Sunday, May 29, 2011

Nathan Had a Sqeezebox, Momma Didn't Sleep at Nignt

The blogosphere lit up least week twittering the blessings of Benny Netanyahu's unplan for a settlement of the Palestinian issue. AIPAC was fully mobilized to rah-rah his message of hope for Israel in case it fell flat. It didn't, but once everybody sobered up it is now being perceived that Nate has possibly painted any hope of a peace process into a corner with himself. You can't just say what he said and then backtrack on any of it. Credibility is as much an issue as anything else. Nate has the ultra rightists who keep him in power to worry about more than the Palestinians he's going to need to trust him..

Just what did Nate say any way? Well he prefaced his remarks to Congress by saying he was all for peace and that Israel was prepared to make some painful choices and to "be generous" to achieve that peace. But there were to be some provisos.

First there was the matter of the Jewish State - not the old 'State of  Israel' as mandated by the UN  and constituted by the founders - no a religious state, the land of the Jews. All of a sudden anybody who's non-Jewish by matrilinear descent or religious conversion is possibly not a citizen. That includes all those who would, I assume, prefer not to sign the new loyalty oath. Recognition of that State is a precondition for negotiations.

A second point is that the pre-1967 boundaries will not be the 'starting point' for defining the new Jewish entity. It's "flexible" borders will be defined through negotiation and land swaps. It's pretty apparent that Israel will look much like it does now, with some sort of tribal 'homeland' for the Palestinians passing through it. It's highly unlikely that 'homeland' will, or can be contiguous. But when it's only needed as a pool of labour, it doesn't have to be contiguous and it seems there's little other reason for having a separate Palestinian state but for the fact palestinians wouldn't 'fit' in a Jewish one.

All non-citizen Arabs would live in the Palestinian Zone. All except those Arabs who still claim  property in Israel but who are now refugees in neighboring counties. They lose all rights to their confiscated property and as 'palestinans'. Another precondition.

That arab entity would have responsibility only for its domestic affairs, everything else would be sieved though the Jewish state. Little will change for the State of Palestine that doesn't exist for the Palestinian authority.

As far as negotiations go,  Israel reserves its right to not negotiate with HAMAS, or with the PA if HAMAS is affiliated with them. They want the PA to elect a new 'peace partner'. Since HAMAS IS the current PA government, that's going to be a real sticking point. Even more so if they win more seats in the planned fall election. Even if Israel could skew that election, it's highly unlikely even Fatah would roll over for Netanyahu. If they did, any such peace treaty he outlined would never get ratified.

The saga continues to-day with the announcement, coming out of the recent G8 meeting in France, that a "balanced" view of Israel's situation is required. This at the instance of Canada's Steve Harper and in opposition to Obama's stated '67 borders scheme.  It is also mooted that Harper's position was 'reinforced' by a call from Netanyahu, although this is in keeping with Harper's support for everything else Israel has done since he was first elected.  Leiberman the Israeli Minister of Defence did, however, publicly thank him for the 'support'

What happens next will depend on American politics and, particularly, if Obama gets a second term. Israel can't be forced to do anything. Even if the UN was to vote unanimously on a Palestinian homeland, nothing could be done to effect it. Israel's security will always trump world concern. Until perhaps Israel is isolated.

Even then, the nuclear card she doesn't play could affect any outcomes that aren't perceived to be advantageous to her. There's a strong streak of the Masada complex in Israelis, even the blogging ones.





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