Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Swapping Land Is Not Like Swapping Baseball Cards

The borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.
Obama, in his AIPAC speech


c.1300, "to strike, strike the hands together," possibly imitative of the sound of hitting. The sense of "exchange, barter, trade" is first recorded 1590s, possibly from the practice of slapping hands together as a sign of agreement in bargaining. Related: Swapped; swapping. The noun in this sense is attested from 1620s.
Online Etymological Dictionary

Practical questions remain about the vague, theoretical peace process Obama has outlined last Thursday and at the AIPAC conference on Sunday.

Not the least of the problems is how Obama can tell Israel that it must sit down and negotiate with the Palestinian Arabs, while simultaneously agreeing that Israel cannot be expected to sit down and negotiate with those who do not recognize its right to exist.

That is a problem of logic--and politics.

But among the other issues is the nitty gritty problem of the logistics of making land swaps and moving Israelis out of their homes, an issue that Israel has had to grapple with before:

About 6 percent of Jewish Israelis live outside the ’67 borders in the West Bank. Of the 350,000 Jews in the West Bank, about 270,000 live in the so-called "settlement blocks," which are on land relatively close to Israel’s original borders and would almost certainly be included in the “land swaps” the president touched on in his address Thursday. The land swaps essentially mean that Israel would give up some land on its side of the 1967 borders in return for keeping its West Bank settlements.

Many of these settlements are far closer to suburban towns in America than outposts on the Wild West. In settlements like Maale Adummin, there are 10-story apartment buildings, schools and shopping centers, which would most likely stay put and become part of a post-peace process Israel. 

Now comes the more complex question of what to do with the roughly 80,000 settlers who live outside the settlement blocks, and would thus have to leave their homes to create the president’s vision of a Palestinian state.

While it's not impossible to move 80,000 people -- many of whom believe they are performing God’s work by settling the West Bank -- it will prove to be a very expensive, politically difficult and time-consuming process.
This is a problem no less difficult than the one of absorbing the grandchildren of Arab refugees who left their homes over 50 years ago.

And the experience of the Disengagement will only make any subsequent effort to move Israelis out of their homes harder--not easier.

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1 comment:

NormanF said...

Daled, why can't a Palestinian state have a Jewish minority just as Israel has an Arab minority?

The two peoples have to learn to share the land. There is no other way.

And the longer the Arabs persist in anti-Semitism, it will be a dead for them and they will never realize their dream.

They made their choice. Now Israel must look to the future.