Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Why the two-state solution is a non-starter

Why the two-state solution is a non-starter

Map of Israel
I am not a supporter of the Two State solution (i.e. one Jewish democratic state for Israel and one state for the Palestinians, which are intended to live side by side in peace and security) because it has always seemed obvious to me that a Palestinian state on Israel’s borders would not only compress Israel to an unrealistically tiny and indefensible area, but would bring Hamas or Hezbollah terrorism to within an inch of Israel’s population and industrial centers.  And yet such an obvious viewpoint seems incomprehensible even to many of Israel’s supporters.
A couple of articles that I read over the weekend together with another one from yesterday help explain the reasons why the “Two-State Solution” for the Israel-Palestinian crisis will never work, and express my sentiments more accurately and eloquently than I ever could.
The first and probably most important article is by Barry Shaw in the Jerusalem Post:Why a two-state solution will never work. Some excerpts:
There is no place for you Jews among us, and you have no future among the nations of the world. You are headed for annihilation. – Mahmoud Zahar.
Death to Israel! – Heard at most anti-Israel demonstrations.
I will never recognize the Jewish state, not in a thousand years! – Mahmoud Abbas
From the river to the sea, from the north to the south, this is our land, our homeland. There will be no relinquishing even an inch of it. Israel is illegitimate and will remain so throughout the passage of time. It belongs to us and not the Zionists – Khaled Mashaal
Today is Gaza. Tomorrow will be Ramallah. After that Jerusalem, then Haifa and Jaffa – Ismail Haniyeh.
Which part of that do you not understand? For decades we have been bombarded by expert opinion telling us why the two-state paradigm is the only solution for a peaceful settlement with the Palestinians, and for the survival of a democratic Jewish state.
Having spent this period researching and studying the paths outlined for this road map, and analyzing the basic character and intentions of Israel’s adversary in this journey, it has brought me, irrevocably and inevitably, to the definite conclusion that it will never happen and, if it did, it would end in disaster for Israel.
If it did happen it would be the death knell for the Jewish state of Israel.
It would be the death knell because it would be the final stage, when Israel would have been reduced to a withered rump of a strategically weakened state, impossible to defend or protect itself from certain onslaught by a threatening circle of radical Islam. A Palestinian state would not be the buffer zone against such an assault; rather it would be the spearhead over whose territory a major attack would take place.
Whenever I discuss the subject with Israeli politicians, experts, European diplomats and journalists, all of whom foster the utopian dream of a two-state solution based on the 1967 lines with parts of Jerusalem given to the Palestinians as their new capital, I ask them one question, one critical question, that gnaws away at me. It gnaws away at me all the more so because I never receive an answer from them that assuages my concerns and fears.
In fact, their lack of an adequate response, their incomprehension of the premise of my question, amplifies my concerns and fears. Nobody, none of these experts, none of these people who are pushing this two-state package, none of the influence and opinion makers, is able to confront this question. Many haven’t even considered the question relevant.
Here is the scenario that leads to my question, a scenario that is the dream of the two-staters.
Israel agrees to cede land for the creation of a Palestinian state that stretches to the 1967 lines. The Palestinians have accepted certain territorial compromises. They have been granted parts of east Jerusalem to establish their administrative headquarters that will lead to their future capital.
Large blocks of Jewish townships within Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) remain as integral parts of sovereign Israel. A huge celebration throughout the world as an agreement is signed at the White House.
Then, later, the Palestinians hold their long-overdue elections, and Hamas wins a landslide victory garnering over 70 percent of the vote.
What then? Hamas is ruling the new entity and confirms the protocol of its Charter to liberate all of Palestine, by “armed struggle” if necessary. It boasts of its success in reaching Tel Aviv with its Gaza rockets, and now all of Israel is within its range. It controls the streets of Jerusalem and brags that its flags will fly over all the holy places of Palestine. Tulkarm is only a 15-second rocket flight to Kfar Yona, which lies barely 2 kilometers away. Netanya, on the Mediterranean coast in central Israel, is only a 30- second rocket shot. Kfar Saba is a similar 15 seconds from Palestinian rockets launched from Kalkilya, with Ra’anana just twice that range.
