Photo Credit: Stephen M. Flatow
Stephen M. Flatow

Senator Tim Kaine, the unsuccessful Democratic candidate for vice president, thinks the United States has supported “the two-state solution” for more than 60 years. He is badly in need of a history lesson.

During the January 11 confirmation hearings for secretary of state-designate Rex Tillerson, Kaine asked Tillerson if he supports “a two-state solution, as it was determined by the UN and has been the bipartisan policy of the U.S. since the late 1940s.”


Palestinian statehood advocates such as Kaine would like us to believe that creating a Palestinian state is a hallowed principle that has been championed by everyone, everywhere, for as long as anyone can remember. Actually, it enjoys no such pedigree.

There have been twelve presidents since 1948. Only two of them, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, publicly advocated, while in office, creating a Palestinian state. The “bipartisan policy of the U.S.” – to use Kaine’s term – has favored Palestinian statehood during only 14 of the 68 years since Israel was founded.

Moreover, Bush’s support for a Palestinian state was far from unconditional. He said in his June 25, 2002 announcement on the subject that such a state should be established only if “the Palestinian people elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror” and if the Palestinians use the current self-rule period to “build a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty.”

Obviously, the Palestinians never elected “leaders not compromised by terror.” Three and a half years after Bush’s announcement, on January 25, 2006, Palestinian voters went to the polls to choose the members of their parliament. The terrorist organization Hamas won 44.4 percent of the vote; the terrorist group Fatah won 41.4 percent; a third terrorist gang, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, won 4.2 percent.

As for Bush’s hope that the Palestinians would build “a practicing democracy, based on tolerance and liberty” – well, don’t make me laugh. Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas is now serving the 13th year of his four-year term. It’s been 11 years since the last parliamentary elections and the last elections for local councils. That’s Palestinian “democracy.”

Bush insisted the Palestinians embrace “tolerance and liberty.” But human rights groups have documented the PA’s oppression of women and minorities, suppression of unions and the press, and torture of political dissidents. By every criterion that President Bush put forth, the PA does not qualify for a state.

Sen. Kaine was reading from a prepared text when he made his statement at the Tillerson hearing. Kaine’s choice of the term “since the late 1940s” obviously was meant to refer to the fact that President Truman supported the UN’s November 1947 plan for partitioning Mandatory Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab states.

But citing Truman in that way is disingenuous – because less than three months later, the Truman administration officially abandoned its support for the partition plan and called instead for a UN “trusteeship” over Palestine.

I perceive some deliberate sleight-of-hand in what Kaine (or his speechwriters) asserted. Notice how he cleverly took Barack Obama’s support for the two-state solution, tacked on George W. Bush’s conditional support, and then claimed that “U.S. policy” has supported it all the way back “to the late 1940s.” That wording conveniently skipped over all the presidents who didn’t support it. Kaine created the illusion of an unbroken chain of presidents supposedly supporting a Palestinian state.

Actually, the opposite is true. President Dwight Eisenhower never called for creating a Palestinian state. Neither did John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, or George H.W. Bush. Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton only began speaking about a Palestinian state after they left office; they never embraced it while they were in the White House, because they knew the overwhelming majority of the American public, the Jewish community, and Congress opposed it.

There’s a reason the “two state” proposal has attracted the support of so few sitting U.S. presidents: it’s a bad idea. A Palestinian state would pose a lethal danger to a nine-miles-wide Israel. It would destabilize the region by provoking conflicts with both Israel and neighboring Arab states. It would provide a base for Iran and other radical forces. And it would perpetuate the Palestinian Authority’s brutal mistreatment of women, minorities, and political dissidents.

How is any of that desirable?


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Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in an Iranian-sponsored Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995. He is the author of “A Father’s Story: My Fight for Justice Against Iranian Terrorism,” now available on Kindle.