Saturday, June 06, 2009

Possession Is Nine-Tenths Of The Law

No, actually not. The West Bank settlements, awkward as they appear on the geography that must be allotted and borders defined to the satisfaction of both parties, are merely the realities of possession being nine points of the law. The original plan before 1948 was for the existence of two side-by-side states; one for the Jews, the other for the Arabs. The Jewish presence became the State of Israel; the Arab presence eschewed a Palestinian state. And they've been doing that ever since.

With one attack of the combined Arab forces representing the surrounding Arab nations after another, culminating finally in Israel capturing an expanded geography the nation simply did what all other nations before them have done. Including those in the Middle East. It had acquired the additional land through conquest, through conquering the designs of their enemies, routing them, and accessing the land. All other countries almost without exception have been assumed to have taken possession of land through those circumstances which are later never disputed as legal possessions.

Some of the land which Israel acquired through the protection of its existence from a mortal enemy has since been returned, simply because the country from which it had been taken agreed to signing a peace treaty and the return of the land was a mutually agreeable exchange. With the land called the West Bank accessible, the state permitted settlements to spring up. The Palestinian leaders over the years, while chafing at the patent unfairness of Jews moving onto what was claimed for the Palestinians, still never agreed to peace.

When conciliatory talks were undertaken and Israel committed itself to surrendering land for peace on one occasion after another the leaders of the Palestinians unfailingly at the last moment, turned their backs on peace that would lead to Palestinian autonomy, independence and nationhood. They simply saw no need to assert their independence, since the United Nations was complicit in maintaining the Palestinians as refugees.

The Palestinian leaders, and the now-Palestinian Authority had never exerted themselves to form the infrastructure for a state. Why should they, when UNWRA provides them with everything they need, from medical services, to schools, to civic infrastructures of all kinds. The world's perpetual yet highly regarded beggars, refusing to mature toward independence to challenge the perception that, on the record, they are incapable of caring for themselves.

Content to portray themselves as underdogs, a people maltreated and disdained by a neighbour whose existence is an affront to their needs. That one missed opportunity after another is the actual fount of their misery is handily overlooked. That their 'resistance' to the 'occupation' takes the form of brute violence which results in the state clamping down on freedom of movement is a misery of their own devising is never addressed.

That the Palestinian Authority has encouraged violence, and celebrates the vicious atrocities that result from their encouragement, while pleading with the world to rescue them from the depths of the chasm they have built for themselves, is absurd. The Palestinian Authority feels so entitled by the unending status of the Palestinians as official 'refugees' that it complacently urges sacrifices of Israel, refusing to commit to any of its own.

After over a half-century of absorbing untold billions of dollars for the upkeep of the Arab population calling themselves Palestinians, secreting away in private bank accounts unaccounted-for portions, and never gaining one iota of responsible independence, the PA and the Palestinians feel entitled to being handed a state of their own that will cost Israel sacrifices that they themselves refuse to meet part of the way.

In previous discussions and semi-agreements it was established that an exchange would be feasible to come to an amicable conclusion. That some of the long-settled Jewish settlements in the West Bank, comprising almost three-hundred-thousand people, would be exchanged for a carving out from Israel's borders of those places with majority Arab populations, towns and villages that could be incorporated into the nascent Palestinian state.

The big problem with discussions, exchanges of opinion, declarations of need and intent between the Palestinians and the Israelis, is that both sides do not equally bargain in good faith. It is only human nature that each side will bargain to obtain an outcome that reflects their needs, hoping to accomplish that with a minimum of pain. But it is always the Palestinians who, although initially agreeing, will shut the door on a final settlement.

And it is the Palestinians who speak to the international community as wounded victims requiring the intervention of supporters of the underdog - portraying themselves as helpless against the might of a repressively human-rights-abusive state - who in reality covertly groom their people to resist, to hate, to violate agreements in the hope that eventually they will outlast the patience of Israel and themselves acquire the entire geography.

So when President Barack Obama points to the Israeli West Bank settlements as the major sticking point in a potential Israel-Palestinian agreement toward a two-state solution, he is taking the lazy man's route of accepting the loudest accusatory voice, regardless of integrity to truth and reason. The West Bank settlements are not responsible for Arab and Muslim violence against and between themselves, or the violence visited on the non-Islamic world.

The settlements, like Israel, are merely a little blister of irritation, a handy scapegoat by which Arabs and Muslims can blame the rest of the world of their own failings, as societies, as states, as educational, scientific, business-enterprising institutions. If and when, finally Israel assists the Palestinians toward statehood by sacrificing more than it should, the sectarian, tribal and ideological problems of the Muslim world will not be solved.

There is little point in President Obama lecturing Israel that the Palestinians are no less deserving of statehood and a country of their own than are the Jews. They know this. They have been attempting for more years than he has existed to find a solution to the seemingly unsolvable problem of attitudinal discrimination against a Jewish presence in Islamic geography.

That is the core of the problem.

Labels: , ,

Follow @rheytah Tweet