Kissinger on the fence

Henry Kissinger has a lengthy piece in today’s Washington Post on Sharon’s “seminal speech” announcing that if Arab-Israeli negotiations do not progress in the next few months, Israel will proceed unilaterally. Unfortunately, the column is not available online. As always, Kissinger’s piece is quite dense (to be honest, I’m rarely able to finish them except when they are about Israel) and not easy to summarize. His main argument, though, is that the the U.S. should not oppose the security fence because the fence is more likely to lead to a peace accord than to prevent one. Says Kissinger, “If properly coordinated with an overall strategy, the security fence could become a solution rather than an obstacle to progress. If it sharply reduced terrrorism, it could provide an incentive to negotiations. In the event of negotiations, the fence could provide a safety net for security, a defining line beyond which settlements should be abandoned and a provisional border for the Palestinian state.”
However, much of what Kissinger says in the rest of his piece seems to undercut his thesis. He admits that building the fence will not likely help resolve the refugee issue and that no final agreement is possible until that issue is resolved. He suggests, however, that the security fence could at least create a provisional dividing line that will make possible a Palestinian state “even before a final settlement [is reached].” He goes on to propose that Israel return “some portions of Israeli territory to Palestinian rule” and that “a provisional partition of Jerusalem be discussed.” In short, Kissinger’s deal seems to consist of Israel making concession after concession to the Palestinians in exchange for the increased security assurances that Israel will grant itself by building the fence. One wonders why Israel wouldn’t just enhance its security by building the fence, and skip the rest.
Ultimately, I believe that the best case for Sharon’s approach is the one offered by our reader Dafydd ab Hugh, namely that it will bring about a separation (not a reconciliation) between Israelis and Paletinians, and thus will eliminate the perceived need for Israel to reach an accord with the Palestinians. I question whether the fence will actually accomplish this in the long run, given the world’s fixation on imposing a much more favorable deal for the Palestinians. The fact that the Kissingers of the world, not to mention his less clear-headed successors, view the fence through the prism of its effect on the prospects for such a deal, reinforces my doubts.

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