Book review by U. Mahesh Prabhu
Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues to be world’s “most intractable conflict”. Despite a long-term peace process and the general reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to reach a final settlement for peace. As per prevailing sentiments “two-state solution” is being considered as the “only viable solution” for “long lasting peace”. A great many believe that this two state solution as a panacea for all the ills facing, not just Palestinians, but entire Middle East.
Americans, the key player in the peace process, are of strong belief that two-state solution is something that would end the Arab world’s conflict with Israel as Arab’s anti-Israel sentiments is owing to “absence of a Palestinian state”. They also believe that this would also mark the end of Arab world’s anti-American sentiments, as Arabs – and the larger Muslim world – are anti-American since United States supports Israel even though there is no Palestinian state. Based on this thought chain, most American policy makers across the ideological spectrum share the view that the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordanian River would remove the principal cause of the violent extremism that afflicts the Arab and the larger Islamic world.
Between 1970 and 2013, the United States presented nine different peace plans for Israel and the Palestinians, all based on the “two-state solutions” – and for the past twenty years, the two state solution has been a center piece of U.S. Middle East policy. But despite this relentless focus, American efforts to implement the two-state solution has turned to be a failure. Moreover, the abortive efforts have weakened the U.S. position in the Middle East: with each new attempt at achieving a two-state peace deal, the Middle East has become less stable, more violent, more radicalized, and more inimical to American values and interests.
In all cases, America’s embrace of the two-state solution as the centerpiece of its regional policy is the key reason that American policy makers insist that the action, stated intentions, and ideologies of all regional actors aside from those of Israel are irrelevant. Regional peace can be established only after Israel surrenders to all the Palestinians’ demands. Nothing else – including the Taliban and Iran – does matters. All else can be set aside. All else can be explained away. All else can be appeased. Only American and Israel are responsible for creating and solving the problems of the region.
Former speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich during 2011 Republican primary debates, Gingrich mentioned the plain fact that the Palestinians are an “invented people” and that they indoctrinate their children to hate Jews, to perceive Jews as subhuman, and to see their annihilation. For his statements, Gingrich was assaulted by Democrats and his fellow Republicans alike.
Although conservative and liberal pundits piled criticism on him, all Gingrich had done was share readily available information. Nearly, every day a Palestinian leader announces that Palestinians will not make peace with Israel under any circumstances. These statements are part of the public record, and all are published to great approval in the Arabic media.
Even in the face of such bad faith from Palestinians, Gingrich didn’t suggest abandoning the two-state formula – but he should have. Such a suggestion is well past due.
The two state solution hasn’t helped America win any friends, either in the region or in the world. No previously hostile Arab state has improved its relation with the United States due to its adoption of the two state formula. In fact, America was better respected in the region before 1993, when Washington made the two-state paradigm the centre piece of its Middle-East Policy. Even worse, America’s embrace of the two-state solution has weakened its regional allies and empowered forces and regimes that are inimical to its interests.
The time has come for American policy makers to reconsider their devotion to the two state formula and consider an alternative policy that makes sense both for the United States and for the Middle East.
This book – THE ISRAELI SOLUTION: A ONE STATE PLAN FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST – lays one such a policy. Author – Caroline Glick – calls it “the Israeli one-state plan.”
Israel’s Arab neighbors have never accept its right to exist as an independent entity. Even Egypt and Jordan, the two countries that have signed formal treaties of peace with Israel, have refused to implement the parts of their treaties that require them to normalize their relations with the Jewish State. Polling data show that Jordanians and Egyptians and residents to Arab Islamic states throughout the region and their world – are nearly unanimous in their hatred of Jews and in their rejection of Israel’s right to exist.
This hatred has been repeatedly translated into military aggression. And as a consequence, Israel, more than perhaps any other democratic nation in the world, needs defensible borders in order to survive.
Without Judea and Samaria, Israel is only nine miles wide from east to west. Particularly in the wake of Islamic revolutionary wave that began in December 2010 and that has led to the overthrow, destabilization, or weakening of all the regimes in neighbouring states, for Israel to withdraw from Judea and Samaria would be tantamount to inviting invasion and aggression.
