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Time to Let Go of the Two-State Idea


Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (L) with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal

Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (L) with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal
Photo Credit: Mohammed al-Hums/Flash90

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/08/time-to-let-go-of-the-two-state-idea/

Rabbi Eric Yoffie, formerly the head of the Union for Reform Judaism believes that “Israel is losing the battle for public opinion in America”:

But the point is that we are now seeing, even as the threat from Iran escalates, a broad spectrum of respectable, pro-Israel opinion that is emphatically suggesting the need, right now, for some movement by Israel on the Palestinian issue. And it is not idealistic dreaming; every one of these voices talks about the poisonous nature of Palestinian politics and makes clear that the failure to achieve peace cannot be placed primarily at Israel’s door.

Why are we hearing these voices at this moment? I am not entirely sure.

It has to do, I suspect, with the cumulative impact of a 45 year occupation; with the fundamental illogic of Israel’s government calling for a two-state solution and then building settlements in a way that makes such a solution far less likely; and with the sense that Israel’s moral standing is being gradually eroded and that this is a tragedy. But this too: They know that Israel must be seen at all times as aggressively pursuing peace, and fairly or otherwise, that is not the case now. (my emphasis)

Rabbi Yoffie, I think, greatly weakens his case by using as his “exhibit A” NY Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, calling him ”a centrist, a moderate, and, by the way, the most important foreign policy columnist in the world.” Friedman is none of the above, unless ‘important’ means that he is better paid than, for example, Barry Rubin, who differs from Friedman by basing his analysis on knowledge rather than prejudice and the ‘line’ pushed by his employer.

But let’s leave the hackish Friedman - who revealed himself when he said that the standing ovation Netanyahu received from a joint session of Congress in 2011 was “bought and paid for by the Israel lobby” – aside, and turn to Yoffie’s argument.

Rabbi Yoffie points to “an important group of public intellectuals” who take this position. There certainly are such people here in the US and among the academic-media-left complex in Israel who continue to call for Israeli concessions.

But — and this is my first point in response to Yoffie — they get absolutely no traction in Israel, which is assuredly where the rubber hits the road. The parties to the left of the Likud have almost no hope in coming elections, and the support they do have is almost entirely based on social or economic — not security — issues.

In other words, most ordinary Israelis don’t agree. One would think that Yoffie, who criticizes Dani Dayan of the Judea-Samaria council for supposedly not being concerned with democracy, would respect the democratically elected and popularly supported government of Israel.

My second point is that the notion that Israeli concessions on settlements in Judea/Samaria or eastern Jerusalem are good policy has been proven wrong in the 19 years since the Oslo agreements. The Camp David/Taba offers and the withdrawal from Gaza were met by violence. The continued anti-Israel and anti-Jewish incitement from the Palestinian Authority (PA), the insistence on a right of return, the refusal to accept Israel as the state of the Jewish people, the demands for the release of convicted murderers, the honor accorded by the leaders of the PA to terrorists like Dalal Mughrabi and Samir Kuntar, all indicate that the PA has not deviated from the ideology of Yasser Arafat or from the ‘phased plan’ to destroy the Jewish state.

Israel has made one withdrawal and concession after another, has supported the PA financially and protected it from Hamas, and it has never responded except by making more demands. There is no future in making unreciprocated concessions to the PA.

But it is not only the PA that is insatiable. One hears that “if only Israel would…” then the ‘international community’ would see that Israel is committed to peace and the ball would be in the Palestinian court. But this never happens. Israel agrees to a settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria, but the Palestinians won’t negotiate because it doesn’t include East Jerusalem; and suddenly Joe Biden is ‘deeply insulted’ because Israel announced plans to build apartments in a Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem.

My third point is that not only do concessions endanger security without bringing peace any closer, they damage Israel’s legitimate legal rights, both in Judea/Samaria and west of the Green Line. The implication of a freeze that applies to Jewish, but not Arab, construction is that the Jewish right to live there is questionable.

The legitimacy in international law of Jewish settlement in the area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan comes from the adoption of the League of Nations Mandate, which called for ‘close settlement’ of Jews on the land in order to create a “national home” for the Jewish people. This applies on both sides of the Green Line. If Jews are not permitted to build east of the line, what justifies building west of it?

The 1949 armistice lines have no significance as borders, and the claim that territory to the east of the line is “Palestinian land” is equivalent to saying that the Jordanian invasion, ethnic cleansing of Jews and occupation of 1949-1967 made it so. How could this be?

Pseudo-legal quibbles with no practical significance? I don’t think so. Once one abdicates principle, there is no justification for practice that depends on it. On the other hand, insisting upon one’s rights does not imply that at some later date — if there were a Palestinian leadership actually prepared to accept a Jewish state — it would be possible to cede territory. But you can’t begin a negotiation by surrendering your rights.

