Monday, July 28, 2003

TO MANY ASSUMPTIONS
Joe Katzman over at Wind of Change discusses and links to an article by Michael Totten. Let me address some of the parts I disagree with.

Suicide-bombing is spreading. In May 2003 five simultaneous attacks ripped through Casablanca, Morocco. Earlier this month two female suicide-bombers triggered explosive belts at an outdoor concert in Moscow. On the same day three Sunni Muslims blew themselves up in a Shi'ite Pakistan mosque.

From the point of view of extremists, suicide-murder pays. Apocalyptic acts like those unleashed on September 11 provoke an overwhelming military response. But small-bore acts by Palestinians against Israelis produce an opposite reaction. Endless media coverage stokes a rising public sympathy and encourages calls for appeasement and even surrender.

It is time to ask ourselves honestly: Is it possible to support a Palestinian state without encouraging terrorists elsewhere?
Mr. Totten fails to make a solid connection between the increasing amount of suicide-bombers and the terrorism occuring in Israel. I don't see how the Sunni-Shiite rift( in Pakistan) or the targeting of the House of Saud (in Saudi Arabia) are related to the Palestinian conflict. Both had different aims in different contexts. The only thing similar is techniquality: the use of suicide bombing.

Secondly, ever since Ariel Sharon has been in office, he has acted without restraint. For Sharon, it was an all-out campaign without limits, even when Mr. Bush called for him to pull out of the totally destroyed Jenin refugee camp. Under Sharon's rule, more Palestinian children have been killed, more houses were demolished and more carnage was created. To act as if, Sharon has played the nice since the beginning of the Intifada, is plain foolishness.
There are many stateless Muslims; the Chechens in Russia, the Kurds in the Middle East, the Uighurs in Eastern China, and the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Opinion leaders tsk-tsk the Russians, but no one holds demonstrations for the liberation of Chechnya. The Kurds are good people and they deserve their own state, but nearly everyone agrees it would only make trouble. Few even know the Uighurs exist. Meanwhile, as the Palestinians continue the jihad, the number of their supporters isn't declining. It's rising. The lesson for extremists is clear: the squeaky wheel gets greased.
I'm not sure what Mr. Totten is referring to. Terrorists trained in Afghanistan have fought everywhere: from China to Chechnya. Again, he produces no facts, no statisitics.
On July 22 Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas said "Cracking down on Hamas, Jihad and the Palestinian organizations is not an option at all." So the road map will likely break down. Then we can restart from scratch in a way that might actually work.

It is possible to have it both ways. We can fight and discourage terror and also work toward a two-state solution. But we can't do both at the same time. And we certainly can't make a Palestinian state the priority.
There are two reasons Abbas can't take on Hamas and the other terrorists: 1) he has no security apparatus, 2) he is heavily unpopular and 3) a show-down between the PA and the radical groups would turn into a nasty, civil war.

Look at--for example--what Colin Powell has proposed recentely. In a press conference after meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, he said: "Any organization that has a terrorist component to it and supports that kind of terrorist activity cannot have a place in the peace process. Now, if an organization that has a terrorist component to it, a terrorist wing to it, totally abandons that, gives it up, and there's no question in anyone's mind that that is part of its past, then that is a different organization. But right now, Hamas still has a social wing to it that does things for people in need, but, unfortunately, its good works are contaminated by the fact that it has a terrorist wing that kills innocent people and kills the hopes of the Palestinian people for a state of their own. And I think that covers it rather well." This was in response to an earlier TV interview with Ghida Fakhry of LBC/Al-Hayat, in which Powell was asked:
QUESTION: In the last few weeks there has been relative calm, in big part due to the fact that the Palestinian militant groups have come to an agreement on a ceasefire. Will that make Washington reconsider the way it looks at these groups that it calls terrorist groups if they do pursue a political process rather than military means to achieve their goals?

SECRETARY POWELL: We have to keep in mind that even though there is a ceasefire, these organizations still have the capacity to conduct terror activities. They have not said yet that they would remove this capacity.

Prime Minister Abbas has said you cannot have in a government organizations that have power unto themselves that is not under the government. And so he has said that, not the United States, and we agree with him.

So organizations such as Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, if they think they have a role to play, the role has to begin with the elimination of all capability to conduct terrorists activity. They had to stop that, to give it up.

They have to end the Intifadah, otherwise we will never develop the kind of confidence needed between the two sides, so that they could go forward into the next stages of the roadmap. And so I think, ultimately, those organizations have to foreswear the use of terror and eliminate the capability to conduct terrorist activities.
So Powell isn't directing at direct confrontation, a battle, but something along the lines of disarming peacefully. On Friday, during the press conference with Mahmoud Abbas, Bush spoke along the same lines: "It is necessary for this good man to continue to fight off the terrorist activity that creates the conditions of insecurity for not only Israel, but for the peaceful Palestinian people. In order for us to be able to make progress on a lot of difficult issues, there has to be a firm and continued commitment to fight terror."

