Thanks to President Trump, the Arab/Israeli conflict is entering a phase more likely to lead to resolution than any that preceded it. The mindless mantra “there is no alternative to the ‘Two-State Solution’” is giving way to reality. The Palestinian Authority has never been a partner for peace. A twenty-third Arab state shoehorned into Israel would solve nothing. And plenty of superior, principled alternatives exist.
The “Two-State Solution” is a proven failure. A bad idea, derived from a lie, perpetuating instability and suffering. It is, in fact, a relabeling of the PLO’s 1974 “Phased Plan”: the PLO announcement that it would “liberate” territory piecemeal, and wage its genocidal war from each new parcel.
The relabeling was designed to give plausible deniability to those who regret allowing the long-suffering Jews to exercise self-determination. That it sucked in Israelis tired of policing hostile Arab towns and diaspora Jews chasing approval and acceptance was an added bonus. Tragically, the scheme achieved its primary goal. It recast one of the world’s most tolerant, multi-ethnic, peace-loving, life affirming, bastions of human rights as an illegitimate oppressor.
How did this defamatory campaign deceive so many into believing such an obvious absurdity? Particularly when, for decades, no decent person supported a terrorist PLO state? When even anti-Israel Jimmy Carter repeatedly described such a state as “anathema” that would destabilize the region?
It began in the early 1990s, when elements of the Israeli far left and the PLO—in clear violation of Israeli law—hatched a “peace” plan: The Arabs would concede the legitimacy of Jewish self-determination in the historic Jewish homeland. In return, Israel would accept the lie of a distinct “Palestinian” people, partition the homeland (yet again), and create a quasi-governmental Palestinian Authority. Israeli PM Yitzchak Rabin agreed—with the caveats that Israel would never concede any part of Jerusalem, and would never accept a new Arab state. Pocketing these enormous concessions, the PLO dug in.
President Clinton injected the U.S. to finalize the Oslo Accord of 1993. Suddenly, terrorist Arafat was a statesman and terrorist PLO a government. In 1998, with PLO terrorism still active, First Lady Hillary Clinton sent shockwaves when she implied support for an independent state of Palestine; the White House’s repudiation was immediate and unequivocal.
In 2000, Israeli PM Ehud Barak broke the final taboos, offering the PLO a state and parts of Jerusalem. Arafat responded by launching a terror war. Barak and Clinton sweetened the offer. Arafat was clear: he preferred war.
Any rational observer would have seen Arafat’s rejection as the end of the game. But as Arafat foresaw, Oslo’s inversion of oppressed and oppressor hopelessly warped global public opinion. The twenty-first century has enshrined Arafat’s fabrications while challenging Jewish history. It ignores the character of leadership and culture, bestowing honors upon Arab terror movements while defaming Israel’s liberal democracy. It vilifies those—like George W. Bush and Benjamin Netanyahu—who would condition statehood on evidence of a willingness to coexist. No longer a stratagem for peace, “Palestinian” statehood has become an entitlement.
But twenty-first century events have demolished the broader myth system on which “Palestinian” peoplehood rests. Iraq and Syria have followed the Lebanese path. As those multi-ethnic European constructs collapsed, their citizens quickly shed the state-based identities they’d been assigned in favor of the ethnic- or faith-based identities that had defined their families for centuries. They fight—and die—as Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds, Alawites, Druze, and Christians.
That collapse is hardly coincidental—and it is highly relevant. There have never been distinct Iraqi, Syrian, Lebanese—or Palestinian—nations. Having all but purged their once-vibrant Christian minority, today’s “Palestinians” are merely Sunni Arabs whose patrilineal ancestors resided west of the Jordan River during the final two years of the Mandate for Palestine. A new state affirming misguided labels that European imperialists imposed upon the indigenous peoples of the Middle East cannot possibly help stabilize the troubled region.
President Trump’s reality-based foreign policy is publicly revealing the wrong-minded hollowness of the assumptions that have long guided American diplomacy—and leading American Jewish organizations. For decades, condescending establishment wisdom has viewed the Arabs and Muslims as irrational actors, certain to explode in rage following any disappointment. President Trump chose instead to show them the respect they deserve.
