Tag Archives: conflict

Recognizing A Palestinian State Would Be Disastrous

A hoorah enthusiasm to accept Palestinian statehood at the United Nations no matter what – and with no regard for Israel’s say in the matter – would be catastrophic. We must be patient.

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A view of Jerusalem

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This is a response to  ‘Blocking Palestine: America’s Big Mistake

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Many groups have seen hope for a solution to the Middle East conflict in the Palestinian bid for statehood at the UN, the thinking being that international pressure will exert  pressure on Israel. Following this logic, American opposition to the move is regarded as a diplomatic mistake given a growing consent among the UN member states for the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) request for statehood. Americans, the argument goes, are opposed to it out of concerns that the Palestinian state could then file a lawsuit at the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Israel for illegal occupation of its territories. This stance takes root in its loyalty to a close ally despite the fact that such policy goes against its principles and values and undermines its influence across the Arab World. American behavior with regards to the PA is even more perplexing when one takes a look at its efforts to support democratic changes in North Africa.

I would like to counter that argument. Accepting a Palestinian bid for statehood would be a dangerous development, not only for the US and Israel, but first and foremost for Palestinians and the wider region. Americans oppose Palestinian statehood out of security concerns rather than a morally dubious attachment to its ally. At this moment in history Palestine is by no means ready to become a state, and the blatant international disregard for the Israeli input in the matter could have dire consequences, including an all-out conflict across the region.

The first and most important risk originates in the fact that the PA does not exercise full control over its territories, even in Zone A, and cannot guarantee the rule of law over all of its lands and stability at its borders – the Gaza Strip and Hamas, for example. Let’s imagine the PA finally gets the statehood it wanted – how is it supposed to oust Hamas from Gaza and reinstate itself as the ruling power? What do Abbas’s assertions on peaceful cooperation with Israel mean if once Palestine becomes independent Hamas will continue to dictate its own policies, fire missiles at Israel and recruit Bedouins to attack from Sinai? Palestine can only become a state if it has all the features of a state – territory and population are not enough.

Let us imagine the newly independent Palestine files a lawsuit against Israel at the ICC, the ICC finds Israel guilty and demands its withdrawal from the Occupied Territories. Then what? No state in history will voluntarily abandon strategic positions without being fully confident that its withdrawal will not be instantaneously used against it. Palestinian state apparatus and security forces are too weak to deal with rioting and protests, let alone successfully fight domestic terrorist groups. Can Abbas really guarantee that no missiles will be launched on Ben Gurion Airport from the West Bank hills? That he will make sure nobody smuggles firearms from Jordan into Ramallah? That Hezbollah operatives would not enter Palestine to train and recruit new terrorists?

The risk is just too big to take, especially now with sectarian conflicts raging all over the region. The PA does not wield enough power – state institutions are weak and security forces are ill-trained and corrupt. Israel contains the terrorist threat coming from the Occupied Territories at the disgraceful costs of humanitarian abuse and violence, but its tactics and strategy are successful. Can Israelis gamble put their safety and security in the hands of weak and semi-failed institutions out of a moral imperative? It would be against common sense to claim they should.

The first condition for the PA is to exercise the full rule of law, both in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, when it will be able to contain terrorism on its own territory before it hits Israel. Secondly, Israel cannot be forced into an internationally orchestrated Palestinian statehood. Israelis would not yield to such pressure, whereas encouraged Palestinians would interpret such move as a green light for staging a Third Intifada. The consequences would be more bloodshed, more violence and a greater Israeli military presence in the Occupied Territories. Such a move would delay any chance for a comprehensive solution for another couple of decades.

The peace process must be negotiated with the involvement of the great powers. The counter-argument is irrelevant as all the parameters for a peace solution have been set and defined as far back as Taba Summit in 2001. The problem lies in the lack of good will between the two sides; if the solution was mutually desired, Palestine could become an independent state over one night. Any international solution without the Israelis on board would deteriorate the situation, enhance the risk of violence, and fuel hawkish moods both in Israel and in Palestine.

Lastly, statehood would be disastrous for the PLO and its legitimacy. If the PLO could not gain any substantial improvement in the Palestinian situation following recognition, Palestinian society would question the PA’s ability to deliver, thus further undermining its already weak support. It is not hard to imagine a wave of social protests bolstering radicals’ support base, who could build their popularity on harsh critique of the PLO’s inertia and passiveness, calling for the people to forcefully take what has been promised by the UN itself. If another intifada were to break out, the PLO would have no chance of controlling the uprising, nor would it be able to compete with the militant and populist Hamas in rallying the support of the society to lead the fight. If Arafat could not control the Second Intifada, it is beyond the realms of possibility that someone as uncharismatic as Abbas will do better.

