The U.S. Peace Plan May Finally Bring about a Palestinian State

Among those most fervently opposed to Israel applying its sovereignty to Jewish areas of the West Bank are members of the hard right, many of whom live in the affected areas. They do so because, under the Trump administration proposal, the extension of sovereignty makes possible the creation of a Palestinian state in the remainder of the territory. Haviv Rettig Gur comments on this irony:

Israel has avoided a decision on the fate of the West Bank for 53 years. Over the past eleven years, as he led a nation still reeling from the bloodletting that resulted from previous attempts at resolving the conflict, Benjamin Netanyahu has made that tradition of indecision his defining policy vision: do nothing, avoid the downsides of withdrawal or annexation as long as the benefits remain elusive, and wait for the Palestinians to come around.

The Trump peace plan put forward by Jared Kushner’s team, whether intentionally or by accident, disrupted that comfortable Israeli indecision. Unlike other peace plans, it leans decisively in Israel’s favor, and so makes indecision harder to justify. For the first time since the Oslo peace process of the 1990s, settlement leaders find themselves forced to explain to the public in videos and protest tents why they are opposed to the plan.

The plan was supposed to reshape Palestinian politics, to clarify the limits of Palestinian demands and force a shift in the Palestinian negotiating position. But the Palestinians haven’t budged. The effect, ironically, is being felt mostly on the Israeli side. In its very acceptance of Israel’s arguments about land and security, the Trump plan is forcing a moment of decision, a line in the sand. There is too much at stake, Netanyahu has argued, to cling to the old ambiguity.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Annexation, Israel & Zionism

 

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy