The flawed premises: two decades of failed state-making
Europe and America have shared a settled conviction over the last decades: It is that Israel, out of its own necessity, must seek to conserve a Jewish majority within Israel. And that with time, and a growing Palestinian population, Israel will at some point have to acquiesce to a Palestinian state in order to maintain ...
Europe and America have shared a settled conviction over the last decades: It is that Israel, out of its own necessity, must seek to conserve a Jewish majority within Israel. And that with time, and a growing Palestinian population, Israel will at some point have to acquiesce to a Palestinian state in order to maintain that Jewish majority: that is, only by giving Palestinians their own state and thereby shedding a part of the Palestinians it controls, can Israel's Jewish majority be preserved.
This simple proposition has given us the security-first doctrine: Meeting Israel's self-definition of its own security needs -- it is presumed -- stands as the unique and sufficient principle, allowing Israel to transition with confidence to the two-state solution.
But Israel has not done this -- despite many opportunities over the last 19 years -- and does not seem any more disposed to "give" a Palestinian state now. Seldom is it asked why, if the logic is indeed so compelling, have two states not emerged?
Europe and America have shared a settled conviction over the last decades: It is that Israel, out of its own necessity, must seek to conserve a Jewish majority within Israel. And that with time, and a growing Palestinian population, Israel will at some point have to acquiesce to a Palestinian state in order to maintain that Jewish majority: that is, only by giving Palestinians their own state and thereby shedding a part of the Palestinians it controls, can Israel’s Jewish majority be preserved.
This simple proposition has given us the security-first doctrine: Meeting Israel’s self-definition of its own security needs — it is presumed — stands as the unique and sufficient principle, allowing Israel to transition with confidence to the two-state solution.
But Israel has not done this — despite many opportunities over the last 19 years — and does not seem any more disposed to "give" a Palestinian state now. Seldom is it asked why, if the logic is indeed so compelling, have two states not emerged?
This security-first narrative is persuasive, so persuasive that European and American policy has been skewed almost wholly towards the goal of security trust-building with Israel. This latter goal has been pursued à outrance — beyond even, the point at which any sovereignty residual that might remain to such a Palestinian "state" would amount to little more than continued occupation.
Yet, to the frustration of Western leaders and despite the security "surge" of recent years, a Palestinian state seems further away than ever. Western leaders committed to the prevailing mindset seem to have no solution but to press on, insisting on yet more security co-operation and trust-building with Israel.
But perhaps both the original "Israel surely wants a Palestinian state" premise, and the linked premise that building security trust with Israel is the necessary sine qua non to Israel’s transition to the two state solution, are wrong. Perhaps Israel has had an alternative to the presumed inevitability of two states with equal political rights for all citizens. The evidence of Israeli actions on the ground plainly does not support the contention that Israel has been preparing the transition to a two-state solution of fixed borders, and a sovereign Palestinian state. On the contrary, the evidence points in the opposite direction: That it has been intent on frustrating the two-state solution within fixed borders.
This suggests a very different thinking, at odds with what has been presumed by the international consensus.
It directs us rather to a purely military doctrine that emerges from before the Yom Kippur war, and which evolves organically through three distinct phases. Its roots lie with unorthodox military thinking on how to defend the then occupied Sinai from the Egyptian Army. The success of this strategy then saw it transposed, firstly as a defensive structure to protect Israel’s eastern front, and then subsequently as the basis for managing the occupation of the West Bank – directed increasingly against the internal enemy: the Palestinians, rather than just external foes.
In its second phase, as its radical disrespect for established military space and political borders takes hold, and becomes mainstream in the Israeli military — this thinking permeates the membrane from the military sphere into the political, to become a radical disrespect for administrative and legal space of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). It leads to a systemic vertical bifurcation of both administrative and legal space for Palestinians and Israelis and by extension striates Palestinian political space too. All this evolves to become a wider management strategy for the OPTs.
