November 7, 2010
Would President Palin End the Futile 'Peace Process'?By Ted Belman
Come hell or high water, President Obama is determined to create a Palestinian state during his watch. He has been doing his utmost to attack and pressure Prime Minister Netanyahu to support the two-state solution, which Netanyahu did in part in his Bar Ilan speech, and to freeze construction, which he did for ten months ending September 26/10. To no avail.
Because of the backlash Obama experienced last summer from Jewish leaders, he was forced to start a charm offensive in the led up to the Nov 2 midterms. Now, all bets are off. His determination to create a Palestinian state, which he supported long before his political career started, will be intensified now.
At the moment, Netanyahu is refusing to formally extend the freeze, but he is withholding approval of construction for the most part. He demanded that the PA recognize Israel as a Jewish state as the price for extending the freeze. Abbas categorically rejected doing so and still refuses to negotiate without a formal freeze extension.
The PA is threatening to ask the United Nations to declare all Israeli communities east of the 1949 armistice lines illegal and to demand the expulsion of Israelis living in them. It is also threatening to ask the Security Council to recognize the state of Palestine with pre-'67 borders. It is testing the waters to see how many states will recognize it under these conditions. The problem will be that there is no basis for recognition. And thus, it will have no legitimacy.
Just this week, Netanyahu told a Likud faction that that the issue of the freeze "is not being discussed" and that a unilateral declaration of statehood by the PA would "exact a price from both sides" and would not promote a solution to the conflict.
Either of these resolutions will not have teeth in them, but they will increase the de-legitimatization and demonization to which Israel is presently being subjected.
The Jerusalem Centre for Public affairs published a paper on International Recognition of a
Unilaterally Declared Palestinian State: Legal and Policy Dilemmas by Tal Becker. He writes,
These criteria include
- Is There an Effective and Independent Government?
- Does the Palestinian Entity Possess a Defined Territory?
- Does the Palestinian Entity have the Capacity to Freely Engage in Foreign Relations?
- Is There Effective and Independent Control Over a Permanent Population?
- Unilateral Palestinian Attempts to Acquire the Attributes of Statehood
Becker takes the position that a state declared by the PA meets none of those criteria. Nevertheless, many countries could possibly ignore international law and recognize Palestine anyway. What then? "Palestine" would be a state in name only, without sovereignty or independence, at least no more than they have now. It would signal the end of the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap and UNSC Res 242 upon which they are based. Israel would be free to set its own borders even to the Jordan River. It could do this by simply extending Israeli law over all of Judea and Samaria, save for Palestinian population centers.
It is for these reasons that not only will the U.S. and Europe be reluctant to recognize such a state, but also, the PA is unlikely to declare it without their support.
We will then be left with a "peace process" that has left many maimed and dead in its wake, one that requires a negotiated solution. Neither party is willing to compromise their present positions. Consequently, no agreement is foreseeable.
Obama will be left with one option: namely, to force Israel to agree to terms to which she doesn't want to agree. He can try, but he won't succeed. Israel will not bend and will mobilize the new Republican Congress to thwart him. Not only will the Republicans oppose such efforts, but many Democrats will as well. Obviously, if he is to make progress, he must do so before the presidential primaries begin.
Even if Obama gives up his dream of solving the conflict before his terms expires, the next administration will have to deal with a peace process that isn't going anywhere. They can choose to maintain the charade or end it. In the former option, they will struggle to maintain the illusion that peace is around the corner while attempting to achieve small interim agreements. This could go on for decades. In the latter case, they will need a whole new paradigm.
The State Department was against the creation of Israel before its birth, forced Israel to retreat from the Sinai after she conquered it in '56, and maintained an arms embargo on Israel until after the '67 war. The State Department negotiated UNSC Res 242 at the end of the war, which allowed Israel to remain in occupation until she had an agreement for "secure and recognized borders." But the Arabs refused to accept it. So two years later, the U.S. came up with the Rogers' Plan, which required full retreat to the '49 armistice line. Thereafter, the embargo was lifted, and Israel became America's ally in the Cold War. This military/intelligence relationship grew and blossomed with many advantages to both Israel and the U.S. This was so even after the fall of the USSR.
But throughout this friendship, the U.S. continued to force Israel to participate in a peace process against its will. While the U.S. maintained that the final agreement had to be negotiated between the parties, the U.S. put a "gun" to Israel's head during negotiations.
President Bush 43 started out his term of office not wanting to get involved in the peace process as his predecessor Bill Clinton had done. But 9/11 happened, and the U.S. invaded Afghanistan. Before invading Iraq, the U.S. negotiated with Saudi Arabia to get her cooperation. Even though it was in the interests of Saudi Arabia that Iraq would no longer threaten them, the Saudis insisted on Bush declaring support for a Palestinian state, which he did in his vision speech of '02. They also insisted that the U.S. renew the peace process. Bush worked diligently on this process in the lead-up to the invasion, and Saudi Arabia worked with the State Department to prepare the Saudi Plan, which demanded a full retreat in line with the Rogers Plan. One week after the U.S. invaded Iraq, the Roadmap was launched. By agreement, this Plan was included in the Roadmap. This was necessary in order to offset Res 242, which did not require full retreat.
The Roadmap also incorporated the Mitchell Report, which demanded the end of violence and incitement and an end to settlement construction. The Oslo Accords had included the right of Israel to do infilling and did not restrict construction in the Settlement blocs. Thus, the Roadmap severely limited Israel's options. Nevertheless, the Palestinians continued their incitement and terror, and Israel continued to build.
Whereas President Bush had permitted infilling for "natural growth" and recognized that Israel would retain the settlement blocs, Obama attempted to end all settlement construction, including in the blocs, and the battle is still raging. The PA, of course, joined Obama in making this demand.
Although Obama is still trying to bridge the gap, few are anticipating success.
If Gov. Palin is elected the next president in 2012, she may end the impasse by introducing a paradigm shift. To date, she has not retracted her support for a "two-state solution," which in any event is not a two-state solution that the Palestinians would accept. She told Barbara Walters, "I believe that the Jewish settlements should be allowed to be expanded upon, because that population of Israel is, is going to grow. ... And I don't think that the Obama administration has any right to tell Israel that the Jewish settlements cannot expand."
In the VP debate, she said she would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
She told AIPAC, "Let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel."
In a similarly firm tone, she told Charles Gibson that she would not "second-guess" Israeli military action against Iran.
While many politicians kiss up to the American Jews during elections, Sarah Palin has always exhibited affection and support for the Jewish people and Israel. Her views are supported by 50 million Evangelical Christians who support an undivided Jerusalem and Jewish claims to Judea and Samaria. The latest polls indicate that 65% of Americans support Israel.
After decades of trying to reach a two-state solution, America should abandon the attempt and pursue a more workable solution such as autonomy only for the Palestinians.
Sarah Palin has a reputation for shaking things up. She, more than anyone else, is likely to usher in the required paradigm shift.
Ted Belman is a retired lawyer and the editor of Israpundit. Last year he made aliya and is now living in Jerusalem.