Reading is Fundamental: The Israeli-Palestinian Dispute

I’ve remarked here several times that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the attempt to resolve it is the wickedest of problems. The core reason for this is that everyone pretty much has a broad understanding of what the solution should look like, but no one has been able to effectively sell it to the Israelis, the Palestinians, and anyone else interested in resolving the over 70 year dispute that predates the formation of the modern state of Israel. On Monday Jared Kushner gave some remarks to Congressional interns that, of course, immediately leaked. Including audio. Wired got their hands on the audio and you can find it at this link, as well as a transcript. Kushner addressed the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and peace process in part of his remarks. These were contradictory. At the outset he said:

So first of all, this is one of the ones I was asked to take on, and I did with this something that I do with every problem set you get. Which is you try to study the historical context to understand how something got to where it is, who was successful, and who wasn’t successful. And you try to [unintelligible] is research it and look at the conventional sources but also try to get some unconventional sources as well. And what I’ve determined from looking at it is that not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years we’ve been doing this.

The third one is that I have tried to look at why people haven’t been successful in the negotiations, so I looked and studied all the different negotiations. I spoke to a lot of people who have have been part of them, and I think the reason why is that this is a very emotionally charged situation.

This is actually a good start and makes sense. However, Kushner eventually made his way to espousing a seeming contradictory and opposite position on how to approach the problem set:

You know everyone finds an issue, that “You have to understand what they did then” and “You have to understand that they did this.” But how does that help us get peace? Let’s not focus on that. We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on, How do you come up with a conclusion to the situation. That was one thing that we achieved, which we were quite happy about—which is, you know, small thing, but it’s actually a pretty big thing over there. But something that we thought was a pretty big step.

 He concluded with:
So, what do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know … I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we’re trying to follow very logically. We’re thinking about what the right end state is, and we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future.

You can click across and read and/or listen to the whole thing. He does bounce around a lot, but much, if not most of the criticism has been around him contradicting himself on not wanting a history lesson and not knowing if the new administration’s approach is offering anything unique. I think the former issue, the criticism, may be a bit overblown. He clearly contradicted his earlier remarks, but he did state that he’d done a lot of prep. Obviously I have no idea if that is or is not true as I’m not involved in this process this time.*

As to the latter point I don’t think it is that big a deal. In 2017 there aren’t really a lot of unconsidered options for how to solve this problem. In fact I’d argue that there are really only four possibilities. The first is the status quo, which is unsustainable in the long term. The second is the long pursued two state solution. The third is a one state solution, which, depending on how it was designed and implemented, might be a viable alternative. The fourth option is quite simply to let the Israelis and the Palestinians go at each other, which, with the exception of the extremists on all sides, is clearly not an acceptable alternative.

 The real issue, as I’ve stated before and I’m sure I’ll state again, is actually being able to market and sell whatever solution is put forward. It was partially Arafat’s fear that he couldn’t sell what Ehud Barak was offering at the end of the Clinton Administration to the Palestinians that led him to say no. I have that directly from the retired senior foreign service executive who had been hired by the Palestinian Authority to advise them during the negotiations. Arafat’s other concern was that after the majority of Palestinians rejected the offer that he’d be killed (same source).

What, if anything, can we learn from Kushner’s remarks on Monday? That reading the history, the politics, the marketing, and the minutiae of past efforts is fundamental. In December of 2013 I was asked by the then Chief of Plans at US Army Europe (USAREUR) if I could provide assistance to them in their upcoming assignment handling the DOD’s portion of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process that was then ongoing under Secretary of State Kerry and the Special Envoy for Middle East Peace, Gen. (ret) Allen. Among the assistance I provided was a report on the socio-cultural drivers of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. Including those considerations that worked against successfully resolving the dispute. When I got onsite in January for about a week to ten days of Interagency work at USAREUR headquarters in Germany I took over the basic open source research duties for the Chief of Plans and the working group. And here is where the minutiae comes in. US Army Europe’s assignment was to assess the Palestinian security sector’s functions, including the rule of law, emergency services, administration of justice, etc, in light of Israel’s in order to determine if there was enough capability to function if an independent Palestine were to come into being. This open source research included running down the assessments of the half dozen or so states who had been working with the Palestinians to develop these functions for the senior members of the working group and the staffers they brought with them. Without being able to read, analyze, and understand what had been done and how effective it had been, it would have been impossible for the Interagency teams under USAREUR direction to complete the assignment.

 Understanding this granularity is absolutely necessary to understand where the Palestinians are, how far they’ve come, and how far they might still have to go in building their internal capacity regarding these issues. But doing the reading, so to speak, goes beyond this. It includes getting a grip on all the subtle nuances around how to establish a new state that would be non-contiguous. Both in terms of having the larger portion in the West Bank and the smaller portion in Gaza and in regard to land swaps that minimize the loss of land to Israeli settlements. If final negotiations allow some of those to remain, then even the portion of the potential Palestinian state in the West Bank would not be internally contiguous as their would be a settlement archipelago that will have to be connected back to Israel proper. This would subdivide whatever state the Palestinians establish in the West Bank.

