Matthew Yglesias quotes Jon Chait as saying (Yglesias doesn’t give the original URL, so I can’t link to it):
Israel has a problem with Hamas because Hamas believes Israel has no right to exist. If Hamas lay down all its weapons, Israel would lift its blockade.
This is obviously a comfortable thing to believe if you want to support Israeli mass killings. But is it true? obviously you can’t directly test counterfactuals, but what you can do is look for historical parallels, which is what Yglesias does:
But another piece of the puzzle is that though American Jewish liberals tend to take a lot of comfort in the idea of Israel’s good intentions and good faith throughout this whole process, there’s a reason approximately no Arabs anywhere in the world see it that way. All throughout the “peace process” years — through the good ones and through the bad ones — Israel continued expanding both the geographical footprint of its settlements and the population living upon them. For most of this time, Israel has often appeared unwilling to enforce domestic Israeli law on the settler population, to say nothing of abiding by international law or agreements made. And while Israel has stated a desire to leave the Gaza Palestinians alone in their tiny, overcrowded, economically unviable enclave, the “disengagement” from Gaza has never entailed letting Palestinians control their borders or exercise meaningful sovereignty over the area. The proposal has basically been that if Palestinians cease violence against Israel, then the Gaza Strip will be treated like an Indian reservation. Israel’s policy objectives in the West Bank appear to be first seizing the choice bits of it, and then withdrawing behind a wall with the residual West Bank treating like post-”disengagement” Gaza.
Indeed. One can also consider Israeli policy before the First Intifada which started in 1987. In the twenty years between the Israeli capture of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967 and the start of Palestinian resistance, what did Israel do? It built settlements, eroded the Palestinan people’s economy, confiscated their lands, infringed the Palestinians’ civil rights, etc. In fact it was only after the Intifada that Israel started talking about allowing some form of Palestinian autonomy.