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August 14, 2005
Dafydd: Contiguationness

I think I think too much.

Or maybe everyone else thinks too little. For instance, John "Hindrocket" Hinderaker of Power Line (and the new news and blogs blog Power Line News -- check it out!) added a codicil to a post by Scott "Big Trunk" Johnson (or is that Scott "Big Johnson" Trunk?). The post was about the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voting to condemn the Israeli security fence, presumably on the grounds that it might give Israel some security. John added more information which included the following statement from the ELCA:

This Churchwide Strategy for ELCA Engagement in Israel and Palestine... describes the fragile hope for a just and peaceful solution that is growing in the region following the recent Palestinian elections. It also expresses a sense of urgency, calling for strong and concerted action so that: 1) the possibility of secure, contiguous, and viable Israeli and Palestinian states is not eroded by the placement of the separation wall and Israeli settlements in the occupied territories....


I have been hearing for years now the demand by Palestinians and their buddies in America and Europe that the Palestinian land be "contiguous." Contiguous, of course, means "connecting without a break," as in the contiguous forty-eight states of the continental United States.

What the Palestinians mean by a "contiguous" state of Palestine is that they want to be able to walk from Ramallah in the West Bank to the beach in Gaza City without ever having to set foot inside the hated Zionist Entity.

But nearly everyone -- even the Lutherans -- agrees that Israel needs contiguity as well, so that Ariel Sharon can waddle from Nazareth in the north to the Negev Desert in the south without ever having to learn Arabic to order some matzoh ball soup.

Here is where I'm having a difficult time. Take a look at this map of Israel and the territories. What is wrong with this picture?

The most obvious problem is that the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are inconveniently in two lumps, east and west, separated by Israel. But the only way to make Gaza and the West Bank contiguous would be to add a Palestinian corridor connecting the two... say, from Gaza City to Hebron. And of course, if you do that, then Israel is sliced in two, north and south, losing all that great contiguity stuff.

Thinking topologically, the problem is solvable. For example, Israel could create a V-shaped corridor that rolls down the southwestern border between Israel and Egypt (from Gaza to Elat), then bends sharply upward past En Yavah and Hazeva (can you tell I'm just reading off the map?) to the Dead Sea, then bending around the western shore to just touch the West Bank at En Gedi. It could be about ten feet wide, which wouldn't take too much land from the Israelis but would still leave plenty of room for columns of trekking Palestinians to pass each other, provided they all marched in single file.

But I'm not exactly sure that the Egyptians would appreciate seeing their border with the Palestinians increase from about forty feet, or however wide the Gaza Strip is, to a solid 140 miles; the Egyptians don't tend to like the Palestinians very much, which is why Egypt refused to take back Gaza when Israel tried to practically give it away (such a deal!) And the Jordanians, despite being mostly Palestinian themselves, as far as the British were concerned, don't want such a large border with the West-Bank Palestinians either... the East-Bank Palestinians having always looked down upon the West-Bank Palestinians as country bumpkins who don't even know how to throw a good gunfire-in-the-air celebration.

The alternative route to connect the West Bank and Gaza, up north past Syria and down south past Lebanon, is right out: Hezbollah has already staked out that territory, and they wouldn't cotton to any rival gangs horning in on their racket. Besides, the Golan Heights would require significant hiking skills, unless they built a chair-lift.

Of course, we live in a three-dimensional world, not on a 2-D map. Let's not forget the possibility of a really, really long bridge arching up from the West Bank, rising gently to a thousand feet or so (escalators can relieve the Palestinians of the necessity of learning how to mount that chair-lift) then drifting back down to ground level inside Gaza. But here, the Israelis would surely object, worrying that fun-loving Palestinian youths might lean over the railing and drop brickabats or burning bags of doggie-dirt on the heads of unsuspecting tourists.

The penultimate possibility is a tunnel underneath Israel, connecting the two pieces of the new state of Palestine. The Palestinians have much recent experience with tunnels, having dug one from Gaza into Egypt not too long ago. But the danger is that, in their excitement at contiguizing their new state, they may overshoot the Gaza Strip, which is quite narrow, and tunnel all the way into the Mediterranean Sea. The resulting gush of water could turn the Jordan River into the Jordan Swamp, and the Palestinians would lose a fortune on all the sand-colored camouflage they've prepared (for hunting purposes only, of course).

This leaves only one solution that would be acceptable to Israeli and Palestinian alike; it involves remembering that we not only live in 3-D but in particular on the surface of a sphere: the Palestinians could build a land bridge east from the West Bank all the way around the Earth to Gaza. But as this is the only option -- the final solution, one might say, to the contiguity problem -- then they had better get cracking: at that latitude, and deducting the 70 miles or so from the west edge of Gaza to the east border of the West Bank, they still have another 21,496 miles to go... and they haven't even poured the first hundred yards of concrete yet.

I hope you see my point: with just a little bit of thought and creativity, even such a seemingly impossible condition as mutual contiguity can be solved. At least in theory; the rest is just engineering details.

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Posted by Dafydd at August 14, 2005 3:11 AM

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