You know, the demands that have been put on Arafat are bleemin’ TRIVIAL. Sharon has asked for a few lousy days of peace, and hasn’t gotten it. All Bush has asked for was for Arafat to denounce, in Arabic, the act of blowing oneself into pieces in places where many innocents will be killed. These are not unreasonable demands. They shouldn’t even be a bargaining chip, for pete’s sake. It’s just the right thing to do.
It’s very telling that the demands are so lopsided here (Israel must pull out its military and make itself vulnerable to more attacks, while all Arafat has to do is make a frickin’ speech), and yet some people see the demand on Arafat to be somehow unreasonable. It’s amazing.
Thinking about a peace plan, here’s what I think might work:
First, we have to consider the parameters of what’s necessary. Palestinians must get a homeland, very closely approximating the 1967 borders. There will be no right of return for 4.5 million refugees, but perhaps a right of return for the 20,000 or so who are still alive who were displaced in 1948. Jerusalem will have to be split, or some under shared governance. The suicide bombings must stop. And the Golan Heights will not be returned to Syria, although there’s a possibility that it could become a DMZ with small allowed civilian populations from both nations.
But Israel’s complaint about this is valid. First, any right of return allows 20,000 potential terrorist conduits to be opened in Israel. That’s very dangerous. Second, the 1967 borders are not defensible. About 90% of Israel’s population is within artillery range from Palestine. That’s a very real concern.
So here’s where the U.S. can come in. What we need is a new doctrine, formally stated, that the U.S. will use the full weight of its military in defense of Israel in the case of an attack initiated by others. It needs to be clear, specific, and and damned near unbreakable so that Israel doesn’t have to worry about a wobby president 10 years down the road re-defining it or abrogating it completely. It should include ALL options, including the use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to an attack on Israel with Weapons of Mass Destruction. Basically, we need MAD for the Middle East.
One of the dangers Israel faces is that the Arab world is huge in relation to it, and can withstand a missile attack or even a nuclear attack in a way that Israel can’t. Iran is already on record as pointing this out and recommending that Israel be attacked with nuclear weapons because it can be totally destroyed that way, whereas its retaliation cannot do the same to the Arabs.
So the U.S. needs to level that playing field. One nuclear attack on Israel will result in the invasion and destruction of the attacking regime, with nuclear weapons if necessary. Any incursion into Israeli territory will cause the immediate attack by the full weight of the American military in response. Any military buildup near Israel’s borders will cause the U.S. to immediately deploy its rapid response forces. These reactions need to be spelled out in detail and not left fuzzy, so the Arab world knows exactly what it would be facing if it attacked Israel.
Finally, the solution must NOT be one that makes it look like terrorism works. That means that Israel has to come out of this stronger than when the Intifada started, even if Arafat gets what he wants. Thus, the new military pact between Israel and the U.S. Preferably, it would be nice to expand that pact to include Britain and other countries, but the U.S. needs to make its own assurances absent of any ‘coalition’, because Israel knows it can’t rely on organizations like the U.N. to defend it. It also means that there need to be negotiated arrangements with Arafat as to what are acceptable responses by Israel to more terrorist attacks.
This settlement will also probably have to be imposed on Arafat, because I have serious doubts that he will bargain in good faith about anything.
So, what do you thiink? Is this a workable plan?