Advice to the West on promoting a two-state solution
If the West wants credibility in the Arab/Israeli conflict, they should acknowledge the threats to eradicate Israel. They should make it absolutely clear to the Jews of Israel and to the people making such threats that the West is unalterably opposed to it; they won’t allow the Jews of Israel to be threatened with extermination. If they are indifferent to those threats they don’t understand what’s going on here.
The West should also recognize that the way it has been trying to achieve the two-state solution increases the resistance of both the Israelis and the Arabs, and the West should be open to advice to change what it is doing.
A two-state solution is achievable only if the PA convinces the Israeli public that a sovereign Palestinian state on the West Bank won’t become an enemy, ever. Until then, Israel is obliged to protect itself against the creation of an enemy state along its border. The West should not pressure Israel to end its military occupation of the West Bank until then. The Israeli public has excellent reasons to fear that the PA/PLO wants to restart its war with Israel given the terrorism that the PA has incited with its hate campaign against Jews and Israel, and given Israel’s experience of ending the military occupation of Gaza. The PA must be willing to accept at least the following minimal conditions: they must publicly accept Israel the way it is, as a Jewish state that protects minority rights, renounce any intention of re-taking the land for Muslims and Arabs, and seriously teach their children to accept Jews and Israel; and, given their history of aggression towards Israel, a new Palestinian state may not have a military; and, given the overall situation in the Middle East, they have to accept the presence of the IDF for a indefinite period of time to secure their borders against infiltration by would-be terrorists.
I can hear the objection: “That’s unreasonable because the Arabs would never agree to it. If you demand too much, the occupation will never end.” But if ending the occupation would bring on another round of warfare driven by religious fanaticism, as was the case in Gaza, then some other solution has to be found. If you want to work toward ending the military occupation of the West Bank, then you must work toward ensuring that the end to the occupation leads to peace, not war.
The West emphasizes the supposed illegality of Jewish settlements on the West Bank (I don’t believe they are illegal) and complains that the presence of Jewish settlements will make it difficult or impossible to create a future Palestinian state whenever the happy day for creating such a state arrives. That, of course, assumes that the Palestinian state must be larger than the land the Palestinians are presently living on, which is not true.
The West Bank is legally contested land for which Israel has the strongest claim (I would say Israel liberated the West Bank from illegal occupation by Jordan), but under the West’s geopolitically inspired interpretation of international law, the Palestinians would expand the land they occupy unhindered and take the whole of the West Bank by default. If it were illegal for Israel to build settlements on the West Bank, the same logic should apply to the Arabs: it should be illegal for them to expand their living space as well. The West Bank does not belong to the Palestinians, they have a humanitarian claim limited to the parts of the West Bank they were living on when the West Bank was conquered in 1967.
The West is in effect surreptitiously trying to create a new partition plan giving the whole West Bank to the Palestinians up to the “green line” (which was explicitly not supposed to be considered a political boundary when it was agreed upon in 1949), or the equivalent using “land swaps”. The West is encouraging both Palestinian intransigence to make peace and Israeli assertion of its valid claim to its ancestral homeland through concrete actions (literally, sometimes by building on the land).
Although a Palestinian state doesn’t have to be larger than the land the Palestinians are living on, in all the peace negotiations held since the Oslo Accords Israel offered to concede almost all of the West Bank to the Palestinian state, with land swaps. The Palestinians turned down Israel’s offer each time. Future Israeli governments are not required to offer the same concessions that were made in the past.
It is not certain that a sovereign Palestinian state can be formed because the Palestinian youth have become radicalized to such an extent that it may be impossible to convince them to live in peace with Israel.
The West assumes that Israel’s demand for security is the underlying cause for the failure of the peace process, they think that if they can force Israel to concede the West Bank, the Arabs’ demands will be fully satisfied and there will be peace. The West still thinks that appeasement (giving away someone else’s rights) is the way to achieve world peace. But the true underlying cause of the conflict is that the radical Arabs violently reject the existence of a state not ruled by Muslim Arabs in the land that the followers of Mohammed conquered in the 7th century, and that nothing less than the eradication of Israel and the expulsion, extermination or subjugation of the Jews who live there will satisfy them. Perhaps the elected leaders of the West want to claim credit for ending the Arab/Israeli conflict during their tenure and let the next round of elected Western leaders deal with the repercussions, but Israel has more serious concerns.
The West and Israel are working against each other. If they could agree on a general framework for what sort of Palestinian state they would accept someday, and that it depends on Palestinian willingness to prove they will not be a threat to Israel, the West and Israel could work together toward that goal.
The West should not reward the PA for intransigence. Presently, the more obstinate the PA is the more the West throws money at it in a futile attempt to change it. The PA knows that if they try to reassure the Israelis rather than scare them, they could get a sovereign state but they would rather continue the present situation as long as they continue to receive money and support for their maximalist position.
The West must oppose Hamas and any other Islamist groups who are forcing the PA to reject peace.
The West should turn its energies away from trying to force Israel to sign a bad peace agreement with the PA and toward working with Israel’s Arab neighbors, Egypt, Jordan, the Gulf States (Saudi Arabia, etc) and Morocco to try to get the region to accept Israel as a respectable regional player. Presently, the PA thinks that if it continues to challenge the existence of a Jewish state, it can fall back on the support of the Arab world. It would be better if the Arab world isolates the PA for being rejectionist.
The West should encourage the Arab world to see Israel as an ally and a contributing member to the region. It has been a long time since the most important thing on the agenda of the moderate Arab world has been to destroy Israel because it is a non-Muslim and non-Arab country. Now the most important thing on the minds of both the secular and religious leaders of the Arab world is that the Islamists (Muslim Brotherhood, IS, etc) are threatening their leadership. To protect themselves, they could very well be convinced to turn to Israel as an ally (of course, convincing their people to change their attitudes toward the Jews will be a major challenge). The region is experiencing other major challenges as well. Israel potentially offers benefits the moderate Arab states and the Palestinian Arabs need very much such as water technology and economic infrastructure development.
The West should adamantly defend Israel in the UN. Of course, due to public pressure, Israel’s moderate Arab neighbors are going to want to support the Arabs of Palestinians against the Jews of Israel when it doesn’t threaten them directly. For example Israel’s moderate Arab neighbors supported the recent UNSCO resolution to diminish the Jewish People’s historical connection to Jerusalem and replace it with an Arab connection. Besides deeply offending the Jews, the effect of resolutions like that is to encourage the rejectionists into believing they have the world’s support and if they only hold out longer the world will come to their rescue. The West should make it clear that attacks like this on Israel and the Jewish People are counterproductive.
There are many important articles by knowledgeable Arabs on this subject. For example, see the articles by Khalid Toameh, Bassam Tawil and Fred Maroun in Gatestone