West Bank Dreams and Gaza Realities

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Especially in light of the fact that Egypt—finally having grown fearful of Hamas as one prong of an Iranian-led alliance that has Egypt in its sights—has been striving more seriously to stop arms smuggling into Gaza, but with only mediocre results as the fire on Israel continues. Indeed, before the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, Israeli forces along the Philadelphi Route (the mere nine-mile corridor between Gaza and Egyptian Sinai) had only partial success in stopping the smuggling, with rocket and mortar fire on Israeli communities already having become a serious problem.

Another reason the ongoing attacks from Gaza are relevant to the peace talks is that Hamas is not deterred—not deterred from continuing to bombard Israel despite having been hit hard in Operation Cast Lead in the winter of 2008-2009.

True, the shelling has not returned to the level of dozens of projectiles per day that preceded the Israeli operation. Still, six projectiles in five days—one of them almost hitting children in a school—is a lot. Yet Hamas knows that, particularly in the wake of the Goldstone report, Israel faces a welter of political constraints against hitting back and is ultra-careful about doing so.

How much more, then, would that be the case in the event of a pullback from the West Bank that—unlike Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, which was unilateral—would be part of a peace agreement that would be widely celebrated as a near-messianic consummation? Contemplating whether to defend itself, Israel would face the same agonizing hesitations and the same concerns about world condemnation, diplomatic damage, and “lawfare”—except that now the rockets would be falling on Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Jerusalem.

Hence—leaving aside the unanswered question of how Hamas-run Gaza is supposed to fit into a peace agreement—anyone who still associates a West Bank withdrawal with “peace” needs to explain some things.

One is how—even if certain (highly unlikely) Israeli security arrangements were in place—firings from the West Bank could be stopped if they cannot be stopped from tiny, flat Gaza. Another is how smuggling into the West Bank could be stopped if neither Egypt nor Israel has succeeded to stop smuggling into, again, much smaller Gaza with its very short border.

And another is why, once the projectiles started to fly, Israel—after signing a peace agreement that an American president would regard as his crowning achievement—would have any more leeway to defend itself and why West Bank attackers, of whatever provenance, would be any more deterred than Gaza-based Hamas is at present.

Indeed, it was out of such considerations that, until twenty years ago, both the Likud and Labor mainstreams opposed a Palestinian state in the West Bank as an intolerable security threat. The logic behind that opposition remains as sound as it was then. What has changed is the political climate, and not for the better.

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  • Shalom Freedman

    This piece points out a fundamental incongruity, or perhaps even absurdity in the present Peace negotiations. How can Peace be made with a political body which does not represent those it purports to? What will Israel gain from creating a West Bank State for the Palestinians if the conflict will continue from another direction?
    Hope is a very good breakfast and a very poor dinner. I am afraid of what we will be served up at the end of this process.

  • nirgun

    @Andres What's wrong with Israel is the overwhelming double standard of world opinion called anti-semitism. If Israel takes action against Gaza, the UN and the US (especially with this president) will take action against Israel. There are countries that will take action against Israel–Egypt, Syria, Iran, Jordan–their populations will demand it even if some of their governments are reluctant. This conflict is not merely Israel against the Palestinians. It is Israel against the Arab world–too many people forget that.

  • Andres de Alamaya

    The world, dear nirgun, does a lot of shouting. It seldom lifts a finger when an aggressor goes too far. We are all on our own. In the case of Israel, the last time all their neighbors tried to beat up on them, Israel beat them. It needs to learn to act like a winner. There is no such thing as occupied territory. Once you've conquered lands they are yours. When confronting anti-semites, they need to give them a REASON for their hate by breaking their legs. Masada was a shameful event. Suicide is self-defeat. If defeat is inevitable, take as many of them as you can before you drop. The new Israel needs to be represented by Entebbe. It should be celebrated every 4th of July. Bullies are usually cowards and if you give a bully a bloody nose every time he tries to bully you, he'll learn to be civilized. If he fails to do so, you kill him. The Muslims of the middle east are far more divided than anyone realizes. And if they are taught that it becomes very hurtful to attack Israel, Israel's problem's will diminish. The Muslims who are Israeli citizens and live and vote in Israel and sit in their Parliament know very well that they are far better off than living in any of the Muslim lands. Israel has to stop worrying about what they say in the comedy club we call the U.N.

  • Aimee Stein

    You tell 'em, Andres! If only the 'world leaders' had your common sense!

  • moshav

    Shouldn't Israel retaliate even though hamas suffered a disappointment by failing to murder children? The hamas cowards may have a better aim and timing next time.



  • mary

    yes, there has never been a rel "peace process" from the muslim side. They have already stolen 77% of Jewish land and created a Palestinian state called Jordan.
    They have only one aim to destroy Israel and then the whole world and impose a tyranny of a nazi like ideology called islam.
    And the muslim Hussein Obama supports them, of course.
    Look, even in Europe now, there are movements to save their countries, in Germany, Switzerland, Holland and even in Sweden.
    Sweden is the most promuslim country in Europe, yesterday a member of Swedish democratic Party was attacked by two Arabs in his home in Malmoe, beaten and these two monsters carved a swastika on his forehead and cut his throat.
    You can imagine what they will do to the Americans and Israelis.
    New presidential elections are really necessary, to save USA and the whole democratic world.

  • lovezion

    ***Heyyyyyy Andres, kudos to you for telling the bare truth about Israel having been a constant disappointment and frustration to us for not CHARGING with all their might against those ignoramus brute murderers! The more they give in the more they attack with gigantic lies….which the stupid rest of the world believes! I'm totally appalled at their not realizing that no matter what they do or don't do….they will be criticized, invent lies against and continue to attack. That "peace conference" is a cangaroo conference, a waste of time and money. THERE WON'T BE PEACE AT ALL IN THIS WAY simply because the arab muslims aren't seeking peace – THEY ARE ONLY SEEKING TO ANIHILATE ALL OF ISRAEL AND ALL OF THE JEWS! And THIS is the only bare truth! I think that all young, healthy and strong Jews should leave their rotten countries and go to Israel to procreate non stop and to fight and make Israel SAFE, STRONG, and HUGE as THIS is the ONLY thing that will keep Israel safe and peaceful.