Questions about Israel

I’ve been thinking about Israel quite a lot recently (Bibi’s settlement support notwithstanding), and I’ve been looking for the answers to some fundamental questions. I want this to be a serious discussion, and I have a few questions in mind, along with my own comments on them.

1. Why is Israel blockading Gaza?
My understanding is that they have been blockading Gaza ever since Hamas got elected in 2007. I understand that it is a terrorist organization whose charter rejects Israel’s existence, and that many Palestinians voted for Hamas because Fatah was seen as a corrupt party that does not care about the Palestinian people, not because they are bloodthirsty killers.

I do not support or condone Hamas for advocating violence and terrorism, but Israel’s blockade of Gaza has caused impoverished Palestinians to suffer more than anyone else. This is typical of sanctions and embargoes, in which the civilian population suffers more than the government that is supposedly being punished. Also, a blockade, as I understand, is an act of war. I know that Israel has somewhat eased the blockade since the flotilla incident four months ago, but there is still a lot of suffering and dependence on humanitarian aid, and a very limited ability for the people of Gaza to participate in any meaningful economic activity.

Will this collective punishment really solve this conflict? Has the blockade been effective in undermining or weakening Hamas? Should Israel tinker with some of the restrictions, or should a whole different approach be taken?

2. What should be done with the 2.6 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem? (and perhaps the other Arabs between the Jordan River and Mediterranean)
I think it is too late for a two-state solution. There are too many Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with a total of half a million Jews. Some of the largest ones are almost cities. Yet the Palestinians want them gone so they can have their own state in the West Bank (and Gaza). Netanyahu insists on expanding the settlements while participating in peace talks, and the settlers are very determined to live where they live now. So there is no way they will leave the West Bank and allow the Palestinians to have it as part of their own state. Some of the settlements are deeply embedded into the territory, so land swaps may not work. I also doubt the settlers would ever become citizens of a future Palestinian state if it were to allow Palestinian citizenship for settlers who don’t want to leave. Another problem is Jerusalem. Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be their capital, but Israel wants the entire city of Jerusalem to be its indivisible and eternal capital. A compromise isn’t realistic here. I could go on or list other reasons, but my point is that the two state solution isn’t going to work.
So the other options are as follows:
[li]The one state/binational solution: Offer citizenship to the Palestinians in the occupied territories, and grant them equal rights under the law. And then annex the territories into one large country between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.[/li][li]The Apartheid solution: Continue the status quo, give the Palestinians small, non-viable enclaves in the West Bank, and virtually no political rights under Israeli law. A comparison to apartheid is indeed provocative, but that is what it will turn into if the current course is continued.[/li][li]Ethnic cleansing: Expel the Palestinians from the West Bank and send them to Jordan. And then annex the West Bank. [/li][/ul]
I like the first option the best, but many Israelis and Zionists do not want Israel to lose its Jewish majority. The second option would be appalling, and would result in a humanitarian disaster that would make Israel look very bad. It would be completely contrary to the values of a western liberal democracy, let alone American values. The third option would be a crime against humanity.

If any of you have any other solutions to the conflict besides the ones I listed, or a combination thereof, you are welcome to share it. If you still think the two-state solution is possible, please tell me where I am wrong.

you’re not the only one.
The problem is that , unlike every other problem in human history, this one just ain’t got no answers.
I can’t find the quote, but I heard it attributed to Yitzhak Rabin 20 years ago:
“there is no such thing as the Israel/Palestinian problem.. Because a problem is a thing that has a solution. So we can only discuss the Israel/Palestinian condition. A condition is a thing that you have to live with, because you have no choice”.
(No, I don’t have a cite, but it would be great if somebody could verify this quote.)

  1. Israel is blockading Gaza for two reasons. The first is to prevent materials from being imported into Gaza that would let the Gazans build weapons such as rockets. The second is to impoverish the Gazans enough to turn them against Hamas and to punish them for voting for Hamas in the first place.
  2. A two state solution is still possible because while settlements are large, Israel has always been willing to sacrifice some land and settlements for a solution. Jerusalem is a sticking point but it is solvable if both side want it solved. The main reason a two state solution is the best is because there is no other alternative. Palestinians don’t want to become Israelis and making millions of people who want to kill you citizens is insane. Jordan does not want the Palestinians any more than the Israelis do and deporting them to Jordan risks war with one of Israel’s only allies. The status quo is acceptable until a real partner for peace emerges and the longer Israel goes without a terrorist attack the more Hamas is weakened. The Israeli economy is one of the most dynamic in the world and sooner or later the Palestinians will realize that trading with Israel is more lucrative than trying to blow it up.

It’s a complicated answer, but basically Israel initially closed it’s borders to Gaza (as did Egypt) when Hama’s through out Fatah, but they didn’t initiate a blockade until after Hamas repeatedly used rockets to attack Israeli settlements from inside Gaza. Since Hamas continues to do this periodically, Israel continues to maintain the blockade and probably will continue to do so until Hamas is not in control of that region anymore.

