In The Settlement Fixation, which came out today (conveniently) on foreignpolicy.com, Michael Weiss argues that settlements are the least of Israel's problems to the MEPP. Like our discussion in class, Weiss makes the case that more "critical issues will have to be resolved first, such as reconciling feuding Palestinian political factions, guaranteeing that security can be maintained in the West Bank without an IDF presence, and ensuring that Palestinian institutions now being built are stable enough to sustain a functioning democratic government, regardless of which party is elected."
In the piece, he notes that "in late 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas undertook a hypothetical map-drawing exercise that delineated the border between the two states. The end result allowed for large settlement blocs to be incorporated into the Jewish state, while according land currently inside Israel to the new Palestinian state."
As seen from these two quotes, it seems like the settlement issue is not the biggest of deals. Of course, its not helpful that its still going on, however, as noted by Weiss, its not top priority.
One of the top priorities is to deal with the actors near Israel; Hamas, Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran. How do you bypass non-state actors (but gradually becoming state actors) like Hamas and Hezbollah. I made a point in class that these are Islamists organizations. The reason people turn to Islamist organizations, or other religiously affiliated grassroots networks is because the state is doing a poor job providing for its people. Thier networks often have some of the necessary infrastructure to give people basic needs such as food, education, and health care. The way to woo the Palestinian population back to the P.A. is by making the P.A. more effective. Giving aid, and promoting governance are a few things. By making the P.A. stronger, however, it is also strengthening a potential Palestinian state. So in order to marginalize Hamas and Hezbollah, one has to accept the inevitable solution of two states.
For Syria and Iran, they are trickier situations. Relations with them may be eased by solving this conflict. But on an important side note; perhaps Israel can have better relations with Syria if they mend them with Turkey. Turkey has recently became a strong ally of Syria after nearly declaring war on them. Syria now depends on the Turkish economy in certain areas. If Israel can repair if relations with Turkey, maybe Turkey can push Syria to the table and negotiations can start. Turkey now likes to be seen as a conflict negotiator. I am sure Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu would be perceptive to this idea; and if he succeeds in brokering a deal (with Syria and maybe even Iran), Turkey's international legitimacy and power will go sky high. Just a thought.
What will the course of the MEPP be? That's a question that will be answered in the years to come.
|Left to Right: President Gul of Turkey, Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas of the P.A., Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey|