Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Israel & the Palestinians: The Chimera of a “Two State Solution”

Virtually everybody claims to want a “two state solution” in the Middle East -- the State of Israel living alongside an independent Palestinian State.

This sounds reasonable. It sounds sensible. Indeed, it would be both things. Except for one thing. According to Jeff Jacoby:
It isn’t going to happen.

International consensus or no, the two-state solution is a chimera. Peace will not be achieved by granting sovereignty to the Palestinians, because Palestinian sovereignty has never been the Arabs’ goal. Time and time again, a two-state solution has been proposed. Time and time again, the Arabs have turned it down.

In 1936, when Palestine was still under British rule, a royal commission headed by Lord Peel was sent to investigate the steadily worsening Arab violence. After a detailed inquiry, the Peel Commission concluded that “an irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country.” It recommended a two-state solution -- a partition of the land into separate Arab and Jewish states. “Partition offers a chance of ultimate peace,” the commission reported. “No other plan does.”

The Peel Commission’s proposed two-state solution (1937). The Arabs said no.But the Arab leaders, more intent on preventing Jewish sovereignty in Palestine than in achieving a state for themselves, rejected the Peel plan out of hand. The foremost Palestinian leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, actively supported the Nazi regime in Germany. In return, Husseini wrote in his memoirs, Hitler promised him “a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world.”

In 1947, the Palestinians were again presented with a two-state proposal. Again they spurned it. Like the Peel Commission, the United Nations concluded that only a division of the land into adjacent states, one Arab and one Jewish, could put an end to the conflict. On Nov. 29, 1947, the UN General Assembly debated -- and by a vote of 33-13 adopted -- Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine on the basis of population. Had the Arabs accepted the UN decision, the Palestinian state that “the whole world wants” would today be 61 years old. Instead, the Arab League vowed to block Jewish sovereignty by waging “a war of extermination and a momentous massacre.”

Over and over this pattern has been repeated. Following its stunning victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel offered to exchange the land it had won for permanent peace with its neighbors. From their summit in Khartoum came the Arabs’ notorious response: “No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

At Camp David in 2000, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually everything they claimed to be seeking -- a sovereign state with its capital in East Jerusalem, 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, tens of billions of dollars in “compensation” for the plight of Palestinian refugees. Yasser Arafat refused the offer, and launched the bloodiest wave of terrorism in Israel’s history.

To this day, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, call for Israel’s liquidation. “The whole world” may want peace and a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want something very different. Until that changes, there is no two-state solution.

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4 Comments:

Blogger Tom said...

I remember 2 years ago, when the developers of a diplomatic video game based on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict came to speak at Marquette Law. I played the demo of their game, in which you could play as either side and the goal was to achieve a two-state solution while balancing the interests of various internal and external factions. I brought up this same question - why was the "win" condition for the Palestinians a two-state solution when it was clear that in real life, that wasn't their goal? They didn't really have an answer.

6:28 AM  
Blogger James Pawlak said...

You might have noted two of the basic teachings of Islam: That Jews should be killed where ever they are found; And, that any land (eg Israel) ever ruled by Muslims must always be so governed.

7:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your point is exemplified by the 2000 Camp David Summit. By Arafat rejecting that offer, which was a genuine effort by Israel to move towards a two-state solution, the Palestinians exposed the facade of desiring a two-state solution. You make excellent points; however, I wonder if that offer was made again whether it would again be rejected or whether there would be dissension among the Palestinians. While I thought that offer was too extreme (with regards to giving up control of East Jerusalem), it was a true effort by Israel to make peace. Things are different now of course with Hamas in power.
~Nathan Zimmermann

9:08 AM  
Blogger Billiam said...

If insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting a different result, then what does this say about Administration after Administration pursuing this track with singleminded stupidity? It's pretty plain one side wants no peace, only the destruction of the other.

3:44 PM  

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