Gods know. I can tell you that Jordan doesn’t want them, and is unwilling to give up any of their territory to carve out a state for them either (nor is any of the other powers in the region wanting to take them or carve out territory for them to have their own state). I suppose if the Palestinians were to throw out the non-zero percentage of their population who are insanely murderous and who seemingly want to keep this hopeless struggle going for another couple of generations, they might have some options…though I seriously doubt any of them include their own state made up of the regions in question. I don’t see them integrating into Israel, or a one state solution being viable, and I think they missed the boat on a true two state solution, so…no idea. I doubt anyone else knows how this mess will ultimately be resolved either (if it ever will be resolved :dubious:), which is the problem.

The best solution would have been for Palestine to take the original offer of half the loaf. Failing that, to negotiate in good faith in the 60’s (the 50’s were probably too soon), or the 70’s would have gotten them much better concessions. Less so in the 80’s, and even less in the 90’s and by today? Well…that boat has sailed, IMHO. It’s long gone and I doubt another will be coming by. I don’t see any realistic compromise that will leave the Palestinians happy at this point, so I’d guess the cycle of violence will continue.


Let’s be realistic about the Israeli/Palestinian issue. While it may look like just another of the world’s un-solvable problems, it isn’t. When I was growing up, one could easily have looked at Northern Ireland as impossible to solve and yet, it basically has been solved. I recall the peace accord between Israel and Egypt being akin the parting of the Red sea so it can be done.

There are no perfect solutions, but some sort of resolution might still be possible.
Viewing the situation from the point of view of a physical geographer, I can think of one that might work, if cooperation could be obtained from the Israelis, Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians, all of whom would ultimately benefit from some sort of peaceful settlement.

Start with seveal assumptions:
A. A single-state system will simply not work…too many hard feelings on all sides. Both the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs deserve, in some sense, to have their own homeland.

B. Jordan doesn’t really want the Palestinians, but has shown itself willing in the past to help out, even to the point of donating some territory…an offer which the
Palestinians rejected.

C. The West Bank is geographically unsuitable for a stand-alone state, and as an isolated enclave is difficult to manage.

D. Control of Israel’s share of the Jordan river is too important, economically and
culturally, for that nation to ever give up willingly.

So…speaking as an armchair quarterback I would propose the following:

Double the size of the present Gaza territory by adding a 10k-wide strip for 20k inland along the present Israel-Egypt border, with each nation giving up roughly equal amounts of land. Establish this as an independent Palestinian mini-state. Current residents of this newly-established area (which appears to be sparsely populated) would have the option of staying and becoming citizins of Palestine, or of relocation (and guaranteed citizenship) in either Egypt or israel with reparations and relocation monies to be paid by the new Palestinian state.

Turn the West Bank over to Israel. Israel would pay reparations and relocation monies to displaced residents, who would have the option of relocating to either across the river in Jordan or to the new state of Palestine.

Jerusalem is problematic…I see no good options here other than to make the city an international enclave under UN authority, governed locally by a council made up of equal representation from the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.

Water for the new state would be an issue. Perhaps the UN could assist with a large-scale seawater desalination plant and construction of an overland pipeline from the Jordan River. Yes, I know the Jordan is already fully allocated. Both Jordan and Israel would have to give up a little, Palestine would have to settle for less than an optimal amount. But it might be enough. The UN would also probably have to guarantee protection of this pipeline
in the event of hostilities.

This Palestinian state would be small and densly populated (about 4 million if all West Bank Palestinians were absorbed), but it does have an established capitol city, seaport, some industry and agriculture. With the cessation of hostilities and a UN-supported rebuilding of infrastructure it could probably be viable.
It’s easy to solve the problems of the World when one is comfortably ensconsed in front of a computer screen in the US of A. But if nothing else, this at least indicates that even the most thorny problems have a potential for resolution. All it takes is a little cooperation - and that is the most difficult part of all.

The single state solution is not unviable because of objection from both sides. It is unviable because it is (perhaps understandably) objectionable to the Zionists who want to preserve a jewish state.

Everything seems to be pointing to an eventual two state solution but the devil is in the detail I suppose.

The problem with the second reason is that the blockade is more likely to turn the Gazans against the Israelis, rather than against Hamas. Hamas could easily rally them about how evil Israel is, and they may find Hamas’s goal of Israel’s destruction more justified.

I think if citizenship is offered to the Palestinians, it should be on the condition that they accept Israel’s existence as a homeland for the Jews. And as for your last point, I don’t think it will be very feasible for Palestinians to trade with Israel if they are being walled off and blockaded. Uprooting tens (or hundreds) of thousands of settlers would be a logistical nightmare for Israel, and its current government doesn’t want to even stop settlement growth, let alone dismantling them. The two-state solution is on life support, if it is still even alive.

Actually, no. Not every problem has a solution. Cancer is a problem – it might or might not ever be possible to develope a cure.

So you think the Arabs in the West Bank should be paid to leave? What if they don’t want to leave? And I don’t think Israel will ever agree to turn Jerusalem to international control.

Are you asserting that the Palestinians would be willing to join Israel and become Israeli citizens?? Assuming you are and aren’t simply taking yet another swipe at Israel, on what basis do you make such a claim??


