Friday, January 15, 2016

Why the 2 State Solution doesn't make sense (right now)

Every time I find myself discussing Israel and the disputed territories a well intentioned person will usually chime in and say something about how the 2 state solution is the best chance at peace in the region. 
This stance is a popular one, and on its surface really does seem to be the most reasonable way to settle the decades (well several millenia) long conflict. It begs the question, well why not?
I begin, as I often do with a very important bit of context that is crucial always keep in mind when discussing Israel and her enemies. That is that the other side is simply not reasonable.
A former foreign minister from Israel once said that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Let's look at a few examples of this.
I'm going to start with 1948 and the UN partition. The original partition plan actually included an Arab state following the transition of power from the British Mandate. The Jews accepted this. The Arabs rejected this and the 1948-49 war for Israeli independence began. (As an aside, many opponents of Israel believe that America has always supplied Israel with weapons. This is not true. In fact the US had an arms embargo on the new Jewish state at the time of the Israeli war of independence. Check out a great documentary on Netflix by Nancy Spielberg called, "Above and Beyond." It's very good.)
Israel won the war against the neighboring Arab armies. Thus is the first time the Arab side of the conflict was offered a state, rejected it, chose war, and lost.
I next draw our attention to the 6 Day War in 1967. Israel learned of imminent attacks from surrounding Arab nations, preemptively attacked, and won a decisive victory. Though this armed conflict did not include an outright offer of a state to the Palestinians, it is worthy of mention because one will often hear people reference "pre 1967 borders." The insistence on returning to these borders can be dismissed out of hand. The expansion of Israel's borders during the 6 Day War were a result of war planning and strategy in response to being attacked. To be sure, had Israel not been attacked, the borders would not have changed.
Between 1967 and the Oslo Accords, there was of course the Yom Kippur War, the 1978 Camp David meetings and the first Intifada. I'll mention the 1978 Camp David Accords because they demonstrated that Israel has always been willing to exchange land for real peace.
In 1988 the first Intifada began. One would be correct to conclude that the first Oslo Accords, announced in 1993 following secret meetings, were a response to the first Intifada. I will add here, that this set a dangerous precedent. Namely that the international stage began to truly see Palestinian incitement and terrorism as legitimate. Furthermore, the Oslo Accords (though I support them to a degree) rewarded Palestinian terrorism with a chance to set the stage for a future state. The Palestinian side did not hold up their end of the agreements. Israel withdrew from Jericho completely and 80% of Hebron (which has had a Jewish population for at least 2500 years). The PLO became the Palestinian Authority and continued to be corrupt and absent in their agreement to stem the tide of Palestinian terrorism.
By 1999 it was clear that the Oslo Accords had failed. President Clinton, nearing the end of his second term decided to address the conflict. Then Israeli PM Ehud Barak and PA chairman Arafat met with Clinton at Camp David. Israel offered the PA 91% of the West Bank, to withdraw from 63 settlements, and 100% of the Gaza Strip. I will quote President Clinton writing about the Camp David Summit: Clinton wrote that Arafat once complimented Clinton by telling him, "You are a great man." Clinton responded, "I am not a great man. I am a failure, and you made me one." Here's another quote from Saudi Prince Bandar while negotiations were taking place: "If Arafat does not accept what is available now, it won't be a tragedy; it will be a crime." Arafat of course, walked away from the negotiations and the Second Intifada began.
In 2005, under the order of former PM Ariel Sharon, Israel withdrew all troops and all settlers from Gaza. Pure disengagement, nothing Israeli remained in Gaza. Well there was a floral industry that the Israelis left for the Gazans to take over. Instead of picking up where the settlers left off, the Gazans burned the greenhouses to the ground. The hope was that disengaging with Gaza would lead to less terror attacks from Hamas. It didn't. In fact, Gaza is where Hamas fires rockets into Israel and has complex networks of tunnels used for smuggling weapons. During the height of the 2014 war with Gaza, hundreds of rockets were being fired daily into Israel from Gaza.
In 2008 Israeli PM Ehud Olmert made an offer to the PA. The following quote is from the Jerusalem Post, 5/24/13:
"Olmert essentially agreed to forgo sovereignty of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Judaism’s holiest site, and proposed that in the framework of a peace agreement, the area containing the religious sites in Jerusalem would be managed by a special committee consisting of representatives from five nations: Saudia Arabia, Jordan, Palestine, the United States and Israel. The advisors and Fatah officials heard from Abbas that Olmert laid out for him not only the details of the agreement but also a large map upon which he outlined the borders of the future Palestinian state."
Abbas, whom I had hope for following the death of Arafat, walked away from this offer as well just as his predecessor would have. (Also of note, Abbas is now in the 11th year of a 4 year term.)
What I have outlined above are summaries which have a common theme: the Palestinian side is only interested in one thing: the destruction of Israel. As can be gleaned from the above pattern of behavior, they are not interested in existing peacefully alongside Israel. There have been times a 2 state solution would have made sense, now is not one of them. There is no indication that the PA or Hamas has any intention to accept any agreement offered by Israel. They have chosen war and terrorism at every possible chance at peace. This is not to say Israel has behaved perfectly, but it is to say there is no question that Israel has made reasonable, and exemplary efforts at resolving the conflict, only to be met with violence. I bring your attention to the current wave of stabbings and car ramming attacks against Israelis that has been happening for the last few months. Now especially is not a time for the 2 state solution. The world cannot allow for murder and terrorism to become a tool for nation building. The Palestinians need a revolution of leadership, new voices that reject terrorism and truly want peace with Israel. Abbas, the PA and certainly Hamas are none of those things. The onus is on the Palestinians to bring about this revolution, it is not Israel's responsibility and Israel is incapable of making it happen. So do not speak about a 2 state solution, let us instead re-frame the conversation to, what can Palestinians do to build a nation committed to peace with Israel?
I would submit that a revolution in Palestinian leadership is the first step, because everything else they have tried has failed.

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