Wednesday, June 19, 2002
The Israeli Response and the Putative Palestinian State

Steven Den Beste has two pieces today about the Middle East situation. This one is about the Israeli response to the most recent bombing. It's his take on what the Israeli government seems to be trying to accomplish by the approach they're taking (i.e., confiscating territory controlled by the Palestinian Authority). His take is certainly sensible, although I'm not sure I've thought it all through well enough to say I endorse it.

The second piece is about the current U.S. administration's just plain not seeming to get that there's something brain damaged about continuing down this road of a tentative (or putative or hypothetical or something) Palestinian state while this sequence of murder by suicidal bombings continues. I agree completely that there seems to be a high "just doesn't get it" factor going on between the White House and the State Department, but I also think I see an upside to constructing a Palestinian proto-state that's more of a legit government than the current (Oslo) arrangement with the Palestinian Authority (i.e., those theiving, murdering, Soviet-era-remnant bastards).

What happens when two states go to war? When the murderous actions of the government or citizens of one state result in another state responding militarily, a possible outcome is the seizure of a chunk of territory of the attacking state by the responding state. I don't claim to be any kind of expert in the legalities of war, but I do believe (and I welcome corrections if I'm wrong) that that kind of loss of territory from the aggressor is considered a perfectly legit outcome of the results of military defensive actions.

Of course, by that standard, we ought to recognize that the previous Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and Golan Heights occurred as a legitimate outcome of the June 1967 Six-Day War. The international-law niceties of whether that means they can reoccupy those territories post-Oslo is something I definitely don't know. But, if there was a recognized Palestinian government, then Israeli military response, including reoccupation, would assume a new kind of legitimacy. At least to this one.

Still, even delaying the announcing of some kind of plan by the current administration that includes this putative Palestinian state until just next week given the murderous action yesterday seems just clueless. I can understand that the administration would not want to set a public deadline that N days have to happen without a bombing for such an announcement because it gives any group that could pull off another bombing, whether Fatah or Hamas, a veto over the plan, but I would expect the administration, if only the president, to have a secret deadline saying no more bombings in a time frame on the order of months, not days, before proceding with any kind of plan recognizing any kind of Palestinian statehood.