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“I suppose there’s also the idea of Israel expelling the Palestinians and annexing the West Bank and Gaza, but I don’t see anyone advocating this one, so I’ll skip it.”

C’mon man. Ben-Gurion himself advocated for the transfer of Palestinians to Jordan and out of Israel and there is a whole political party which has seats in the parliament that supports this policy.

Some of the parties, including Religious Zionism and Jewish Power, want to formally annex parts or all of the West Bank and expel (or kill) Palestinians who resist.

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Oct 8, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Well, I admire you for giving this a try.

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Oct 8, 2023·edited Oct 8, 2023

Ireland tells us that there can be peace between Israelis and Palestinians; it also tells us that peace will be enormously difficult.

Dublin is no longer a base for terrorism against England, despite literal centuries of smugly oppressive English rule. But intermixed Northern Ireland is still barely resisting the abyss, and if sponsoring Irish paramilitaries was still popular in America's Irish communities I'm sure Ulster would be bloody still.

So Ireland gives me hope for the Palestinians and Israel, but that hope is narrow. As long as ambitious men in Gaza can win leadership by killing Israelis, and as long as foreign countries have money to send to help them do it, Gaza will be a base for anti-Israel terrorism. And so long as there is terrorism, there will be violence from Israel against Gaza, whether Gaza is a state or not. (Unless we're fantasizing a true independent powerful peacekeeping force into existence -- and then you might as well wish for a pony.) But that violence by Israel against the terrorists itself kills plenty of civilians -- and so fertilizes the appeal of future terrorism.

I know the problem is solvable, because Ireland exists, and prospers. Dublin is a wonderful place these days, and on many scales the Irish are doing better than Britain. Irish better off than English! Just think how that would croggle the old English elites, who took Irish backwardness as much for granted as an eastern sunrise. The hatreds in Ireland were if anything more deeply founded; there was money in America in plenty to sponsor violence; and yet look at Dublin today, and you can see peace and prosperity laughing in triumph over supposed endless hate.

But I don't see how to get from Gaza to Dublin. I fear it will take generations.

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“The easiest industry to spin up would simply be tourism — Gaza has a lot of nice beaches, plenty of historical sites, etc.” Generally, Islamist run governments aren’t known for or too tolerant of beach resorts.

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Yes, a 3 state solution may be best, though that means Egypt allowing meaningful trade with Gaza. However, coming up with a good solution isn't the sticking point.

I think a huge sticking point is that it's not in the interests of the leadership of either HAMAS or the PLO for a permanent settlement deal to go through. If these regions turn into functioning states their corrupt grip on power and prestige is put at risk. Or, less cynically, they rose to these positions because they made crusading against Israel their life's work and agreeing to a permanent compromise (which inevitably leaves both sides unhappy) will be very hard for them to do. Not to mention that many people who don't live there but support these groups and give them prestige and support don't want to see a compromise deal (either for selfish reasons or because it's easy to say you won't settle for less than you think you deserve when you aren't the one suffering).

Unfortunately, no one else can become a legitimate voice for the residents in Gaza w/o HAMAS allowing it.

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One thing to add is that at some point the international community has to get tougher on this absurd spectacle of millions of people having lived their entire lives in refugee camps. The camps should be dismantled, people given homes in Gaza/West Bank or elsewhere. Israel could even pay some of the costs. But right to return isn't happening

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Oct 8, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

This sounds about right. But I do think that Israel is unlikely to give up the Jordan Valley anytime soon, let alone evacuate the farthest out settlements. Legitimate security concerns exist if the West Bank is given up, although this in no way justified population transfers of settlers into that area.

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Oct 8, 2023·edited Oct 8, 2023

Isn’t the intractable problem that there are so any darn Israeli settlers already in the Palestinian territories, too many to be displaced and many ideologically driven to remain where they are not wanted, with the substantial support of conservative Israelis in Israel?

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Oct 8, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Aside: Imagine (especially as a Canadian) that Alaska was still a Russian territory. Hoo boy. Might encourage us to support our military better eh.

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Why is it ethnic cleansing to remove Israeli settlers from illegal West Bank settlements?

It might not be viable for many reasons, but I was confused about your language there. You used “ethnic cleansing” in reference to removing Israelis from the internationally recognized borders of Israel, which makes sense.

But why would it be ethnic cleansing to expel illegal settlements, and not an appropriate use of state force?

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Oct 9, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

Noah, thank you for an excellent write up as usual. As a liberal, longtime follower, I've been waiting to hear your thoughts on this conflict.

First, I feel that merely by acknowledging the openly genocidal tendencies of the Palestinians you're being more fair than almost anyone in our political side of the map in the US. Thank you for that.

In regards to the three state solution: the only problem is that it is not a solution. It won't prevent recurring wars because each of the three nations would be so small that any military presence in the others would be a dire threat. The capitals, and most major population centers, of each of them, are always within missile range of the others, and an armored vehicle that breaks from the border can reach almost anywhere in the invaded territory in say an hour. This isn't a sustainable situation. So what you'll get is Israel, currently the strongest military, squashing it's neighbors whenever they try to build military force - especially after the current war, that taught Israel an extremely painful lesson about allowing your rival to build out their strength. Any actual solution must involve strong international security guarantees - from the UN and neighboring Arab countries.

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Oct 8, 2023·edited Oct 8, 2023

Israeli blood sure is cheap to you, Noah.

You know full well that Palestinians are in a long-term genocidal war against Israel, backed by foreign powers. Israel should enable that, though.

Israel's contribution to peace at present is *not* ethnically cleansing the Palestinians. What is the Palestinian's contribution?

Why should the Palestinians not unilaterally stop awarding terrorists or acquiring missile systems to attack Israel?

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I have a hard time seeing Gaza as a viable state. 2.3 million people in an area smaller than some Texas ranches. No economy to speak of. No functional government. A neighbor that's its mortal enemy and that certainly (and understandably) isn't going to let Gaza form any sort of military force.

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Oct 8, 2023Liked by Noah Smith
Oct 9, 2023Liked by Noah Smith

An independent West Bank could presumably access seaborne trade via Jordan's port of Aqaba on the Red Sea. Israel wouldn't want Palestinian trucks carrying goods to their ports for export (too much risk of truck bombs), but I can't think of any reason the Jordanians would have a problem with them.

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"If you have a better idea that doesn’t involve massive ethnic cleansing or unrealistic assumptions about Israelis and Palestinians joining together as one people, I’d love to hear it."

I don't think it's "better" by any stretch, but based on the direction things have been moving for the last ~50 years, it seems like the most *realistic* long-term evolution of this conflict is for Israel to continue grabbing more territory in the west bank, continuing to increase this military presence both there and in Gaza, and just generally expelling the locals and engulfing the territory piecemeal until there's nothing left.

This is why I don't follow the news on this conflict. Because I don't see another plausible long-term trajectory, and the likely trajectory is just a slow motion train wreck happening over decades.

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