One State or Two States?
President Trump told Prime Minister Netanyahu in their joint press conference on Wednesday, he “likes the one both parties like.” He also said on another occasion that he wasn’t going to pressure Israel to make a deal.
The importance of his remarks is that the object of the exercise for the US is to make a deal rather than to create a Palestinian state. The push back on this has been substantial, not only from the EU and the UN but also from some officials in the State Department.
To deflect some of the criticism, the Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the UN, framed it this way, “We absolutely support the two-state solution but we are thinking out of the box as well.”
“The solution to what will bring peace in the Middle East is going to come from the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority,” Haley said. “The United States is just there to support the process.”
Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Emirates have been working together with Israel to confront their common enemy, Iran. Both Netanyahu and Trump want to build on this and formalize it. They hope that as part of building this alliance, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will soften their demands on Israel regarding the solution to the Arab/Israeli conflict or perhaps enter a peace agreement with Israel without reference to the conflict.
DEBKAfile reports: “…these sentiments reflected agreement in principle between Trump and Netanyahu to seek an Israeli peace accord with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf emirates as the lead-in to negotiations for an accord with the Palestinians. Egypt, Jordan and Turkey with whom Israel already has normal relations would jump in later. This deal fits in with the US plan reported more than once on these pages for a regional peace between the Sunni Arab nations and the Jewish State.”
At the press conference, Trump also said,
“This is one more reason why I reject unfair and one-sided actions against Israel at the United Nations -- just treated Israel, in my opinion, very, very unfairly -- or other international forums, as well as boycotts that target Israel.”
That was not the first time that he indicated that he would not tolerate the U.N.’s war on Israel.
To buttress this position, Haley said in her U.N. remarks, “I am here to say the United States will not turn a blind eye to this anymore. I am here to emphasize that the United States is determined to stand up to the U.N.’s anti-Israel bias.”
The message to Saudi Arabia is that they can no longer fight Israel through the U.N. It is hoped that Saudi Arabia will be more amenable to burying the hatchet, particularly given the threat from Iran.
But let us go back to the one-state, two-state choice.
Neither is doable. Israel will not accept a bi-national state inherent with the one-state choice, And the PA won’t accept it if there isn’t such a state. Neither will compromise on this.
As for the two-state plan, Netanyahu laid out his long-standing demands in the press conference:
“But rather than deal with labels, I want to deal with substance. It’s something I’ve hoped to do for years in a world that's absolutely fixated on labels and not on substance. So here’s the substance: There are two prerequisites for peace that I laid out two years -- several years ago, and they haven’t changed.
“First, the Palestinians must recognize the Jewish state. They have to stop calling for Israel’s destruction. They have to stop educating their people for Israel’s destruction.
“Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River. Because if we don't, we know what will happen -- because otherwise we’ll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East.”
He went on to say:
“Now, unfortunately, the Palestinians vehemently reject both prerequisites for peace. First, they continue to call for Israel’s destruction -- inside their schools, inside their mosques, inside the textbooks. You have to read it to believe it.
“They even deny, Mr. President, our historical connection to our homeland.”
Both of these prerequisites have been adamantly rejected by both the Palestinians and the Saudis from day one. Obviously, if the Saudis agree, the Palestinians would be isolated in their refusal.
But even if they accept such prerequisites, Israel will still insist on borders that include most of the settlements so that their citizens don’t have to be uprooted as they were in Gaza. Aside from Jerusalem, there are close to 500,000 Israelis living in Judea and Samaria, their homeland. The political will or the physical ability to remove even 100, 000 of them is not there.
Another reason Israel wants to retain part of these lands is that they wish to widen their midriff from 6 miles to perhaps 30 miles or even more. Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home Party, is demanding that Israel annex all of Area C as laid out by the Oslo Accords.
If this sounds overly aggressive to some of you, let me state for the record, these are not Palestinian occupied territories. They are territories awarded to Jews/Israel by the Palestine Mandate and the UN; anyone who believes in international law has no power to change that. Furthermore, Israel has no obligation to relinquish any part of these lands, having come into possession of them by means for a defensive war.
So, it would appear, neither the one-state nor the two-state solution will be agreed upon. To achieve peace, the U.S. must think outside the box as Haley suggests.
The New York Times recently published an article by Yishai Fleisher titled A Settler’s View of Israel’s Future, in which he decried the two-state solution and laid out five alternatives which are being discussed. I like the first one:
The first option, proposed by former members of Israel’s Parliament Aryeh Eldad and Benny Alon, is known as “Jordan is Palestine,” a fair name given that Jordan’s population is generally reckoned to be majority Palestinian. Under their plan, Israel would assert Israeli law in Judea and Samaria while Arabs living there would have Israeli residency and Jordanian citizenship. Those Arabs would exercise their democratic rights in Jordan, but live as expats with civil rights in Israel.
I recently wrote an article setting out my version of this plan which was first published by American Thinker. Thereafter, I published it on Israpundit with significant changes. It is followed by close to 200 very knowledgeable comments.
It needs the agreement of only Israel and the U.S.
No other idea out there will result in a deal.