While in the U.S. last month, Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a number of interviews. The following is one he did not give, though I wish he would have.
Interviewer: In your recent talks in Washington, Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State Clinton, repeatedly stressed their view that only a “two-state solution,” one in which a Palestinian state is erected alongside Israel, can create a lasting peace in the Middle East. What is your position and that of your government on the idea of a two-state solution?
Netanyahu: We prefer a solution based on time travel in a time machine at speeds faster than light.
Interviewer: What does that mean? There are no time machines or anything that can produce speeds faster than that of light.
Netanyahu: Yes, exactly like the two-state solution. No two-state solution exists or is possible, just like time machines are not possible. One can perhaps imagine a situation in which two states, Israel and “Palestine,” exist, just like you can imagine a time machine, but this represents no solution at all.
People can sit around and concoct fictional imaginary worlds in which there do exist two-state solutions to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But no such solution exists in our galaxy. I have never much liked science fiction and prefer to restrict my thinking about political solutions to the realm of non-fiction.
Interviewer: So if the two-state solution is out, what is the alternative?
Netanyahu: I call it the 23-state solution. The Arabs get to keep the 22 states they already have and the Jews keep the one state they have. The Palestinians get no state. They are welcome to move to any of the 22 Arabs states if they are unhappy with that idea.
Interviewer: Well, you still must have some thoughts on the overall parameters within which any resolution of the conflict must be pursued.
Netanyahu: Yes. The right way to begin to think about resolving the conflict is to start from the end and first rule out what will not and cannot happen – ideas and proposals with which there will be no compromise and no negotiations. We are willing to take under consideration any program or proposal for peace that is formulated within those structural parameters, and there are quite a few conceivable such ones.
Interviewer: So what are those ironclad parameters?
Netanyahu: There are two, and no negotiations of any sort and no solution will ever be possible unless everyone understands that these must serve as the starting points for any resolution of the Middle East conflict: There will be no new independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan river, and the Palestinian population in the West Bank and Gaza will not be granted citizenship in Israel.
Any idea or plan that accepts those two axioms as its points of departure is one we are willing to take under consideration.
Netanyahu: A Palestinian state is out because its raison d’etre would be aggression and terror against Israel, and we are not willing to grant the Palestinians a new base from which to launch war. No Palestinian state in any form, no matter its borders or the group serving as its leadership or ruling class, will coexist with Israel. Any Palestinian state will seek war.
Anyone with any doubts that “Palestine” would be nothing more than a rocket-launching base and terrorist dispatch point need only look at what happened in Gaza after Israel foolishly abandoned it. There is no doubt or question about what such a “state” would pursue. Therefore there will be no such state.
Interviewer: That still leaves Israel’s own Arab minority. What do you propose for those Israeli Arabs who are unwilling to live peacefully as an ethnic minority within a Jewish state with a dominant Jewish majority?
Netanyahu: A one-way plane ticket, coach, to the destination of their choice outside of Israel.
Interviewer: What about the problem of all the Jewish settlers and settlements?
Netanyahu: I do not see any problem. In any resolution of the conflict, Jews will have to be as free to move and live among Arabs as Arabs already are free to move and live among Jews. A “peace plan” that requires that Jews be ethnically cleansed out of areas with Arab majorities is no peace plan at all.
I have already ruled out a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank. We are willing to consider alternative plans that satisfy the two axioms I discussed above. But I expect we would refuse to agree to any scenario in which Jews are prevented from living among Arabs the same way Arabs live among Jews. The Arab states may remain apartheid regimes, but we will not have ethnic cleansing of Jews in a Palestinian apartheid state in our own back yards.
Interviewer: So what exactly do you propose doing about the Jewish settlements?
Netanyahu: Build lots more of them. The settlers are Israel’s mine canaries. The attitude of the Arabs toward Jewish settlers is a litmus test and a warning sign of Arab attitudes toward Jews in general. Until the Arabs are willing to make their peace with the idea of Jewish settlers living in their midst, there is no reason to believe they are willing to come to terms with Israel existing as a state within their midst. And until the Arabs come to terms with the existence of a Jewish state in their midst, the search for “peace solutions” is a complete waste of everyone’s time.
Interviewer: Many people think Jerusalem is the hardest issue of all to solve. Do you agree?
Netanyahu: No. Jerusalem is the easiest. We have a very simple and clear position on Jerusalem. It is this: They can’t have it. That is our solution. We offer them nothing at all. Absolutely nothing. Muslims who wish to pray in the Jerusalem mosques can do so, same as members of other religions are free to attend their houses of worship. In terms of sovereignty and political or administrative control, we agree to grant them nothing at all.
Interviewer: Do you think the Arabs will agree to that?
Netanyahu: No. In fact, let me be even more blunt. If the Arabs offer us a choice between 1,000 years of war, bloodshed and strife or immediate peace in exchange for Israel giving up Jerusalem, we choose the 1,000 years of war.
Interviewer: But a lot of people around the world will be unhappy with that approach and denounce you for it.
Steven Plaut, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor at Haifa University. His book “The Scout” is available at Amazon.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.