In its third phase, mainly as a result of the perceived success of its military manifestation during and after the second intifada, the vision evolves again to become a political system for managing all three strands to the Palestinian issue — the Palestinians of OPTs, Palestinians living within the Green Line and the Palestinians living in the refugee camps — from a single optic.
This last manifestation in a broad political system has seemed to offer Israelis the prospect of retaining the core aspirations of being a Zionist state in the contemporary world — at manageable security cost — without having to put the foundations of the Israel "project" to too severe a test: The doctrine seems to allow mainstream Israelis to bypass that wider contradiction between a privileged and exclusivist Zionist/Jewish state, versus the demands of true democracy and equal rights, which remain unresolved in contemporary Zionism. Or, in simple terms, it seems to allow Israelis both to escape the "inevitably" of having to acquiesce to a Palestinian state in order to preserve a Jewish majority and having to give up Zionism in a state of truly equal rights for non-Jewish minorities, such as Palestinians living within the Green Line.
The obvious implication of the existence and even pre-eminence in the Israeli establishment thought of this other political system, this alternate "logic," is that European and U.S. policy is on the wrong track – and has been on the wrong track, at least since the end of the second intifada. It suggests that the failure to establish a state lies not just with any security deficiency with respect to the Palestinians, but more crucially in the stumbling block of Israeli Zionists fearing the inevitability of their having to concede equal rights to Palestinians living in Israel. There is a real fear that the Jewish state of Israel project might possibly implode were those exclusivist foundations to be too severely tested by an obligation to concede equal political and confessional rights for all citizens.
In short, perhaps the principal reason why there is no Palestinian state is twofold. Firstly, that at key decision points, Israelis collectively have balked at the prospect of foregoing Zionism — at resolving the underlying paradox of trying to maintain a system of special rights and privileges simultaneously with their claim to a western-style democracy. Secondly, a political "system" which seems to offer a "solution" to one paradox, has introduced another: both this unorthodox military doctrine and its companion political system have conferred legitimacy on settlers to claim that their fundamentalist Zionism is both authentic, a defensive necessity, and in direct linear descendency from the original "pioneers" of Zionism.
This conferral of ideological legitimacy on settlers by the Israeli state, which is a direct consequence of disrespected political borders and space, profoundly affects any prospect for mainstream Israelis to confront "settler Zionism." By claiming legitimacy of linear continuity, settlers largely have succeeded in conflating their West Bank settlement project with that of the original foundation of Israel. Thus, to cast doubt on the one (West Bank settlements), effectively is to cast doubt on the other (the foundation of Israel). In this manner, settler Zionism has largely succeeded in holding all of Zionism hostage to its special definition of Zionism. The prospect of a political work-around of the core dilemma facing Zionism, of course, further weakens any real resolve to confront the paradox – and heightens the fears that were it to be tried, it could lead to internal civil conflict – threatening the foundations of Zionism itself.
Perhaps then the issue of assuring delivery of Palestinian security trust to Israel is something of a red herring, behind which lies a very different and so far insurmountable hurdle to the establishment of a Palestinian state. If this is so, it carries important implications of approach. It suggests that recent European and U.S. policy towards the Palestinian Authority in its security-first mode has been effectively exploited by this "other" way-of-thinking, to facilitate and empower a system of special and differential rights for one population group, at the expense of a subordinated population.
Professor Mushtaq Khan, a former adviser to the Palestinian team at Oslo, picked up on this point in a recent talk in Ramallah: "One of the really interesting things about the bargaining behind Oslo was that it was not based on the land-for-peace [formula]" at all. "In fact the Palestinian thinking was not based on any bargaining strategy at all."
Khan observes that the Palestinian leadership had virtually no capacity to bargain or to pressure Israel. Indeed, PLO Chairman Yasir Arafat had entered the Oslo process only after a series of profound miscalculations: Fatah’s actions in Jordan which had led to its expulsion; its entanglement in the Lebanese civil war, which, too, had led to Fatah’s withdrawal; plus Arafat’s backing of Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf War, which had led Fatah’s key pay-masters to cut funding. From 1987, Fatah also was facing the rise of Hamas in Gaza. Yasir Arafat was anxious to return to Palestine to stem the growing dissent from Hamas and other movements and to quell his own concern that Fatah was losing control to the leadership that had emerged from the first intifada.
