Minor Quake

16 February 2017

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Trump, Netanyahu Undermine Two-State Solution for Mid-East Peace

During their joint press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and American President Donald Trump caused a minor earthquake in the endless Mid-East peace process. For years, a two-state solution has been the cornerstone of most approaches. Israel and Palestine, both secure and free living peacefully side by side, was the goal, and the negotiations were about how to get there. Yesterday, with the PM nodding excitedly, President Trump said he was not ruling out a one-state solution, which is really no solution at all.

What Mr. Trump actually said was, "So I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi and if the Palestinians -- if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best."

A one-state solution has been off the table for decades because it means victory for the extremists. On the one hand, pushing the Jews into the sea is a one-state solution that favors the Arabs. Israel absorbing the West Bank (and Gaza) means victory for the more extreme elements of Zionism.

While some among Mr. Trump's supporters are happy with the Greater Israel single state, it would forever change the nature of Israel. Israel can be a Jewish state, a democratic state or retain the occupied territories. It can, at most, do two of those things, but not all three. If it retains the territories, demographic trends will make the Jews a minority. Or, it can retain its Jewish nature and the territories if it ends its democratic system; the Arabs will eventually be a majority. If it gives up the territories, it can remain both Jewish and democratic. The only question then is whether Israel is secure with the pre-1967 borders.

Yesterday, Mr. Netanyahu set out two requirements for the Palestinians to accept as a basis of peace. First, they must recognize the Jewish state and stop calling for its destruction. "Second, in any peace agreement, Israel must retain the overriding security control over the entire area west of the Jordan River. Because if we don't, we know what will happen -- because otherwise we'll get another radical Islamic terrorist state in the Palestinian areas exploding the peace, exploding the Middle East. Now, unfortunately, the Palestinians vehemently reject both prerequisites for peace."

That second requirement essentially says that whatever entity is called Palestine, it will not be a fully sovereign state, one that would control its own territory. Some have called this a "state minus." Just how much self-rule the Palestinians would have in such a situation is almost certain to fall short of their ambitions. In other words, it won't work as a settlement. A two-state solution can only work if the second requirement is dropped. That will require a new Israeli government with a streak of optimism that the current one lacks.

In the end, the entire issue remains insoluble, a term Americans dislike. Israelis and Palestinians living next to one another in peace and harmony isn't going to happen this generation nor in the next. Neither side is willing to make the sacrifices necessary for peace. There are still more people on both sides who want victory instead of peace.

It comes down to the simple thought experiment; would either side be willing to give up Jerusalem in exchange for eternal peace guaranteed by all the armies of the world? So long as the answer is no, there isn't a lasting peace to be had. A two-state solution might work by century's end; a single-state will never work. The PM and POTUS took a step backward yesterday from a goal that is already too distant.

© Copyright 2017 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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