Israel has already given up much by accepting its opponents’ characterization of the Jewish presence in Judea/Samaria as a military occupation. Now the Levy commission has made it possible to redefine Israel’s relationship to the territories, and the government should adopt its report and firmly stand behind its legal rights.

Finally, where is the urgency that requires Israel to imperil itself today, when the Iranian threat is about to come to a head, when Syria is imploding, when Egypt has decided to ‘reevaluate’ its peace treaty, when the Sinai has become a jihadist playground and the Syrian Golan may be next, when Turkey has gone from an ally to a hostile power, when Hizballah has de facto control of Lebanon and may shortly get its hands on Syrian WMD — do I have to continue?

It is remarkable that Rabbi Yoffie finds it possible to bring up “the needs of the Palestinians” while suggesting a path that can only end in the expulsion of Jews from their homes and which, given the players, is positively guaranteed not to bring peace — and at a time when Israel’s security is under unprecedented threat.

I believe that their are alternatives that Yoffie and others have not considered that need not lead to a forced choice between a Jewish or democratic Israel. This piece is already too long, but the general idea is that a solution to the question of Israel’s eastern border must primarily take into consideration Israel’s security needs, its historical rights and existing Jewish and Arab populations. “The needs of the Palestinians” are not top priority (sorry, not after decades of terrorism).

“Israel’s moral standing” is not necessarily enhanced by failing to stand up for its legal rights and by, in effect, selling out the Jewish people by surrendering to pressure from an international community that is more interested in pleasing Arab oil producers than in the survival of the Jews (indeed, many are interested in the opposite). Moral standing comes not only from readiness to compromise — which Israel has demonstrated in spades — but in maintaining self-respect (and its practical counterpart, deterrence).

After 19 years I think it’s time to put the “two-state solution” aside. It may be the case that the continued existence of a Jewish state is simply incompatible with a hostile sovereign Palestinian state a few miles from its population centers.

If that’s so, then maybe, finally, the Palestinians will have to make difficult choices, too.

About the Author: Vic Rosenthal created FresnoZionism.org to provide a forum for publishing and discussing issues about Israel and the Mideast conflict, especially where there is a local connection. Rosenthal believes that America’s interests are best served by supporting the democratic state of Israel, the front line in the struggle between Western civilization and radical Islam. The viewpoint is not intended to be liberal or conservative — just pro-Israel.


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17 Responses to “Time to Let Go of the Two-State Idea”

  1. Ray Hanania says:

    Rightwing Column proposes end to tow-state-solution: I can't wait until Israel strengthens its "Democracy" and offer me the right to become a citizens and return to my homeland and family lands. Yes, let's end the two-state-solution and start allowing Christians and Muslims to be given equal rights in Israel. Or is this just another step towards real apartheid? Either way, Israel will not survive with everything and the conflict will remain endless, harsh and tragic. Maybe that what the settlers want because they are a lot like Hamas and other extremists on both sides of the "green line."

  2. Tara Rick McIntyre says:

    I would like the thank the writer of this article for writing such an honest piece because it shows two things.1. the mind set of the average Jew- hatred and not willing to compromise with the people who's land they took. even though it is not in the best interest of the Jewish people because as more and more people are becoming aware of the conflict they are siding with Palestine. 2. it shows that even though the author is an american he still makes Israel his top priority and this is not in the best interest of america because the majority of u.n. nations disagree

  3. Yes, the "hatred" mind-set of the "average Jew"… I love it when Jew hating raises it's ugly head in comment threads.

  4. Vic, let's assume that you get your wish here, that worldwide Jewry and the Israeli public support the continued enterprise of settlement… What happens in a one state solution when you annex the 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank, when you radically alter the makeup of the Israeli citizenry… how would you then deal with Beinart's dilemma of the abominable choice between a Democratic vs a Jewish state. One state is a disaster for Zionism and the right's push to annex the West Bank is a suicide note clothed righteously in the Israeli flag.

  5. Sorry folks – it is the Arabs who stole the land from the Jews – not the reverse. Please learn real history and stop falling for propaganda.

  6. Sorry folks – it is the Arabs who stole the land from the Jews – not the reverse. Please learn real history and stop falling for propaganda.

  7. Jason Story says:

    The Jews stole the land by giving the Arab land owners money! Research the Jewish land purchases in Palestine which date back to the Ottoman Empire. Find out how there was just as many Jews as Non Jews already in Palestine before WW2! This land legally belongs to Israel! Know your facts!

