'Two states' an empty slogan
Op-ed: Palestinians reiterate their 'commitment' to peace process, but refuse to recognize Israel as Jewish state
As pundits try to gauge the strength of the alliance between Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennett, who have so far refused to enter a Netanyahu-led coalition, it is important to discuss the main disagreement between the leaders of the Yesh Atid and Habayit Hayehudi parties.
Lapid has adopted the "two states for two peoples" paradigm, although he has refrained from talking about it in a pathetically obsessive way, as Tzipi Livni has. Bennett, on the other hand, has rejected the model out of hand. A diplomatic abyss separates Lapid and Bennett, but it has yet to damage their alliance, perhaps because they both assume the "two states for two peoples" idea will never materialize, at least not in the near future. The "two states for two peoples" slogan has no hold in reality, despite the fact that it is supported by many in Israel and the Western world.
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Apart from the fact that a Palestinian leader who would be willing to sign a peace agreement without demanding the return of a significant number of refugees to Israel has yet to be born, senior Palestinian officials refuse to even utter the words "Jewish state."
The Palestinian ethos and Palestinian literature do not signal even the slightest willingness to make progress toward recognizing the Jewish state. The demand for the return of the refugees is aimed at flooding Israel with Palestinians as part of the effort to strip the country of its Jewish character.
All this does not stop the majority of Palestinian officials from repeatedly telling Israel and the West of their "commitment to the idea of two states for two people" while at the same time objecting to any recognition of the Jewish state.
It is one thing to speak of a withdrawal from Judea and Samaria while accepting some part of the "right of return" in exchange for a peace agreement, which will most likely collapse like the Oslo Accords did, and it is an entirely different thing to view the "two states for two peoples" formula as the headline of the peace deal which is supposed to create a Palestinian nation state in the West Bank alongside a Jewish nation state in Israel.
The chances of realizing the second option do not exist anyway, unless "two states" means establishing a Jew-free Palestinian-Hamasnik nation state in Gaza and another PLO nation state, which will also be free of Jews, in Judea and Samaria.
In the State of Israel, in which many leaders and important institutions are against giving preference to the Jewish nation over the large Arab minority, the idea of a Jewish nation state cannot be realized in the framework of the fictive "two states for two people" formula.
However, since Lapid, Livni and the rest of the advocates of the "two states for two peoples" principle cannot publicly admit that the Palestinians are refusing to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, they are actually rejecting that same principle.
This is what the sentence "We do not need the Palestinians to recognize us as a Jewish state" was invented for. It means that our recognition as a Jewish state, much like Shari Arison's peace, starts with us, and it also ends with is, just like the "two states for two peoples" idea – which has always been no more than a catchy marketing slogan devoid of any content.