Along the Tracks

Thursday, June 06, 2002

Running out of options, patience

Something about this latest suicide bombing in Israel feels like a “last straw” - and I’m fully on board hoping it is.

We’ve all watched as Israeli after Israeli is shot or blown up, through weeks stretching into years. It happens when the Israelis aren’t negotiating; it happens when they are negotiating. It happened when the PLO leadership was exiled from the territories; it happens when the PLO is in charge of the territories.

The only time it doesn’t happen is when the Israeli Defense Force takes over the territories.

The Palestinian Authority/PLO has proven itself corrupt and untrustworthy beyond hope of reform. As I wrote in March, it is a terrorist organization, more so than it is a “government.” It doesn’t need to be “fixed.” It needs to be dismantled. The only security force to be trusted to administer the territories and hunt down terrorists is the IDF.

Part of the reason the violence continues in the Holy Land is because the United States has stubbornly maintained its position as an “honest broker” for peace. But to be a broker, you need parties who wish to negotiate and are willing to compromise. In this case, only one does. And the ultimate goal - peace - needs to be shared. But here again, only one side desires this outcome.

I cannot stress enough: This is not an indictment of the entire Palestinian population, inside and outside of the territories. However, their leadership (the degree to which they have chosen this leadership is debatable but irrelevant to the argument) has consistently chosen the path of obstinacy and violence. Evidence abounds that Arafat and his mafia are robbing the Palestinian people not only of a chance at peace, but of hard cash and opportunities generously provided by the outside world and the Israelis. The PA/PLO is a racket, little different from Colombian rebels/drug lords or Sicilian mob bosses.

In the case of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a solution equitable to the vast majority on both sides stares us in the face, but the rhetoric, vitriol and incitement of the Muslim/Arab world veil it from our vision. But draw back this dark cloth placed by dictators, mob bosses and their apologists, and we see a path to peace and security: Israeli annexation of the territories.

This solution would have to follow a series of steps - as any proposed solution would - but could provide real hope and opportunity for the Palestinian masses while guaranteeing security for Israel.

Steps would include:
1) Full reoccupation by the IDF to eliminate the PA/PLO and its quasi-subordinates, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, et al. Care to limit civilian casualties would be required, but that is something Israel already has more than amply demonstrated its ability to do.
2) Public announcement of a plan to annex the territories, coupled with a full Bill of Rights for all present occupants of the West Bank and Gaza, Israeli settlements included, spelling out property rights, due process, and the freedoms of speech, press, religion and equal treatment. Protection and maintenance of present religious sites could be included in these guarantees.
3) Public announcement of a political plan, setting up a federalized system of representation and governance for the territories, keeping present Israel from being “swamped” by the Palestinian voting block while guaranteeing the Palestinians equal representation and a degree of autonomy - difficult, I admit, but not impossible: The U.S. Senate provides a similar “cushion” against the rule of a potentially tyrannical majority.
4) Public announcement of an economic plan, including investment in the newly annexed territories and social program guarantees for individuals similar to those received by present Israeli citizens.

Obviously, there would be plenty of obstacles. Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all the other terrorist groups would likely become even more violent in their opposition to Israeli rule. However, the same is certainly true for any “peace settlement” which does not result in the end of the Israeli state. The Arab world would erupt, or be incited to erupt, and Arab leaders might even finally agree to use the oil card against America. Yet we must remember, those countries need us to buy their oil far worse than we need them to sell it. Prices will rise, but we can make do. We always have. And our warm relationship with Russia would be a major buffer against such an embargo. The Europeans would cry and moan and pass angry resolutions, but that is all they could do, and frankly, it would put their hypocrisy on full display, perhaps resulting in some serious reconsideration of positions by present leaders and, even more so, voters.

For all this to work, the United States could no longer hide beneath the mantle of “honest broker.” America would need to give its full endorsement to the Israeli plan, including not only a speech by the president but a joint resolution from Congress. If the world had no doubt where we came down, its opposition might be loud, for a time, but its response would be, by necessity, limited.

Palestinians are suffering and Israelis are dying. Peace and security can be achieved by both sides. But they can only be achieved together - literally.

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