Likud’s Choice

Israel’s Likud Party has voted on and passed a resolution opposing Palestinian statehood above the objections of Prime Minister Sharon. This is an interesting development in a lot of ways.

The first is that this can be interpreted as an admission that a Palestinian state is not political or geographically tenable. Using the 1967 lines would put Israel at a severe disadvantage in military terms, considering how narrow parts of Israel would be under those borders. Nor would it be prudent to support Palestinian statehood until such time as the Palestinians can get their act together and begin constructing something that could develop into a viable nation some day. In this way, it can be seen as a vote for common sense.

Yet Middle Eastern politics rarely follow the rules of common sense. At the same time, it’s a political blow to Sharon, who was trying to seem less hostile to the Palestinians in the face of international criticism. It’s interesting to note that this resolution was spearheaded by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is widely assumed to be jockeying to challenge Sharon in the next election. Netanyahu could very well win over Sharon in a contest for the leadership of Likud, or Israel itself.

In the final analysis, this decision is probably a reasonable one, if not diplomatically correct. The Palestinians are not ready to have a state now, nor do they seem to be interested in following a path that would make it a reasonable request. Until the Palestinians are willing to change their behavior, Likud is correct to point out that giving them their own state would not be in the best interest of anyone.