thing as the Naksa. It is, very simply, a battle we lost during a long war... June 5 was the logical defeat for the opinions and policies that were cut off from reality," wrote Ahmed Hassan in the Syrian government newspaper, Al Baath.

True, he can write this because according to the Syrian narrative, it was not Hafez Assad who was responsible for the defeat, but rather Syria's president at the time, Nureddin Atassi, and strongman Salah Jadid. Both were imprisoned after the war by Assad.

These remarks are not new; acknowledgment of the defeat began during the war itself, and it became leverage to increase the magnitude of the victory in the Yom Kippur War.

What is new is the writer's unwillingness to let others, that is, the Palestinians, co-opt this memory. "This is not the 'Middle East conflict;' it is the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is not a border conflict... it is a struggle for survival... Neither we nor the entire region has a natural future in the shadow of Israeli existence, and there is no place for Israel in our natural future or that of the region."

Thus, there is no place for the Palestinians in this Naksa; it's an Arab matter, particularly Syrian, the last country to wave the banner of Arabism. And how is this vision to be realized? "Under the current circumstances the balance of power is not in our favor, and therefore our job now is to maintain the flame of the torch of the conflict." QUOTE ENDS