The Demise of the Two-State Solution

After 25 years, the political establishment in the US has failed to usher in an age of peace between Israel and her immediate neighbors. On land liberated by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 War, the PLO under Arafat and Abbas could have had a West Bank state nearly two decades ago. Instead they chose to wait in order to assure themselves that Israeli security could easily be breached throughout the breadth of the Jordan River Valley. Now, the progressive-wing of the Democratic Party has sided with the PLO at the UN and placed the onus of this twenty-five year failure clearly on Israel. The question now becomes: What will be the Republican Party response, and how far it will break from the Bush-Baker Republican model of “land for peace”?

Donald J. Trump is not of the Republican establishment. He is, in fact, the consummate outsider. Against all odds (mine included), he has altered the conservative agenda to place the concerns of working-class Americans above the free traders and elite intellectuals of his party. Conservatism has now taken a back seat to economic nationalism. Trump captured the White House by uniting evangelical Christians, traditional conservatives, with rust-belt rural ex-Democrats. He also lowered the expectations that the Democratic party had any kind of answer to a generation of establishment economic decline. In the process, the Democratic Party voter turnout (especially among minorities was abysmally low. After eight years of Obama, economic life hasn’t improved for the working class or the working poor, either in rural or urban America.

Evangelical Christians have been extremely alienated from the Republican establishment, and economics is certainly not their only issue. What Trump would do about abortion was placed firmly on his agenda with the death of Supreme Court Justice, Antonin Scalia. In an office where justices have terms lasting a lifetime, the prospects of turning the US Supreme Court in an anti-abortion direction — over the course of the next four to eight years — became quite high on the evangelical agenda.

Also for evangelicals, there is the critical issue of the direction of US foreign policy as it relates to Israel. Obama has been correctly perceived as the modern-day version of ex-President Jimmy Carter. Obama is no friend of a truly defensible Israel. And like Carter, his adoption of the UN as a vehicle to push for the PLO agenda toward the two-state solution has become anathema for nearly all Republicans, conservatives and evangelicals alike.

At the Republican National Convention last summer, the establishment Bush-Baker adoption of the two-state solution was officially removed from the party platform. The Republican Party has now become the party of Trump and his large coalition of outsiders. Nearly everyone of his evangelical supporters and many millions of Jews, both in Israel and the US, await a Trump redefinition of US policy toward Israel. This will mean the vast advancement of the settlement project and the diminution of the recalcitrant PLO. Also, a large majority of the Republican Party eagerly awaits the imminent move of the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

It has become obvious for all to see that the Trump Republican Party is in direct opposition to the Obama establishment approach. The movement of the US embassy — in all likelihood to West Jerusalem, where even the PLO has admitted that Israel’s capital would eventually be located — has caused eruptions of derision from Palestinian officials. On a December conference call to the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. (a bastion of the two-state solution), Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the PLO, made these threats to President-elect Trump: “Moving the embassy to Jerusalem will mean the end of an era in the peace process.”

Oh really? Hadn’t the current era ended when the Obama administration rewarded the PLO in December at the UN? In fact, Obama rewarded the PLO for its constant incitement, repeated use of terrorist tactics, failure to recognize Israel as a state of the Jewish people, and fundamentally its insistence that Israeli control of the Jordan River Valley was an unnecessary impediment to the so-called “peaceful” two-state solution. Erekat understands that Trump will not disrespect Israel by having the UN set the conditions of negotiation. He also understands that under Trump, Israel will set its own conditions for negotiation. This means that for the Palestinians — to eventually have some kind of capital in Jerusalem — they are going to have to accept deep concessions on the West Bank as a whole.

Erekat’s frustration boiled over into anger as he continued with his diatribe against the new US president-elect: “I’m still the chief negotiator for the Palestinians, and if the embassy moves to Jerusalem, I will not be the negotiator anymore. I will stop negotiating and I can assure you that the PLO will revoke its recognition of the state of Israel and revoke all agreements signed.” What a load of hypocrisy. Rabin said over two decades ago that he would not continue negotiating with the PLO until it completely overhauled its Covenant. As of this minute, the Covenant remains the same, no official change whatsoever. So much for the signed word of the PLO. It’s really too bad Rabin was assassinated, because under his tutelage the PLO and its bogus peace process would have been discredited within the liberal US Democratic Party years ago.