The two-state Oslo negotiations, Khan suggests, were based on a remarkable assertion: That the Palestinians’ bargaining power was simply irrelevant. Khan further expounded, "Everyone thought the end game was clear. In the end, the two-state solution would emerge because the dominant power… would accept it, in its own interests… [and] that this was the only way that Israel could ensure a demographic basis for Zionism…. So why do we need to bother to read the documents? We just sign…"
Professor Khan noted that the presumed inevitability of a Palestinian state was mirrored in Oslo’s structure: It was constructed entirely as a confidence-building exercise, rather than as a serious negotiation based on bargaining power. "You sit at the table, you get to know each other [and] don’t have to worry too much… as in the end, they [the Israelis] will give you what you need." Actually, Khan explains, Oslo did not lead to such an outcome: "We know that Oslo didn’t work from day one…. [A]fter signing Oslo, Israel did not detach itself from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. In fact, Israel invaded the OPTs much more significantly. It signed treaty after treaty to gain control over key Palestinian economic variables: foreign trade, taxation, currency, labor movements…. [I]ntegration with Israel had this strange character… it was neither integration nor separation, but [asymmetric] containment on Israel’s terms which meant that Israel penetrated into the OPTs and tried to contain it from within. Now why would you want to do that if you were trying to go back to 1967 borders? What is the logic here?"
What was going on, in fact, was the evolution of a different logic; one that ran counter to the presumption of the Palestinian state’s inevitability and which seemed to Israelis to open a window of political opportunity for their leaders to postpone or avoid the conundrum that is central to Zionism: How to maintain differential rights over physical terrain that includes a large Palestinian population.
The specter of how to politically include out-group populations (non-Jews) in a Zionist state has haunted Zionist institutions and later successive governments since the origins of Zionism. What Professor Khan noted were telling signals after Oslo — ignored in the West — that Israeli leaders believed they were close to evolving a solution to this conundrum of managing differential rights in a Zionist majority state, which includes substantial minorities.
In the Zionist conception, as put into practice, Israel simply cannot be a state of confessional and political equality. Zionism fundamentally is about establishing differential rights for Jews and non-Jews, and giving priority to Jewish immigrants. Differential rights affect everything, notably access to land, housing, jobs, subsidies, marrying foreigners, and migration. Minorities claiming equal confessional and political rights within a Zionist state therefore represent an internal contradiction — a threat to this regime of special rights.
Tzipi Livni, in January 2008, spelled this out plainly to Palestinian negotiators: "Israel was established to become a national home for Jews from all over the world. The Jew gets the citizenship as soon as he steps in Israel, and therefore don’t say anything about the nature of Israel…. [T]he basis for the creation of the state of Israel is that it was created for the Jewish people…. Israel is the state of the Jewish people — and I would like to emphasize the meaning of ‘its people,’ is the Jewish people…. [Y]our state will be the answer to all Palestinians, including refugees" (author’s emphasis).
In short, the Zionist state must remain open to any Jew who knocks at the door, seeking to settle there. But to sustain such a right in a country with very limited territory implies that land and water should be retained under Israeli control. Equally important, retaining territory sustained the Zionist narrative of the special Jewish connection to the land, which conferred a certain political leverage. Less acknowledged is that spatial ambiguity and differentiation also served to separate Palestinians from specific territory, from demarcated space. And this included separating them from water and other resources — precisely those static points which served to connect the Palestinians to their physical land.
This differing political calculus between the many espousing a Zionist state — versus the few espousing an Israeli state of equal rights in which a Jewish majority is maintained — was what stood behind the seemingly contrarian Israeli response to Oslo, which Khan highlighted in his talk. The implications of this last point, largely absent from debates about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, go to the heart of Israel’s calculus on the advantage of establishing a Palestinian state with internationally recognized borders. Fixed borders and what that entails for Israeli strategy are at the heart of the problem.
