July 25, 2010
The two-state solution is dead. Long live what?By Ted Belman
Before delving into the question of what follows the death of the two-state solution we must get a certificate of death. This may prove to be more difficult than getting a certificate of live birth for President Obama.
Almost everyone prefers to kick a dead horse, so to speak, rather than to acknowledge it is dead. The Arabs were against the creation of Israel in the first place. They opposed the Palestine Mandate, The Partition Plan, The Declaration of Independence by Israel and Resolution 242. In 1968 they decided at the Khartoum Conference on the three "no's"; no recognition, no negotiation and no peace.
Nevertheless both Egypt and Jordan broke with this policy and signed peace agreements with Israel. Anwar Sadat paid for this breach with his life.
Arafat had to accept Res 242 as the condition for entering the Oslo accords. He also had to agree to amend Fatah's Charter which called for the destruction of Israel but never did amend it. The Hamas Charter also calls for the destruction of Israel. So the PA is only paying lip service to Res 242 and has no intention of complying with it.
The Arab League has yet to accept Res 242. Instead, at the Beirut Conference in 2002, it endorsed the Saudi Plan with certain amendments and called it the Arab Peace Initiative. Neither the Plan nor the Initiative were ever published officially but a communiqué was issued.
It demanded full withdrawal, a "just settlement" of the refugee problem and the creation of a "sovereign independent" state with East Jerusalem as its capital. In exchange, they would enter into a "peace agreement" and establish "normal relations" with Israel.
Whenever the Arabs talk about peace I am suspect as "peace" in Islam is only achieved when Islam is dominant. Besides, Israel will never agree to all these demands.
In effect they substituted these parameters for the ones in Res 242. The US cooperated by including the Arab Peace Initiative in the Roadmap. Obama goes so far as to favor the Arab Initiative over Res 242.
By putting forward these demands, the Arabs have decided to wage war on Israel diplomatically. The peace process demanded by the Quartet (U.S., E.U., UN and Russia) buttressed by the Arabs' nebulous offer of peace, enables them to make demands on Israel and to force her compliance. It is not really about negotiating a settlement so much as it is about imposing a settlement. As times goes on Israel's wiggle room gets smaller and smaller.
So, though an ultimate agreement is not achievable because Israel won't agree to the Arab terms and the Arabs won't compromise on them, the Arabs still want to continue the process. Abbas is spared the necessity of compromising -- and why should he? The Palestinians are doing well economically with the cooperation of Israel and the financial support of the US and the EU. Why look for trouble?
For the U.S., it's the only game in town. They are not prepared to pack their bags and go home or to change the paradigm. Better to go through the motions.
The process is working to Israel's disadvantage -- so why is Israel content to go along?
So long as the prospect of a two-state solution is out there, Israel does not have to resist calls for bi-national state or for citizenship for the Palestinians. In the meantime, the Palestinians have their autonomy and Israel has its security, insofar as Judea and Samaria are concerned, and an undivided Jerusalem.
While Israel would dearly love to sign a settlement deal to put an end to the deligitimation and demonization, the price is too high. The status quo is better.
But that doesn't preclude putting facts on the ground. Israel must end the freeze and commence building in Jerusalem and the settlements. Aside from strengthening Israel's hold on Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria, Israel is thereby putting great pressure on the Palestinians to compromise. Due to such construction, time would no longer on the side of the Palestinians.
That is why the Palestinians have suggested they would unilaterally declare a state or ask the UN to recognize a Palestinian state on all lands east of the '67 borders. Were they to do so, it would be a game changer. Israel has said she wouldn't allow it. This move would end the peace process.
There is talk in Israel of extending Israeli law to the major settlements presently under occupation law. The Israelis living in them would dearly love the change and it would not affect the Arabs at all. Such a change would effectively make the settlements part of Israel.
Another factor that argues for the status quo is that Israel is facing a well-armed Hamas and Hezb'allah and genocidal Iran which is about to get the bomb. In the next year there may well be war with Iran. Israel wants to have the US participate. This is not the time for dramatic concessions. Israel must know whether Iran will remain an enemy before determining what if any concessions to make.
In the meantime the mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, intends to implement Jerusalem's ambitious Master Plan presently being finalized. The Plan aims to reverse the current trend whereby Arabs are moving into Jerusalem to be on the west side of the fence and Jews are moving out. The main reasons for this exodus are expensive housing, limited housing opportunities, scant employment opportunities, and relatively low salary levels.
The ultimate goal is to have a demographic balance in the city, Jews to Arabs of 60:40 by 2020. It is now 65:35. This is an urgent task for Israel exacerbated by the de facto construction freeze. Its implementation will not be without international and domestic opposition.
There are currently 300,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem. Reason enough to consider dividing the city. Even that will not be simple. The City of David, Mount of Olives and Rachel's Tomb are all located in that part of Jerusalem east of the '67 line where the Arabs live. Israelis would never agree to part with this part of their heritage.
Five years ago, I advocated annexing Judea and Samaria. Then I was odd man out. No longer.
Haaretz, Israel's New York Times, just published, Endgame.
Just think; no division of Jerusalem, no transfer of Jews, no border dispute, no international forces,, no air-rights dispute, no water dispute and no right of return. The challenge for Israel will be to avoid civil unrest. She succeeded in Israel. She will succeed in the expanded Israel.
Long live the democratic Jewish one-state solution.
Ted Belman is a retired lawyer and Editor of IsraPundit. He made aliyah from Canada in 2009 and now lives in Jerusalem.