Monday, November 19, 2012

The meaning of Qassam and Palestinian statehood

I have always been conflicted about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, you might say, but this article from the front page of Monday's Times illustrates the one issue that puts me squarely on the Israeli side:

Qassam is "the military wing of the Islamic Hamas movement".  I believe that fighting for what you believe is right, but while most Israelis believe in living in peace, Qassam and similar organizations believe and exercise the power and righteousness of martyrdom, and make no excuses about it.  They celebrate death with their families, teaching their children to kill, not love, to fight, not dance, to die, not live.  Isn't this just wrong?  Seems clear to me.  How can any rational person support this?  No wonder Iran supplies them with weapons.

But keep reading, I'm not done yet :)

I have been looking at maps and reading about the latest developments.  Yesterday I was disturbed to learn of the negative reaction to the Palestinian Authority's request to the U.N. for recognition as "Non-Member State" status. Palestine is the only "Non-Member Entity Permanent Observer" at the UN - having assumed the role in 1974 - and is not allowed to vote in the General Assembly. The change to "Non-Member State Permanent Observer" - a status currently held only by the Vatican - can be granted via a majority vote of the General Assembly, but would not automatically give the Palestinians any additional rights or responsibilities in the UN. This seems to me a reasonable first step toward acceptance as a political entity, although it is opposed by Israel and by the U.S.  The P.A. claims this as a requirement for a permanent two state solution.  I am sorry, Israel, but the Vatican?  You don't think the Palestinians can be on an equal footing with the Vatican?  As Seth Myers would say on SNL -- Really?

Clearly there are complicated issues surrounding the control that Abbas and the P.A. has over Hamas in Gaza -- this is where the current problems concerning Qassam and the other brigades come in.    But no authority can be expected to reign in the extremistists without the tools that a universally recognized nation has -- specifically the rule of law.  If a bunch of off-their-rocker Tea Partiers started lobbing rockets into Mexico, even with the support of the Republican party, the Feds could arrest them and bring them to trial, without any foreign assistance.  The P.A. has no such power, and not just because of their internal strife.
I understand the concerns about prosecutions for war crimes as outlined in the article I link here, but as I read it, this works both ways, i.e. the P.A. could be subject to international sanctions as well:
pros and cons on U.N. status change

Are settlements a violation of international law?

What is interesting about this is that both sides seem to agree to use the same laws, just have different interpretations.  I am reminded of that 

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