So much of the other logic, the evolution of the military doctrine, as well as its concomitant political vision can be traced back to Ariel Sharon, and to his radical rejection of the conventional military doctrine of the static, linear defense of Israel’s frontiers (beginning with Sharon’s controversial opposition to the Bar-Lev Line situated adjacent to the Suez canal), and with his innovative treatment of physical space. Sharon’s deliberate "radical disrespect" for formal military space — treating it as elastic and nomadic, rather than static and sequential, in order to gain both tactical surprise and an induced psychological disorientation of his opponent — has been shown by Eyal Weizman to have become the mainstream military doctrine today for managing the OPTs – as well as forming the basis for Israel’s external defense.
The Yom Kippur war thoroughly vindicated Sharon’s approach of a network defense based on a matrix of elevated strong points spread throughout the depth of the Sinai, which acted as an extended spatial "trap" providing Israelis with a high level of mobility, whilst paralyzing the enemy caught within its matrix of interlocking strong points. After the war, the Israeli public no longer believed in the idea that its borders were impermeable from the outside.
The trauma of the Suez Canal campaign of 1973 became deeply etched into the national consciousness. It discredited Bar-Lev’s static Maginot Line structures and by extension the similar linear defensive project — the Allon Plan in the East. Sharon’s return to political power in 1977 allowed him the opportunity to transpose the same thinking to the Palestinian West Bank, which was to become the defensive depth to Israel’s eastern front.
Sharon envisaged the depth of the West Bank in its entirety as one extensive, permeable "frontier," and could thus disregard any thin-nibbed pencil line drawn as some political border. In 1982, Sharon drew up his "H" plan matrix of strong-point settlements for the West Bank that would mirror the Sinai strategy. Sharon’s matrix defensive strategy however was also to imbue "settler Zionism" with new purpose and legitimacy, beyond reconfirming Zionism’s narrative of Jewish connection to the land – an event that was to have profound political consequences subsequently.
When Ariel Sharon "dragged" out the very edges of Israel’s border line and "dropped" them on either side of the West Bank, in order to stretch his netting matrix of strong points, which was also to become Israel’s new broad, spatially-extended "frontier," across the entirety of the West Bank, Sharon effectively was saying that the West Bank settlers are the spatially extended frontier line of the pre ’67 territory, as much as of any post ’67 occupied lands. This was precisely the point of his vision: It does not matter whether Israel is the pre-’67 or post-’67 land — all borders are fluid and shifting, in his view. What was important was defensive depth. "Settler Zionism" in this view is simply Israel’s frontier, wherever Israel’s border may be said to lie — whether further out, or closer in. "Settler Zionism" therefore did not just claim the mantle of linear continuity to the "pioneer Zionists": It was the state of Israel which thrust on them a linear continuity with Israel’s foundation and made of them a strategic necessity.
Sharon’s extended, elastic, permeable, matrix-trap "frontier" thus began the process in the military sphere of blurring the distinctions between a political inside and outside. This, and Sharon’s concept of "disrespected" space, became the established Israeli military doctrine.
In an interview concerning Israel’s 2002 assault on Balata refugee camp General Aviv Kochavi (now head of Israeli Military Intelligence) explained that "the enemy [Palestinians] interprets space in a traditional, classical manner." That is to say, "the alley [in a Palestinian camp] is a place forbidden to [Israeli soldiers] to walk through [from the danger of snipers]; and the door is forbidden to pass through [for fear of booby-traps], and the window of [a Palestinian house] is forbidden to look through…. [B]ut I do not want to obey this interpretation [of space, but also of international law] and fall into his traps. I want to surprise him. This is the essence of war. I need to win. I need to emerge from an unexpected space…. [T]his why we opted [instead] for the method of walking through walls [of Palestinian homes in Balata]. We were able to interpret the whole space differently."
