"Why can't Palestinians travel between West Bank and Gaza?"Dumb question. Of course they can. They can leave Gaza, go to Egypt, take a plane to Jordan, enter the West Bank through the Jordan Valley. This is assuming they don't have ties to terrorist organizations of course. Oh wait, see, Kuttab's question is really "why can't Palestinians travel between the West Bank and Gaza via Israel?" Apparently the fact that they have killed thousands of Israelis is not a good enough reason, because in this article he tries to convince us that Israel not only should let Palestinians waltz through their country, but that they must. Do you think it's going to work?
"Nearly three million Palestinians in the West Bank are prevented from travelling [sic] to Gaza (except through Jordan, Egypt and then try crossing at Rafah) and 1.5 million Gazan Palestinians are not able to travel to the West Bank using any border. This is not a travel ban against certain people who are a security threat. This is not a temporary order that follows or precedes a particular escalation of violence. This is a blanket decision that has no logic, a violation of international law regarding the rights of a population under a belligerent military occupation."So notice how he acknowledges that the Palestinians can use Arab states...but that still isn't good enough. Also he is mixing up his verbs: there's a difference between not being permitted to do something and being prevented or not being able to do something. Gazan Palestinians can indeed travel to the West Bank by sneaking out through the tunnels from Gaza. Would Kuttab consider that to be "good enough?" Probably not, but that doesn't give him a right to make things up.
Speaking of making things up, the classic use of the "international law card" is hilarious. There's nothing in international law that requires Israel to let Palestinians travel through their country, as I just said. And the people who came up with the idea for the embargo of Gaza were the Quartet Powers. Are you going to tell them that their decision violates international law? Of course, it is one thing to play the card and it's another thing to back it up. Let's see if he can do that.
"It is also a clear violation of one of the main clauses agreements between Israel and the PLO, often called Oslo Accords, whereby Israel committed (as per Article IX) to allow "safe passage for people and vehicles between the two Palestinian areas.""First of all, we've got lying by omission again. Israel didn't "commit" to anything. What they said was that they would allow safe passage for Palestinians under certain conditions, including that the Palestinians don't carry weapons or explosives (duh) and that they carry "safe passage cards." Israel is the one who issues these safe passage cards. Now, you could say that this is just another loophole for Israel to deny the Palestinians their rights blah blah blah, however the fact remains that the Oslo Accords did not grant the Palestinians carte blanche to wander around Israel whenever they felt like it. Kuttab is misleading his audience once again.
Secondly, of course, the Palestinians did not follow their commitments on Oslo and literally blew Oslo to pieces with hundred of suicide bombers. So it's kind of ironic that Kuttab is demanding the protections of an accord that the Palestinians stomped all over. Such things are usually thought of as a two way street.
After complaining about history for some time, and declaring that separating the Palestinians is a "strategic goal" of Israel, he repeats some hypocritical complaints:
"The two-state solution, which has received international support and even Israeli public approval, stipulates that the Palestinian territories must be contiguous. While a fast rail or a tunnel connecting Gaza and the West Bank might take some time, it is still possible to allow Palestinians to travel back and forth."(Notice how Kuttab does not say that the two-state solution has received Palestinian public approval. Maybe it's because he knows that it hasn't.)
A two-state solution also requires the Palestinians stop killing Israelis, not elect terrorist organizations to their leadership, accept Israel's right to exist, renounce their "right of return," be disarmed, and come to mutual land swaps. None of these things the Palestinians have shown even the slightest interest in doing, and all of them are far more important to peace than a fast rail system over Israel to be used by people against whom they remain technically at war. This seems to be against to be a classic set of Palestinian tactics: we can't get what we want by negotiation, because negotiating with Israel isn't something that we do. So instead we write articles in the Huffington Post demanding that Israel give us what we want hoping that someone else will pressure them into it. Because that's worked so well in the past.
"The ugly Israeli wall is now in place and many Palestinians are saying that the Israelis can install whatever security measures they wish to ensure that the safe-passage road is used only to transfer people. Denying millions of Palestinians the right to travel to and from Gaza clearly amounts to collective punishment."Another classic Palestinian tactic: make up rights. Sorry, Kuttab, but there is no "right" to travel to and from Gaza, and certainly not if it involves crossing Israel do it. That's like saying German Americans had the "right" to waltz right into Germany and back out again whenever they felt like it during World War II, and Germans had the same right to go to America. Let me say that again: there is no "right" to travel to Gaza. Period. Not for people in a war zone and not for people under occupation either. And even if there were such a right, you can go through Egypt. You are making a very specific demand simply because you know that it will get Israel's goat, and you can whine about your "rights" all day long but it won't change reality. You lost your "right" to go to Gaza when you declared total terror war against Israel. Maybe if your people though more than five seconds into the future, they wouldn't be where they are right now.
After this he changes tactics and starts talking about how Israel might release prisoners, another dangerous concession for which Israel will receive nothing in return. He concludes by explaining why we should pressure Israel into making itself weaker:
"Accomplishing this right can break up what the Israelis have been trying to do for decades. It will lift the spirits of Palestinians under occupation and siege and will invigorate economy, business, tourism and the people's well-being."And what does Israel get in return for this? Besides a non-contiguous state and all sorts of potential security risks, not to mention Hamas' expansion of power into the West Bank? Oh wait, they get nothing? Yeah, that sounds like the kind of compromise Palestinians would be totally on board for. And Kuttab wonders why things don't change.