Of the many staunchly pro-Israel facets of the U.S. policy that President Obama laid out in speeches last Sunday and last Thursday, one of the more remarkable—and least remarked-upon—is that America believes the future Palestinian state should be “a sovereign, non-militarized state” (Thursday). We should pause for a second and note what this communicates about Obama’s priorities, namely, the obvious importance he places on Israel’s exceptional security requirements, and the lengths to which he is willing to go to assure the safety of Israel and its inhabitants.
Here is a list of all non-militarized countries. At least one of three things is true of all of them: They are tiny island nations (Kiribati, Samoa, Iceland); they are even tinier city-states (Lichtenstein, Monaco, Vatican City); or they are very tiny to merely very small countries in the Western Hemisphere that are obviously under the American security umbrella and in its sphere of influence under the Monroe Doctrine (Panama, Grenada, Costa Rica). A Palestinian state situated on the West Bank (roughly—don’t forget about those “mutually agreed land swaps”) would be, of course, none of these things: Far from being an island nation, it would be landlocked (unless somehow Gaza managed to be included, in which case it would have less than 25 miles of coastline); would not be a city-state; and would be located not only far outside the Western Hemisphere but in a region known for conflict—certainly it would not be under the U.S. security umbrella and in the U.S. sphere of influence the way, say, Costa Rica is.
How about size? Here is a list of the countries in the world by land mass. The Palestinian territories—the West Bank and Gaza—are 6,220 square kilometers. That makes the theoretical future state of Palestine larger than such militarized countries as Luxembourg, Brunei, Singapore, Bahrain (!), Tonga, and Trinidad & Tobago. Kosovo—a country still not formally recognized by the U.N. Security Council (because of Russian and Chinese objections), and also landlocked, and also in a part of the world known for conflict, certainly is not “non-militarized.” It is roughly two-thirds the size of the Palestinian territories (it is also smaller than just the West Bank).
This is not an argument against a “non-militarized” Palestine. (I support a non-militarized Palestine!) But it is worth fully grasping the extent to which Obama has pledged to go to bat for Israel and Israeli interests, especially in light of charges, by the Israeli right and the American right, that he has sold it out.