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Brent Sasley

 
BRENT SASLEY: WHY I SUPPORT THE PALESTINIAN REQUEST AT THE UN

Brent Sasley, posted here Nov 22, 2012

 

[This article is  reprinted with permission from Brent Sasley's Blog at Middle East Matrix, http://mideastmatrix.wordpress.com/. Former Winnipegger Brent E. Sasley is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas at Arlington. His research interests overlap between Middle East politics and International Relations. His work focuses on identity and foreign policy; the role of emotions in foreign policymaking and international behavior; the interplay between memory and images and foreign policy; and pedagogy in Middle East studies. His main countries of study are Israel and Turkey.]

  

Why I Support the Palestinian Request at the UN

When Mahmoud Abbas said last year he was going to ask the Security Council for recognition, I was at first opposed to the idea, thinking the price would be too high. I changed my mind, believing it might help light a fire under Israel. That didn’t happen, mostly because the bid itself failed.

And so I still support the Palestinian request for non-member state status. Mostly it’s because the Palestinian Authority under Fatah and Abbas is never going to get a shot at genuine negotiations so long as domestic conditions in Israel don’t change.

That’s not to say, of course, that only Israel is responsible for past failures and potential future progress. Nor do I think Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the West Bank.

But looking at Israel specifically, all I see are obstacles. The Israeli public is less interested in the Palestinians than it’s ever been. The electoral list that emerged from Likud’s primaries this week is composed of members who take a hard line on negotiations over land, settlements, and a Palestinian state. Given that the party is most likely to still be the core of a new coalition government, I’d guess we can expect even less government interest than there is now.

Israel, of course, argues that it’s always ready for negotiations. Yet the hard truth is that it’s not. It’s insistence that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state first is a red herring; worse, it’s an excuse to avoid talks. As has been argued by many countless times before, there is no necessary or good reason for the Palestinians to do this, and every reason not to. And it’s a precondition that Israel insists on even as it calls for Abbas to sit down without preconditions.

Israel’s insistence that settlements are not an obstacle to negotiations is also misleading. The reality is that, as facts on the ground, they shrink the potential land area open to negotiations. The Israeli government insists that any final agreement accounts for settlements blocs as part of Israel. Yet the manner by which “neighborhoods” are spun off from existing settlements and then included as part of the settlement’s territory, plus the physical, legal, and security infrastructure that is built up around them, absorbs more and more land considered off-limits.

Progress on peace talks is essential for Israel’s well-being, too. World trends are moving against the occupation and the settlements. Hamas is growing stronger all the time. If it doesn’t get ahead of the curve, Israel’s ability to contribute to management of the conflict and shaping of outcomes will diminish.

There’s just no evidence that a successful Palestinian bid will change things for Israel for the worse. Rather, all the evidence points to the conclusion that not changing the status quo is the most dangerous for Israel.

 

Brent Sasley: Do Targeted Killings “Work”?

Nov 16, 2012 

As we consider the course of the Israel-Hamas conflict, I asked whether targeted killings–which is how Israel began its military action–really work in stopping rocket fire. My answer was first posted at Open Zion, but it’s reprinted here in full:
Israel began its current attack on Hamas with a tactical surprise, by
 

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