Shimon Naveh, former director of the Operational Theory Research Institute (OTRI), the organization which has instructed all high-ranking Israeli officers in "urban fighting as a spatial problem," commented in 2006, "We want to confront the striated space of traditional, old-fashioned military practice with smoothness that allows for movement through space that crosses any borders and barriers. Rather than contain and organize our forces according to existing borders, we want to move through them." One of the primary aims of OTRI was to release Israel from being physically present in the OPTs while maintaining control of security. Its aim was to replace the old mode of territorial domination with a newer de-territorial one, which OTRI called "occupation through disappearance."
Crucially, the blurring of established and demarcated space has gradually permeated from the military into the Israeli political sphere. Additionally, the principle of blurring that which is inside and outside has been extended into the political and legal space of the OPTs. It has permitted the fashioning of a two-layered space, subjecting Israeli Jews and Arabs each to different matrices of mobility and administrative treatment.
A number of Israeli academics, such as Adi Ophir and Ariella Azoulay, have sketched out the modalities by which Palestinians in the OPTs have come to be viewed by Israel as an ‘enemy’ to such an extent that this ‘enmity’ is seen to inhere as the defining quality of Palestinian society itself, therefore voiding Palestinians from being considered worthy to be treated seriously as political ‘beings’ and certainly ineligible for those rights — both legal and political — which Israel routinely confers on its own citizens. Palestinians, by being labelled an inherent, irredeemable security threat, are stripped of any political visibility: Palestinian actions are read, instead, as expressions of innate, burning enmity and emotion, to which any conferral of political rights would be an inappropriate response. The key political, as opposed to military, consequence has been the making and then blurring of the difference between the political Israeli inside and the political/legal outside — just as physical barriers establish physical separation but then blur its political import through keeping the barriers temporary and Nomadic.
Eyal Weizman argues that Sharon’s building of a security barrier in the West Bank did not contravene Sharon’s vision, but rather confirms it. The barrier is neither a frontier nor permanent. Israel has over the years been reluctant to define its route and has sought to blur its political significance. The barrier constitutes rather a further obstacle and instrument of separation similar to an extended check-point, but evidently lying at the more immobile end of the spectrum of obstacles faced by Palestinians.
Differentiated legal and administrative space thus solidified the Zionist political principle of differential political rights too. This two-tier system provides for Palestinian political exclusion but maintains Palestinian dependency and legal inclusion under the Israeli apparatus of control. The system essentially is one of sovereign exception which philosophers such as Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben have addressed. The OPTs effectively become a temporal and spatial exception, something out there, de-linked from the main body politic within the Green Line, but a part of it also. It is a shifting geography, in which the rule of law is suspended under the cover of the law. Thus, Sharon’s inside-outside principle is reflected now as a distinct political system, as well as a military doctrine.
The systematic military induction of elastic borders and the calculated use of oscillating levels of military violence are intended to leave Palestinians living vulnerably — somehow displaced in their own territory — while the inherent psychological uncertainty caused through the manipulation of political space (not setting final borders), is intended to hold Palestinians quiescent and amenable, an effect on a collective people and not far dissimilar to that of the induced disorientation sought by interrogators in their clients.
This form of exclusionary-inclusion affects Palestinian citizens of Israel as well. They are framed as an out-group on the basis of a suspected loyalty-deficit to the state which they are expected continually to disprove. This category of thinking now has penetrated Europe. For example, David Cameron recently deployed similar arguments of exceptionality and loyalty deficiency with respect to Muslims living in Britain — a move that will likely reinforce this conceptualization in Israel.
Instability and uncertainty for Palestinians citizens within the Green Line comes not so much from a state of exception to the legal system but from the very ambiguity and implied exceptionality inherent in the threats of population exchange promoted by some leading Israelis. Fear of displacement and of becoming victims of state antagonism and prejudice thus becomes a further source of political quiescence.
So what is the logic to this? The direction of this thinking, plainly enough, is to blur the borders of the Israeli state rather than to fix them. In such a geographic arrangement, the Palestinians are simultaneously inside and outside, situated in a series of unstable pockets perforated by a matrix of strong points and completely enveloped by Israel, but they remain outsiders from the perspective of the Israeli state system. It is the very temporality of demarcated space that allows the occupation to continue permanently.
