Here is one of the sickest suggestions I’ve yet to read on how to settle the Israeli-Arab conflict:

The most effective way to force a reduction of the violence on both sides is to take punitive economic measures. The United States finances about $4 billion a year, on average, of Israel’s national budget. The continuing effort to defend, support and increase settlements in the West Bank and Gaza costs at least $1 billion a year. The money spent annually in directly subsidizing the existing settlements was estimated in 2001 at $400 million.

An American government that was resolved to stop expansion of the settlements would not need to keep sending the secretary of state to Jerusalem to repeat that we really mean what we say. We could prove it by deducting the total cost of the settlements each year from the United States’ annual allocation to Israel. To show that we were not being unfeelingly mean, the United States should add that we would hold $1 billion a year in escrow to help those settlers who would peacefully move back into Israel’s pre-1967 borders.

That’s from Arthur Hertzberg in today’s (you guessed it) New York Times. But don’t worry, Israel! Mr. Hertzberg would take the same harsh measures against the Palestinians:

But the United States can do more. It is within our power to insist that other countries