I am unable to understand the logic of those Israel supporters who say that they regrettably have no choice but to accept the West Bank status quo. I am referring to those who say, "Look, we Israelis have no desire to rule over 3 ½ million Palestinians. But, unfortunately, we have no alternative but to continue the current situation that, admittedly, will make life miserable for the Palestinians and will arouse their hatred of us. They are responsible for the mess they are in. They could have had a state or something like it. Instead they sent suicide bombers. We would be crazy to unilaterally withdraw – just see what has happened in Gaza."
I am not bothered by the fact that the argument rests on the following questionable assumptions:
- Were it not for the security issue Israelis would be willing to have a Palestinian state next to them on the Green Line.
- The threat to Israel from the Palestinians is greater than Israel's threat to them.
- Israel bears no responsibility for the breakdown of the Oslo Peace Process, the Intifada al-Aksa, or the rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
- The Palestinians were offered a State at Camp David/Taba/Annapolis.
- The Palestinians want an immediate and unilateral Israeli withdrawal.
Every one of these assumptions is debatable. I believe them to be false and that Israelis deceive themselves when they claim to accept them. But that's not what bothers me.
What bothers me is that even if we grant all these propositions, I don't see how they justify the West Bank status quo.
Even if we assume that the Palestinians were offered a state at Camp David/Taba, and that they turned it down because they want to destroy Israel, and that they have the power to destroy Israel through terrorism, and that they are responsible for the whole mess they are in – why does it follow that we have the right to conduct massive human rights offenses against them indefinitely?
One could respond that a) Palestinians have collectively forfeited their human rights or b) our human rights trump their human rights, or c) the existence of a Jewish state justifies the massive and indefinite human rights violation of another people. Any of those additional propositions would help the argument go through. But not a whole lot of Israel advocates want to be explicit about a), b), or c). Rather they minimize the human rights violations, calling them "inconveniences" or "unintended" or "regrettable" or "not our responsibility".
I don't understand these guys. Much more consistent are the rightwing Israelis who simply say that the Palestinians don't act like humans and therefore can be abused if necessary.
Why should Israel's right to exist trump the right to exist of the Palestinians, for that matter, any other alternative?
It seems to me that the only morally justifiable answer is that no matter how bad the current situation is, any other situation would be worse for both peoples. If you can show that the Israeli occupation is better for the Palestinians than their own government would then that answer have some purchase.
Has anybody seen that answer argued somewhere? I haven't.