By Ted Belman
Shmuel Rosner in the New York Times, under the title “Please — Draw me a state” wrote
- “The core issue right now is, how do we get sovereignty for the Palestinian people and how do we assure security for the Israeli people?” That is to say, settlements no longer rank high on his agenda because “if we solve those two problems, the settlement problem will be solved.”
In the past Obama has mooted this idea by saying if you first agree on borders then you agree where settlements can be built.
Basically, he replaced the contentious issue of settlements with an even more contentious matter: boundaries.
- As Obama explained in both Ramallah and Jerusalem, drawing the future border of a Palestinian state – “real borders that have to be drawn” – is the crux of the matter. Indeed. Jerusalem had good reasons to object to a settlement freeze – including for making the Palestinians less likely to compromise – but it also knew that any freeze would be, or could be, temporary and reversible. Drawing a border between a state and a would-be state is a far more significant step, and potentially far more permanent.
If settlements are about claiming disputed territory, delineating borders is about giving it up, which is a considerably more sensitive move.
David Newman, dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Ben-Gurion University in Borderline Views: The Obama and Kerry map comments on the matter.
- Since [Oslo], there have been numerous attempts at map-drawing. Various versions of borders have been proposed at countless “track II” discussions, by geographers, cartographers and diplomats. Government ministers, each of whom has had aspirations of being the ultimate “peace maker,” have proposed new contours for the future borders of a two-state solution. In reality, they are not vastly different from each other.
They all use the Green Line as a base from which they try to deviate so as to incorporate as many of the settlements as possible, especially those in relative proximity to the Green Line. During the past decade, some of these cartographic scenarios have also included the proposal for land swaps, with Israel annexing settlement areas inside the West Bank, in return for which the Palestinians would receive land inside Israel which is unsettled and, in this way, maintain the same proportions of land for Israel and the West bank which existed prior to 1967.
But, he says, since that time the settler population has doubled.
I think he is wrong to say,
- The construction of the Separation/Security Barrier/Wall/Fence has been the only attempt to actually implement a border on the ground and although it can be removed far more quickly than it was ever established, its course indicates the political thinking of Israeli leaders during the past decade concerning the ultimate route of a border.
First and foremost the fence location was to protect Israel from suicide bombers and was stated to not be a border to satisfy the Supreme Court.