Such exclusionary-inclusion logic also solves the dilemma of how to keep key resources and the Zionist narrative of personal connection to historic and religious places alive, while avoiding the potential risk of an internal Jewish civil war if "settler Zionism" were to be defined as a potentially damaging outlier to mainstream Zionism. Only through such radical redefinition of contemporary Zionism, which would de-couple "settler Zionism" from its claim to linear continuity with the Zionist tradition, might a two-state solution of equal rights for a Palestinian minority come into being.
And why should Israel want to continue the occupation in this way? Khan again: "Once you make explicit the objective of maintaining Zionism within the Jewish majority state… everything Israel is doing makes sense." The fear, of course, is that were Israel to become a Jewish majority state with fixed borders, the inexorable demand for full equal rights for minorities would herald the end to special rights and of Zionism — Israel would cease to be a Zionist state.
A two-state solution therefore does not ease the problem of how to maintain Zionism; it threatens to undermine it. The magnitude of the out-group may be reduced from 40-50 percent to 20 percent of the dominant Jewish population but the inherent contradiction of a non-Jewish out-group remains unresolved in either outcome.
Thus, it is not surprising that the Zionist argument for keeping borders undefined, leaving Palestinians in a state of systematic uncertainty, but maintaining their dependency on Israeli goodwill, while holding on to the instruments of control over Palestinians, and water and land resources, is the calculus that has predominated.
The problem is that the coalition supporting the two-state solution always collapses at some point because, as Mushtaq Khan has pointed out, if you are going to accede differential rights for 15 or 20 percent of the population, why not have differential rights for 35 or 40 percent of the population and keep the Zionist vision intact by holding on to the West Bank or large tracts of it? This is where Sharon’s political system intrudes: It seems to offer the way in which this can be done without jeopardizing security too greatly.
Would this type of Zionist thinking strategically wish to have a hard border anywhere in respect to the Palestinians in the OPTs or within the Green Line? Khan’s answer is no. "What does Israel gain by giving up land… when at the end of the day, Israel will still have the problem of justifying to the world why it has to maintain differential rights for a significant number of its citizens?" Some Israelis will argue that the problem of non-Jewish minorities within a Jewish majority state would be manageable by granting almost equal rights to such group. But for most Israelis, it seems, this represents the thin end of the wedge leading to the end of Zionism. Most of those on the Israeli left now make no bones about their aspirations for a Zionism that trumps full democratic equality.
In fact, Israel’s bargaining position actually declines if it were it to create a sovereign Palestinian state in respect both to Palestinians within the Green Line as well as to refugees in the diaspora. Israel’s management of these two other out-groups, refugees and Palestinians within the Green Line, rests primarily on its ability to continue to control the OPTs.
Maintaining even remote control of the OPTs keeps open to Israel the option of displacing Palestinian citizens of Israel into the OPTs through limited territory swaps. It also ensures that Israel retains the ability to enforce future returning Palestinian refugees to settle in their homeland, whereas if there were a sovereign Palestinian state, the latter might decline to accept the refugees, throwing some onus to resolve the refugee problem back onto Israel. Khan argues that it would be mistaken to imagine that Israel sees these apparently separate strands – refugees, Palestinians living in Israel, and Palestinians living in the OPTs – as separate and distinct policy issues. From the Zionist perspective, they are intimately interlinked and dependent on Israel not losing control over territory and frontiers.
If a Palestinian state threatens to undermine Zionism in these ways, it is not surprising that it is not on offer. It is simply implausible to expect it come about through Palestinians negotiating with no bargaining power — because to create a sovereign and legitimate state would require that the Palestinians force Israel to give something which many see not to be in their interest to
concede: The abandonment of Zionism. Any concession in this area (of Zionism) inevitably opens a can of worms and the risk of igniting civil war between the various strands of Zionism. It suits Israel better to have a Palestinian "state" without borders, so they can keep negotiating about borders and count on the induced uncertainty to maintain Palestinian and international quiescence.
