Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Ooh, Someone went and broke the Two State Solution! (Again!)

H/T Mondoweiss

Here's a pretty (sic) revealing interview of Efraim Inbar by Helena Cobban on the Israel and Palestine conflict. Inbar is a senior Likudnik and reveals the Zionist mindset like you rarely get to see it publicly.

I asked his assessment of the prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. “The most important factor for us is not the Arabs, but the Americans,” he said. “And honestly, no-one there really believes in this. Even at Annapolis, in spite of all the fine rhetoric about concluding an agreement before the end of the year, in actual fact their only goal was a ‘shelf agreement’—that is, an agreement that could sit on a shelf for an indefinite length of time.

“The two-state solution is passé—because the Palestinians aren’t up to it. The only way it could work would be if two conditions were fulfilled: that the Palestinians should support it, which they don’t; and that the state would have a monopoly on the use of force, which the Palestinian Authority doesn’t have.”...

Regarding the Palestinian track, he noted that Netanyahu has started to try to sell the idea of an “economic peace.” I noted that this approach had been mooted and even halfheartedly tried before, by Netanyahu during his earlier premiership, 1996-99, and other Israeli leaders, and it had always proven not to be viable in the absence of any real progress in the diplomacy. Inbar’s immediate response was to declare forthrightly “We don’t care if it’s viable or not!”

He then said, “We can’t give up the West Bank because it’s too close to our heartland. Gaza—okay, because it’s further away from the heartland. But there, anyway, we saw the chaos and violence that ensued after we withdrew.”

“What we should do,” he argued, “is try to involve Egypt in running Gaza and Jordan in running the West Bank.” [John Bolton and other neocons are trying to sell this rug in the U.S., too]

...The most realistic scenario Inbar could foresee over the coming years in the West Bank was, “Conflict management: to lower the flames, limit the suffering, and not anger the Americans too much.”
The other members of the international community, he said baldly, “don’t count—even though in Europe there is now greater understanding of the shortcomings of the Palestinians than there was before… There is movement.”

Turning to the situation of the 1.5 million residents of Gaza, he referred to an article he had published in early February in which he argued that the international community should not do anything to help the rebuild the homes and public infrastructure that were so extensively destroyed by Israel during the recent war. In the article he argued that the international community should “not be drawn into sentimental escapades of rebuilding and humanitarian assistance that undercut our paramount strategic goals.”
...[H]e then commented with a smile that “Hamas is good for the Jews! As long as they are there it is a gift to us!”

He added, “I wouldn’t hesitate to make a wave of refugees out of Gaza. That would put pressure on Egypt to increase their presence inside the Gaza Strip. They should take over the whole Strip directly, or have their own puppet government there, be it Hamas or whoever.”

...I asked how he assessed the impact of the Israeli settlements in the West Bank on the peace process. “The settlements act as an incentive to the Palestinians to become more reasonable in the diplomacy,” he said. “And you know, that worked before Oslo. But since Oslo, well, their learning curve became very slow.”

But might not the Israeli government now start to face some pressure from the new US administration to stop the settlement-expansion program and to follow up on its previous undertakings to immediately remove those settlement outposts that even previous Israeli governments have deemed to be ‘illegal’?

He replied, “We may be pushed, yes. The Americans may push us some, so we’ll remove one or two outposts or one or two roadblocks. We’ll play with the Americans.”
So what were his expectations from the Obama administration, in general?
“Well, they are talking very differently from Bush. But they have so many other things to deal with! The economy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran! How much energy will they have for this issue here?

“Most Israelis, you know, see their policy towards Iran as appeasement. So I hope Dennis Ross will come to the president after six months and tell Obama that there’s no deal to be had with Iran, so then Obama will be ready to get serious.”

...“So we are building a fence. We don’t want to see [Palestinians]! The fence is more or less like a border… Israelis like the fence, you know. Most believe, however wrongly, that it’s of great security value, though in actual fact our success in preventing terrorism comes through arresting, and detaining, and targeted killing...."
But what about the mounting chorus of concern from the international community about the level of destruction in Gaza?

“We can take it! Jews have not always been popular in the world. And now, at the Durban review summit, we are being singled out once again.” (A chuckle here.)
His expectations from George Mitchell?

“Organizationally, it’s a clear problem, because Hillary has too many envoys. I don’t think he can do much good. But he’s American, so he’ll try. But what can he do? Can he change Abu Mazen? He might end up going along with Netanyahu’s plan an economic peace. He and the president probably don’t want a crisis in American-Israeli relations so soon.”

...And might Netanyahu agree that that the Israeli military might have to go back in to Gaza? “Yes, there’s quite a chance that Bibi would go back in. The security cooperation with the Palestinians didn’t work, and we are unilateralists by nature anyway. This is the Zionist ethos. We are no longer dependent on the Gentiles.”
He sat back and grew expansive. “I’m a student of Albert Wohlstetter,” he said, referring to the University of Chicago strategic studies thinker at the University of Chicago who influenced many of the leading US neoconservatives. “But I’m not a neocon! I told Paul Wolfowitz and Bill Cristol, both of whom are my friends, that trying to bring democracy to the Middle East was a big mistake.

“Oh sure, yes, it was good to get rid of Saddam. He was a very bad guy. But they didn’t need to try to democratize the country, too.”

More on Obama: “I was concerned about him at the beginning, but most of his appointments seem to be mainstream. It’s a real tribute to the United States that you elected a black person. So let’s wait and see. Yes, I’m critical of some of his policies on, for example, Iran, but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt because we need a strong America.”

I asked his view of the emergence of hard rightwinger Avigdor Lieberman as a major force inside Israeli politics. He had an interesting analysis of the Lieberman phenomenon, noting—correctly—that along with many strongly rightwing views, Lieberman supported some of the causes of the left, including that he is not against the establishment of a Palestinian state.

He concluded by saying that Lieberman “is accepted by Israelis, even if he is not liked by some. Also, he has attracted some very prominent personalities to his party… I don’t like his tone; it’s not my cup of tea. But it’s acceptable in a democracy.”

...I asked about the prospect of resumed negotiations between Israel and Syria. He replied, “With Hamas now in power in Gaza there is much less pressure on our government over the peace process in general, so what need is there for us to do anything with Syria? Sure, if we’re under pressure from the Americans, we can negotiate. But why would Bibi want to proactively go after a negotiation or an agreement with Syria? … Also, we don’t have a demographic burden in Golan. It’s clean of Arabs. It’s very beautiful."


At 10:24 PM, Blogger Nevin said...

Liberman is a freaking Nazi!

Life/history is truly cynical if one looks deep into it. :)


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