Monday, October 5, 2009

On the ambiguity of outsideness

What happens if an Israeli soldier hits or otherwise abuses a Palestinian in the West Bank? The short answer is nothing. A complaint is filed by the affected person, the IDF ostensibly starts an investigation and it is "found" that the soldier didn't act improperly. The exception, of course, is when the incident is caught on tape, in which case someone may end up being given a few weeks' community service, or transferred to a training position in Israel proper.

The problem is that sometimes the Palestinians not only complain, but also sue for physical injuries or property damage. In that case, the lawsuit is also dismissed, but it's a costly process. The Israeli state is trying to diminish that cost by limiting the instances in which a soldier is civilly liable for his actions.

Up to now, Israeli legislation states that the country is not liable for a military operation executed in a situation of war. Such situations are defined as those in which the soldiers' lives are endangered.Thus, for instance, the soldier who killed a protester with a tear gas canister last July is civilly liable, because the protest was peaceful and his life was not at risk.

That is about to change under a proposed new bill, which will dramatically reduce the Palestinians' ability to sue the State. But the grounds for doing so are quite interesting. According to the Jerusalem Post:

Under the current law, any soldier, whether operating in Israel or in the West Bank or a foreign country, must prove that his life was in danger for his actions to be considered a military operation.

According to the state's new proposal, that obligation would not apply to soldiers in the West Bank or foreign countries because the law assumes that the lives of soldiers operating outside Israel are inherently in danger.

The West Bank is, thus, considered outside enough for the lives of soldiers serving there to be deemed in danger --in a danger they would not face inside Israel--, but not enough not to build settlements there. Now this is not a Freudian slip; it's just yet another instance of cyinical Israeli equivocation.

If and when Israel returns any significant portion of the West Bank to the Palestinians (and it's a big "if" and a big "when") , the country will not be making any generous, much less painful, concession. It will just be giving back a territory that is, by its own admission, outside its borders.


Folderol said...

Yes, outside its sovereign borders. It has never claimed any sovereignty over the West Bank, it calls it disputed territory. That area is not Israel's, nor is it the Palestinians - according to them, it is disputed. There is no Freduian slip. That has been Israel's position since it annexed Jerusalem and not the rest of the West Bank.

Ibrahim, if you could look at something and try to look at it from an Israeli, you would be twice the blogger you are now.

With regards to this law, it's stupid and I predict it not being passed - but time will tell on that one.

Again, I agree with a large majority of your post and then you knock with these stupid minor points which you do not need.

Tarig Musa said...

you can say that folderol, but you don't have to look hard to see that the Israeli government contradicts itself on a regular. Look at the Likud charter, it says:

“The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river. The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state. Thus, for example, in matters of foreign affairs, security, immigration and ecology, their activity shall be limited in accordance with imperatives of Israel’s existence, security and national needs”

if they flatly reject the existence of a palestinian state west of the jordan river, then that means that they believe they own all the land of both the west bank and gaza. you cant claim its disputed then flatly reject any claim by the other party, offering only the slightest hint of autonomy, with no political, economic, or social freedom, its contradictory!

Folderol said...

I am not debating what the Likud Charter says so stop with the strawman.

And if you hactually followed this conflict you would have known that Bibi accepted the idea of a Palestinian state ages a go (see here:

Gert said...


Where's the strawman?

Tarig Musa said...


From the link that you posted, these are the words of bibi himself:

The Israeli leader offered to talk to the Palestinians immediately and with "no preconditions".

Followed by:

Agreeing the principle of a Palestinian state, he said Israel would "be prepared for a true peace agreement [and] to reach a solution of a demilitarized Palestinian state alongside the Jewish state".

But only if "we receive this guarantee for demilitarization and the security arrangements required by Israel, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation of the Jewish people".

So from the start there are preconditions!

But forget that, he never said the Palestinians are entitled to an independent state, he said they are entitled to an independent state that can be controlled by Israel with ease through its demilitarization, i.e. an autonomous state!!

I can understand wanting a neutral army on your borders, after all a key issue in the gaining of independence of the republic of Ireland was the neutrality of its army, but to force a nation to give up its right to be able to defend itself is another matter all together. there are 18 independent states without an army, of these 1 is the Vatican (which has a Swiss guards unit), 4 are entered into regional pacts, 6 have entered into pacts with neighboring countries or former colonists, 1 doesn’t have an army as a matter of constitution, and the rest have paramilitaries that act as a defense force for the nation. Not one of these has had a lack of army imposed on them, and no nation should. Making such statements is like saying we will give you the hope it may happen but it never will, sort of like "Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the Jewish state", or 'settlers and the billions of dollars spent on their settlements and roads are not a barrier to peace, they can be removed in the future'.

You can then say that Israel would protect the palestinian state in the same way that those nations entered in to pacts are protected by neighbors. Before you do think to yourself, would you want your child to have a pedophile as a babysitter? Israel has occupied and oppressed, murdered and savaged the Palestinians, their lands and even their history and culture for over 60 years, why would a self respecting Palestinian ever agree to have this nation as 'protectors'?

There are a lot of barriers to peace in this equation, the vast majority are due to Israel, and to claim that the Arab world doesn't want peace is an illegitimate claim, after all every Arab nation, plus Iran Hamas and Hezbollah agreed to the Saudi peace plan, which would have resulted in a complete normalization of ties, Israel rejected it out-of-hand!

Gert said...


Spot on.