Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Trump, Bibi seem to be a promising couple for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

I have just watched the press conference of Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, on RT. They have known each other for years – and Netanyahu has known Trump's Jewish son-in-law since he was a (big) kid. They seem to talk to each other in a way that makes sense, that doesn't need to hide anything.

For example, the Donald was asked what he would do with the settlements. He answered that he would like them to be suspended or slowed down or something like that. He turned his head to Netanyahu and said this thing to Netanyahu's eyes. It was refreshing. I think that the old-era PC politicians don't behave like that. They only say compliments and convenient things to other people's eyes. And when they get home, they say something different, much more hostile towards the host whom they just visited. Sadly, I think that Theresa May is still an old-era politician.

Trump seems to speak rather consistently. At least that's my feeling.

Netanyahu said that the settlements aren't the main issue or a key obstacle to a peace deal. I tend to agree with that. The settlements are being allowed by the Israeli government because it's a peaceful and gradual process increasing the Israelis' presence that makes them increasingly resilient towards the threats posed by the other side – perhaps growing threats. But I am pretty sure that if a meaningful realistic deal were waiting for the approval, they would be able to restrict or freeze the construction of new settlements in some areas and other things. It just doesn't make sense now because the settlements are clearly something that Israel can defend – despite all the criticisms – and the unilateral freeze would be something that Israel wouldn't get appropriately rewarded for, I think.

Instead, Bibi could have clearly articulated two conditions for a working two-state solution.
  1. The Palestinian state must acknowledge the existence and legitimacy of the Jewish state and it must stop teaching slogans about Israel's destruction at schools and mosques, among other places.
  2. Security – and perhaps all "power ministries" and law enforcement – in both countries has to be controlled by the Israeli folks.
It's really common sense. Both conditions are needed to avoid the scenario that the new Palestinian state would become another ISIS-like territory that is working hard to destroy Israel – and perhaps hurt others, too. Currently the Palestinians simply can't be trusted to voluntarily impose a de facto friendship with Israel on the population. So it could be suicidal for Israel to grant the full sovereignty to a new Arab state.

I actually find this song very catchy and wouldn't mind to hear it on radio. The content is extremely perverse and the Palestinian kids would really, really be better off if they could sing songs about Darinka the Mandarine instead.

Now, the first condition is surely difficult – a big change relatively to the status quo in which the anti-Jewish hatred and brainwashing is omnipresent in the Palestinian institutions. But it may be generally agreed that it's a legitimate condition that a country may demand from a newly seceding territory. When Czechoslovakia was getting dissolved, we surely expected the Slovaks not to launch nuclear attacks against Czechia. Fortunately, they didn't have any nukes so these checks were easy.

The second condition is more disputable globally because it envisions a limited sovereignty. A country without its people's control over the power ministries simply isn't quite sovereign. But given the self-evident failed state that would be created by the Palestinians, it's necessary. Such a new country would be analogous to the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, the autonomous region coinciding with Czechia that had Germans in charge of all the power ministries. We geopolitically belonged to the Third Reich but the protectorate was still referred to as a "state". In particular, the Czech lawyer in charge of the protectorate (who also translated Three Men In a Boat to Czech), Emil Hácha, was known as the "state president".

It was very far from a democratic setup – the Nazis were surely less decent than the Israeli today – but at many levels, it worked. I can't imagine how the Palestinians could agree with the limited sovereignty but it could be progress for them relatively to the status quo and maybe some support would be found.

Let me offer you an alternative, one that would require Israel to be more humble. By default, the power ministries in the new Palestinian state would be supervised by Jordan and/or Egypt, and the agreement would be that only when things demonstrably don't work according to some definition, Israel is allowed send troops or cops to the Palestinian territories. This solution involving Jordan and/or Egypt could be far more acceptable for the Palestinians. And if the security is the only concern of the Israeli, it could be enough to please them, too.

All these rules restricting the sovereignty could be made temporary in some way. After the first 10-year period when the number of attacks of a certain kind drops beneath a threshold (e.g. equal to one-quarter of the average of recent 10 years), the Palestinians could gain the sovereignty over the power ministries.

It's very hard for me not to think about the Czechoslovak analogies at every moment. The Palestinians may be thought to be analogous to the Sudeten Germans – they are Arabs, much like the Czech Germans belonged to the same ethnic groups that controlled a large region surrounding Czechia or Israel. For a while, the Sudeten Germans wanted a separate country but the desire for them to join the Third Reich quickly became the norm. The Palestinians don't quite want to be annexed by an existing Arab state. But that paradoxically makes the current situation harder because the average Palestinian is surely a bigger problem for the safety of Israel than the average Jordanian or Egyptian.

Well, I hope that Trump and Netanyahu read my blog post carefully and they think about other clever ideas, too. ;-)

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