Braving dire predictions of massive violence on the streets and Armageddon in the Arab world, President Trump announced American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. No such horrors arose. A number of Arab and Muslim leaders expressed their disappointment firmly but calmly, understanding—rationally—that with or without recognition, Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since independence. Indeed, sensing the renewed strength of the White House’s support for Israel, the violence that has rocked the region since President Obama first started kowtowing to Islamists has suddenly diminished. Only Mahmoud Abbas responded with a tantrum.
In one bold move, President Trump allowed the Muslim world to demonstrate which of its leaders are prepared to lead it into a better future, and which will simply rage at the perceived slights of the past. President Trump allowed the “Palestinians” themselves to show that their cause is far from the heart of the Middle East’s turbulence. America’s diplomatic and Jewish leadership should pay attention. Israel may achieve peace with Arab leaders capable of digesting disappointments in the name of building a better future. Negotiations with those who prefer to stew in their own bile are pointless.
Importantly, President Trump’s skepticism and clarity extends beyond Abbas and the thin veneer of respectability that the PA uses to cloak the terrorist PLO. This building-mogul-turned-President understands the importance of dismantling the entire infrastructure supporting the “Palestinian” myth. He has punctured the sanctity of the corrupt, terror-inciting UNRWA – front line of the United Nations’ war of attrition against the Jewish state.
In sharp contrast to the world’s approach to resolving every other refugee problem, UNRWA’s raison d’être is keeping generations of Arabs in slavery, poverty and rage, bred to nourish the sick fantasy of destroying Israel. President Trump has slashed the United States’ contributions to that sacred cow’s budget.
Once again, PA President For Life Abbas – a corrupt totalitarian thug who has become a billionaire on the back of Arab and Israeli suffering – unleashed a torrent of hysterical threats and invective. It will be instructive to see how the European Union responds. President Trump has pulled away the curtain revealing the obvious truth that nobody seriously believes the PLO can or should be a state.
The clear alternative is a return to the pre-Oslo reliance on responsible state actors – i.e., Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Israel – to provide citizenship and opportunity to the stateless Arabs.
The sooner Israel stops paying lip service to the “Two-State” lie, the sooner it can leave behind its self-inflicted wounds. The primary objections to this have always been that (a) the world will condemn Israel, and (b) those countries won’t comply. Both are absurd. The world condemns Israel freely already; and the United States can ensure those countries are incentivized to comply.
To achieve the stability the region so desperately needs, the Arab states must reintegrate nearly twenty million displaced or stateless Arabs chafing beneath artificial Syrian, Iraqi, Lebanese, or Palestinian labels. Far from laying this issue at Israel’s feet, any “solution” to the Arab/Israeli conflict must arise within that regional context. The international community should treat Arab refugees like it treats other refugees – humanely, rather than as political pawns and cannon fodder. Integrating them into communities with whom they claim ethnic and cultural kinship is the best way to help refugees build new lives.
The myths of “Palestinian peoplehood” and a “Two-State Solution” have impeded peace, stability, security, development, regional integration, and justice. Arab terrorists lauded as martyrs and freedom fighters murder and maim Jews. Jew-haters treating Arabs as expendable rob millions of educational and economic opportunities, basic dignity, and decent lives. The American Jewish community tears itself apart. College students from Christian and Jewish Zionist homes find themselves supporting an Israel defamed across campus as an oppressor. And in living memory of the Holocaust and of the miraculous return of Jews to their indigenous Jewish homeland, the United Nations – supported by an outgoing American president – denies the Jews’ connection to Judea and demands their ethnic cleansing. All in the service of a lie.
Reality-based plans have languished in the face of Oslo’s persistent myths. All start from two key principles: Israeli sovereignty must continue within secure borders; the Arab states must assume primary responsibility for the welfare of Arab refugees. These principles are grounded in history, morality, and law, in Jewish security and Arab development, and in the critical goal of regional stability.
What has worked around the world will work in the Middle East if the Arabs allow it to work. The Arabs will allow it only if pushed. President Trump, for the first time in history, has begun to push in the right direction. No wonder Abbas is screaming bloody murder.