Thursday, April 16, 2009

Israel and Palestine: A Case Study

There has been a recent string of attacks by Israeli defense forces throughout the latter half of this decade on Palestinian militants, members of Hamas, and the political group Palestinian Popular Resistance. The new Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is adopting a tougher approach to Palestinian attacks than the previous government, enforcing a "zero-tolerance" policy for Palestinian militant attacks. When viewed through an angle of international offense-defense theory, the Israeli-Palestinian case is actually not as confusing as some may believe.

First, I want to parallel this conflict with the crisis of the IRA and the United Kingdom in the early 1970s. Both militant groups, the IRA and the Palestinians do not recognize the sovereignty or authority of their nation-state, both are armed resistance groups, and both implement the same categories of unconventional warfare strategy. Both nation-state groups operate under large operational warfare strategy: including special operations, air strikes, intelligence gathering, and weapons training.

The problem with the current situation is that sovereignty, according to international law, the works of Jean Bodin and Thomas Hobbes, through the state "has undivided jurisdiction over all persons and property within its territory." For a quick geography and history lesson: the area known as Palestine, in the Gaza Strip region of the sovereign nation of Israel is, in fact, in jurisdiction of the Israeli government, and no international body or nation-state may strip or deny Israel its claim to enforce its policy and laws on any territory that it controls.

This description of a sovereign state has recently been somewhat modified by the United Nations because states are limited by treaties and international obligations and are not legally permitted by the United Nations to commit aggression at will. In current international practice this view is generally accepted. The most important point of this entire situation though is that the United Nations has not reliquished or restricted, by written sanction, the sovereignty of Israel over the Gaza Strip. Accordingly, Israel has the full authority to enforce its regulations, policies, and rules over its citizens, including those in Palestine.

The case of the IRA is important because the reason that there now exists peace is because the strategic interaction between the IRA and the UK ended when the IRA stopped fighting. In fact, with the Camp David Accord the IRA actually got what it wanted in the end, just by stopping the armed conflict. The same can be said for Palestinians. They are only being targeted because the international notion of security strategies demands that armed forces be targeted by sovereign nations when under attack. If the Palestinian resistance only fought back through words and protest, just as in India, Ireland, Australia, France, Spain, and dozens of countries throughout the world, they would have a game theory advantage over the nation-state of Israel by being a peaceful demonstrator. The fact they keep fighting will provoke Israel and further complicate things.

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