Article of Faith

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The 2-state solution

In some political circles the 2-state solution has become a matter of faith. Its adherents believe it ought to satisfy everyone sufficiently and so produce a sensible settlement. Therefore, the rationality appears to be that it must be the solution. Remarkably, none of the key documents, such as UN Security Council Resolutions or the ‘Road Map’ even try to make out a reasoned case for the 2-state solution. They simply assume it to be the solution.

Yet for a supposedly well-known, sensible and widely accepted solution, the idea of living under two separate roofs shows the same resistance to realisation as living under one. The reason is simple: both sides have fundamental disagreements with the proclaimed solution. Furthermore, although the issues involved are fundamental, they are neither addressed nor solved by its supporters.

For the Palestinians, refusal to accept Israel remains stronger than the desire for a Palestinian state. As a result, the 2-state solution has powerful Palestinian enemies. They see it as an idea being pushed by the West with the intention of preserving Israel and imposing on the Palestinians what the West believes the Palestinian interest should be. Consequently, Palestinian support for the 2-state solution is weak. The rock against which it crashes is the requirement that Israel has to be accepted. As yet there is no Palestinian leadership strong enough or with sufficient popular support to carry this through.

Threats to Israel

For Israel, the rock against which the 2-state solution crashes is the inherent difficulty of how to reconcile the goals of peaceful, secure and recognised borders, as called-for by UNSCR 242, in tandem with the existence of a Palestinian state based on the West Bank. As long as the dominant Arab/Palestinian narrative refuses to accept Israel and as long as hostile states and armed organisations of fanatics are committed to its destruction, these twin aspirations will be irreconcilable. The wonder is how a supposed solution which neither addresses nor solves these issues can be considered a solution.

The result is that security and political threats to Israel from a Palestinian state which controlled more or less the whole of the West Bank would be a nightmare. Three major problems defy solution:

  1. the prospect of a Palestinian government gaining possession of illegal weapons systems and training personnel in their use both on and outside its territory;
  2. the potential link-up of a Palestinian state with other states or non-state organisations in an anti-Israel alliance;
  3. the problem of smuggling anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles into a new Palestinian state by both the government and the fanatical organisations.

These would be impossible risks for Israel to accept. They would be compounded by allowing Palestinian control of the high ground of the West Bank, which overlooks not only huge areas of Israel but hugely important and vulnerable areas. Additionally, the lack of defensive depth of the central coastal region would severely handicap Israel’s ability to defend itself.

In other words, if such a settlement were to be imposed, it would deliver an indefensible border more akin to that foisted onto Czechoslovakia in 1938. Soothing sounds about the deployment of multi-national United Nations forces to observe the demilitarisation provisions of a peace agreement would be hopelessly inadequate for the prevention of violations. As the experience of Lebanon demonstrates, an international force of observers that merely watches the terrorists build their missile capacity or which merely observe violations of demilitarisation agreements, does not maintain peace.

Effective enforcement

In any case, the presence of a serious and determined peace-keeping force would act as a magnet for attacks from the fanatics. As a result, given the tremendous capacity for violence in the region, it is unlikely that foreign forces could be found with the strength, determination and staying-power necessary to prevent contraventions of a peace agreement or to suppress and apprehend those guilty. In reality, such a force is likely to be far more effective in preventing effective Israeli self-defence. Naturally, this does not build confidence in Israel.

To reinforce this, it might be noted that the United Nations Security Council is not above passing pious resolutions that have zero possibility of implementation. Resolution 1701 in 2006, which called for the disarmament of Hezbollah, is an example. By its reliance on the government of Lebanon to implement the resolution it was known with perfect clarity that it would never be implemented.

Likewise, no attempts are made by the international community to apprehend the leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah and the other terror organizations on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Nor has the international community felt bound to fulfill its duties against these organizations in accordance with international conventions and laws against terrorism and genocide.

In fact, no attempts are being made to disarm these organizations in accordance with numerous international resolutions and statements that this is essential for a genuine peace process.

Furthermore, international forces are hardly rushing to demilitarize Gaza. Naturally, none of this provides solid ground for confidence or peace of mind for the effectiveness of any demilitarization clauses of a peace agreement.

A lesson from Marx

As Marx famously noted, right is nothing without an apparatus to enforce it. Consequently, an unworkable peace agreement combined with the impossibility of effective monitoring, control or enforcement will inevitably lead to disintegration and breakdown. This means that in order to defend itself, Israel would be compelled to use its own military apparatus. Further, the lack of defensive depth forced onto it by a West Bank Palestinian state could well force pre-emptive Israeli defensive strikes.

In contrast to the behind-the-scenes possession and use of illicit weapons systems by the Palestinians, Israeli actions would be highly visible to the world. As a result, the use of the IDF against continued terrorist activity or against a Palestinian government that failed to comply with agreements would create severe political problems.

Diplomatic contortions

The unavoidable conclusion is that the 2-state solution is not the solution its defenders think. It fails because by emphasising Palestinian statehood it does not address with sufficient seriousness and determination the provision of peace and security for Israel as envisaged by UNSCR 242. Nor does it address or offer countermeasures to the opportunities that a Palestinian state would provide for continued war against Israel. Consequently, any agreement or imposition of this so-called solution would spell danger and potential disaster for Israel.

The heart of the problem of securing a peace agreement continues to be the rejection by the dominant Arab/Palestinian narrative of any agreement that would require the recognition of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state within secure and defensible borders. This effectively destroys the 2-state solution. It means that until a sensible Palestinian leadership emerges, neither smooth-sounding nor tough-talking diplomatic contortions can disguise the fact that we are still a long way from a final peace agreement.

Likewise, there are huge problems in bringing social and economic normality to Gaza. This would require a substantial economic relationship with Israel which would need border crossings over which goods and people could safely pass. Yet this is impossible as long as Hamas misgoverns Gaza and armed militias operate to take advantage of such openness.

Reducing Palestinian demands

Until these issues are resolved, if they ever can be, the unpleasant reality is that Israel faces a series of extremely dangerous enemies. These need to be defeated or neutralised. Israel’s current military superiority cannot be assumed to provide perpetual invincibility. This is why it must not allow itself to be lured into undoing 1967 by handing back a prize asset that exchanges an expanding mass of new dangers in an asymmetrical peace agreement derived from an unworkable promise of peace.

If the twin aims of statehood for the Palestinians and security for Israel are ever to be the core of any sustainable agreement, the acceptance by the Arab/Palestinians of both Israel and a much smaller Palestinian state are crucial requirements. Clearly, this historic compromise would provide less of a state than they would prefer. Likewise, although it would provide some additional territorial security for Israel, it would provide less of a state than it too would prefer.

At present, there is as little traction for this solution as for the standard 2-state solution. Yet without such a historic compromise a sustainable agreement will never be possible. Consequently, with no agreement visible on the horizon, Israel will be entirely justified in demonstrating its own will to win. This means the determined pursuit of its Judea-Samaria/West Bank claims and by fighting the zero-sum conflict forced onto it by the dominant Arab/Palestinian narrative which transforms what could be a win-win conflict into a zero-sum war of attrition.

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