Friday, September 12, 2003

NY Times: Lieberman wrong. Dean right.

The New York Times comes down on the side of Howard Dean! ("Middle East Math")

The conclusion is clear. Israel must begin to plan its exit from the West Bank and Gaza not only to permit the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state but to preserve its own future. Polls show that most Israelis understand. They do not want to drain their treasury and lose their children to protect West Bank settlements. At the Democratic presidential debate on Tuesday night, Senator Joseph Lieberman criticized former Gov. Howard Dean for calling on Israel to dismantle most of its settlements. "That's up to the parties in their negotiations, not for us to tell them," the senator said.

We strongly disagree. True support for Israel means helping it see through its pain and rage to its own best interest. You do not have to believe in Mr. Arafat's sincerity or the Palestinians' good will to grasp the need for a radical course shift. You need only understand the meaning of self-preservation.

The situation in Israel and Palestinian is reaching a crossroad and there really are only three likely outcomes:

  1. The apartheid state in which a minority Jewish community keeps a majority Arab community locked away in small enclaves.
  2. A heterogeneous state that combines both Israel and Palestine but which is neither Israeli or Palestinian.
  3. Two separate states that would require the removal of most of the Israeli settlements from the West Bank.

If nothing is done than #1 will come to pass and the bloodshed we are seeing today will look like a minor skirmish. Option 2 or 3 are the viable solutions to peace in the Middle East, it is just a question of which of them will be agreeable to the people on the ground.

The Israelis and the Palestinians need to come to a decision about which of these futures they want and then do what needs to be done to make them necessary. The United States needs to be the moderator in this coming debate and, as Howard Dean said, it cannot afford to be seen as taking sides on the eventual outcome.


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