Thursday, July 13, 2006

Israel Attacks Lebanon

In response to attacks by Hezbollah guerillas, Israel is scorching the earth in Lebanon as well as the Gaza Strip.

Personally, I think that Olmert is taking the necessary steps. These raids and abductions of soldiers at border crossings cannot be condoned, especially not by Hamas, which is ostensibly a political organization now.

I don't believe Israel will take up any long term reoccupation of the Gaza Strip, though the current campaign may sufficiently decimate Hamas to the point where it can no longer put itself forth as a viable entity in Palestinian politics, let alone a governing party. Israel's governing coalition doesn't want Gaza and doesn't want to occupy the Palestinian people. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and his predecessor, Ariel Sharon departed the Likud party over its steadfast insistence on hanging onto the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Their Kadima party was formed around the objective of unilaterally ending the occupation of the Palestinian people by withdrawing troops and settlements, and unilaterally drawing a final-status border that involves annexation by Israel of some highly contested territories, including the whole of Jerusalem. The Palestinians get a state, but it will be on much less favorable terms than Ehud Barak offerred to Yasser Arafat prior to the breakouts of the current intifada.

It's a shame that the suffering of the Palestinian people will continue for probably decades to come, but at the same time, it is good for the security of Americans, Europeans and Israelis that the tactics of the Palestinian intifada ultimately worsened rather than improved their bargaining position. I don't think it would set a good precedent to respond to suicide bombings with concessions.

That's certainly the rationale behind the scorched-earth response to this morning's Hezbollah raid; you can't let terrorism be seen as a way to obtain concessions, or else you give terrorists an incentive to kill and kidnap your people.

The Hezbollah raid also suggests some collaboration between the two organizations, which will damage the ability of Hamas to gaine acceptance as a negotiator on behalf of the Palestinians.

What the current conflict will probably do is end the hopes of the Palestinians for a future viable state, and end the hopes of the Israelis for a two-state solution that comes with a lasting and meaningful peace.

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