Benjamin Netanyahu says something I agree with… Kinda

Speaking about the Gazan crisis and the Israeli military activities there which he supports, Benjamin Netanyahu, the former and possibly future prime minister of Israel (we’ll know about the future in a couple months with Israeli elections), lays out one tenet of a peace process with Palestinians:

The peace process with the Palestinians could not succeed, he said, and instead there should be economic investment – what he calls “economic peace” – in the Palestinian territories rather than negotiations on the core issues of a final agreement.

I agree.  I know that Israeli hardliners, like Netanyahu, and others on the left and right would argue with my assertion that all parties need to talk to Hamas, but for bargaining to begin, you have to talk with representatives of the Palestinian people.  Hamas, unfortunately, qualifies.  But as with any negotiations, you try to get the upperhand…  The best way to do such with Hamas is to stop empowering them.  And I think the best way to take power away from Hamas is with “economic peace” — give Palestinians a chance to build their own lives, their own country, without depending on a corrupt Fatah or Hamas’s political arm which uses social services (not provided by Fatah or, ahem, Israel) to gather support amongst the Palestinian people.  Give the Palestinians other options besides running to either extremists or a corrupt political party.

But of course, there are stipulations here.

Economic peace starts with Israel lifting the economic embargo they have on Palestinians.  Furthermore, Israeli’s must withdraw — militarially and socially — from both Gaza and the West Bank.  No more economic embargo, no more threats of war, and no more settlers.  Otherwise, as I’ve mentioned before, we have a Palestinian “state” which looks like this:

This is a map of the occupied territories and where the Palestinians live, showed through the dark green spots.  And they are just spots: blotches of villiages and towns surrounded by Israeli settlers, Israeli-only highways criss-crossing the West Bank, etc.

For the Palestinian people — for any people — to build their own free and economically viable state, they need contingence territory unmolested by foreign powers.  The Palestinians have not had this.  If we want to sap power from groups like Hamas, giving Palestinians a country where they can build a stable home and business is, quite frankly, the only starting point.  Sure, some will still flock to extremists, protest, throw Resolution 194 and the right of return in our faces…

And those arguments were correct. In 1948.  But that was 60 years ago, and I think many Palestinians realize that the right of return is never going to be granted since those are, for right or wrong, Israeli homes now.  But the problem still remains that Palestinians weren’t just revoked the right of return, they were given absolutely nothing in return.

So yes, let’s do economic peace.  But that means removing Israeli settlers from the West Bank and giving Palestinians a contingent state.  Will hardliners like Netanyahu ever agree to that while blowing smoke about “economic peace”?

Unfortunately, I doubt it.

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