April 16, 2002



If Ehud Barak thinks he can draw a line on a map that gives 75 per cent of the West Bank to the PLO and still avoid total settler outrage, more power to him... he's certainly right about the need to partition the territories with a wall, as any sane person recognizes by now. I'd love to see a map with such a line on it, though, as I'm doubtful it can be drawn to anyone's satisfaction.

Two important points that Barak glosses over:

Israel will also need a security zone along the Jordan River and some early warning stations, which combined will cover another 12 percent, adding up to 25 percent of the West Bank.

If Israel controls the Jordan, that means the Palestinian state will still be encompassed within Israeli territory (ie, no border of its own). That's just a simple geographical fact, and thus the Barak proposal will equally simply not be acceptable to the international community on that basis alone. Another point of interest... the gap southwest of Jericho between the Jordan security zone and the Jewish settlements in Greater Jerusalem that Barak says would be kept (ie, the bridge between north and south Palestine) would be at most a few kilometres, maybe only a few hundreds of meters wide... if there is any gap at all, and the Palestinian-ruled area is not simply divided into two separate sub-states. One suspects Barak knows that'd be untenable on its face (the resulting Palestinian state not being "viable") but I'd still like to see that map he's doodling on.

In Jerusalem there would have to be two physical fences. The first would delineate the political boundary and be placed around the Greater City, including the settlement blocks adjacent to Jerusalem. The second would be a security-dictated barrier, with controlled gates and passes, inside Jerusalem to separate most of the Palestinian neighborhoods from the Jewish neighborhoods and the Holy Basin, including the Old City.

In other words, the Muslim inhabitants of Jerusalem, between the two fences, will be in non-voting, non-citizen limbo indefinitely under this proposal... held in a walled-in enclosure under semi-permanent Israeli military rule. Oh, that'd go over well, too...

See, people have thought of walls before... but they've yet to come up with a proposal that doesn't involve both Israelis and Palestinians stepping back from even their "minimum acceptable" demands. That, BTW is why negotiations prior to any wall-building are futile... any wall strategy can only come out of unilateral Israeli action, in defiance of UN resolutions and world opinion. Barak has a sane proposal, but sanity's just not going to be accepted right now by most of the world. The only question is whether to go ahead and do it anyway. And at some point in the years to come the price will climb so high that the Israelis will be inclined to do just that.

Note I said "years." Sharon, BTW, is of course implacably opposed to any wall strategy. He will never support it. So this is all moot until the next Israeli change of leadership (or, assuming the huckster Netanyahu succeeds him... the one after that.)

Posted by BruceR at 03:10 PM