1 thought on “New York Times’ David Brooks: Sharon Sycophant? – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. Here’s my point by point rebuttal of Brooks:

    1. “fewer than 13,000 Palestinians….will actually be stranded on the Israeli side of the barrier”.

    This simply cannot be true: Arab East Jerusalem alone contains 200,000 Palestinians, who are going to find themselves on the Israeli side.

    As you mentioned on your blog, it is not primarily the Palestinians who are trapped on the “wrong” side who will suffer the worst effects of the fence. It is the people who are trapped on the east side, while their land, jobs, water resources and essential services are fenced off on the west side. The UN put the number of Palestinians adversely affected by the intrusive fence route at about 600,000. (http://globalsecurity.com/road_map/un_estimates.htm) . And the worst thing is that their suffering is not accidental, but an integral part of the wall’s route which is designed to secure “as much land as possible with as few Arabs as possible”, as Brooks’ friend Olmert puts it. That the lives of thousands of people should be made deliberately unbearable in the hope that they can be forced to leave their homes is appalling; that Brooks should utterly ignore the fact in a piece ostensibly about the wall is despicable.

    2. “He’s found that the fence is generally following the route Bill Clinton had proposed”…

    Clinton did not propose a border route at all. He actually outlined vague parameters that should be used as a basis for the Palestinians and Israelis to negotiate their borders, specifically he said: Based on what I heard, I believe that the solution should be in the mid-90%’s, between 94-96% of the West Bank territory for the Palestinian state. The land annexed by Israel should be compensated by a land swap of 1-3% in addition to territorial arrangements such as a permanent safe passage. The Parties also should consider the swap of leased land to meet their respective needs. There are creative ways for doing this that should address Palestinian and Israeli needs and concerns. The Parties should develop a map consistent with the following criteria: 80% of settlers in blocs; contiguity; minimize annexed area, and minimize the number of Palestinians affected.. (http://www.nad-plo.org/nclinton.php) .

    The wall that Sharon is building meets Clinton’s parameters in only one way, ie in that it annexes 80% of the settlers to Israel. But it absolutely contravenes Clinton’s requirements that border changes are to be by mutual consent, and that in annexing the settlers, the amount of Palestinian land and people annexed too should be minimized. Under Sharon’s plan, the amount of land annexed is maximized (15% of the West Bank I think) and there is no consultation at all! It is very dishonest to claim that this is consistent with Clinton.

    If you want to know where the Clinton parameters really lead, you have to look at what was discussed at Taba (where land swaps in the order of 3% of the West Bank were discussed), and thence to the Geneva Accords, both of which were based on Clinton’s parameters. The map the Geneva negotiators agreed on manages to accommodate 75% of settlers in Israel by shifting the border, but does so with much less intrusive border modifications. ( http://www.mideastweb.org/geneva1.htm )

    3. “The Israelis initially planned a much more intrusive fence…The U.S. prevailed on Israel to abandon those plans”…. Except I don’t think Israel has really abandoned them, eg the U.S. objected to the most intrusive part of the fence (the deep Ariel pocket), so Sharon put it off the table…for a year. When he will revisit it, and no doubt keep revisiting it, till the US gives a nod and a wink and he has the opportunity to implement it.

    4. “But as long as there is no Palestinian partner to negotiate with…”. Simply repeating Israeli propaganda. Translation – “the current Israeli govt thinks it can grab more by using overwhelming military force than through negotiations, where it would be forced to show respect for international law and international consensus for a genuine two-state solution. The current Israeli government absolutely does not believe in a two-state solution, so has to avoid negotiations at all cost, and uses the “there is no partner” mantra to blame the Palestinian side. There is certainly no Palestinian partner to negotiate the one-and-a-half state solution that Sharon envisages, but it is Israeli (and American) governments who have failed to come to terms with the fact that a genuine two state solution means ending the Occupation and finally renouncing Israeli control over the Palestinians.”

    5. “Jews cannot claim the West Bank without becoming a minority in their own land. Therefore Olmert has called for a withering away of many West Bank settlements”.

    Manages to suggest that the Likud is actually proposing giving up most of the West Bank. The Likud can’t even agree to get out of Gaza!

    6. I can’t decide if Brooks is deliberately writing a propaganda piece, or if he just doesn’t understand what he’s talking about. He says that Makovsky’s analysis is of the fence “as it is actually being constructed”, which suggests to me that perhaps the analysis deals only with the finished sections, i.e. the northern route from Sallem to Qalqilya to el-Qana, which sticks closer to the Green Line than the planned central and southerly part. In that context, the figure of fewer than 13,000 Palestinians trapped on the wrong side might make sense – I know that 11-12,000 Palestinians were trapped on the wrong side in the Jayyous area (and now need permits to live in their own homes) when the northerly stage was built in that area, so maybe additional villages affected by the northern route take the total up to 13,000? (I’m guessing here, but I don’t think it’s an unreasonable guess). So when Brooks says, “In other words, the fence leaves 99 percent of the West Bank Palestinians on a contiguous 87.5 percent chunk of West Bank land”, he seems to be taking figures that apply to the least intrusive part of the barrier, and extrapolating to the whole West Bank! Which either by design or ignorance, allows him to ignore the hundreds of thousands affected by the wall elsewhere or in a manner short of being trapped on the wrong side of it.

    7. “That is a reasonably fair provisional border, which the two sides can modify if they ever get around to cooperating”

    It’s not a reasonably fair provisional border if you are a Palestinian forced out of your home and off your land because the route of the border has been deliberately designed to make your life unliveable, or if you have any respect for international law. Nor is it a fair border that just happens to leave Palestine lacking its best farmland and half its water resources. (And of course cut off from its main urban and religious center, East Jerusalem). Additionally, the suggestion that this is a provisional measure that will have to do until both sides “grow up” is patronizing and ignorant – Israel’s “temporary security measures” (like the settlements themselves) invariably and deliberately grow up to be permanent facts on the ground. What possible incentive will Israel have to sit down in goodwill and negotiate borders, once she has already de facto annexed the West Bank main settlements, the arable land and water resources?

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