Palestinian Desperation for a 2-State Solution

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The attraction of the 2-state solution

A large part of the attraction of the 2-state solution for many observers is the apparent absence of alternatives. And partly because it promises to address a sensitive issue: the fact that life for many Palestinians on the West Bank is often distressing. Checkpoints and other security measures that interfere with daily life are restrictive, unpleasant and humiliating.

Following ‘disengagement’, the perspective is that the Palestinians would enjoy a less restricted life and with suitable aid would be able to embark on a path of economic development. This would allow the building of more successful livelihoods without constant controls and interference. As a result, the advancement of reconciliation, good will, trust and friendlier relations would be more likely.

The hope is that by a combination of economic development and a reduction of the grievances that feed the fanatics, the Palestinians will benefit from an economic stake which could be lost in further conflict. In this way, it is expected that the discipline of economic loss will prove stronger than the attractions of religious fanaticism or nationalist hopes. A further appeal of this option is that it appears to be accommodating and peaceful. It is also very attractive to the EU, UN, Quartet and others.

Reverse reality

However, to leap from the observation that measures required on the West Bank are often disruptive of the daily lives of many Palestinians to imagine that this is the cause of the terrorism which aims to destroy Israel is to reverse reality. It is not its behaviour that is the prime motivation for those who want to destroy Israel but its existence.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Aqsa Brigades, Hizbollah and the other fanatical organisations are not waging a terror-war out of desperation for a 2-state solution. Nor are they fighting to secure economic development and employment prospects for the young fighting men of Gaza and the West Bank.

Instead, as they repeatedly proclaim and openly threaten, they are fighting to prevent a 2-state settlement by destroying Israel and replacing it with an Arab/Islamic state. There is nothing whatever to indicate that this is not their true motivation and prime aim. This is made crystal clear by the fact that all Jews throughout Israel are explicitly seen as targets for terrorism.

A common Jewish-Arab platform?

Yet an alternative Arab/Palestinian strategy is essentially simple to envisage. A viable and potentially effective strategy would be to initiate methods of political agitation that could appeal to and include Israeli Jews who sympathise with Palestinian national aspirations and who would welcome successful Palestinian economic development. Indeed, many Israelis see the 2-state solution as crucial for the legitimacy and survival of Israel. Therefore, the building of a common popular movement towards a mutually accepted goal, such as the 2-state solution, would seem to be both possible and highly desirable.

Unfortunately for this perspective, the 2-state solution is not as widely accepted as its adherents often assume. Instead, the denial of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, the aim of eliminating Israel and the acceptability of targeting all Jews for lethal attack, completely undermines the strategic possibility of such a joint political movement. In reality, this is one of the purposes of terror. The fanatics have no interest in developing a common political platform because they have no interest in a common solution.

Likewise, the Israeli left, ‘peace-now’, the pro-Palestinian Israelis, advocates of the 2-state solution and Israeli Arabs could themselves initiate a political movement of agitation, demonstrations, media events or whatever in conjunction with Arab/Palestinians who support the 2-state solution. Yet this would hit exactly the same problems. As a result, in all but the most marginal sense such initiatives are entirely without substance due to the absence of Arab/Palestinian partners who share the same 2-state vision. The combination of terror, the aim of destroying Israel and the lack of partners is thus a crippling weakness for these movements.

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