Breaking the Bubble: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Breaking the Bubble: Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

One fact that may surprise you is that, until this month, conflict between Israel and its neighbors has been pretty minimal. For the past two years, essentially since the end of Operation Cast Lead in December 2008 through January 2009, relations have remained tense but uneventful on all bor­ders. However, the region has really heated up in the past few weeks.

The conflict in the region has escalated significantly. On March 23, a bomb went off at a bus stop in downtown Jerusalem, killing one and wounding 24. There had been no bus bombings in Israel for over four years prior to this.

On April 3 the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) killed three Hamas militants who were assumed to be planning a kidnap­ping of Israelis over the Passover holi­day. Hamas fired back with mortar shells and rockets into southern and southwestern Israel.

To counter these attacks the IDF has deployed the Iron Dome system, a new and innovative missile defense system. It has already intercepted eight out of 10 missiles fired from Gaza in the past week and a half.

On the other side of things, Hamas, the elected party in Gaza, has improved its military technology and has fired mis­siles with much farther range into deeper parts of Israel.

On April 7, an anti-tank missile hit a school bus near Sederot and Kibbutz Saad, one of the closest Israeli towns to the border with Gaza. In response, the Israel Defense Forces killed 18 Palestin­ians through artillery and tank fire, 10 militants and eight civilians.

Additionally, there has been renewed pressure on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process in light of the revolutions spread­ing across the Middle East. Some policy analysts believe it is ripe time for a peace solution to be finalized, but current Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is re­sisntant to the pressure to move forward at this time.

On the Palestinian side, there is an ef­fort to have a Palestinian state formed on the basis of the 1967 borders of Israel at the U.N. general assembly in September, headed by Palestinian Authority (PA) presi­dent Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. This would be a unilateral independence, unsupported by Israel or without negotiation with it.

The concept of a unilateral indepen­dence has been compared in the news with the 2005 disengagement from Gaza, in which Israel unilaterally removed its ap­proximately 8,000 settlers from Gush Katif and all its military presence from the area. The reasoning for this was that defending only 8,000 settlers amid 1.5 million Pales­tinians was a waste of resources and safety on the part of the IDF soldiers and the Israeli government.

Though very different situations, the point of comparison is that a unilateral ef­fort is not a productive form of political ac­tion, as the case of Gush Katif has proven. The region is not any more stable as a result of this move.

This discussion of the PA is not to be confused with the discussion of Gaza – though both are considered Palestinian land, they are led by separate governments, with Hamas functioning more like a terror­ist group than the PA. However, if a new Palestinian state is truly to be decided, it will most likely need to include Gaza.

Yet if one only looks at a map of the region, you can see what a difficulty that might be. (Hint: Gaza and the West bank are not connected by land, and connect­ing the two would disconnect two sections of Israel).

I am personally not supportive of the idea of a unilateral Palestinian state. Just to give you an idea, the state of Israel is only the size of New Jersey, and in some areas, the western edge of the West Bank to the Mediterranean Sea only stretches nine miles wide!

There is no room to make mistakes with this sort of an agreement, both literally and figuratively. If both parties are not in agree­ment about a peace treaty, then this will only lead to more violence in the region. I lived in Israel for over a year before attend­ing Colgate, and am fairly acquainted with the state.

Even the simple things like bus routes that run through the West Bank, or the water supply, not to men­tion the settlers who live scattered all over the area, may become part of a new Palestinian state.

If there are no negotiations between these two parties, how will the land trades and resettlement of these individuals be decided?

The suggestion that Abbas and the PA have decided to totally reject peace nego­tiations with Israel puts all previous peace efforts to shame.

A decision this large, that has affected the region for over 60 years, cannot be de­cided unilaterally and end up successful in the end.

This is a potentially significant devel­opment in the region that has gained very little attention and, if successful, will have huge ramifications for both Palestinian- Israeli relations and U.S.-Israel relations. Though this fact is often ignored, the U.S. needs Israel, as much as Israel needs the U.S.

Baum should have “weaved together” tales from life in the Berlin Ghetto with those from the Palestinian ghettos. She should have refused to compromise with an Israel still afraid of what lies beneath its heel. Had she done this you might have seen the imbalance. You might have been inspired to act. You might have been encouraged to keep your promise…”never again.”