Koutsoukis (kind of) opposes the occupation

This is getting kind of strange. Jason Koutsoukis at the SMH is becoming an increasingly strident opponent of the occupation… of the West Bank. Today he writes as follows:

No one benefits from this silly game.

Not the State of Israel that is feeling increasing pressure from the international community to end the occupation of the West Bank; not the settlers who live in circumstances of perpetual insecurity; and least of all the victims of the occupation itself, the Palestinians.

“We do not want to rule over them,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year of the Palestinians. “We do not want to run their lives. We do not want to force our flag and our culture on them.”

Israel has to make up its mind. Either annex the West Bank and live with the consequences of absorbing 2.3 million Palestinians into the state, or get out.

Now just over sixty years old, Israel is in a period of early adolescence as far as countries go. It is time it made some tough decisions and pulled itself into adulthood.

I am glad that Koutsoukis says that the Palestinians are the victims of the occupation. In a way, this is very brave for him, and the SMH has never had such brave words from its correspondents that I know of. Certainly, I think Ed O Loughlin occasionally reported on the occupation, but never so openly critical. Yet there is still an important proviso, which I’ve made before: ISRAEL IS OCCUPYING THE GAZA STRIP TOO. Koutsoukis is apparently indifferent to Gaza, even though the occupation there is worse. Moreover, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are one unit. If Israel occupied “just” the West Bank, that would count as occupying Palestine as a whole, just as occupying Southern Lebanon means occupying Lebanon.

I think the way Koutsoukis frames the issue is important: it is Israel’s decision to maintain or end the occupation. If it chooses to continue it, it is not because of Palestinian intransigence or Iran or anything else. In that sense, we should welcome Koutsoukis’s article. However, I still hold that speaking of the West Bank in isolation is not positive. In his previous article, he wrote as though only the West Bank were occupied, and did not mention the Gaza Strip. The Goldstone report (I’m almost  a quater of the way through it) affirms that the Gaza Strip is occupied territory, and specifically complains about the attempts of Israel to separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank.


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