Speaking at the Washington-based Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum on December 7, Secretary of State John Kerry intoned that because the 1-state solution is “not viable” to preserve Israel’s status as a Jewish, democratic state, there is only the 2-state solution. This is the mantra that the United States and the West have clung to through thick and thin.
Negotiations began in earnest between the Palestinian Arabs and Israel after the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. It’s always been the fashionable thing to blame Israel for the lack of a peace treaty, as if Israel could have created a State of Palestine by itself. However, that is far from the case.
The major impediment to the success of the 2-state solution is the inability of the Arabs to accept a Jewish State on what they call “Arab land.” This is a deep-seated paradigm emanating from the Koran and the Hadith, which are fundamental to Muslims. The Jews (one of the two “People of the Book,” along with Christians) will be tolerated by Muslims to live amongst them, but only if they accept “dhimmi” (extremely subservient) status. As for Jews having a state of their own in the Middle East, it’s an abomination and thoroughly unacceptable for practicing Muslims.
Despite the repetition of “no state for the Jews” in (Arabic) writings and speeches, the West continues to hold fast to the 2-state solution, in which, “two states, Arab and Jewish, live side by side in peace.” No amount of translations of Arab politicians’ speeches and imams’ sermons can convince Western diplomats of the uselessness of their incessant calls for Israel to “give” the Palestinian Arabs a state.
The 1-state solution still has many proponents among Israelis and others. One version entails officially annexing all of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank). Some proponents advocate offering money to the Arabs to entice them to leave Judea and Samaria, with a relatively large sum in hand to begin a better life elsewhere. Other proponents advocate offering citizenship to all the Arabs, in the belief that since Israel is prospering with a 20% Arab minority, it can continue to do so with a 40% Arab minority. Citizenship would be offered to the Arabs who pledged loyalty to Israel, the Jewish state, similar to the Druze, who pledge loyalty to the government of the country in which they reside.
Some Arabs also like the 1-state plan for its bi-national character. They reason that if Arabs are granted citizenship, it is only a matter of time before Arabs will outnumber Jews. Then the democratic nature of the state will turn to their advantage, allowing the Arab majority to end the “Jewish” status of Israel and bloodlessly turn Israel into the Islamic State of Palestine.
There are other alternative ideas, despite Secretary Kerry and other diplomats being unable to imagine them. Naftali Bennett, the current Economy Minister who heads the rightist Jewish Home party, also spoke at the recent Saban Forum. Bennett reiterated his plan to annex Area C of Judea and Samaria, where about 400,000 Israelis reside. (“Approximately 62 percent of the area of the West Bank is in Area C, where Israel retains authority [according to the Oslo Accords] over law enforcement and control over the building and planning sphere.” http://unispal.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/) The approximately 90,000 Arab residents of Area C could become Israel citizens. This is very similar to what happened with the Golan Heights, which came under Israeli law in 1981.
For those who think that unofficial recognition of the Golan, and Area C if it were annexed, is an insurmountable obstacle, there is a very pertinent precedent with the opposite conclusion: the 1948-1967 Jordanian annexation of what it named the “West Bank.” It was illegally seized during an offensive war against Israel and become totally accepted and legitimized by the world, not at first, but after 20 years, subsequent to Israel’s capture of Judea and Samaria in a defensive war.
Once Israel took over Judea and Samaria, Jordan’s claim to the “West Bank” became sacrosanct. (In 1988 King Hussein surrendered his claim to the PLO.) Incidentally, in all official documents – British, then League of Nations, then United Nations – this area was designated as Judea and Samaria.
There are more alternative ideas, although I hesitate to call them or the above plans (including Bennett’s annexation plan) “solutions,” primarily because the Muslim world will never accept any proposal which doesn’t replace Israel with a Muslim state, or perhaps a caliphate.
The establishment of a State of Palestine at this time seems highly unlikely. This is especially true because “Palestine” is divided and Gaza is ruled by Hamas terrorists. Hamas is also active in the Palestinian Authority (aka West Bank), where it is eager to displace the Fatah organization, which presents a more civilized, Western appearance despite its own terrorist underpinnings.
If much of the Middle East appears likely to be redivided into clan-dominated entities, (emirates), why couldn’t that be a viable scenario for the Palestinian Arabs? Just such an outcome has been predicted by Mordecai Kedar, an Israeli scholar of Arabic literature and a lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, who served for twenty-five years in IDF Military Intelligence. His website, http://www.palestinianemirates.com, explains his plan for “local leadership in the [eight] Arab Palestinian population centers that desire lasting peaceful relations [with Israel] as independent city-states.”
Kedar’s idea is just one possibility. The West, including leading Israeli liberals, must take off their rose-colored glasses and examine the reality of the Middle East, which is changing dramatically and rapidly. Old ideas, such as the 2-state solution, can’t and won’t work. It’s pointless to say, as Kerry does, that there is only one solution. Wishing won’t make it so.