Tunneling Under the Two-State Solution

All across America the military veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are being honored. At parades, civic ceremonies and even baseball games, Americans in their thousands rise to give their returning warriors standing ovations. As an avid baseball fan, I see this behavior exhibited at each and every game that I attend (and I attend many). It is the military which appears to be the last US government institution where the unity and respect of the nation is truly on exhibit. The generals and admirals of all the US service branches are both listened to and admired. Their opinions hold great weight — especially, of course, on the conduct of war in relation to military honor and the rules of engagement. Civilian populations and their safety have become a special concern of the US armed forces. On this score, ex-US Marine Commandant General James T. Conway has written a brilliant opinion piece in the July 25th edition of the Wall Street Journal.
General Conway is certainly NOT an Israeli sycophant. As the top man in the Marine Corps, The General “calls ’em like he sees ’em”, and when it comes to war he sees things very clearly indeed. In his essay, entitled “The Moral Chasm between Israel and Hamas”, General Conway builds the realistic case for the IDF’s legitimate conduct against an enemy embedded deeply within its own civilian population. The General’s case is so well laid out, and with such cogency, that refutation by the spin masters of the media and intellectual Left is near impossible. Of course none of this is news to the Israeli population, but here in the US the General’s essay and voice need to be read and broadcast across the nation. The American people understand the difference between their democratic ally Israel and a national movement (Hamas) bent on the destruction of its innocent children. Their use of human shields for the sake of internal politics and anti-Jewish propaganda is worse than craven. I truly wonder about the American Liberal media elites. From some of the coverage here in the US, the deliberate bias against Israel smacks of the worst simplicity of the old Soviet Union.
With all due respect to the many Israeli spokespersons who broadcast throughout the media, among the American common working people (many who have served in the armed forces) a man like General Conway packs far more punch than even the Israeli PM. Each and every one of those Israeli media spokespersons needs to be quoting the General and his numerous colleagues on a regular basis, day in and day out. The Liberal US news media must be challenged to put General Conway on the air. It is the conduct of the national Palestinian leadership and their barbaric use of children as human shields — in conjunction with their rockets and attack tunnels for the purpose of kidnap and/or murder of innocent Israeli children — that the General finds so incredibly reprehensible.
Even the so-called “Palestinian moderates” on the West Bank are now embracing the tactics of the Islamic leadership in Gaza. The diplomatic attempts (by the PA) to negotiate the Israelis out of the West Bank and into a position of military inferiority have failed. The Palestinians have begun to understand that the withdrawal of the Israeli military presence from the disputed territories will never be forthcoming, especially not now. The “War of the Tunnels” has opened up the eyes of not only most Israelis, but the Jewish people as a whole, to the fact that exiting the West Bank would be a grave mistake (emphasis on the word grave). Ariel Sharon’s great blunder has turned into a great gift. The Israeli nation has been given a glimpse into the future, and they don’t like what they see. If the political Left had had its way, the Gaza tunnels of 2014 could have been duplicated on the West Bank sometime in the future. As of this writing, the intent of the Palestinian people toward Jews and Israel is exactly the same as it has been for the last one hundred years. They want the Jews gone. The delusion of peace has been just that, a delusion.
The recent polling by the US-based Washington Institute for Near East Policy confirms that nine out of ten Palestinians either want Israel destroyed at once, or in phases. For the Palestinian leadership on the West Bank, the tactics of Hamas today have exposed a future strategy (on the West Bank) that is now impossible for them to achieve. The ugly truth of the two-state solution stands naked before us. The open gateway to Jordan, for the purpose of smuggling weapons and materials in order to build a national weapons infrastructure, has been the goal of the PLO since the early 1970’s. In Israel, even the far Left has shed its illusions. Now they are all security hawks. The stature of Rabin can only be enhanced. His timid handshake with Arafat on the lawn of the White House in 1993 and his vision of an extremely limited Palestinian entity on the West Bank have been confirmed. Israel can never leave the West Bank without risking a hundred times more danger than the type on exhibit in Gaza today.
