Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Major Carrot and Stick Diplomacy

Divide and conquer usually rides in under the guise of carrot and stick diplomacy. It then deteriorates into something much deadlier, as the oppressed compete for scarce resources. The Gaza Strip, with its 1.5 million people, is nearly two years into this dreadful cycle. Most live in poverty in a virtual prison. After a recent Gaza rocket attack, the Israeli Interior Minister had this to say:

Mr Sheetrit hit the headlines for his outspoken response to a rocket attack from Gaza that badly injured a young Israeli boy. He told fellow cabinet members they should pick a neighbourhood in Gaza and "wipe it out".

Yet, two days later Mr. Sheetrit offered a carrot of his own to 1.2 million Israeli Arabs, a shining new city on a hill.

"I aspire to create a new Arab city in the Galilee and I am working on the planning for the project," the interior minister said. "It will be a modern city, where young couples can afford to buy property and live just like in any other city in the world," he said.

Who will be bribed by this offer? What will they have to do to reap the rewards? Only a select few will receive the reward. How many Arabs will step on their fellow brothers and sisters to get to live in the Emerald City? And how long before people like Mr. Sheetrit change their mind and order sections of it, "wiped out"?

Divide and conquer postpones and magnifies problems, it doesn't solve them. The current Middle East is a shining example of that. But the promised Arab city deflects criticism of Israel for once again not respecting the 1967 borders as a basis for future peace. Unfortunately, it likely means more war.