Given the radicalism of the Palestinian leadership from the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and Hamas alike, 83 percent of Israel are convinced that an Israeli withdrawal to the 1949 armistice lines – from all of Judea and Samaria and partition Jerusalem – would not end the Palestinian conflict against Israel.
Ever since Yassir Arafat’s death in November 2004, PA chairman (and PLO chief) Mahmoud Abbas has governed with dictatorial powers. He was elected to his position for a four-year term in January 2005, having run virtually unopposed, but even though his term ended in January 2009, he remains in office.
Palestinian polling data indicate that a large and growing proportion of Palestinians – between two thirds and three-quarters – admire Israeli democracy more than any other democracy in the world and do not support an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria.
The Israeli one-state plan will put an end to the subjection of Palestinians to despotic rule. It will grant the Palestinians who live in these areas automatic permanent residency status and render them eligible to apply for Israeli citizenship. As permanent residents, they will be accorded the same civil and legal rights as all Israeli citizens, and if they apply for and receive Israeli citizenship, they will have the right to vote in national elections. Gaza, from which Israel withdrew completely in 2005, will remain a self-governed Palestinian territory.
The two state solution is just as antithetical to vital U.S. national security interests as it is to American values of tolerance and individual freedom. It requires Israel, America’s closest Middle East ally, to transform itself from a powerful nation, capable of defending itself from infiltration and invasion, into a strategic basket case that survives at the pleasure of its enemies.
Anti-Israel activists claim that the alternative to the two-state solution is a “one-state solution” under which Israel becomes absorbed into an Arab majority state and so loses its Jewish identity. Their claim rests solely on PA demographic data.
The basic difference between the Israeli one-state plan and the pro-Palestinian one-state solution, as represented by its supporters, is that the Israeli one-state plan is based on fact and the pro-Palestinian one-state solution is a pure propaganda. What the real demographic data show is that even if all the Palestinians living in Jude and Samaria are granted Israeli citizenship, Jews would still remain two-thirds majority of the citizens of Israel.
According to Caroline Glick, Gaza is not part of the Israeli one-state solution plan. This is for several reasons. First, Israel withdrew its military forces and civilian population from Gaza in 2005, arguably renouncing its legal claim to the area. Second, there is no significant Israeli constituency for absorbing Gaza into Israel. Third, the strategic advantage that Israel would gain from dislodging Hamas from power in Gaza would be outweighed by the strategic price it would pay in terms of the likely need to fight an insurgency within Gaza.
One of the many casualties of America’s continued fidelity to the two state myth is the coherence of its counterterror strategy. The most obvious aspect of this loss is the effective U.S. toleration of terrorism against Israel. To maintain its support for the two-state solution, the United States has turned a blind eye to the strategic nature of Palestinian terrorism, even when the victims of that terrorism are Americans.
The two-state formula is based on the proposition that the root cause of the Palestinian conflict is Israel’s unwillingness to surrender sufficient lands to Palestinians, rather than the Palestinians’ rejection of Israel’s right to exist and their continued commitment to its destruction. Accordingly, the United States and the rest of the international community, maintaining allegiance to the two-state solution, have blamed Israel for the Palestinian aggression.
Not only have successive U.S. administration turned a blind eye to the Palestinian Authority’s active leadership of the terror war against Israel – America’s closest Middle East ally – they have actually rewarded it! The United States has overseen the building of a Palestinian army. And successive U.S. administration have ignored requests of relatives of Americans killed by Palestinian terrorists to bring their relatives’ murderers to justice.
Even worse, the policy community’s near-consensual blaming of Israel for the absence of peace and stability in Middle East has severely impaired the ability of American policy makers, analysts and elected officials to understand the region. To a significant degree, the U.S. embrace of the two-state policy has contributed to successive administration’s failure to adopt rational policies for dealing with the manifold and critical challenges that the Middle East poses for the United States.
Author is Hon. Director of Center for Global Research & Initiatives & a seasoned marketing, public relations and political consultant. He can be reached via email at indiamahesh [at] gmail [dot] com