I don't really have anything to add to the following article from today's U.K.Guardian; I think it's main thesis is spot on, and I hope it is widely read. It explains that the reason why the Israeli government's actions are often incomprehensible to Europeans (and Americans for that matter) who support a negotiated two state solution is that they mistakenly believe that Israel wants the same thing they do. If Israel wants a negotiated settlement, it is difficult to understand why it consistently chooses escalation over de-escalation and deliberately undermines the very people it must negotiate with. But once you understand that Israel does not accept, and never has accepted, the possibility of a negotiated two state solution, but believes itself strong enough to impose (and maintain) by force borders which will leave it in perpetual dispute with its neighbours, it becomes perfectly logical that Israel should repeatedly pursue policies that destroy any prospect of a compromise peace. And once you have understood that, it quickly becomes apparent that - regardless of Israel's attempts to paint its conflict with the Palestinians as part of a common cause with the West against "Islamic terror" - Israel's interests are in reality simply not compatible with the interests of the EU or the US.
The west must recognise that Israel's agenda is in conflict with its own
Monday July 17, 2006
Whatever else can be said for or against Israel's escalation of military action against Lebanon, there is little prospect that it will achieve its stated objectives. If Israel couldn't defeat Hizbullah after 18 years in which its army occupied large swaths of Lebanese territory, it is not going to succeed with air strikes and blockades, or even another occupation. The same point applies even more forcefully in the case of Gaza. Every time Israel applies the iron fist in an effort to beat the Palestinians into submission, their resistance simply re-emerges in a more extreme and rejectionist form. Far from fearing Israel's wrath, Hizbullah and Hamas must be rather pleased at their success in provoking it into the sort of over-reaction from which they have always benefited...
In view of all this, it is valid to ask what Israel thinks it is doing. Indeed, this question is implicit in the statements of world leaders at the G8 and elsewhere who have called on Israel to use force proportionately, avoid civilian casualties and refrain from acts that might strengthen Hamas or destabilise Lebanon's fragile political settlement. No one quibbles with Israel's right to defend itself, but doesn't it understand how irresponsible and immoral it is to deliberately escalate the conflict in this way?
The problem is that the premise of the question is false. It assumes that Israel shares our view that a de-escalation followed by negotiation is the best route to a settlement. It assumes, therefore, that when Israeli ministers complain of having "no partner for peace", they actually want one. A much more sensible approach would be to credit them with having the intelligence to know exactly what they are doing and to work backwards from there.
If so, it might become apparent that far from wanting a partner with which to negotiate, the Israeli government is acting with the specific intention of forestalling that possibility...
The plain truth is that Israel thinks that it can get more by imposing a solution through force than by negotiation and is not interested in any kind of peace process. The Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, pays lip service to the road map, but he has already received American endorsement for his fallback position, artfully dubbed "unilateral convergence". George Bush has described it as a "bold idea". Armed with the knowledge that he will continue to enjoy American patronage if the road map fails, Olmert has set out to ensure that it does just that. Bush's diplomacy has been truly inept.
It's high time western governments grasped the fundamental truth that Israel is pursuing an agenda that conflicts directly with their own. In the context of the fight against terrorism and the need to promote international cooperation, the west's interest must be to remove the Palestinian question as a source of grievance among mainstream Muslims in a way that guarantees justice for the Palestinians and security for Israel. A settlement of this kind is perfectly feasible and has been outlined in countless documents and initiatives over the years, most recently in the Geneva accords. But the main reason it has proved illusive is that Israel is not, and never has been, prepared to make the territorial compromises required. It still believes that it is entitled to the victor's spoils by annexing large tracts of Palestinian land.
Read the whole article here.