Friday, April 29, 2011

Benny Morris: Palestinians Will Get Their Cake and Eat it Too

Haniya and Abbas play Let's Make a Deal

I'm sorry to say that I agree with just about everything Benny Morris says in his article about the strategy behind the Palestinians' pursuit of a UN declaration of an independent state along the '1967' bordersPalestinians Dupe West . This, particularly, is what the realists should be realizing:

"Palestinian strategy is rather simple (and not particularly clever, though it does manage to take in a surprising number of Westerners): Because of the demographic threat (an Arab majority in a Jewish state) and because of international pressure for self-determination for the Palestinians and an end to Israel's military occupation, Israelis will eventually accept, however reluctantly, a Palestinian state encompassing the Palestinian-majority territories of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. Israel will eventually unilaterally withdraw (as it has already done from the Gaza Strip). So why offer or give the Israelis recognition and peace in exchange?
"Rather, once this mini-state is achieved, unfettered by any international obligations like a peace treaty—and having promised nothing in exchange for their statehood—the Palestinians will be free to continue their struggle against Israel, its complete demise being their ultimate target. Inevitably, the armed struggle—call it guerrilla warfare, call it terrorism—will then be resumed. And, alongside it, so will the political warfare—the delegitimization of the Jewish state and, most centrally, the demand for the refugees of 1948/1967 to be allowed to return to their homes and lands (what the Palestinians define as the "Right of Return"). The refugee issue plays well with public opinion in the West, which somehow fails to notice that such a return will mean that Israel proper will become an Arab-majority territory, i.e., no more Jewish state. In democracies, what publics accept or support eventually becomes what leaders advocate.
"And, on the military and political levels, no one will be able to fault the Palestinians. They will have broken no treaty and violated no solemn agreement. They won't have signed a "no further claims" clause or a "no more war" commitment, as Barak, Clinton and Olmert had demanded as essential components of a two-state peace settlement. They will have received their mini-state, a launching pad for further assault on Israel, without giving anything in return."
I don't fully agree with his final paragraph, but it doesn't make a difference. Israel is stuck with a multi-pronged attack on its legitimacy and, now that there may be a Fatah/Hamas unity 'government' with almost no interest in negotiations, it is difficult to imagine how Netanyahu can get around a UN Declaration of a Palestinian state.
H/T: Yaacov Lozowick, whose Peace Impossible; Progress Needed you should read.


  1. With great respect to both you and Benny Morris, I see this differently. I don't think that Abbas wants a Palestinian State. He depends on the occupation to keep him in power over Hamas. He knows what happened when Israel withdrew from Gaza. Gaining a state also puts his foreign funding in Jeopardy, and negates his deception to the world of "all we want is the West Bank and Gaza," if he were to proceed with his war against Israel.
    I think he is counting on Israel defying a U.N. resolution of Statehood. This further demonizes Israel, and puts Israel in the position of defying the process that gave it legitimacy in the first place.

    Whatever the motives for this current ploy, Israel and the U.S. must have a strategy counter it. I think Israel making a public and solid two state solution proposal would now be appropriate. Force the Palestinians to reject it.


  2. Stan - thanks for your interesting angle. Either way we need to be wary.


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