Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Israel's Response

My posts yesterday and the day before didn't really go into whether I thought kidnapping soldiers was a good idea for the Palestinians or whether Israel's response was a good idea from their perspective. The question on the Palestinian perspective seems meaningless, as the biggest problem there is preventing a full-blown civil war between Hamas and Fatah and restoring order to the Gaza Strip, neither of which involves directly confronting Israel. From the Israeli side, I have to differentiate between whether an incursion into Gaza is a good idea in the abstract, an issue on which I can see both sides, and whether it is a good idea for Ehud Olmert and Amir Peretz given the objectives of the current government and the way they project developments on the Palestinian side. (It also goes without saying that I would love for Israel to withdraw from the Occupied Territories and for the Palestinians to make their national movement into one dependent primarily on non-violent resistance.)

However, I will question the wisdom of rounding up the Palestinian government right after it reaches an agreement with Fatah that provides for negotiations with Israel. Although not a Hamas fan, I find these arrests precipitous with regard to the escalation of the conflict I mentioned earlier, and in the present climate one has to wonder if all of this is designed in part as a means of intervening in the Palestinian power struggle on Fatah's behalf, or even weakening the Palestinian leadership enough that they can implement their preferred solutions unilaterally claiming that there is no partner for peace on the Palestinian side. I have trouble seeing Peretz going along with the latter, though.

UPDATE: I'm far more tolerant of the pressure being applied to Syria over Khaled Mashaal. Mashaal is exactly the sort of Palestinian leader who drives me crazy. As near as I can tell, he hasn't been in the West Bank or Gaza Strip since he was 10 or 11, and insists on upholding the hardest of hard lines regardless of the will of the Palestinians who actually live under the occupation and would like to see peace at some point in the foreseeable future. He probably thinks he's doing the right thing, and I'm sure he finds these positions intellectually satisfying and endearing to Arab nationalists throughout the Middle East, but he doesn't seem to have actually accomplished anything to improve Palestinian lives, nor does he have plans that would do so in the near future.


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