Hamas will control the hills overlooking Israel’s main international airport.
My critical question is, when Palestine opens its terror war against Israel from over these 1967 borders, backed by the new Islamic armies of Lebanon, Syria, Jordan (the king having been deposed by the Muslim Brotherhood) and Egypt, who will take responsibility for that outcome? For many two-staters, this is the question that dare not be asked, for fear that it will bring the edifice, on which their ill-conceived idea is based, tumbling down on our heads.
The answer: Nobody. We will see the same responses that we get today.
There will always be ongoing Palestinian issues, until the day that Israel no longer exists, and it will always be Israel’s fault. It will always be Israel that will be portrayed as the guilty party because of our “intransigence.”
But back to my critical question, which I address to all those who believe the two-state solution is the only game in town. What then? What will happen when you have pressured Israel into allowing a Palestinian entity to take hold on the 1967 borders, an entity that is taken over, democratically or otherwise, by a radical Islamic force bent on Israel’s destruction, a force that sits only 8 miles from the central coast of Israel, as it inevitably will. What then? Please don’t tell me that this will not happen. Please don’t tell me that an agreement will not come into force until proper security guarantees come into place. Please don’t tell me that this Palestinian entity has agreed to remain a demilitarized zone. Please don’t tell me that the international community will witness and guarantee Israel against such an eventuality.
A lack of ability to answer my question is proof of a disconnect with facts on the ground that makes this decades-old proposal a non-starter.
The two-staters live in a dream world of their own making, one with little relevance to what the outcome will actually be.
Read the whole thing. Every point raised here is correct.  We’ve seen these scenarios played out in the headlines over and over again, the latest being just last month in Operation Pillar of Defence. Unfortunately the writer does not provide an alternative solution. I guess the status quo is all we can hope for at the moment.
A second article addresses the view promoted by certain liberal or progressive sections of Jewish society that a Palestinian state is required according to Jewish law. Rabbi David Eliezrie in his Times of Israel article “Protesting E1 is not grounded in Judaism” puts the lie to that proposition:
Imagine for a moment that in the Hollywood Hills a local planning commission ruled that Jews, Latinos or blacks could not build or own homes. No question that Rabbi John Rosove of Temple Israel would be leading the protest, and his friends, the 400 liberal rabbis that signed a recent letter critical of Jewish construction in Jerusalem and its outskirts would be standing by his side. In claiming that Jewish homes in Ramot, Gilo and E1 would impede the emergence of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, they seem to think that the rights of Jews in their homeland are different than those of minorities in California. As Rosove writes “We see the building of E1 as a dagger aimed at the heart of a two-state solution.”
According to these rabbis, only homes for Jews are verboten. Arabs are permitted to build. If Jewish construction endangers negotiations, doesn’t this apply to Arabs? And if Rosove is right and the Arabs finally make peace why can’t Jews in the West Bank choose to live under Arab rule as a minority? They did so for a thousand years in much of Eretz Yisroel, as well as many other countries. Why can’t they continue to do so now? Israeli Arabs live in Israel; can’t Jews live in a Palestinian state?
These rabbis have selective memory when it comes to Rabbi Abraham Herschel in comparing his noble act of marching in the Selma for Civil Rights to their strident support of a Palestinian state and public criticism of Israel. It’s quite a stretch to compare the streets of Alabama to neighborhoods like Gilo and Ramot. Rosove says that Heschel taught “the opposite of good is not evil but indifference.” Heschel argued for respect towards Arabs, and hoped for peace. But he never supported a Palestinian state. Using his teachings to validate their actions is a gross injustice to his memory.
