The Two-State Solution
Vol: 74 Issue: 29 Thursday, November 29, 2007
Given the obvious fact that none of the participants or observers really believe that the Palestinians will be able to deliver on any promises of peaceful coexistence, one has to wonder — why bother?
Israeli opinion polls are already pronouncing Annapolis ‘a failure’ with more than fifty percent in one poll expressing that view.
Why is the White House pushing for a two-state solution when it knows that the ‘second’ state, Palestine, will be born as a failed state, run by terrorists? And why, of all times, is it so urgent to create a Palestinian state now, in the midst of a war on terror?
President Bush doesn’t really believe that the majority of Palestinians want peace. I don’t believe it is possible for anyone to be that willfully ignorant, and even if he was, he has advisors to set him straight.
Ehud Olmert believes it even less than Bush — Olmert has lived his life under the threat of Palestinian violence. Olmert was mayor of Jerusalem during both intifadas.
Before Olmert was Prime Minister, he was a hawk. Come to think of it, prior to becoming prime minister, so was Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, and even Yitzhak Rabin.
But each abandoned their hard-line approach when assuming the high office, and each one since Rabin have embraced the land-for-peace concept and Palestinian statehood.
On the other hand, Yasser Arafat did all that he could to scuttle any possible move towards Palestinian statehood, rejecting a deal outright in 1999-2000 that would have created a Palestinian state seven years ago.
And for all his talk about independence and statehood, Mahmoud Abbas has done precious little to advance the idea except talk about it. Even the Palestinian people themselves seem to be deliberately scotching any opportunities the second they come up.
When you get right down to it, the two countries that seem most intent on forcing the Palestinians to accept a statehood deal are the Israelis and the Americans.
The rest of the world talks about it in dreamy, ‘what if’ terms, but Israel and the US are the only nations actually moving the process in that direction.
When Israel captured the West Bank and Gaza strip from Jordan and Egypt in 1967, the Jordanians and Egyptians who lived in those territories became persons without a country overnight.
They were no longer Egyptians, protected by Cairo, or Jordanians under the protection of Amman. Those who fled to their homelands were interned in refugee camps. Those who remained lived under Israeli occupation.
They weren’t Jordanians or Egyptians anymore; neither were they Israelis. In a sense, they had no other choice but to declare themselves ‘Palestinians’.
And Israel has no choice but to get them out of their territory, either by deporting them, or by giving up the territory to them.
Deporting them is not an option. The world body would never stand for it. Neither would the Arab League. Interestingly enough, even if nobody else objected, the Israeli people themselves wouldn’t stand for it.
There are still too many Jews in Israel who got there after being deported from their birthplaces in Europe. Israel’s rallying cry, “Never again” would become meaningless.
Still, the only ones who seem genuinely and unmoveably opposed to a two-state solution are the Palestinians themselves. The big stumbling block is the Palestinian demand for the “Right of Return.”
The Palestinian demand for a “Right of Return” REQUIRES Israel to create a separate, Palestinian State. The Palestinians know that their demand for a “Right of Return” would collapse if they had their own state for the refugees to return to.
The day after Annapolis, Ehud Olmert gave an interview to Ha’aretz that solves the mystery:
“If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (with Palestinians) … then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
Olmert is absolutely right. If Israel fails in its effort for a two-state solution, then the only alternative will be for Israel to absorb the Palestinian population. Israel could not absorb them without extending them the right to vote.
Olmert said that if Israel failed to agree to a two-state solution and tried to absorb Palestinians into a Jewish state without giving them equal voting rights, influential U.S. Jewish organizations “will be the first to come out against us” — and he is right.
After than would come the Arab League, the UN, the EU, and finally, the United States.
“They will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents,” Olmert told the paper.
If Israel were to keep the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinian voters would soon outnumber Jewish voters and Jews would become the minority in an Arab state. And that is the only alternative to the two-state solution.
On the other hand, if the Palestinians had their own state, Israel would be relieved of both the responsibility and the blame when the Palestinians fail, and fixing the problem would fall to the UN or the Arab League.
A Palestinian state would be responsible for the activities of its citizens. The Syrians don’t let their citizens attack Israel because they don’t want to go to war with Israel.
The Palestinians are under no such constraint at the moment, since, as stateless individuals, they have nothing to lose – Israel can only retaliate against individuals within their midst.
Statehood would replace Palestinian victimhood, the Palestinians would not have Israel to blame, and Hamas and Hezbollah would lose their number one recruiting slogan.
The United States is pushing for Palestinian statehood for the same reason. Many of the al-Qaeda terrorists believe they are fighting for Palestinian independence. The Palestinian ‘problem’ is the reason most often cited for the war against the West.
A two-state solution wouldn’t eliminate al-Qaeda, but it would certainly thin their ranks.
There is a story told in the Middle East about a scorpion who asked a turtle to carry him across a stream. “I can’t do that,” the turtle said. “You’ll sting me and I’ll die.”
“No, I won’t,” the scorpion said. “Then we’d both die.” The turtle thought about this, and finally agreed. Halfway across the stream, the scorpion stung the turtle.
“Why did you do that?” asked the astonished turtle. “Now we’ll both die.”
“What did you expect?” the scorpion replied. “It’s the Middle East.”
Everybody wants to see a two-state solution — except the Arabs who demand it the most loudly.
It won’t work, of course, since the Arabs don’t want it to. But they can’t abandon it as long as it remains a viable option.
So it is in Israel’s best interests to keep the dream alive. And in the Arabs’ best interest to scuttle it.
After all, it is the Middle East!