Thursday, March 26, 2015
WHO WANTS A TWO-STATE SOLUTION, ANYWAY?
By Amir Taheri March 20, 2015
For the full article go to: http://tinyurl.com/pyk7n37
For months, the Obama administration conducted a campaign of denigration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, depicting him as “an obstacle to peace” in the Middle East.
The campaign found greater intensity after Netanyahu, seeking a new term in office, committed himself not to allow the creation of a Palestinian state, before walking his comments back after the election.
Although the idea of a two-state solution did not originate with him, President Obama’s advisers regarded the results of the Israeli election as a setback for him.
And because they think that whatever Obama says should never be challenged, they fomented a mood of doom and gloom about the Middle East, a region which has enough of both for reasons beyond the perennial Israel-Palestine issue.
However, as an Arab proverb has it: “There is always something good in whatever happens.”
To start with, as some of us predicted at the outset, the two-state formula, which has been the flavor of the day since 2009, has not worked.
We are as far from any peace between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors as ever.
Even the so-called “peace process” has been exposed as a sham. Obama’s peace envoy, the honorable George Mitchell, pulled out as fast as he could. And last week it was the turn of Tony Blair, the Peace Quartet envoy, to throw in the towel.
There is no evidence that a majority of Israelis want a two-state formula.
In fact, if we add up votes won by all parties implicitly or explicitly opposed to the two-state formula, we will have a whopping 75 per cent of Israelis.
Thus what Netanyahu mastered enough courage to say aloud is what most Israelis think in silence.
The picture is hardly different on the Palestinian side. To start with, the Palestinians are divided in at least three camps.
In one camp we have Fatah and its allies who have never formally committed to a two-state formula but have dropped hints that they might accept such a solution as a first step toward liberating the rest of historic Palestine, that is to say, what is now Israel, later.
The second camp is dominated by Hamas, which is committed to the destruction of Israel in no uncertain terms.
However, Hamas does not want a Palestinian state either. As the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas is a pan-Islamist group dedicated to fighting for the creation of a global caliphate.
In the third camp, there are more radical Palestinian groups, including the Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, now the favored protégé of the Islamic Republic in Tehran.
The IJLP leadership has repeatedly declared its support for a one-state formula sponsored by Iranian “Supreme Guide” Ali Khamenei. Under Khamenei’s formula, Jews who “came to Palestine from other places” will return to their original homelands. The remaining Jews will join the Palestinians in today’s Israel as well as Gaza and the West Bank to set up one state.
Those familiar with Palestinian public mood in the West Bank and Gaza know that, although a majority resent Israeli domination and the hardships incidental to occupation, there is great concern about the possibility, not to say certainty, that any Palestinian state manufactured through diplomatic games may become as corrupt and despotic as almost all Arab states are today.
Gaza, which is already a Palestinian state in all but name, is a bad poster for a future state created by the terrible trio depicted above.
Proportionally, Gaza has more political prisoners than any Arab country. Hamas imposes a regime of censorship and intimidation little better than those of Saddam Hussein in Iraq or Bashar al-Assad in Syria.
Palestinian friends tell me they were happy Netanyahu decided to “puncture” the two-state illusion, something that neither Israelis nor Palestinians really want.
So, what is to be done?
First, let’s take stock of the status quo, which, as is often the case, has a certain justification compared to a range of worse options.
Let us also accept that living with a problem, by managing it better, may be wiser than rushing into a mirage of a solution that could produce even bigger problems.
Having created an opportunity for debate, Netanyahu must now work to put it to good use by asking Israelis to think and talk about how they see the future of relations with Palestinians and what they are prepared to give in exchange for what they hope to receive.
For their part, Palestinians, too, should for the first time engage in a genuine debate over their vision of future relations with Israel — coexistence, and if so, in what form.