Friday, August 15, 2014

Gaza 'Without Illusions': A UN Mandate

Israel’s Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has made his reputation telling what he imagines to be hard truths that others shrink from. He says that he sees the world “bli ashlayot”—without illusions.

In 2001, he said that if Egypt stationed troops in the Sinai, Israel should respond “strongly,” by, say, bombing the Aswan Dam, on the Nile. He has said that Israeli Arabs who don’t swear loyalty to the state should be stripped of citizenship. He has even argued that Israel should negotiate with the Palestinian Authority’s Mahmoud Abbas on the basis of a (demographically agreeable) land swap, whereby Israel would annex large West Bank settlement blocs while handing over to the Palestinians three hundred thousand third-generation, Hebrew-speaking Arab citizens in towns near the pre-1967 borders.

Since the beginning of the latest Gaza operation, Lieberman, unsurprisingly, has done to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu what Netanyahu did to his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, in 2009: outflank him on the right by insisting that no ceasefire be considered until Hamas is vanquished. The current ceasefire is still provisional, and Lieberman has declared that Israel will not coöperate with any war-crimes investigation by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

It was surprising, then, that when Lieberman testified before the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week, he suggested that Israel and the Palestinian Authority might consider turning control of Gaza over to a United Nations mandate.

Read on at The New Yorker