Now there are two diametrically opposed US policies with regard to the future of the territories under dispute. The Democratic Party adheres to the old paradigm of the two-state solution, while the world now awaits the new Trump policy. Obama has declared, by UN abstention, that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal. Trump must affirm a direct alternative to this opinion. He must state unequivocally that the settlements are legal and that he doesn’t oppose them.

The new president needs to utilize the best legal minds that the US has to offer in order to clearly articulate the true legal precedents established within international law. These precedents prove that it is the UN Security Council that is operating in an arbitrary manner with respect to law. In order for such a policy to be feasible, the new president must offer an alternative peace process in conjunction with an entire new peace narrative. Such a new paradigm must define the old narrative — the two-state solution — as the strategic Palestinian objective of a step-by-step dismantling of any Jewish presence within the territories. This two-state solution must be strictly opposed as an attempt to alter history — by making Israel the aggressor nation in the war of 1967.

The Trump administration must educate the US population as to the true history of the conflict in terms of continual Arab intransigence and the vital military importance of the West Bank. Unlike Obama and the Democratic Party, Trump must espouse a security priority based on terrain and not solely on weapon systems. Israel’s front-line defense against extremism and its incredible security vulnerabilities must be articulated to offset the propaganda emanating from its various enemies. Israel would be defenseless without a significant presence across the entire breadth of the territory liberated from Jordan in the 1967 War. The PLO understands the vital military importance of the West Bank; hence their insistence on the two-state solution.

The PLO must be isolated from US policy. But simultaneously, the Arab population of the West Bank needs hope for an alternative leadership through democratic elections in both Jordan and the West Bank. The Jordanian monarch must be encouraged to alter the constitutional framework of his monarchy to establish his own legitimacy as head of state, while adopting a democratic formula toward government and policy. Jordan’s model should be the royal family of Britain. Trump must pressure both the UK government and the British royals to guide the court in Amman toward a true democratic constitutional monarchy. Without a democratic component to offer West Bank Palestinians (who are all subjects of the Jordanian King), the leverage applied against the two-state solution will be perceived as solely anti-Palestinian. This is especially true if the US embassy is moved to Jerusalem and Jewish settlements are to be expanded. Leverage must come with hope.

However, it must be made clear to the Palestinians that the time of the two-state solution is clearly over. That the model of the future will either be shared sovereignty for the West Bank and Jerusalem between Israel and a democratic state in Jordan, or an Israeli annexation of the territory with a limited Palestinian autonomy linked to Jordan by loose confederation. The choice is for the Palestinians to make. The Israeli government and the Trump administration must remain steadfast that the idea of an independent West Bank Palestinian state has now become a thing of the past.

The Obama-UN vision will never be allowed to prevail, because four years from now another one to two hundred thousand more Jews will be living in Judea and Samaria. Also, a bi-national state consisting of Jews and Arabs west of the Jordan River will not be offered. Only through a democratic Jordan will Palestinian political rights be granted. When the Palestinians come forth to demand their political rights from the US or Israel, the governments in Washington and Jerusalem will point in the direction of the royal family in Amman for democracy through civil moderation. This is the best direction toward genuine peace. If the Arabs of the West Bank and Jordan reject moderation with Israel, then the whole Arab world will be the loser.

Everyone in the Arab Middle East knows that the policy of the PLO over the course of the last fifty-three years has been maximal in nature. This is true because the history of the two-state solution has been, and still is, integral to the PLO Covenant of total liberation. The vast majority of the Palestinians have rejected a permanent Jewish sovereign presence in any part of the historic Holy Land. However, the Palestinians are stealthy. They still reject Israel, but claim otherwise through the two-state solution. The American political establishment has been unable to discern the truth of this reality. Perhaps an outsider can do much better. On January 20, 2017 the political and structural demise of the abhorrent two-state solution (based on totally fabricated lies) will become imminent. This has now become apparent because an outsider, Donald J. Trump, understands all too well the limited vision of the American political establishment.

About the Author
Steven Horowitz has been a farmer, journalist and teacher spanning the last 45 years. He resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA. During the 1970's, he lived on kibbutz in Israel, where he worked as a shepherd and construction worker. In 1985, he was the winner of the Christian Science Monitor's Peace 2010 international essay contest. He was a contributing author to the book "How Peace came to the World" (MIT Press).