The United Nations, European Union, and the United States continue to be fixated on the Two State Solution (TSS) as the be-all and end-all of the never-ending conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs. In fact, many still incorrectly believe that, were “peace” to break out between the two protagonists, all other Middle East conflicts would fade away. The second premise is ridiculous, on its face, believing that the TSS is the “only” salvation is not only wrong, it shows a dangerous lack of imagination with an abundance of avoiding the factual situation.
The first time the TSS was proposed was in 1937. The 1937 British Peel Commission recommended partitioning Palestine into two main parts, a very large Arab part (not “Palestinian”) and a much smaller Jewish part, originating the idea of a TSS. The Jews eventually accepted this formula under UN resolution 181, the 1947 UN Partition Plan for Palestine, and declared the State of Israel less than a year later. Israel’s Arab enemies, however, totally rejected the Plan, refusing to give an inch of “Arab land” to the hated Jews. As for the Palestinian Arabs, they had no role in the negotiations nor had they any expectation of gaining an independent state of their own. Rather, Transjordan and Egypt occupied Judea & Samaria and the Gaza Strip, respectively (1948-1967).
Because the UN Partition Plan was rejected by the Arabs, it never took effect. Israel acted unilaterally to create a modern state for the Jews, while the Hashemite rulers of Transjordan and the Egyptian leadership declined to create a new Arab state in the territory each controlled from 1948-1967. Egypt never claimed sovereignty over the Gaza Strip area, while Transjordan annexed Judea & Samaria and renamed itself “Jordan.” In 1988, Jordan’s King Hussein severed “administrative and legal” ties with the West Bank. (The term “West Bank” is a modern invention of the Hashemites after Jordan occupied Judea & Samaria.)
The Six Day War took place in June, 1967. In November 1967, after much deliberation, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 242, which was expected to be the blueprint for eventual peace between Israel and its adversaries: Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria. (Syria “conditionally” agreed to the resolution incorporated into Res. 338, in 1973.) As part of the Oslo Accord of 1993, the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) agreed to abide by Resolutions 242 & 338).
Paragraph One of 242: “Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict [explicitly, not “from the territories” or “from all the territories”];
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.” (wikipedia.com)
Nowhere is there a mention of a Palestinian Arab state, nor withdrawal from all territory captured by Israel in this defensive war. In fact, Israel withdrew from a huge swath of territory, the Sinai Peninsula, when it signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1978. However, Israel never considered that territory to be part of the Land of Israel, nor was it included in the Balfour Declaration (1917) or the British Mandate for Palestine (1922) under the auspices of the League of Nations. Therefore, Israel never withdrew from any territory considered to be its homeland of Judea and Samaria.
At the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993, Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin invited (from exile in Tunis) the terrorist Yasser Arafat and his terrorist organization, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). “The accord called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank town of Jericho and the establishment of a Palestinian government that would eventually be granted authority over much of the West Bank.” (history.com) Israel withdrew from Palestinian cities but later, due to the Second Intifada (2000), had to retake control; Israel withdrew totally from Gaza in 2006-7.
However, the PLO and its subsidiary, the Palestinian Authority (PA), had absolutely no intention to “legitimize” the Jewish State by accepting its existence with a formal treaty. Even more adamant in its rejection of Israel is Hamas, the acknowledged terrorist organization ruling over Gaza, which is likely to gain more hegemony in Judea & Samaria if the upcoming Palestinian elections actually occur on October 8.
If one were to draw a circle and include in it all the absolute demands of the Palestinian Arabs, and another circle with all of the absolute demands of the Israelis, those two circles would barely overlap (i.e. Venn diagram), because the demands of each party are anathema to the opposing side. There are irreconcilable differences on many essential points: a demilitarized (which is impossible to maintain, even if it were agreed to) Palestinian state; , Israeli control of the new state’s external borders; Israel’s retention of the “high ground” of the Samarian and Judean Mountains; that Israel’s retention of the vulnerable Jordan Valley to the east of those mountains; the division of the 3,000 year old capital of Jerusalem; the “right of return” of Palestinian Arabs to Israel; and more.
Complicating the situation is that the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia back most of the demands of the Arabs for a state, but none of the Israeli demands.
Unfortunately and mistakenly, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu accepted the TSS in his landmark speech (2009) at Bar Ilan University – although his party, Likud, is almost uniformly opposed to it. So, we can’t expect the West to be more Zionistic than the Israelis. However, because the TSS is so discordant with the Islamic political stance (Islam is all about sovereignty), no Palestinian Arab leader will ever dare to accept it.
What is viable then, if not the TSS, except the “dreaded” One State Solution, which is automatically thought to result in the demographic demise of Israel? Plenty, if one is willing to think out of the box.
(See Prof. Paul Eidelberg, www.israpundit.org; Dr. Mordecai Kedar, palestinianemirates.com; Commentator &Analyst Carolyn Glick, atimes.com; and others)
The inevitable fact is that Israel does and will continue to control all of the Land of Israel. It might offer citizenship to Palestinian Arabs willing to accept the responsibilities (loyalty, for one) of being Israeli citizens. Here’s one proposal from Middle East pundit Martin Sherman (strategicisrael.org):
“It is time to devise a humanitarian approach to Gaza, in particular, and the Palestinian question, in general, that puts the individual and his/her welfare at the center of focus, rather than the invented collective and contrived national aspirations.” (jpost.com)
Sherman’s solution: 1. Dissolution or radical restructuring of UNRWA (the United Nations Relief and Works Agency) to bring the treatment of Palestinian refugees into line with universal international norms.
2. Resolute insistence on the cessation of ethnic discrimination against Palestinian Arabs in the Arab world, allowing them citizenship in countries where they have resided for decades.
3. Generous relocation loans provided directly to individual Palestinian Arab family units in Judea/Samaria/Gaza to allow them to build better futures for themselves, and their dependents, in third-party countries of their choice.
“Since the Palestinians will not be arriving as penniless refugees but relatively wealthy émigrés, in terms of average global GDP per capita, there will be considerable economic benefits for the host countries, whose economies will receive large influxes (potentially billions) of capital. Absorption can be made more palatable by offering host countries additional benefits (for example the funds currently funneled to UNRWA).” (israpundit.org)
If you don’t believe that many Palestinian Arabs reject living under Arab rule, here’s a recent poll: “We [Pechter Middle East Polls] found that more Palestinians in east Jerusalem would prefer to become citizens of Israel rather than citizens of a new Palestinian state: 35 percent would prefer to become citizens of Israel, 30 percent citizens of Palestine, and 35 percent either don’t know or refused to answer.” (jcpa.org)
The West and the PA are ready to chuck out UN Resolution 242 and force Israel to ethnically cleanse Jews from Judea & Samaria to create a Jew-free State of Palestine, which will undoubtedly soon become yet another failed, terrorist state. Instead, the criminal leaders of the Palestinian Arabs should be chucked along with the TSS. Then, more pragmatic, imaginative ideas, such as Martin Sherman’s, can be investigated, for the good of all concerned.