I do not intend to defend Israeli policies; I am no fan of Bibi and his politics. But a hoorah enthusiasm to accept Palestinian statehood at the UN no matter what – and with no regard for Israel’s say in the matter – would be catastrophic. We must be patient and appreciate the current situation, as irrespective of what we think, Israeli-Palestinian relations, both on official and social levels, haven’t been as peaceful as they are now for some time.

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Photo credit: Adam Biggs / theriskyshift.com

Is War Inevitable?

If we as humanity are to carve a path away from the illogical concept of war, we must start treating wars with similar attitude as towards slavery and human sacrifice: disgust and contempt.

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Arlington National Cemetary. Is War Inevitable?

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Wars and conflict have been a part of our human history almost since the beginning of time. We as a civilization have grown up learning in schools about the vast number of great wars from the Medieval Ages all the way to the modern days. War and conflict have been engrained so much into our way of life that we almost instinctively assume that disputes between nations which end up in a bloody conflict is almost normality. Perhaps this is why the majority of citizens do not do enough to protest against wars. Let’s take the United Kingdom for example. Undoubtedly thousands, if not millions, of Brits were angered by the British government’s involvement in recent conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Yet this anger does not truly transform into mass action against conflict. While much of society is displeased with Britain’s warmongering over the years, many simply assume that war is just a way of life.

If thought through in detail war is perhaps the most illogical creation of mankind. Some might argue war is natural, because we humans are animals, and animals often fight and kill each other. This is a valid point; however it does not take into account that humans are the only species on our planet that can use their tongues not just to make noises, but to communicate with language, leading to a beautiful possibility of diplomacy. Others may argue that despite diplomacy, some disputes cannot be solved without the use of violence to measure who is the strongest and thus who makes the rules. While history may back this point up, once again it does not take into account that there are some pockets of society who have never utilised war to resolve a dispute. Buddhists, Kibbutzim in Israel, and even Iceland have never been involved in international wars. A skeptic may argue that such small minorities do not represent the overall picture, but the vital point here is the fact that humans are capable of going through lifetimes without conflicts. Some people argue that guns are to blame for wars, thus as long as nations have some sort of military equipment, war is inevitable. Yet there are a number of nations without armed forces like Andorra, Costa Rica, Liechtenstein, Grenada and others who seem to survive well without militarisation. Perhaps the strongest arguments against the idea that war is natural and inevitable is the fact that at some point during our human history, slavery, the caste system, inferiority of women, dictatorship, human sacrifices were also considered natural and inevitable. Ultimately simply because something seems normal and inevitable now does not necessarily mean it is right to follow through with it.

To put the above theory into practice, one has to ask themselves whether the recent wars in the Middle East and possible future conflicts with Syria and Iran are also inevitable. The Western governments claim that diplomacy will not work with the “barbaric” and “ruthless” terrorists that operate in the Middle East. Yet the fact that the amount of terrorist attacks in the region have increased and that levels of insecurity are higher than ever should demonstrate that the invasions and occupations are also not the answer. Currently Iraq is a crippling disaster with car bombs explosions happening practically every day. The USA has given up on Afghanistan due to rising deaths (2000 deaths for the American troops and countless civilian deaths for the Afghan population). The supply of arms to the rebels in Syria has increased the death total dramatically and the invasion of Iran will lead to catastrophic consequences in the whole region. Perhaps the best option to take is to leave the Middle Eastern region alone. Undoubtedly there are a number of vital problems that need addressing in the region, but the Arab populations are more than capable to solve these themselves. After all, the most peaceful transition of the Arab Spring happened in a county where the West played a minor role (Tunisia).

Evidently conflict and violence will grip the Middle East for some years to come due to instability and recent drastic change. Nevertheless, Western nations frequently claim that they are the creators of peace and diplomacy. Perhaps instead of encouraging violence, the West should live up to its claims and encourage dialogue between different factions in the Middle East. After all, Europe went through the most horrific period of wars and if we have learned anything from that period, it is to not let it happen again somewhere else. Some theorists claim that democracies never go to war with each other. That may be true, but unfortunately over the years democracies have played a crucial role in adding fuel to wars elsewhere. If we as humanity are to carve a path away from the illogical concept of war, we must start treating wars with similar attitude as towards slavery and human sacrifice: disgust and contempt.

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Photo credit: James Sheehan / theriskyshift.com