  8. Scott Bear says:

    Israel treats its Christian citizens unfairly:

    The Christian population of Israel continues to grow, from 130,000 in 2000 to 153,000 in 2010.

    It may be noted, however, that the Christian population in Israel has increased, while in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (under Palestinian control) the number of Christians has decreased.

    Christians in Israel, like Jews and other Christian communities in the Middle East, are characterized by a high level of education, particularly among the younger generation. 50% of Christians have completed 12 years of school. 14% of the 25-64 age group has an academic education, and 2/3 have a BA degree (as of November 1995).

    Seventy percent of Christian men are employed, compared to 60% of Jewish men and 66% of Muslim men. One third of Christian women are in the civilian work force, compared to 14% of Muslim women and over half of Jewish women. 25% of Christians are employed in academic, free and technical professions, a similar proportion to Jews, compared to 14% of Muslims.

    By their own volition, the Christian communities have remained the most autonomous of the various religious communities in the country. In recent years, however, there has been an increasing tendency on the part of the Christian communities to integrate their social welfare, medical and educational institutions into state structures, without in any way compromising their traditional independence.

    Damn that Israeli Apartheid.

  9. Vic Rosenthal says:

    Ray — if your leaders, like al-Husseini, had made slightly different decisions then you could be living side-by-side with the Zionists in your homeland. But he chose to incite pogroms and work together with the Nazis. Then his heir, Arafat, decided to choose murder as his prime tactic. They made your bed, now lie in it.

  10. David Austin says:

    If you always think what you've always thought, you'll always get what you've always got. The 2 state solution, if followed to it's logical ends ultimately means civil war… and similar to the civil war in the US 150 yrs ago it will be the bloodiest bath that little piece of mediterranean dirt has ever seen. We must learn from the past, which continually maintains that no Israeli concession has been met with anything other than contempt and has emboldened the criminal elements of Hamas – without fail. Sad but true. Democrats: when you consider what should be done, consider that only the Palestinians want a nation without the presence of the other people (which is really the only reason they want their own state).

  11. Anonymous says:

    First, the Jews didn't take anything from the Arabs. Israel is not land the Jews "took" from the Arabs. Second, the Jews have done nothing BUT compromise. Like when Israel evacuated Gaza in exchange for a guarantee of "land for peace" and instead got rockets from Gaza landing in neighboring Jewish settlements. Sort of reminds me of the film "Independence Day" when the President asked the alien prisoner what the aliens wanted us to do. The alien's reply, "Die!" We'll, sorry but the Jews are just not going to go that far with "compromise."

  12. Prince Bowaa says:

    why don't Israel simply take over the whole country and stop pretending there will be anything like a 2-state solution.

  13. Ray — if your leaders, like al-Husseini, had made slightly different decisions then you could be living side-by-side with the Zionists in your homeland. But he chose to incite pogroms and work together with the Nazis. Then his heir, Arafat, decided to choose murder as his prime tactic. They made your bed, now lie in it.

  14. I believe the government of Israel has the two state policy for pragmatic reasons.

    Four million Palestinians is the major reason. An end to all Palestinian and Arab claims and war against Israel is the other major reason.

    Finally, it is for continued support from the US.

    That is probably why you agree that a territorial compromise is not something you dismiss completely.

    The Pa has offered 2.5% with land swaps and the issues of security and refugees is not clear as different stories are out there.

    You envision a deal made on Israel ceding some territory would it be acceptable to have about 6% traded with all other issues solved in a mutually agreeable way?

    In any case, there are no negotiations now so all of this is academic. Setting it aside right now as it is already set aside.

    But as you yourself seem to agree that rejecting it outright is not in Israel's interest.

  15. @ Vic….Arafat chose self defense as his tactic! Arafat is the reason the Palestinian flag is still flying & the reason Palestine still exists! 1948 was an invasion of the Palestinian's homeland, rights and freedom! The Palestinians have been opposing tanks & bombs with sling shots! Don't you dare call a Palestinian or ANY other Arab who is anti Israel a terrorist! Zionists have been murdering our women and children for decades and we refuse to give up! Palestine WILL return!

  16. Thank you Vic.. Please write on! Cynthia Fischer-Simonian

  17. Yehuda Cohen says:

    Yousef Mustafa said: "Don't you dare call a Palestinian or ANY other Arab who is anti Israel a terrorist!"
    I'm calling all of Arafat's followers homosexual terrorists for that is what Arafat was. Palestine is a non entity and who ever calls themselves by such a name is living in an illusion. Jordan is your home and evidually, Jordan will disappear as well for it is also an illegal state. Never in my life have I heard of a people like yours who create kids to die and teach them how to kill themselves before they can even be mature enough to think for themselves. Only offspring of Satan can do such things.

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