Israeli Vice Premier Moshe Ya’alon was candid when asked in an interview last year, "Why all these games of make-believe negotiations?" He responded: "Because… there are pressures. Peace Now from within, and other elements from without. So you have to maneuver…. [W]e have to… maneuver with the Americans and Europeans, which are nourished by Israeli elements, [and] which create the illusion that an agreement can be reached…. I say that time works for those who know how make use of it. The founders of Zionism knew… and we in the government know how to make use of time."
Sever Plocker, the deputy editor in Chief of Yediot Aharonot wrote on Jan. 25 that Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s recent plan for a Palestinian state without borders on half of Judea and Samaria was, based on his earlier discussions, more or less Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s plan too. Then, "Netanyahu [had] argued that the current situation on the ground in Judea and Samaria is stable and safe, and constitutes, for all intents and purposes, a solution to the conflict. The Palestinians already have three-quarters of a state… they have a flag, an international telephone pre-fix… All that will remain for the government to do, hinted Netanyahu, is only to agree to a change in name of the entity from ‘authority’ to ‘state’ and to toss it a few more bones, a few token signs of sovereignty, such as the right to mint it its own currency — and peace will reign for 70 years to come."
Since that editorial, many in Israel, including the foreign minister and the Reut Institute, have promoted the concept of a Palestinian state within provisional borders.
But can this exclusionary inclusion really succeed? On the one hand, this techno-spatial political system, in spite of its claim to philosophical legitimacy, is at root no more than an evolution of the paradigm associated with a key Zionist strategist, Vladimir Jabotinsky: A different way to make Palestinians "disappear." But on the other hand, the Israel Defense Forces’ apparent military success in controlling the OPTs, using this radical approach to space, has convinced many Israelis, including most in the Israeli leadership, that it also offers the simultaneous prospect of political success.
Its radical disregard for the norms of international law and convention, however, is both its innovation and its Achilles’ heel, too. Special rights for some, and radical exclusionary-inclusion for the minority, in a two-tier political space, mark a clear contradiction to the narrative of Western values – and, as such, put into question the legitimacy of Israel presenting itself as the beacon of Western civilization in the Middle East, thus threatening Israel’s longer-term legitimacy.
The point here is perception. As long as most Israelis believe in this exclusionary-inclusion political system, the European and U.S. policy of two-states of equal rights is just whistling in the dark. It will never lead to a genuine sovereign Palestinian state. Do western policy-makers really not see any of this? All their projects mesh so perfectly to OTRI’s design of "occupation through disappearance," with Western processes all tied to the delivery of effective Palestinian security collaboration within an overall matrix of Israel control. It seems too perfect, too strategic to be accidental.
Do they really not see it? Is it perhaps that they see but simply cannot escape their own flawed premise of an Israel that is bound out of its own necessity to give a Palestinian state, ignoring wholly the evidence of the "other" logic. Or, alternatively, is it that some European and U.S. realists have come to conclude that Palestinian acquiescence must be imposed? Perhaps only by such acquiescence can Israel bypass the internal contradictions to its own Zionist ideology. These contradictions, unless accommodated, could place Israel’s ultimate survival in the region at risk. That is, did certain U.S. and European leaders understand that it was a political impossibility for Israel to forego its Zionist creed and that only by easing Palestinians into alleviated "occupation through disappearance," posing as statehood, could Israel be preserved?
Alastair Crooke is a former staff member of Senator Mitchell’s Fact Finding Committee into the causes of the intifada, an author and director and founder of Conflicts Forum.
More from Foreign Policy
Actually, the Russian Economy Is Imploding
Nine myths about the effects of sanctions and business retreats, debunked.
The Taliban Detained Me for Doing My Job. I Can Never Go Back.
FP’s columnist on a harrowing return to Kabul, almost one year after the United States left Afghanistan.
Russian Sanctions Are Working but Slowly
Moscow’s military capabilities are being ground down, piece by piece.
Ghana’s ‘Success’ Exposes the West’s Toxic Development Model
Standard theories of global progress continue to be largely limited to raw extraction.