 Until one has to grapple with just how granular the negotiations have to get to achieve a resolution it is impossible to really appreciate just how difficult this is to resolve. Do the Palestinians get their own airport? If so, where do you put it? How do you deconflict this airport’s airspace from Ben Gurion in Israel and Queen Alia in Amman? How does the water flow? Who oversees it? How do you resolve the inevitable disputes that will arise? Do you have a common economic market zone between Israel and a future Palestinian state? Or do you establish import controls, tariffs, and barriers to economic entry? What kind of border controls for population movement? If there is going to be a settlement archipelago connected to Israel and considered to be Israel, who responds to emergencies? What about a hot pursuit where suspects cross from Palestine to Israel and then, perhaps, back again? Here’s a big one: do the Palestinians, given that Gaza is on the coast, have a claim to the Leviathan gas field in the Mediterranean? Or is this solely Israeli because it is off the coast north of Gaza? How about access to the Holy Sites. Both in and out of Jerusalem. And this is just a few of the outstanding issues that have to be negotiated on the way to a final settlement.

 Getting deep into the history of the dispute and the history of the attempts to resolve it is also necessary to frame what the US is trying to help the Israelis and Palestinians to achieve. One of my other tasks was to draft the historical introduction to the report that would go from Commander USAREUR to EUCOM to the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Security Dialogue (OSD-SD, Gen. Allen’s office at DOD) to the Secretary of State to the White House. While I’d done academic research work on the Israeli and Palestinian dispute all the way back to my first masters thesis in 1994-1995, and taught a course on it a couple of times, as well as cultural operation research and analysis for the Army, I was unprepared to just crank off a historical introduction. A deep dive was necessary into the Israeli, the Palestinian, and the histories from other perspectives of the problem set. While everyone believes they know how the dispute started and how it has progressed, a great deal of the historical literature – political history, military history, biographies, etc – has been significantly revised over the years. It was just last month that further revision was publicized in Haaretz about what actually happened at Deir Yassin in 1948. Different groups of Israelis don’t agree on the history of the dispute, let alone the Israelis and the Palestinians. Trying to develop a tight historical narrative that captures this nuance would be difficult in a book length format. It is no easy feat for professional historians. A tightly written, brief historical introduction that captured the nuance and detail and richness of this narrative was difficult, especially as it had to be staffed for review and comments. And it is, of course, politically fraught as everyone has their preferred view of who did what and who is to blame for what. The comments I received back from the review process were particularly interesting…

Diving deep into the minutiae also prevents surprises. In June 2014 my civilian mobilization orders under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act where picked up by OSD-SD from US Army War College. I was brought on board and then assigned to work directly with/for US Army Europe as the Quality Assurance/Quality Control Officer and Executive Editor for the final report. It was my job to take each different section from each different group within the Interagency assessment team and not just copyedit them, but make the entire document read as if written with one voice. While doing this work I often had to go and fact check or double check information. As I was doing this, being immersed in all things Israeli and Palestinian, I began to notice something significant: the Netanyahu governing coalition in Israel had begun to change its position on a two state solution. Netanyahu himself, as well as either coalition members of his cabinet or leaders within their parties who were not in the cabinet, had begun arguing that what was really needed was a one state solution. Though there was and still is disagreement among them as to what this would actually entail vis a vis the Palestinians. What was important, however, was that the parties actually running Israel had shifted position on the outcome while the US was trying to negotiate a two state solution. Working in the minutiae allowed me to pick up on this and prepare a policy and strategy analysis addressing this new wrinkle for USAREUR and OSD-SD while I completed my editing duties. But this complication still remains. As of now the US remains committed to a two state solution. The governing coalition of Israel prefers a one state solution. This means that, at the very least, the US has to adjust its strategy to account for this if it has any hope of achieving the stated policy of a two state solution.

 When I taught Israeli-Palestinian politics and Middle Eastern politics I used to have my students roll play trying to negotiate a settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. I’d break them into teams early in the semester, provide them with a baseline of prep material – they had to research the rest, and after giving them several weeks to prep and get into character we’d spend four or five class sessions at the end of the semester on the mock negotiations. I tried to make sure my Jewish American students didn’t get to be the Israelis, my Arab and/or Palestinian American students didn’t get to be the Palestinians, and I encouraged all of them to get as far into character as they could. Almost all of them did. They always bogged down pretty quickly. Often they never got past agreeing to basic terms. The lesson I wanted them to take away was if fifteen to twenty of them, who were friendly with each other, if not friends, couldn’t get past agreeing to the agenda knowing that it was all just an exercise, just imagine how much harder it is for actual Israelis and Palestinians (and the other parties – Americans, Jordanians, Saudis, Egyptians, etc trying to move the negotiations along) trying to do this for real.

 At the core of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is designing and marketing a resolution to a land dispute wrapped in religious, ethnic, and cultural complications. Over the decades it has been far easier to design potential solutions than to sell them to the parties to the conflict. And I expect this marketing problem to rear its ugly head this time too.

 * From December 2013 through June 2014 I served as the (temporary assigned control) Cultural Advisor to the Commander of US Army Europe. Specifically to provide socio-cultural subject matter expertise on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. From Jun 2014 through August 2014 I served as the Quality Assurance/Quality Control Officer and Executive Editor at the Office of the Secretary of Defense and US Army Europe in the preparation of US Army Europe’s, on behalf of DOD, report on the Palestinian security sector.

102 replies
  1. 1

    Thanks for this. There’s so much hyperbolic partisanship around this conflict, and it’s nice to see a level-headed assessment of what is actually needed to solve it.

  2. 2
    lollipopguild says:

    Thanks for this post and your thoughts on this.

  3. 3
    daverave says:

    Maybe it’s just me and my browser (Firefox) but everything after the last blockquote here is in a tight text with virtually no paragraph breaks. VERY hard to read.

  4. 4
    Mike in DC says:

    Have we seriously considered massive bribery? Offering huge packages of economic development aid in exchange for some of the more painful concessions.

  5. 5

    @daverave: Seconded. Paragraph needs double spacing.

  6. 6
    grammypat says:

    @daverave: Ditto … my old eyes simply cannot read it.

  7. 7
    Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes says:

    No solution to the IP problem until the survivors from the glowing ruins of Tel Aviv are evacuated via partially wrecked port facilities at Haifa and the senior Likud leadership in the bunker gets tried for war crimes.

    It is too far gone for good solutions – too many settlements, too many Russian emigres, too many American fundie crazies, too much militance….

  8. 8
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @daverave: It isn’t you. It is not showing like that in the post tool and I’m not sure how to fix it.

  9. 9
    NotMax says:

    Glad you brought in a mention of Jordan, as they have a big and immediate ancillary stake in this

  10. 10
    Another Scott says:

    @daverave: It’s a “feature” of this WP site and can sometimes be seen on some other posts with commentary mixed among multiple blockquotes.

    Looking at at the page source, it seems to be associated with “data-reactid=’325′”, and Google tells me that ReactID is some sort of JavaScript magic for Facebook and Instagram…

    Dunno how to fix it though. :-(

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  11. 11
    Kristine says:

    @daverave: Nope–same thing in Chrome. I increased the text size. That helped a little.

  12. 12
    Patricia Kayden says:

    @daverave: Yeah, it’s too wide across and too tightly packed in to easily read.

  13. 13
    jon says:

    Compromise leads to either an Israeli or Palestinian leader getting shot in the head by their own extremists. Almost maybe possibly nearly leading to compromise does the same.

    I don’t know how to change that dynamic, but I’d love to hear the answers.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:

    No trouble reading the fine print. But for those who do, might consider copy/pasting it into Notepad or Wordpad or similar.

  15. 15
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @daverave: @NotMax: I think I’ve fixed it. Reload the page and let me know.

  16. 16
    debbie says:

    Yay! Fixed!

  17. 17
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @schrodingers_cat: @grammypat: @Kristine: I think I’ve fixed it. Please reload the page and let me know.

  18. 18
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  20. 20
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Mike in DC: There is usually significant amounts of aid based incentives proposed as part of the negotiations.

  21. 21
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: Yep.

  22. 22
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Another Scott: In the post tool everything was showing correct in terms of formatting. I highlighted the sections that were acting funny and reset them from paragraph format to header 1 then back to paragraph. That seemed to solve the problem.

  23. 23
    debbie says:

    I’m still not all the way through your post, but I have to say that no granularity of any kind is needed. Israel will never agree to any solution because Israel will not agree to any kind of compromise about anything. Certainly, no one currently in power will. Sure, some might have been willing to think about compromise, but that’s what got Yitzak Rabin assassinated. So now, no one with the ability to influence will take that important first step.

    Also, why does Jared need to study the situation? As a member of the Jewish religion, he already knows the situation. Why does he not think the history of the conflict is relevant to his studying efforts? Who can possibly know where they’re headed if they don’t know where they’ve been?

    Get him out of there.

  24. 24
    Hungry Joe says:

    Jared Kushner is the man for the job. How could anyone read Adam’s piece and think otherwise? Just look at what he brings to the table. He brings … well, he’s Jewish. And he’s, uh … he’s … he’s … the man for the job, is what he is.

  25. 25
    Ohio Mom says:

    One might think that since I am Jewish, that I would have a particular interest in Israel. I don’t. In fact, I resent all the oxygen Israel uses up in the Jewish community. I think we are paying a big price. Instead of nurturing a Judaism that answers contemporary needs, it’s Israel, Israel, Israel all the time.

    Don’t get me wrong, I hope that peace comes to the Middle East, just as I hope it comes to all the parts of Africa that are torn by civil strife and whose nation states I can not remember the names of, if I ever knew them.

    I have never been able to reconcile the idea that I should love the USA because its constitution separates church and state with the idea that I should admire the fact that Israel has my religion as a state religion (sorta, since liberal Judaism is given very short shrift there).

    Given the Swiss cheese nature of the West Bank, I can’t imagine a two-state solution working.

  26. 26
    TenguPhule says:

    The fourth option is quite simply to let the Israelis and the Palestinians go at each other, which, with the exception of the extremists on all sides, is clearly not an acceptable alternative.

    And surely as the Sun rises, this is the one we’ll all be stuck with.

  27. 27
    clay says:

    Let’s focus on, How do you come up with a conclusion to the situation. That was one thing that we achieved, which we were quite happy about—which is, you know, small thing, but it’s actually a pretty big thing over there. But something that we thought was a pretty big step.

    Sheesh, he has his father-in-law’s speech pattern.

    Setting that aside, what exactly is he claiming he achieved here? It sounds like he achieved a solution, but that can’t be right. The other option is that his achievement was changing the focus to coming up with a solution.

    That’s… not a lot to brag about. I’m sure every single person involved in this throughout the decades has thought, hey we should really think about solving this problem.

  28. 28
    Old Broad in California says:

    Thank you for this. It’s great reading a cogent summary of the issues and what’s at stake.

    As a person of Jewish descent I was raised to admire Israel. I still do to some extent, but they have become their own worst enemy in many respects. And the Palestinians aren’t “easy” either.

    Jared is in so over his head…

  29. 29
    Felonius Monk says:

    Jared Kushner should not be allowed anywhere near the Middle East, but on a brighter note Cohen-Watnick has been fired.

  30. 30
    Ohio Mom says:

    @debbie: “…Israel will never accept any kind of compromise about anything.”

    Yes, old Golda was projecting when she made that comment about peace being impossible until Arabs love their children more than they hate “us.”

  31. 31
    TenguPhule says:

    @Mike in DC:

    Have we seriously considered massive bribery?

    It was tried at Camp David.

    It failed.

  32. 32
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    “Dispute” makes it sound like something you can work out in an arbitration.

    These guys resort to violence every day to work it out.

  33. 33
    TenguPhule says:

    @debbie:

    but I have to say that no granularity of any kind is needed. Israel will never agree to any solution because Israel will not agree to any kind of compromise about anything. Certainly, no one currently in power will. Sure, some might have been willing to think about compromise, but that’s what got Yitzak Rabin assassinated. So now, no one with the ability to influence will take that important first step.

    Israel isn’t going to compromise now, because the last administration that did try back in 2000 ended up with everything blowing up in their face. And so they’re now stuck with a bunch of really really bastard rightwingers in charge. Meanwhile, the Israeli doves are an endangered species thanks to the suicide bombings and other mass killings which have polarized pretty much everyone.

  34. 34
    TenguPhule says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    Jared Kushner should not be allowed anywhere near the Middle East

    Disagree. Provided his bodyguards are kept out

    Two birds, one stone.

  35. 35
    El Caganer says:

    I can picture a two- state solution. The Israeli state would include current territory, Gaza, West Bank, Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon up to the Litani River. Palestinian state would be…somewhere else.

  36. 36
    TenguPhule says:

    @Ohio Mom:

    Yes, old Golda was projecting when she made that comment about peace being impossible until Arabs love their children more than they hate “us.”

    Actually she wasn’t. I remember the early 2000s and the excuses made for the Palestinians at that time were utterly nauseating from the purity ponies of the far-left.

  37. 37
    El Caganer says:

    I can picture a two- state solution. The Israeli state would include current territory, Gaza, West Bank, Golan Heights, and southern Lebanon up to the Litani River. Palestinian state would be. …elsewhere.

  38. 38
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @El Caganer: Madagascar?

    (This is a reference many won’t get, but I’m sure Adam will.)

  39. 39
    Cheryl Rofer says:

    Thanks, Adam. This

    Understanding this granularity is absolutely necessary

    is the key to dealing with every foreign policy issue.

    In a real estate deal, all you have to do is to come to an agreement on price and maybe some additional stuff. Let the lawyers make sure it complies with the law, more or less. But you can mess up in a foreign policy negotiation just by saying something “wrong” or too much tilted toward one side or the other. Then there are the questions you mention, with perhaps 500 to 1000 others. For another foreign policy issue, there is just as much granularity, but it is totally different. Which is why little Jared is so criticized. His leaked speech makes clear that he has no sense that the granularity even exists.

  40. 40
    Roger Moore says:

    @Ohio Mom:
    I’m from a long line of secular Jews, but my feeling is pretty much the same. To me, at least, being an American Jew means following millennia of practice building a Jewish identity that doesn’t center around Israel. I’m building my life here rather than there, and that means putting America first in my thoughts (and votes) rather than Israel. Any Jew who genuinely cares more about Israel than the country they’re currently living in should vote with their feet by exercising their rights under the Law of Return.

  41. 41
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: Yep!

  42. 42
    Roger Moore says:

    @Felonius Monk:

    Jared Kushner should not be allowed anywhere near the Middle East

    I could definitely see abandoning him without ID in some of the less pleasant parts of Syria.

  43. 43
    Suffragette City says:

    Thanks for the education. And I really hate the fundies and their lack of humanity in what they advocate in all this.

  44. 44

    This post is fascinating and informative, so much so that I haven’t finished it yet, but look forward to, because it has already been eye opening. You are obviously using Jared as an excuse to educate us, which is a good thing.

    That said, your treatment of Kushner himself misses the forest for the trees. If an eleven year old wrote his answer for a school paper, it might get a C. Maybe. The sheer stupidity I see in his speech is appalling, well beyond the intellectual incuriosity. Wow, Jared, you discovered it’s an emotionally charged debate. There was probably SOMEONE on Earth who didn’t know that yet.

  45. 45
  46. 46
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: You go to make Middle East peace with the envoy you have not the envoy you want.

  47. 47
    Betty Cracker says:

    @TenguPhule: Okay, I’ll bite: why isn’t that an acceptable alternative, at least from the perspective of the US? The violence on all sides is heartbreaking and “unacceptable” to me as a human being, but I can think of a dozen other spots in the world that are in equally desperate straits, and our grubby fingers are in those pies as well.

    We can’t fix it. No one but the principals can. Say so publicly, and announce that we’re throwing in the towel on the multigenerational “peace process.” Stop providing anything other than humanitarian aid and even-handed trading relationships involving non-lethal goods and walk away. Why isn’t that an option?

  48. 48
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    You go to make Middle East peace with the envoy you have not the envoy you want.

    C’mon Adam, not even you can say that with a straight face about Kushner.

  49. 49
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Betty Cracker: Evangelical Christian Zionists. Jewish American Zionists. Sheldon Adelson. A whole bunch of think tanks. And everyone, everywhere expects the US to fix this.

  50. 50
    japa21 says:

    I will start out stating that am about the furthest thing from an expert in the ME and the IP problem as you can get. But I have been observing that area for a very long time. Arafat was not far off with his fears. I have no doubt there are people on both sides that would like to reach an agreement in good faith. At the same time, there are people on both sides who have reached the point where the only solution is the annihilation of the opposition .

    There is also a long and deeply buried fear of the other baked into the equation. What this means is whenever the group who want an agreement make themselves known and actually start moving in a positive direction, the folks invested in the annihilation theory will do whatever they can to bring that process to a halt. And this usually means violence. From the violence springs the fears again and people who may have been won over by the peacemakers move in the opposite direction.

    I really don’t see a way around that problem.

  51. 51
    TenguPhule says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    why isn’t that an acceptable alternative, at least from the perspective of the US?

    Because people would be putting pressure on our government to reign Israel in once the gloves start coming off.

    Just like what’s happened every other time the fighting reignites.

    Stop providing anything other than humanitarian aid and even-handed trading relationships involving non-lethal goods and walk away. Why isn’t that an option?

    Because the right will blame us for not helping to defend Israel denying them weapons and the left will be blaming us for trading with “butcher State” and insisting we cut off all ties with them.

    Its a gigantic clusterfuck there for a good reason.

  52. 52
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: I am not consulted on the administrations staffing and assignment decisions.

  53. 53
    Gator90 says:

    @Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:

    the glowing ruins of Tel Aviv

    Fantasizing about the deaths of thousands of Jewish civilians is a rather ugly look.

  54. 54
    TenguPhule says:

    @japa21:

    . What this means is whenever the group who want an agreement make themselves known and actually start moving in a positive direction, the folks invested in the annihilation theory will do whatever they can to bring that process to a halt. And this usually means violence.

    What do you mean, usually?

    It always ends up that way.

  55. 55
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gator90: Fantasizing about the deaths of thousands of anyone is a rather ugly look.

  56. 56
    BBA says:

    How about this:
    1. The United States annexes the State of Israel, granting citizenship to all former Israeli citizens
    2. The US announces loudly that in exactly one year we will withdraw from our Middle Eastern territory, turning over full sovereignty to the Palestinian Authority
    3. One year later, do just that

  57. 57
    TenguPhule says:

    @BBA:

    3. One year later, do just that

    4. Bloodbath

    ETA: Every three step plan for the IP problem always hits a snag at step four.

  58. 58
    daverave says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    Thanks Adam, looks good now. In the interim I went out and mowed the lawn in the 102 degree Sactown “dry” heat. Now I can go get an adult beverage and read your treatise on the subject. Cheers!

  59. 59
    Gator90 says:

    @Adam L Silverman: True. But wishing mass death upon Jews nevertheless has a certain, er, resonance.

  60. 60
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Gator90: I am aware.

  61. 61
    Another Scott says:

    @Adam L Silverman: Thank you, kind sir.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  62. 62
    Sloane Ranger says:

    Unfortunately I agree with those who think this will not end well.

    Not only is it emotionally fraught, there is not a hell of a lot of trust between any of the party’s involved.

    I hate to say it but the only thing we may be able to do is find a way to prevent further destabilization of the surrounding countries while the Israelis and Palestinians have at it and, given the realities of global realpolitik, I suspect we will fail at that too.

    Sorry but that’s the way I have felt for a long time.

  63. 63
    BBA says:

    @TenguPhule: A bloodbath is inevitable. The most we can do is make it clear who is in the right, and give every opportunity and incentive to those in the wrong to surrender their position. And even then it won’t be enough.

    The occupation began in 1882.

  64. 64
    Kristine says:

    @Adam L Silverman: There’s a line between each paragraph now, which helps.

  65. 65
    feathers says:

    Adam (or anyone else), have you read China Mieville’s The City and the City? Although the setting is supposed to be easternmost edge of Eastern Europe, it has a real resonance for thinking about two cultures sharing a physical space. Don’t want to spoil any of its pleasures – it’s a police procedural that spins into weird fiction and back into a meditation on politics and culture, written by someone with a PhD in IR.

    I once remember, back in the 90s, someone describing the real problem of the Middle East as being the fact that the Palestinians were the least sympathetic genuinely oppressed people on the planet. That to gain sympathy and support for the ending of your oppression, you shouldn’t have to be noble or a saint, but…

  66. 66
    feathers says:

    Is the title a rather clever Ru Paul reference?

    I had a post disappear, but I won’t recreate it other than to ask if you have read China Mieville’s The City and The City, and highly recommend it if you haven’t. A weird fiction police procedural written by someone with a PhD in International Relations.

  67. 67
    NotMax says:

    Repeated as it is totally germane to the topic – an assessment of Kushner’s acumen.

    The question put to Kushner was about how he plans to negotiate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, and what the Trump administration brings to bear that is unique.

    Kushner spoke for about seven minutes total.

    All in all, his talk was “not very encouraging,” says Hussein Ibish, a senior scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. “It reads like a young man who really lacks any kind of detailed or nuanced background.” Source

  68. 68
    catclub says:

    @BBA:

    The United States annexes the State of Israel, granting citizenship to all former Israeli citizens

    The Yiddish Policeman’s Union by Michael Chabon took this as kind of its premise, and put the Israeli state in Alaska.

  69. 69
    NotMax says:

    @catclub

    Awfully long way to go to Florida during an awfully long winter.

    ;)

  70. 70
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Kristine: Whatever you do don’t cross them! Especially if the President is eating chocolate cake.

  71. 71
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @catclub: That won’t work.

  72. 72
    Another Scott says:

    An excellent writeup. Thanks for posting it.

    I’m no expert, but my opinion for a while has been:

    1) Israel’s government likes the status-quo situation so they have no incentive to change. Until they feel the need to change, nothing will change.

    2) It’s been fairly clear to me that Israel has had a “one-state solution” policy since at least Begin’s election in 1977. All the settlement building and outposts and “natural growth” and all the rest are obviously designed to make a “two-state solution” impossible. The policy is just slowly becoming more explicit under Bibi.

    3) No other people on Earth would accept a “state” defined by conditions that Israel wants to impose upon the Palestinians. There isn’t going to be any Palestinian leader who accepts things like discontinuous bantustans, vetos on trade (the Gaza blockades) and internal travel (the checkpoints) and international travel (destruction of the Yasser Arafat International Airport) and all the rest. And Israel knows that – that’s part of the reason why they have the conditions in the first place. See #1.

    4) Carter was right that Israel’s going down the Apartheid road. They can’t be a single-state democracy while militarily imposing their will over millions who aren’t citizens. They can’t be a long-term Jewish state if they become a democracy for all her people. In refusing to choose, they may end up with neither…

    So, I figure it’s going to continue this way for a while. Until the Palestinians don’t take it anymore.

    Oh, and Jared’s wrong about something else important. The thing that the USA brings to the table is money and the ability to help make an agreement work over the long term. The Camp David Accords never would have happened without US dollars going to Israel and Egypt and US participation in making it work. If we want there to be a substantial peace agreement between Israel and Palestine, it’s going to cost us, again. A lot. Of course, we would get a lot of that money back, though their purchases of US goods and services. And genuine peace has all kinds of other benefits besides trade. But few things are as unpopular among the hoi polloi as foreign aid these days, so that’s another reason why it’s not going to happen anytime soon.

    My $0.02.

    Cheers,
    Scott.

  73. 73
    TenguPhule says:

    @Another Scott:

    Israel’s current government likes the status-quo situation so they have no incentive to change. Until they feel the need to change, nothing will change.

    FTFY.

    And sadly, they are likely to remain in power as Israel is now locked in a siege mentality.

    Until the Palestinians don’t take it anymore.

    And then get evicted into Lebanon en-masse at gun point.

    And not if, but when.

  74. 74
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @Another Scott:

    They can’t be a single-state democracy while militarily imposing their will over millions who aren’t citizens. They can’t be a long-term Jewish state if they become a democracy for all her people

    There was a chap at LGM last week making this basic argument, but unusually, he was arguing it as a pro-Israeli position. “Look. Israel’s not giving up any land, and they’re also not going to accept a secular bi-national democracy, so the only answer is a one-state solution where Arabs have perpetual second class citizenship: freedom of movement and work but no vote.”

    Sadly, I think that is Israel’s position, so that’s probably the best possible outcome at this point. The only other likely end points involve ethnic cleansing of one side or the other.

  75. 75
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @TenguPhule: Despite how its been covered the low level ongoing knife attacks are, essentially, a very slow running 3rd intifada. Or at least the lead in. It’s why the Israelis have been trying to not make things worse on the Temple Mount/Harem es Sharif. Though the ongoing crisis created by a settler family in Hebron. They seized a Palestinian family’s home and property by force about a week or so ago.
    http://www.aljazeera.com/news/.....15824.html

  76. 76
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @Lurking Canadian: This is the problem with the status quo. What the Netanyahu government isn’t discussing is that there is a steady, significant outflow of Israelis. Mostly back to Europe where, under EU rules they’re able to reclaim their parents or grandparents citizenship. In a great example of irony the largest group of these Israelis returning to Europe and reclaiming their citizenship are going to Germany. And they’re going because they can’t stand living in Israel as it is currently run, how it treats the Palestinians, empowers the ultra, ultra devout, etc. Given this reality, and that only the ultra devout – both settler and haredim (non-Zionist Israeli Jews) have high birth rates, the estimates are that within about 15 to 25 years the Palestinians will significantly outnumber the Israelis. So the Israelis are facing a demographic reality where the majority of their Jewish population are the most religious and least tolerant combined with even that group outnumbered by both the Palestinians and the Israeli Arabs of Palestinian descent.

  77. 77
    NotMax says:

    @Adam L. Silverman

    trying to not make things worse on the Temple Mount/Harem es Sharif

    Better? A forest of metal detectors and an entry ban on Palestinian males under a certain age (the latter since retracted).

  78. 78
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @NotMax: This is the problem. They had a shooting on the mount and went to their standard, minimum crackdown. Which, of course, went over as well as you might suspect. So now they’re tap dancing in an attempt to find a way to have their security cake while deescalating the situation so it doesn’t get worse.

  79. 79
    TenguPhule says:

    @Adam L Silverman:

    So now they’re tap dancing in an attempt to find a way to have their security cake while deescalating the situation so it doesn’t get worse.

    Which is of course impossible to pull off since the Palestinian fighters love to exploit the rules while blaming Israel for not wanting its people to be shot at.

  80. 80
    different-church-lady says:

    I spoke to a lot of people who have have been part of them, and I think the reason why is that this is a very emotionally charged situation.

    Ooh, good eye, Boy Wonder!

  81. 81
    David Fud says:

    Thank you for sharing your expertise. It is fascinating, if depressing. I wonder how you manage to get so deep into these intractable issues, staring the abyss straight in the eye, without having it affect you too much. Maybe you have some successes once in a while to offset knowing the IP issue is simply insoluble?

  82. 82
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @David Fud: I’m good at compartmenting/compartmentalizing. It helps with the work I do. You do the best work you do, giving the assignment the best effort, as a professional. You make as much difference/contribution as you can. And then you have to let go.

  83. 83
    The Pale Scot says:

    How does the water flow?

    That right there will be the resolution. By thirty or forty years the Jordan River will mimic the Colorado’s fate on the Mexican border. Ground water will be down to a trickle, and Palestine will be a speed bump in the way of the millions of refugees from the south trying to save themselves. Some Israeli’s will be able to lobby or buy their way to safety, but I doubt the ethnic Russians or the Haredim are going to be welcomed after 30 years of displaying their xenophobia, bigotry and irrationality.

  84. 84
    cynthia ackerman says:

    Very late to the party, but thank you Adam for a sorely needed perspective I have not seen in abundance ion this issue.

  85. 85
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @cynthia ackerman: You’re welcome. Thanks for the kind words.

  86. 86
    The Pale Scot says:

    @BBA:

    The United States annexes the State of Israel

    I have always thought we should have made SE Florida the New Jerusalem.

    They could have made the swamps bloom..

  87. 87
    Ocotillo says:

    Solving the IP situation is hard. Who knew?

  88. 88
    Zelma says:

    “At the core of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is designing and marketing a resolution to a land dispute wrapped in religious, ethnic, and cultural complications.” (I don’t know how to do the fancy box stuff.)

    This is of course key. I don’t know how you solve such a problem. First by purchase and then by war and continuing by various “legal” methods, the Palestinians have been and are being driven off the land. And there really isn’t enough left to create a viable state. I don’t think anyone can “design” or “market” a solution to this problem. It will not end well.

  89. 89
    jl says:

    Thanks for a very informative post.

