Thursday, April 24, 2008

Louisiana Purchase mk II

When Jefferson 'bought' almost a million square miles of land from the French, few Americans objected that the land was occupied by native Americans and had never been France's to sell. It is therefore unsurprising that the Washington Post sees no similar objection when reporting on an alleged secret agreement between the Bush administration and Israel to 'permit' continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

US liberals will of course denounce the agreement and claim that Bush has neither the authority nor the ability to bind future Presidents. Unfortunately this is not quite true, Bush does have the power to permanently and absolutely disqualify the US as an honest broker in any future peace process that may take place under the next administration or its successor. And issuing a secret codicil telling Israel that it is not expected to keep its part in any agreement is probably the best way to achieve that.

At the current time there are approximately 5.3 million Jews living within the borders controlled by Israel and 4.7 million non-Jews. Absent a new wave of Jewish immigration or genocide (advocated by the Israeli far right under the euphemism 'transfer') it is now inevitable that non-Jews will be the majority within the next ten years. This fact is not lost on Hamas which has made plain that it has absolutely no interest in the two state solution and will use precisely the level of violence necessary to disrupt any process with the goal of establishing one. In terms of terror capability, Hamas vastly outstrips Al Qaeda with at least ten and possibly as many as a hundred the number of active members. Hamas is also considerably better armed and funded.

A question seldom asked in US policy circles is why Hamas has neither performed nor even attempted an operation on the scale of 9/11. They certainly have the capability. But it is so much easier to avoid making the concessions described in the Bush letter as 'impractical' when you deny the possibility that the other side might have a rational strategy.

The insistence on the two-state solution amongst US liberals is thus part of the same thinking that underlies the Bush letter, the idea that the US has the right and/or duty to decide and impose a peace settlement on the situation that neither side is willing to accept.

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