Contiguous?Some reporter has been reading my blog.
You may recall that about two weeks ago, Rick Richman and I went back and forth about the the absence of the word 'contiguous' from the Clinton formulation of the 'Palestinian' side of the US terms of reference.
The reference to an 'independent and viable' state [in Clinton's November 25, 2009 statement] is also less troublesome than it could have been. 'Independent' doesn't equate with militarized (see Andorra). Moreover, there's a key word missing here: contiguous. I have argued many times on this blog that if a 'Palestinian' state is contiguous, then by definition the Jewish state would be neither contiguous nor secure. Thus Clinton's omission of the word contiguous from her formulation, if tracked in the letter to the 'Palestinians,' is significant.Someone read the exchange between Rick and me, and the question got asked at a State Department press briefing on Friday.
QUESTION: The [Jordanian] foreign minister also used the word, when he talked about the creation of a separate Palestinian state, one that is contiguous. I noticed the Secretary did not use that word. Where is the – what is the U.S.’s position on contiguous in terms of somehow uniting the West Bank and Gaza?Rick notes in a new post that once negotiations start (if they ever start), the US may well have a lot to say about the question of contiguity, and indeed that may well be the case. Rick also notes that it will be important to see what's in the 'Palestinian' letter, and whether it includes a US guarantee that the 'Palestinian state's borders will be contiguous, which I also noted here would be important.
CROWLEY: This is a – this is the fundamental challenge of a negotiation, which is to determine the borders of a state. We recognize that any state that would be formed for the Palestinians has to be viable and it has to be based on agreed upon borders. So the foreign minister at his formulation, the Secretary at her formulation – what we really want to do is get the parties back into a negotiation where you can actually put these questions before them.
But will each side see what the US promised the other? Will there be secret side letters that one side or the other will not see? Based on the way that the Obama administration trying to conduct 'negotiations' on its health care plan in the US out of the public view, the answers to those questions are not too promising. Given that a 'Palestinian state' that has contiguity between the 'West Bank' and Gaza means - almost by definition - a Jewish state that is insecure and not contiguous, one would hope that the Netanyahu government will take a strong and clear stance on this issue as soon as negotiations begin.
In Monday's JPost, Barry Rubin analyzes another Clinton press conference, this one with Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabr al-Thani, and doesn't like what he finds. Here's what Clinton had to say about the 'Palestinians' in that press conference.
BUT ANOTHER thing Clinton said is more disturbing and has become an Obama administration talking point. She said the Palestinians "deserve" a state. In this approach, having a state isn't something earned by ending terrorism and incitement, truly accepting Israel's existence, providing strong security guarantees and resettling refugees in your own country. According to the US government, Palestinian statehood is an entitlement, a prize they get no matter how they behave.It reminds you of how the administration keeps saying that Iran is entitled to nuclear energy. That takes all the air out of imposing sanctions, doesn't it?
So why shouldn't the Palestinians demand they get everything and give nothing? The world owes them a state. By such policies the Obama administration undermines its own leverage on the issue. One more nail in the already studded coffin of the peace process.
Barry has lots more to say about this press conference - read the whole thing. The sanctions aren't really going to do much to stop Iran anyway.
Regarding the 'Palestinians,' we've gone 180 degrees from President Bush's statement in June 2002 that a 'Palestinian state' could only happen when the 'Palestinians' abandoned terror. In the Obama administration's eyes, the 'Palestinians' get their