SWJ Blog Post | May 20, 2011 - 10:23am
A picture, annotated with distance, is worth a thousand words.
Return the Jewish lands of Judea and Samaria back to the Jews. The Palestinians can keep the rest of what they have.
I think it is worth keeping-in-mind that when one talks of Israel pulling back to its pre-1967 borders, one needs to think about water which by itself causes territorial and hydro-political interests to be intertwined in the Palestinian/Arab-Israeli conflict.
This isnt to say that the geo-politics of water is the primary mover behind the Israeli-Palestinian issue, because it's not. . .it obviously comes from other historic friction I need not cover. On the other hand, keep in mind Israel receives more than half of its water resources from occupied Arab territories.
If one is familiar with Israel and the surrounding region, you know the abundance of rain falls in the northern part where land resources are sparse, while conversely in the south, where land is in better abundance, the precipitation is low.
Always keeping the strategic northern area of Israel in mind, but focusing on the southern area, at present, Israelis probably receive five times as much water per person as Palestinians do. In Gaza, the disparity can be even more remarkable, seeing Israeli settlers getting seven times as much water as their Palestinian neighbors in many cases.
The foregoing stated, in my view, even if Israel were willing to negotiate with all Palestinian entities as a whole. . .which would prominently include recognizing the legitimacy of Hamas, the return to even a modicum of the 1967 borders would present Israel with a possible economic catastrophe, which seems to me to make the whole issue of returning seized Arab land a non-starter.
Two things-the first being the map reminds of what the talk radio stations say over and over again about Israel needing "defensible borders" and how if they go back to the pre-67 boundaries the sky will fall. But it occurs to me Israel successfully defended those borders in 1956 and 1967 so maybe the sky wouldn't fall.
Second, the way Israel is playing it now, their security depends upon American goodwill. If that ends, the money stops and the diplomatic support stops. It is unwise for Israel to depend upon American constancy for its survival. A reasonable peace, as Omar says, would be the best long term strategy because it wouldn't depend on the Americans.
But I don't expect a single thing to change.
It would be interesting to see how far various Palestinian villages and towns are from Israel in the same map. Perhaps "Judea and Samaria" (an interesting choice of names) will need to expand westwards in order to become more "secure"?
This zero-sum game is not in Israel's own interest. Israel's current technological and cultural advantage is huge, but no matter how much it expands, it will always be right next to people who dont like it. The only way out is to make a reasonable peace...the alternative is endless war. This graphic may convince some Americans to continue supporting Israeli occupation but America is not the world. And even Americans may tire of the price of maintaining this occupation and the costs associated with it.
Islamist terrorism may indeed be a net positive for Israel, but its propaganda value alone is not going to be enough to ensure long-term stability for Israel. It is not a good idea for Israel to rely on that alone to save them.
It may not look that way in the US, but Israel is losing the propaganda battle and will one day lose real battles unless it realizes that peace is a better option than endless war. The Palestinians need to realize the same thing, but as far as I can tell, it is Israel that is more resistant to any notion of a fair and just peace. Especially with a leader like Netanyahu.
I would add that unlike some people, I dont see this as the most important issue in my life. Don't shoot the messenger. I am just trying to be helpful here because I think this Israeli exceptionalism is not a sustainable strategy. But I am not interested enough to pursue teh arguments that usually follow after such a comment.
Here are three more helpful maps: