Monday, July 26, 2010
Fourth Try at a Two State Solution
At a joint press conference with Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron stated that we "desperately need a two-state solution". German Chancellor Angela Merkel is reportedly downbeat about the prospects for a Two State Solution, but insists that it is the only "reasonable solution". J-Street, the radical left wing anti-Israel group intimately tied up with the Obama Administration, has released an ad praising Congressman Joe Sestak, one of the "Hamas 54", for his support of a "Two State Solution". Alan Dershowitz responded with an Op Ed insisting that he had always been in favor of a "Two State Solution" and denouncing J-Street for daring to imply otherwise. And with all that noise and clamor for a Two State Solution, people would be forgiven for assuming that this was something a little more feasible than flapping your wings and flying to Mars. They would be forgiven for assuming that because they are naive enough to believe that leading politicians wouldn't step forward to propose something completely insane, just because it was the same thing that had been proposed for the last 20 years, and proposing it again has become the thing to do. They would be forgiven for also assuming that the media would be able to fact check completely impossible proposals before they actually become de facto policy. And it's a sad testament to the current state of the policy debate, that they would be wrong on both points.
It is easy enough to understand why a "Two State Solution" not only didn't work then and won't work now, but why it makes absolutely no sense to propose.
The original Two State Solution was implemented back in the 1920's, when the British imported Abdullah, the Governor of Mecca, and gave him %76 of the territory of the Palestine Mandate, in exchange for his silence when the French invaded Syria. Yet turning over three quarters of the territory of the Mandate to Muslim rule did not bring peace. Arab pogroms of Jews continued throughout the 1920's. In a single week of August of 1929 alone, 113 Jews were murdered. (That is more than the number of Arabs who died in Jenin or Deir Yassin, yet you will find that the same "historians" who constantly mention those places, couldn't be bothered to care, let alone make noises about genocide and Arab colonialism.)
But one failure proves nothing. So in in the 1940's, the United Nations tackled an official Partition Plan that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab, within the tiny remains of the Mandate. The split would have been 43 to 56, with the Jews getting the Negev desert, and the Arabs getting the water supplies. Jerusalem would have been internationalized. The Jews said, "Yes." The Arabs said, "Jihad." The War of Independence followed, and the new borders of all sides were determined by armed force.
By the middle of the 20th century, there had already been two partitions within a single generation. Neither of them had brought anything resembling peace. So naturally the only solution was another Two State Solution. Surely two failures didn't mean anything. Nothing worth learning from anyway.
And here we are today in the midst of the "Two State Solution" number 3, and any solution that didn't work twice, isn't much of a solution, and isn't going to work a third time. And unsurprisingly it hasn't. And it won't. And none of that will stop the political zombies chanting, "Two State Solution" over and over again, as if it was a magic formula that would fulfill all their dreams.
Right now there are two Palestinian Muslim mini-states within Israel. That makes it hard to implement a Two-State Solution with Three States. Every time there's trouble in Gaza, it is once again a reminder that it is ruled by Hamas, and the West Bank is ruled by Fatah, two terrorist groups that don't get along with each other. Naturally every politician who talks about the importance of a "Two State Solution" completely ignores this minor problem, even though they created it. Or perhaps because they created it.
Each time the assumption is that if Israel sits down at the table and negotiates with Fatah leader Abbas, and makes enough concessions, there will be a Two State Solution, and the problem will be solved. Which seems easily enough done, when you ignore the fact that Gaza is not only run by Hamas, but that the only reason Hamas isn't running the West Bank is because the US is propping up Abbas with weapons, and Israel has cut off Gaza from the West Bank. Yet the same people who call for a "Two State Solution" also demand that Israel stop blockading Gaza-- when Fatah and their "Two State Solution" wouldn't last two weeks if Hamas militias showed up in force in Ramallah.
But even if we ignore all this, there's still one major problem-- Abbas doesn't want to negotiate. Yes that's right, one more thing in the way of the "Two State Solution" is that the leader of Fatah, who is backed by billions of dollars in foreign aid, American diplomatic protection, and Israeli military protection, who was the recipient of Obama's first phone call to a foreign leader on taking office-- refuses to actually negotiate. Instead Abbas wants Israel to just give him things without negotiating first. Like setting the borders of his state, before he agrees to sit down to negotiate the borders of his state. That isn't a negotiation, it's a hold up. It's also absurd to demand the outcome of the negotiations as a concession to just show up at the negotiations, which might be the point.
The Arab Muslim side has been willing to take land, but not to concede their claims on the rest of the land. That was why the second attempt at a Two State Solution didn't work, it's why the third attempt at a Two State Solution has gone nowhere, over and over again. Every attempt at dividing up the territory between Arabs and Jews in a way that would force both to concede the rights of the other, has been sabotaged and rejected by the Arab side over and over again. The UN found that out in the 40's. Bill Clinton found that out in the 90's. There is no way forward on this without triggering an internal civil war in the Muslim world that would be much more destructive, than its current conflict with Israel.