For better or for worse, the complete separation of the two peoples on the West Bank is now impossible. In the last three weeks the mindset of the vast Israeli political center has shifted dramatically. This slow process began with all the hopes of Oslo, eroded cautiously over the years, and has now died with the tunnels of Gaza. The great Israeli Center will never shift back. From each election onward, all Israeli politicians must answer conclusively the myriad of vexing questions directed solely at the transfer of a Gaza-like weapons infrastructure on an evacuated West Bank. The two-state solution has become the biggest casualty of the “War of the Tunnels”. History has moved two entire nations. The rage of the Palestinians, for not achieving a completely independent and sovereign West Bank state (for the long-term purpose of phased struggle), has been brought to light by the alternative tactics of Hamas desperation. The long game of diplomatic niceties has been just that — too long for the West Bank Palestinians to handle. The failure of the Arafat-Abbas strategy to overcome the prudence of the Israeli Right has finally broken the moribund peace process. The entire futile effort has now been exposed for all to clearly see: Israelis were given a Trojan horse with the prospect of many tunnels underneath.
However, the Liberal American fantasy world continues to spin. Unlike the common people of Israel, the Washington elites within and adjacent to the Obama administration appear to have missed the important lessons learned from this war. They just can’t let go of the old paradigm. For them, the two-state solution is like a flat-earth society. It has to be true because they’ve invested their entire professional careers into it. And of course they think they know better than the common people, because they all have fancy academic credentials and long bios with important titles. They are constantly congratulating each other for their “brilliance”. But it is always the common people (the grunts) who do the fighting and the dying. And it is always the grunts who have to live with the mistakes of these intellectual elites.
For the elites there can be no peace process other than the two-state solution. After the dust settles in Gaza, Kerry, Indyk and company plan to give it one more “old college try”. The idea that their “friends” in the PLO have been lying to them for the past twenty-six years has simply never entered into their imagination. These elites are far too polite to ever discuss the concept of “phased struggle”. It’s not even on their radar screens. In fact, I’m certain that the Obama administration is so out of touch with the reality of so-called Palestinian “steadfastness” that they must be shocked by the recent polling. But the truth is the truth, so hopefully it will begin to set these people free. As of this moment, the corpse of the two-state solution lies in a tunnel somewhere in Gaza, as the entire West Bank Palestinian population cheers on their Hamas “liberators”.
I wonder what General Conway and his colleagues really think about these American armchair commanders? From a military perspective, the Gaza tunnel infrastructure, if replicated on the West Bank, would indeed be a game changer. The idea of a demilitarized state without planes or tanks becomes meaningless with the advent of an underground arsenal of rockets and a porous subterranean border leading directly into greater Tel Aviv. Two thousand well-armed Palestinian commandos at rush-hour on an Israeli freeway, or the capture of the municipal water system, or the targeted assassination of the iron-dome technicians, or whatever nightmare scenario you could possibly think of — would certainly give General Conway pause.
Israel can only fight and win if its reserve army has time to mobilize. Take away the time element (by immobilizing Tel Aviv,) and Israel could be broken in a matter of days. With an enemy to its east (for instance, IS or the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood) and another enemy to its north (for instance, IS or Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps), the absence of the vital security envelope of the West Bank for Israeli mobilization would mean certain defeat. In a moment of surprise attack, strategic depth from an enemy is crucial. Without the IDF in control of the entire West Bank at the very moment of an enemy’s initial move, Tel Aviv and the entire structure of an Israeli military response would be put into jeopardy. The 1967 War and the tepid Hashemite response to Nasser’s request for Jordanian action can never again be repeated.
The Palestinian quest to achieve military honor through its suicidal resistance in Gaza has not only wrought devastation to its people, it has brought to light a new truism for the future: Either these two peoples will have to learn to live together on the West Bank, or sometime in the future one of them will be forced to leave. From this moment forward, the Jewish people will never leave Judea and Samaria of their own accord. Now no American president could ask that of its ally. Such a request would be a political poison pill for either the Democrats or the Republicans. It’s not just about the Jordan River Valley any more. The lessons learned in the last three weeks will not be undone any time soon, and hopefully not ever. The Palestinians in Gaza have succeeded with their vast system of underground tunnels to finally blow up the two-state solution for the West Bank. Once and for all, the old paradigm is dead. Long live the new paradigm, and may it prosper — condominium and shared-rule.

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).