Thursday, August 25, 2005
Something For Nothing?
You know, I've wondered for a long time how the Palestinians would cope, when they no longer had Israel to blame for their woes. (I mean, let's face it -- the Palestinian areas, and the Gaza Strip in particular, are an economic disaster area.)
Turns out they have no intention of fending for themselves:
Palestinian medical experts fear a looming health crisis after Israel's pullout from the Gaza Strip unless patients are guaranteed access to life-saving treatment beyond the territory.As we used to say when I was a boy, boo freakin' hoo...
While Israel regards its departure from Gaza as signalling the end of its 38-year occupation, the Palestinians argue that Israel will remain an occupying power as long as it retains control of its borders and is thus still obliged to meet the health needs of the local population.
"I fear a worsening of the health situation after the withdrawal from Gaza as a result of the Israeli cordon," said Dr Majdi Ashur, president of the Palestinian relief committees.
"Israel is refusing to recognise its obligations as a continuing occupation power by meeting basic health needs of the population and we do not foresee a resumption of proper freedom of movement in the short term," he told AFP.
Israel has been increasingly reluctant to allow Palestinians to be treated inside its borders since an incident in June when a young woman from Gaza who was receiving treatment for burns was stopped with explosives at the Erez terminal crossing.
It's funny -- I never heard a Palestinian speak of "Israel's obligations as an occupying power" before. It was always "We will redeem you in blood and fire, Filastin!" and "No end to our armed struggle until the end of occupation!"
I suppose the Palestinians now need new slogans and rallying-cries. How about "We will kill your citizens to guarantee our access to your hospitals!" Nah, not catchy enough. How about "Kill the Jews! Except for the doctors!"
I mean, seriously! "Israel will remain an occupying power as long as it retains control of its borders"?? What country, by that definition, is not an "occupying power"?
(For the record, Israel will not retain absolute control over Gaza's borders; that's what the Palestinian boasts about a new seaport and airport are about. Anyway, such things are irrelevant; the point here is that Palestinian hospitals cannot match the level of care provided by Israeli hospitals, and the Palestinians are jealous, the poor dears.)
My wife points out that, actually, in this the Palestinians are showing a rare flash of honesty (unintended, no doubt). If we take that statement literally, then the Palestinians will consider Israel an occupying power (and, therefore, presumably one that can "legitimately" be fought with terrorism etc.) so long as Israel retains control of her own borders -- in other words, so long as Israel remains a sovereign state. If Israel loses control of her own borders, or ceases to exist altogether, then the Palestinians will magnanimously no longer consider Israel an occupying power. Right neighborly of them, don't you think?
Sheesh. To the Palestinian professional whiners, I can only say: get a life. (It beats killing people, it really does.)
UPDATE: Interestingly, the talented Israeli analyst Ehud Ya'ari essentially saw this coming. Here's what he wrote about this, a week or two ago:
Do the Palestinians genuinely want a little state of their own? And if so, can they stand up on their own two feet, muster their strength, and shape up for the necessary effort? The answers will soon be in - straight after the disengagement is completed - and they may well turn out to be different than those expected. The Palestinian leadership, it may transpire, is not so keen on the independence that's being offered it, and either way, it may lack the energy required to reach that goal.(emphasis mine)
The bottom line is that there are more Israelis eager to see a Palestinian state than Palestinians who want to part from the Israelis. There are many Israelis, and I am among them, who believe that a two-state solution is much better than the Oslo system of two governments in one country, but the Palestinians prefer the latter system, which gives them a regime and armed forces, but without an agreed-upon permanent border.
This is why in the Gaza Strip - whatever the circumstances of the withdrawal - the Palestinians will strive to preserve a close link to Israel. Instead of trying to turn their backs on the erstwhile occupiers, they will do their best to tie themselves to them. The de facto independence that they will achieve without paying any price will not be used to construct a model of successful sovereignty, but rather a base for the struggle for the West Bank and Jerusalem. They will refuse to see the withdrawal as an end either to the occupation of the Strip or to the terrorist activity emanating from it. Listen to Abu Mazen himself: Israel, he says, is "getting out" of Gaza, definitely not "withdrawing."
Israel's aim is to make the Gaza Strip a foreign country, to cut itself off from it, and to have little to do with it. The Palestinians will resist this, insisting that it is not a separate entity, but merely a mutation of the system of two governments within the same country.
The original story, by the way, has been picked up by the Lebanese Daily Star (credited to AFP).
Okay, are there any guesses as to who the next Palestinian crybaby will be, and what form their moaning will take?