Thursday, June 29, 2006

Humanitarian Costs and Ending the Conflict

Juan Cole is right to call attention to the humanitarian costs of Israel's Gaza operation. I haven't mentioned this in my blogging because I think of the occupation mainly in terms of humanitarian costs anyway. I think there's an infant mortality rate just connected to people giving birth at checkpoints. Israel has been a miserable failure at meeting the humanitarian needs of the occupied Palestinians.

However, the surest way out of this, like so much else, is to end the conflict. The Palestinian authorities have shown little capacity to do so, though frustratingly the recent Hamas-Fatah agreement might have created a block capable of making and selling an agreement to the Palestinian people. In any case, I long ago threw in my sympathy with the Israeli left as the only block capable of leading the way to a just resolution of the conflict. This, in practice, means unilateralism, and for that to happen, the territories from which Israel withdraws can't become sources of further insecurity.

I am not as committed to this as I was a year ago, as the Olmert proposals give the Palestinians little enough that they might actually move resolution of the conflict much further down the line. However, before the Fatah-Hamas deal, it was the only serious option on the table, and even to have room to negotiate, Israel's center-left would have to demonstrate security credentials. I've found the phrase "Defense Minister Amir Peretz" jarring every time I hear it, and I've only known about the guy for a year or so now. Security is also the trump card in Israeli politics, and Israelis need to see that the West Bank won't become another base for Qassam fire and similar attacks. The logic of Palestinian military resistance falters before the fact that it isn't going to work.

Lisa quotes a Hebrew blogger called The Consumer:
"The situation in Gaza resembles Somalia. The territory is controlled by warlords who have no desire to stop the conflict against us. They make a living from it. They make their money in several different ways: budgets from states that support terror; criminal control of their territory; and smuggling from Egypt. The last thing they need is an organized state. By getting involved in a military operation we will end up increasing the power of those gangs. A lack of order is their daily bread."

If Israel can disrupt the factions which both attack it and prevent stability in the Gaza Strip that would benefit Palestinians, then this operation will have been worth it, though The Consumer doesn't think it will work. However, this explains why I'm not simply condemning the incursions the way I might be expected to.


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