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"good Fences Make Good Neighbors"

Once upon a time but not that long ago -- actually in the fall of 2000 -- the
Israeli government led by Ehud Barak was prepared essentially to withdraw
to the cease fire lines of 1949 that had for nearly two decades separated
the Jewish state from the West Bank. Where Israel would retain small bits
of territory that had been under Jordanian occupation since that armistice
(not, you have to understand, any Palestinian government because there has
never, ever been one, no place) it had conceded to Bill Clinton that it
would compensate Yassir Arafat and his deceitful comrades with land
elsewhere. Let me admit that I was nearly apoplectic about many of the
particulars of the offer. And, forgive me, it reminded me of the duress
Great Britain had put upon the Czechs in 1938.

Fortunately, Arafat was a fool. He rejected the best offer Israel would
ever make. Eight years have passed, and we have had the disastrous
withdrawal from Gaza to which Condi Rice had tried to attach provisions for
free passage between the Strip and the West Bank. No government in
Jerusalem would fall for that. She did, however, succeed in coercing
Israel to withdraw from the Philadelphia Corridor, the dividing line
between Gaza and Egypt, and so it is on her that responsibility falls for
the big smuggling trade in ammunition and war materiel with which Hamas has
been waging relentless war on the Negev.

We are once again in the clutch, and this time around it is the clutch of
the Bush administration trying to salvage the simulacrum of at least one
diplomatic achievement in its last year of office. So Ms. Rice is flying
back and forth to Israel to squeeze it yet again for more and
more. (Moreover, it now has JStreet urging the same.)  According to the
Jerusalem Post, the Palestinians are once again whining that Israel is
only prepared to leave them with a series of cantons. This is simply not
the case. But, yes, will Israel insist on having military bulwarks or
bastions in the West Bank? You bet your life. Only idiots would not.

A senior Palestinian, once close to Arafat, now close to Mahmoud Abbas,
Abded Rabbo is also quoted in the Post as complaining about Israel
wanting to continue building the "separation wall." Forget the rhetorical
distortion of calling what is actually 90% fence a wall.  If this
distortion would be the worst of it...well, you know what I mean.

As it happens, there was a story about the highly touted Belfast peace in
the Sunday Boston Globe.  Yes, the one negotiated by former senator George
Mitchell. It turns out that, according to Shawn Pogatchnik, a real
separation wall (not a fence) is the major ingredient of such peace as they
have in Belfast.  Read the story. It is chastening.  And, while you are at
it, search for "separation wall," "Belfast," and "United Kingdom" on Google.  You'll be reminded of the old Robert Frost line, "good fences make
good neighbors."