Meanwhile Abbas is completely incapable of making a decision about anything. Especially something controversial like a Final Status Agreement that would force him into an immediate showdown with Hamas and factions within his own terrorist organization, unwilling to accept any legal concession even as part of a phased plan to destroy Israel. So he does the safest thing he can do, which is to constantly denounce Israel, while sabotaging the negotiations, and trying to avoid getting caught up in the fighting. He knows that sooner or later he will be removed by one or another faction within Fatah, when they managed to stop their internal infighting. And if that doesn't happen, sooner or later Hamas and its Iranian and Syrian backers will have a car bomb with his name on it, just as they did for so many Lebanese politicians.
As we can see then, there's only one or two, three things standing in the way of a Two State Solution.
1. The fact that it's been repeatedly tried and failed.
2. The fact that there are two Palestinians states already in place and fighting among themselves (this is not counting Jordan, which was the original Palestinian state, and will join the fight if the Muslim Brotherhood succeeds in taking it over.)
3. The fact that Abbas does not want to negotiate
Naturally none of this discourages politicians from chanting "Two State Solution" over and over again, or media pundits from suggesting that Israel needs to implement it right now-- when the only conceivable way Israel could make that happen is to close the border, throw the keys across the fence, and let anyone who wants to make a Palestinian state fight for it. But the Two State Solution frown at any such ideas as "unilateral", which is slang for "It's wrong to form a state without the consent of the puppet regime currently running one Palestinian state, or the the terrorist organization running the other Palestinian state-- which they won't consent to anyway, but that just means we must try harder to convince them".
Meanwhile Abbas and some of the loonier Israel bashing crowd are playing with the idea of a One State Solution. Foreign Policy Journal condemns Israel for everything, and suggests it be replaced with "a single, united, democratic state with a constitution and representative government that recognizes the equal rights of all and protects the rights of the minority." A state that the writer claims "the Arabs proposed before Israel existed". Which is rather curious considering that none of Israel's neighbors was a democratic state that protected the rights of minorities -- as the million Jewish refugees from Muslim countries would tell you. Of course such quibbles are petty when it comes to the main task of damning the "Racist Zionist colonial entity", as innumerable Soviet Ambassadors to the UN and left wing bloggers describe Israel.
But the prospect of turning Hamas and Fatah into part of a state with Israel is about as likely to lead to a united democratic state with protection for anyone's rights, as throwing a hand grenade near a bunch of pots, one of which has a chicken in it, is likely to lead to a chicken in every pot. If the Palestinian Arab Muslims couldn't form a single united government of their own that respected the rights of even their own Christian minority, or even each other-- how exactly would they form one with Israel? Rather than answer the question, proponents will instead blame Israel for that too-- which is their answer for absolutely everything. And I do mean absolutely everything.
Which puts us right back where we started, with an unworkable dilemma that Israel gets all the blame for, because it can't create peace by waving a magic wind and implementing a Two State Solution, a plan that is about as workable as any decent 99 cent magic wand.
But politicians and pundits don't like being told that their pet projects are unworkable. Tell them that water can't run uphill or that money doesn't grow on trees, and they assume you're being deliberately obstinate or obstructionist. And they insist even more "desperately" that you make water run uphill , grow money on trees and implement a Two State Solution. What sort of person are you anyway, that you refuse to attempt something so reasonable with such tremendous benefits for all mankind? And it is difficult to respond to that without telling the politician that he is an idiot, and explaining to him exactly why he is an idiot, and why he would be better off trying to ride chickens, than making decisions for anyone else. And then you're naturally an extremist.
Arafat getting intimate with Hamas leader
Of course some politicians actually do know better. And that's something they keep to themselves, because the safest way to be a politician is to repeat the same thing that politicians before you repeated over and over again. It doesn't matter whether it can work or not. What matters is that it's "safe", because everyone says it. Occasionally there is a call for new ideas, which usually means brushing off a very old idea, and presenting it as brand new. Like the Two State Solution, which has been a "new idea" since before women were allowed to vote.
Today Israel is stuck in this echo chamber of stupidity, both external and internal, because its own politicians are no brighter than Cameron or Obama. And when they are bright enough, like Merkel, as Netanyahu is-- they keep it to themselves. Because it's not safe to be branded an extremist for speaking common sense. It's safer to go along with what everyone else is saying. To echo, "Two State Solution" over and over again, as if it means something anymore.
But I have a suggestion for finally resolving this whole mess. The Two State Solution. This will be only the fourth time we've tried a Two State Solution and it hasn't worked until now. Which means it's bound to work this time. And if it doesn't, there's always a fifth time.