Mr. Bush is changing away from the road map and changing the rules, so both parties can move through the same door. Whether this is a smart move is a question to be asked, and the results will have to be seen. It's to soon to judge. An AP article from that Friday, also noted that Palestinian security minister Mohammad Dahlane had at least seven hours of meetings with national security advisor Condoleezza Rice and CIA director George Tenet. Nothing conclusive was reported, but I assume there's been a strategy and this will be presented to Ariel Sharon on Tuesday.

Mr. Totton goes on:
Here's the way an effective solution might work. First, defeat terrorism. Second, nurture democracy. Third, negotiate a settlement.

The first phase should be simple. Terrorism must be punished. And anti-terrorism must be encouraged. The Palestinian Authority should be given one last chance to eliminate terror. And if the PA refuses, the U.S. must do the following:

- Classify the Palestinian Authority as a terrorist organization.
- Declare "regime change" in the West Bank and Gaza the official United States policy.
- Support to the hilt every anti-terror operation by Israelis short of war crimes.
The first two options are controversial, but Mr. Totten does not clarify what effect this is supposed to have. Mr. Bush has expressed that he's satisfied with the current leadership, especially the Prime Minister, the Finance minister and the Security Minister. Secondly, the third option has been occuring for the past years and the Palestinians paid the price for the gross human rights abuses. It will incite and invite more terrorism and the cycle of violence will continue/resume.
The first phase would not be complete until the enemies of peace are defeated, deported, imprisoned, or killed. These include Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Yasser Arafat's Fatah, the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigades, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. It may also include the Palestinian Authority.

The second phase should focus on establishing a reformed or reconstituted leadership and bringing about a Palestinian culture accepting of peace and a two-state solution.

It should include something akin to the following:

- The establishment of the separation of powers and the rule of law.
- The creation of a democratic system of government with multiple parties and free elections. Fascist parties should be banned as they were in post-Nazi Germany.
- An education system purged of anti-Semitism and incitement to violence.
- A binding peace treaty that recognizes Israel's sovereignty.
- A formal abandonment of the "right of return," where millions of Palestinians are expected to settle in Israel.
- The most crucial detail of all will come in the third and final phase when a permanent settlement is decided. There must be a post-facto punishment for the intifada.
- No future Palestinian state should be geographically larger than the one already offered by Bill Clinton and Ehud Barak in 2000. Even if the Palestinians get only one acre less in the end, the intifada must be shown to have yielded them nothing.
This all sounds good and nice, but two things bother me.

The abandonment of the right of return and the myth of the Barak offer. Mr. Totten seems to be under the impression that the Barak offer was a great offer. It was not. Besides that the Barak offer did not contain a plan for a sovereign, Palestinian state. As pointed out in this article and illustrated in the map below, it was Bush who was merely frustrated at Arafat at not solving the conflict and shifiting the blame on the Palestinians.


Secondly, the right of return is both a moral and legal right.

The Right to Return has a solid legal basis. The United Nations adopted Resolution 194: Paragraph 11 states: "...the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date... compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return. Resolution 194 was affirmed practically every year since with a universal consensus, except for Israel and the U.S. The resolution was further clarified by UN General Assembly Resolution 3236 which reaffirms in Subsection 2, "the inalienable right of the Palestinians to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced and uprooted, and calls for their return". Hindering return is an act of aggression, which deserves action by the Security Council. Israel's admission to the UN were conditional on its acceptance of relevant UN resolutions including 194.

Furthermore, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights article 13 reaffirms the right of every individual to leave and return to his country. Moreover, the Principle of Self Determination guarantees, inter alia, the right of ownership and domicile in one's own country. The UN adopted this principle in 1947. In 1969 and thereafter, it was explicitly applied to the Palestinian People, including "the legality of the Peoples' struggle for Self-Determination and Liberation", (GAOR 2535 (xxiv), 2628 (xxv), 2672 (xxv), 2792 (xxvi)). International law demands that neither occupation nor sovereignty diminish the rights of private ownership. When the Ottomans surrendered in 1920, Palestinian ownership of the land was maintained. The land and property of "the refugees" remains their own and they are entitled to return to it.

I conclude with a final note. PLO's main goal used to be to liberate all of historic Palestine, but that all changed. Was it a military showdown? No, it was a handshake at the White House. Now, I'm not saying that the murderous cowards should shake hands with the Israelis, but that there can be some kind of political integration and removal of the military wing. As Slate noted about Mahmoud Abbas' vague past: "[the] Palestinian-Israeli peace was always going to be built on short memories all around." Insha'llah.

UPDATE: Calpundit responds. So does Matt Yglesias.

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