    ” The fourth option is quite simply to let the Israelis and the Palestinians go at each other, which, with the exception of the extremists on all sides, is clearly not an acceptable alternative. ”

    IIRC, this was the Dub/Cheney option during the first year of their failed administration. It didn’t end well at all. It was counterproductive, I think made both negotiations and possibility of a resolution harder, and caused immense amounts of suffering. And IMHO, immoral.

  90. 90
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @jl: I wouldn’t say it was their option, rather a default. They decided that with the failure of President Clinton’s initiative with Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat just the year before that they needed to give things time and space. Then they picked up with the Roadmap for Peace.

  91. 91
    Karen says:

    every time the US gets involved in “peace” process the war continues and US arm makers are selling even more weapons to that area.
    even my granddaughter could see that giving people bombs, guns doesn’t make peace, just more war

  92. 92
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @feathers: No. There is a Supernatural episode with that title though.

  93. 93
    eemom says:

    It’s interesting that your depth of knowledge is cool to share on a public forum….perhaps the concern about shit being labeled “classified” is somewhat overblown.

  94. 94
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @feathers: I have not read that. Never heard of it to be honest. And I apologize it took four hours to get your comments posted. For some reason they went into the trash folder.

  95. 95
    Adam L Silverman says:

    @eemom: I spent almost three hours on this to make sure I didn’t cross any lines I shouldn’t have.

  96. 96
    Achrachno says:

    The longterm strategic situation for Israel seems hopeless, especially if the steady trickle of Jews back to Europe that Adam mentions above is significant. I’d not been aware of that.

    I’ve for several years thought that we should essentially evacuate the place — offer as many Israelis as are willing to come a right to reside (and citizenship if desired) in the US. They’d not have a state of their own, but at least they’d have a place where they’d not be under constant and growing threat and where normal democratic rights would be mostly respected. Well, with present trends maybe I’m somewhat wrong about that, but at least the threats are less.

    I know, this is not going to happen because people are always tied pretty tightly to their land and if they wanted to leave they’d probably have already done it. But, something like this seems to me the only possible humane solution.

  97. 97
    eemom says:

    @Achrachno:

    we should essentially evacuate the place

    “Evacuate” a sovereign nation….goddamn, that is fucking brilliant!! How can nobody have thought of that before, and why are you not Secretary of State?

  98. 98
    Achrachno says:

    @eemom: Reading is fundamental — try it!

  99. 99
    PJ says:

    Selling a peace settlement is always a hard thing, and it’s up to the hard-liners to enforce it. The treaty with the British in 1921 led to a split in Sinn Fein and the Irish Civil War, which killed more people than the Irish War of Independence, including Michael Collins, Chairman of the Provisional Government. The IRA and the modern Sinn Fein had a better run at keeping the peace in the late 90s in Northern Ireland, helped, I think, by general exhaustion on both sides after 25 years of fighting. From the map, and the actions of the Palestinians and the Israelis, and the power imbalance, a two-state solution seems pretty unworkable. A one-state solution could work, but only if the Israelis give up the idea of a Jewish state, and the Palestinians give up the wish for retribution. Allow a right of return, and throw in billions in reparations (funded, likely, by the US, as we have funded the Egyptian-Israeli peace) for lost Palestinian property, and maybe it could work. But it would take a lot of persuasion to get the hard-liners to see this as desirable, and more work, as you point out, to sell it to the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, and, frankly, most Americans don’t care that much about Israel and its future to actually support this kind of solution or even think about any solution. We just send them billions every year to keep the Palestinians down and assuage our conscience with that.

  100. 100
    TTT says:

    It is characteristically lazy and shallow for Kushner to say “nothing has changed in 40 years.” Nearly all of the settlement growth, the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, Israel ceding Sinai back to Egypt and evacuating Gaza…. those have all been significant developments in that time for better and for worse. In 2008 Ehud Olmert made an almost preposterously generous offer to Abbas – ceding ALL Israeli presence in the WB and Jordan Valley and digging a tunnel through Israel to make Gaza and WB touch. Anything that post-dates the Iron Man movies should not be seen as lost to the sands of history.

    Now, what CAN get lost is the nihilism and malice behind quite a few comments here that all of the Jews have to either be airlifted out lock stock and barrel or reduced to “a glowing crater.”

  101. 101
    TTT says:

    I also think people need to add to the list the possibility that a Palestine is created in which the Israeli settlers get to stay in their gated communities as-is but lose their citizenship and voting rights. In effect reversing the relationship of who rules the WB without the need for population transfer. Palestine ends up with a Jewish minority that, hopefully, they would just leave alone.

    Of course it sounds unlikely, but ALL of these solutions sound unlikely.

  102. 102
    Kent says:

    @TTT:

    Actually seems like the most equitable solution. Israel remains a majority Jewish state with an Arab minority. Palestine becomes a majority Arab state with a Jewish minority as was historically the case with pretty much every single other middle eastern Arab state.

    Settlers want to stay in their enclaves, fine, give them Palestinian passports and be done with it. Every other country in the Middle East is multi-ethnic. No reason why a new Palestinian state can’t be either.

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