Sometimes I think the best thing to do with Jerusalem would be to evacuate the entire population, and detonate enough dirty bombs there to leave enough residual radiation that for the next 100 years, nobody could approach the site without a lead-lined suit and hope to survive.

With the caveat that of course my suggested scenario was only hypothetical anyway…yes I was suggesting they would have to leave. Just as the Jews currently residing in Gaza would have to leave.

Yes, it would be painful, and not entirely fair. But given the choice between continuing to live in fear, deprivation and uncertainty versus the chance for a peaceful and well-financed life in a nearby and culturally similar place, I think the vast majority would choose the latter.

On the matter of Jerusalem…Israel’s jurisdiction over the city is not universally recognized anyway. Under the “international” plan Israelis would at least have full access. I don’t know that they’d ever be willing to turn over control either. I suppose it’s a matter of how much a nation is willing to compromise in return for some sort of resolution for the larger mess.

When the Jews left Gaza 5 years ago, it was only 8-10K settlers. There are 2.5 million Arabs in the West Bank, so those scenarios are not comparable. I’m sure there are many who would never want to leave, so forcing them out would be a crime against humanity.

My Grandfather described US citizens moved by the US Government to build a national park who didn’t want to leave their ancestral homeland. If it would bright peace, it might be worth it.

And I’m equally sure that, given reasonable incentives, most would be willing to relocate. And both positions are purely speculative.

I suppose my scenario could be expanded to include some provision for those who absolutely did not want to leave to be given some sort of permanent residency status or even Israeli citizenship, but that would require that they accept the laws and authority of the jewish state. I don’t think there would be many takers. The Palestinians want, and deserve their own country, but the actual location is, I think, of less importance. The majority of West Bank residents have no particular historic ties to that area and it has no recent history as an autonomous region.

You keep bringing up that “crime against humanity” thing, but that implies some kind of genocide. What we’re talking about here is a voluntary and well-financed relocation.

The idea of a tripartite Palestinian state made up of Gaza, East Jerusalem and the West Bank has been put forth. I think this is unworkable. A nation, especially a small one, needs well-defined borders and a contiguous land area. Imagine the difficulty of trying to establish and maintain transportation corridors, utility delivery and government services to three widely seperated enclaves surrounded by unfriendly territory. Far better and more manageable to concentrate resources in an enlarged Gaza territory which has the necessary attributes to be self-sustaining…access to sea lanes, established infrastructure and a (nominally) friendly border with Egypt.

Of course, this whole scenario is contingent upon cooperation between the Israelis and Palestinians, as well as considerable inputs from Jordan, Egypt and the U.N. Such multi-party cooperation might be difficult or impossible to obtain.

Security is on their mind. The defence theory of the moment is Security Through Impunity. The Gaza blockade is one of several examples of this practice. The process is to openly partake in human rights abuse and war crimes, as well as murder. These to be done in full view of the civilized world. The mild response to these shows the impunity enjoyed largely through control over pertaining US policy. This impunity builds a general sense of security with the voting public.

One phone call from Obama to the Israelis. Get your people the hell out of the West Bank. Return the land and other property to the Palestinians. Next Thursday. Shoot any looters that resist.

A year ago, on this board it was intimated Obama might be able to commence an evacuation of those Israel is allowing to loot the West Bank. Obama called for the end of this looting. Ha! mocked I, his Israel policy is dictated to him from Tel Aviv. They would make it clear that they and not he made US policy concerning Israel and the West Bank.

Israel implements a mix of 2 and 3. Partly to express malice and partly for Security through Impunity.

The problem with people in the west is they think that Palestinians and Arabs really want a solution that will let Israel survive. What you do not realize is that under Islam, land once conquered can never be given back to infidels. Ever since 1948, the Arab world could have assimilated the Palestinian refugees. Today, their descendants would be living throughout the Muslim world and there would be peace in the Middle East.

Instead, the Arab world chose to leave them in wretched refugee camps and hold them up as window-dressing to illustrate the alleged “unfairness” of Israel.

There is no solution because the only solution Islam will accept is the commandment given to Mohammed by Allah: To fight until all the world confesses Islam and worships Allah alone.

If you look at it in a world context, Israel is one of the oldest fronts in the world-wide jihad. Israel, a western liberal democracy, stands bravely in the face of the dark night of barbaric theocracy that is attacking in the middle East, in Mumbai, in Kashmir, in the Phlippines, in Darfur, in Southern Russia, in Bali, in Madrid, in London, at ground zero in New York, at Fort Hood, and at the Pentagon.

It is a fight being waged in the streets of Amsterdam when film-makers like Theo van Gogh are knifed to death, and it is a war we lose whenever we in the west allow them to set up a state-within-our-states with Sharia law, Muslim schools, separate gyms, separate Muslim swimming and every other move that follows Muslim immigration. It is a war we will lose with a Muslim birth-rate that far outstrips the birth-rate in western host countries.

Israel is a defender of our freedom and deserves our thanks and our support.

Reading Sevastopol and then Valteron successively is … bracing.

How do Azerbaijan and Armenia deal with Azerbaijan’s exclave?

Prove it. Cite the Quran or Hadith.

Israel has enjoyed unconditional US aid for decades.