Their claim that there is a moral obligation to advocate for another Palestinian state is a misrepresentation of Judaism. There is no basis for this belief in the Talmud, the Codes, the Torah, Midrash or even the mystical teachings of Judaism embedded in the Zohar. The first words of Rashi, the great commentator of the Torah in his Magnus opus on the Bible teach the opposite. He states that the Torah starts with the Biblical narrative of the creation of the world to teach us that the Land of Israel is a divine gift to the Jewish people and that other nations have no right to claim it.
Judaism does teach us that we must treat all with dignity. Arab and Jews should be given respect. It is a vast leap to say that this means that we should support an Arab state on the Jewish homeland. There is no basis in Judaism for such a premise.
These rabbis are transposing western liberal political philosophy onto Judaism. Their ideas are not rooted in Torah, but in modern political thinking. Another Palestinian state in the West Bank could pose a mortal danger to Israel.
Again, I recommend you read the whole article for an excellent example of clear-headed thinking.
The third article that I read is by Yoram Ettinger who explains to mystified foreigners, whether Jewish or not, why the Israeli public votes as it does, in his article “An Israeli state of mind“:
On the eve of the January 22, 2013 Israeli election, the Israeli public demonstrates more realism than its politicians. Israelis highlight security imperatives when responding to reality-driven polls, which pose questions based on the stormy Arab Winter and not on the mirage of the Arab Spring.
Increasingly, Israelis recognize that — in the Middle East — bolstered security constitutes a solid base for survival and for the pursuit of peace. They realize that the pursuit of peace, by lowering the threshold of security, could jeopardize survival, as well as the slim chance for peace.
Notwithstanding the overwhelmingly dovish Israeli media and academia, most Israelis — Right, Center and Left — have concluded that security-driven peace supersedes peace-driven security.
Such positions are directly impacted by the 20-year track record of the 1993 Oslo Accords: an unprecedented Israeli gesture met by unprecedented Palestinian hate education, terrorism and noncompliance. Israeli opinions are also influenced by the current turbulence, unpredictability, unreliability, treachery and instability on the Arab street. The Israeli state of mind is also shaped by the violent Palestinian response (thousands of missiles launched at Israel) to the 2005 Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip — a tormenting, painful concession of uprooting 25 thriving Jewish communities.
According to the December Mina Tzemach (Dahaf Polling Institute) poll, most Israelis assume that Palestinians are concerned about the existence — and not the size — of Israel, and therefore are very skeptical about the land-for-peace formula. Most Israelis do not trust Palestinian compliance with agreements, and therefore are dubious about the two-state solution, which they increasingly consider a two-state delusion.
Only 20% of the Israeli public assumes that the recent developments on the Arab street are irrelevant to the Arab/Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Only 21% maintains that these events warrant an acceleration of the peace process.
About 52% — compared with 49% in 2005 — consider secure boundaries superior to peace, compared with 36% who view peace as the prerequisite to security.
Most Israelis trust only the Israel Defense Forces to protect the country. For example, only 39% assume that Israel can rely on the U.S. military during an emergency. About 68% oppose the stationing of foreign troops — including U.S. troops — in the Jordan Valley. Only 26% would support such a deployment.
About 68% do not believe that sanctions constitute an effective option against Iran; 53% presume that the U.S. will not resort to the military option to prevent Iran’s nuclearization; 53% support an Israeli military pre-emption against Iran if the U.S. fails to pre-empt.
This most comprehensive Mina Tzemach poll highlights the Israeli public as top heavy on realism and low on wishful-thinking. Most Israelis do not indulge in the New Middle East Delusion, March of Democracy or the Facebook and Youth Revolution; they brace themselves for the Real Middle East and its clear and present threats. It is a rare state of mind among Western democracies, enhancing Israel’s power-projection and Israel’s role as the beachhead of the Free World in the economically and militarily critical Middle East. It is a source of optimism.
I’m not sure “optimism” is the right word given the reality this survey portrays, but certainly it is gratifying to know that the average Israel man-in-the-street has a clear head on his shoulders and is not persuaded by the Newspeak delivered to us by the media and the likes of the UN.
What will come in place of the two-state solution remains to be seen.