Thursday, May 09, 2002
A second marriageIn Slate, Warren Bass argues that the popular new idea of building a fence around the West Bank won't solve Israel's security problem. He makes a three part argument: first, that it's technically too difficult to build an effective fence, partly because the border is too long and the terrain is rough, and partly because organized groups can always find ways around it. Second, that an effective fence will do more to stop trade, and thus destroy the Palestinian economy (sic), than it will do to stop terrorism.
And third, he argues that it isn't a diplomatic solution:
And that, ultimately, is the biggest reason to worry about the enthusiasm for a fence: It reinforces unilateralism and helps defer indefinitely the only possible solution—negotiated partition—that has any reasonable chance of bringing peace. Unilateral disengagement by Israel would replace the land-for-peace premise of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 with land-for-violence; gut the long-standing Israeli insistence that negotiations are the lone legitimate way to resolve Arab-Israeli tensions; encourage Palestinian militance; reinforce Hezbollah's crowing insistence that force works and talks don't; and make Jerusalem and the rest of the new frontier into a new front line.Someone once described a second marriage as the triumph of hope over experience. What on earth would lead anybody to believe, at this point, that a negotiated solution has any chance of bringing peace? Land-for-peace is a fraud. What that formula always meant was land for the promise of peace. But there isn't anybody Israel can negotiate with for peace; there's nobody whose promises are worth anything to Israel.
Of course, Israel will still need to decide how to handle the settlements, but to argue that a fence won't work because it will "encourage Palestinian militance" is insane. Is the Middle East suffering from a lack of militance right now?
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