Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, on Friday declared in a Washington Post op-ed (Ron Dermer: We must stop pursuing a two-state illusion and commit to a realistic two-state solution) that “the extension of Israeli sovereignty to certain territories in Judea and Samaria will not, as many critics suggest, destroy the two-state solution. But it will shatter the two-state illusion.”
Dermer noted the “gulf” between the original positions of late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin regarding a future Palestinian autonomy “and what is increasingly believed to be the gold standard for a potential Israeli-Palestinian peace,” resulting in a “two-state illusion that will never happen.”
President Donald Trump’s peace plan, Dermer suggests, while asking Israel to “make significant concessions, including more than doubling the size of the territory the Palestinians control today,” but it envisions an Israel with “defensible borders, security control west of the Jordan River, sovereignty over a united Jerusalem,” and it also resolves the Palestinian refugee issue outside of Israel. Dermer writes:
“Just compare Rabin’s speech to where the “consensus” on the so-called two-state consensus is today: Israel is expected to return, with minor changes, to the 1967 borders; accept international forces in the West Bank; uproot tens of thousands of Jews from their homes; divide Jerusalem; and agree in principle, if not in practice, to a Palestinian “right of return” (providing the millions of descendants of the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel a “right” to return to the Jewish state, ensuring its demise by demographic means).”
Meanwhile, Dermer points out, Israelis are not going to forget “the Palestinian response to Barak’s generous peace offer was a terrorism campaign that murdered over a thousand Israelis, or that territory Sharon vacated in Gaza has been transformed into a terrorism base that has repeatedly forced millions of Israelis into bomb shelters.” He notes:
“The hard truth is that for the past 25 years, international leaders and policymakers have been unwilling to admit that they never had the Palestinians onboard for a genuine two-state solution. And in constantly moving the goalpost to get them onboard, they have now lost Israelis as well.
The current two-state “consensus” is nothing more than a two-state illusion. And that is why Israel must pursue a different course to advance peace.”
Trump’s “deal of the century,” on the other hand, “addresses the root cause of the conflict by insisting that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state and by making clear that Israel has a valid legal, historical and moral claim to Judea and Samaria,” Dermer writes, and points out that “the Trump plan also seriously addresses Israel’s security needs.”
“The lip service other plans have paid to demilitarizing a potential Palestinian state is replaced with clear principles that give Israel both the right and capability to ensure that demilitarization in the future.
No less important, this peace plan does not ignore the reality on the ground and [does not] make unrealistic proposals that have zero chance of being implemented. For example, rather than call for tens of thousands of Jews to be uprooted from their homes, it calls for a peace in which innovative infrastructure solutions enable both Israelis and Palestinians to travel freely within their respective states.”
Ambassador Dermer acknowledges that many friends of Israel have been warning against a unilateral step in Judea and Samaria, but points to the fact that many of those same friends supported Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. In other words, in a reality in which both Hamas and the PLO have been firm in their resistance to a real modus vivendi with a Jewish state in their midst, the only option open to Israel is unilateral action. And better to exercise this option while the American administration is behind it.
Dermer also admits that while Israeli sovereignty over the settlements “will remain part of Israel in any realistic peace agreement,” at the same time, “Israel will not extend sovereignty over territories the Trump plan designates for a future Palestinian state and commit to not building in those territories in the coming years.” In other words, Israel must execute its plan for sovereignty within a very narrow window of opportunity that could be shut on January 20, 2021, but the PLO and Hamas are free to take their time another couple of decades – their share of Area C is secure.
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Yamina) was quick to comment on Ambassador Dermer’s op-ed, saying: “The truth has come out. The question is, when will my friends on the right who still support Netanyahu’s plan to establish an Arab state open their eyes and see it.”
And yet, Ambassador Dermer hopes the very act of unilateral “annexation” would be the kick in the pants the Palestinians need to recognize that “the Jewish state is here to stay,” and that “by shattering the two-state illusion and advancing a two-state solution, Israel hopes it will open up a realistic path to peace.”
Dermer expects the move to “convince the Palestinians that another century of rejectionism is a losing strategy.”
At which point any educated “Palestinian” traditionally brings out a history book and points to the Crusaders’ Kingdom of Jerusalem, which lasted from 1099 until 1187 – 188 years. Because, after all is said and done, the Arabs have no incentive to embrace a Jewish state in their midst. They’ll trade with it, rely on its protection against temporary foes, but in the end will continue to wait patiently for the tables to turn on the modern day “European invaders.”