Tuesday, December 30, 2008
From the Huffington Post Commentariat
...I think that just about sums up my views on the matter. I'm strongly in favour of a two-state solution, provided that such a Palestinian state actually held peaceful coexistence as a goal. Unfortunately, when the governing party holds as part of its constitutional charter a clause to completely eradicate the nation of Israel, with everyone in it, I have trouble imagining that party acting in good faith towards long-term peace.
Israel, on the other hand, has shown - in deeds, not just in words - that it is willing to make real concessions when across a table from a viable peace partner. When Egyptian president Anwar Sadat offered a treaty in good faith, Israel ceded the entire Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in exchange for a peace accord - a piece of land at least 2 or 3 times larger than Israel itself, and containing most of the oil that was then under Israeli control.
Israel was willing to exchange to Egypt a huge amount of land and a moderate amount of natural resources because Egypt came to the bargaining table seeking peace in good faith.
Yet Israel wants to keep the Gaza Strip - a useless little wastelend, out of territorial greed? No, it's because it hasn't seen any reason to believe that a nascent Palestinian state wouldn't become a sovereign staging ground for more attacks against nearby Israeli towns.
The Palestinians would have a state already if their leaders showed a desire for a peaceful two-state solution. I agree completely with Benjamin Netanyahu on this point: "If the Palestinians would lay down their arms there would be peace. If the Israelis laid down their arms, there would be no Israel."
For peace, concessions cannot come from only one side.
Edit, 30 Dec 2008, 10:51am:
A Jerusalem Post article describes a higher statistic for civilian casualties than I'd previously quoted, with UN numbers as a source. I don't know what accounts for the difference in estimates quoted by the two sources (15 civilian casualties in the Wired article v. 64 in the JPost article), but the real number probably lies somewhere in between that four and eighteen percent.
It may be a simple matter of differences in who is considered a non-civilian: do you count someone involved in transporting or manufacturing Hamas rockets, or only those who have a gun in their hands?
Even if the count lies closer to the higher quoted number, my opinion has changed very little: keeping civilian casualties below even 18% when striking military targets embedded within an urban population shows fairly clearly that Israel is devoting significant attention and resources to ensuring that civilian casualties are minimized. Those who like to say that Israel is targeting civilians should probably rethink a few things.