The Center for a New American Security is a Washington thinktank started by Clintonite liberal interventions (who work very well with neoconservatives). It has just released a new report aimed at reviving the two-state solution by addressing the security needs of Israelis and Palestinians.
The chief author is Ilan Goldenberg, a former Kerry staffer. But of the three other authors, two are Israelis: Nimrod Novik, a veteran Israeli ambassador and political adviser on the Labor side, and Gadi Shamni, a former Israeli military commander.
There are no Palestinian authors. Imagine that: an American thinktank report aimed at resolving the conflict is authored by two Israelis, without any Palestinian authors. (This imbalance is why Palestinians don’t really trust American intervention, because of the role of the Israel lobby in our politics.)
Not surprisingly, the main problem with the report is that it is aimed almost entirely at Israeli security needs, which as Yakov Hirsch says, below, are psychological needs that cannot be addressed by material conditions.
The report describes heavy security arrangements to address “core Israeli security requirements” but not much in terms of protections for Palestinians from Israeli incursions into their supposed sovereignty. Israelis are always the overlords. Thus in the Gaza fishing question, Gazans have their 12 mile nautical zone, but it’s enveloped by an Israeli Navy patrol.
There are two other glaring problems I noticed in a quick look-over:
1. The Israel lobby is alive and well: the United States would have to stand by Israel whenever it needed to invade the sovereign but demilitarized Palestinian state (and commit human rights abuses):
the United States and Israel would have a side agreement stating that if Israel were under direct and imminent threat, the United States would support Israel diplomatically if it chose to take action…
Palestinians wouldn’t like that, but tough:
the first time Israel takes such action, it could cause a major crisis in the agreement, especially if there are no mechanisms to mediate such a crisis. An option to address this dilemma is a a side agreement on the general conditions under which the United States would diplomatically support Israeli action inside the future Palestinian state.
2. The report is obsessive about Palestinian “biometrics.” The word is used 13 times, and it’s creepy. The governments would collect biometric data on all Palestinians and that is a key way that Israeli security would be enforced. The Israeli government would hold all this Palestinian biometric data. There’s no reference to Israeli biometric data, and who would hold that.
Here is the description of the creation of Palestinian passports, for instance:
F. Creation of Passport and Visa Regime
i. Creation of personnel database
ii. Installation of biometric data collection equipment
iii. Training of personnel on biometric data collection
iv. Collection of biometric and personal data…
Even in traveling from the West Bank to Gaza on a new specially secured “corridor,” Palestinians would have to undergo “biometric” scrutiny before leaving and entering Palestinian space.
This description reads like Big Brother:
There are numerous passport, permit, or visa regimes that can be set up, but the key is that any process would ensure that there is biometric data to confirm the identity of anyone passing through the crossings and that all parties maintain real-time visibility of all crossing data. The [Palestinian, Jordanian and Israeli security forces] would use a shared, state-of-the-art traveler database that would include relevant watch lists, shared data on travelers, biometric data for positive identification, and other relevant information. The passport, visa, or permit application process, which would include biometric data collection, would add another level of confidence to personnel identification so that all sides would be satisfied they knew who was leaving and entering via these crossings.
Just in case you found that disturbing, a footnote says Palestinians are already under that kind of control:
Palestinians working in Jordan but living in the West Bank, Palestinians with a Palestinian ID card, Palestinians living in Gaza, and Palestinians with Jerusalem IDs. But they all share a common trait of requiring some kind of permit/ identification to cross the border. And thus whatever system is set up would be no more onerous than the current system but would require everyone to give biometric data when obtaining their crossing documents
What do Palestinians get out of this? Well the report recommends that Israel “eliminate the everyday feeling of occupation as quickly as possible, primarily by reducing the visible presence of the IDF and reducing barriers to movement and access around the West Bank.” I.e., a more cosmetic occupation.
Michele Flournoy, the likely Defense Secretary under Clinton, just introduced the report in a Washington panel on CSPAN, with similar vague expression of concern re “Palestinian plight.”
Yakov Hirsch interprets the word “security” in the Israeli context:
The word ‘security’ doesn’t mean what everyone thinks it means. No country can ever have absolute ‘security.’ And ‘security’ is unachievable if you think the other side of the conflict is motivated by anti-semitism and the desire to kill Jews, as Israelis do. But it is not at all insurmountable to have ‘security’ if you think Palestinians are normal people.