Public Diplomacy & Two-State Solution ‘A’ or ‘B’

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1/  In his opening statement at the ICJ ‘investigation’ of Israel in February, the Palestinian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Riyad al-Maliki, gave a fiery speech (icj-cij.org/multimedia/203577).  He stated that the Palestinians were given only three choices:  

  1. Displacement
  2. Subjugation
  3. Death

2/  Notably, there was no mad rush from those in attendance to correct him by pointing out the number of times the Palestinians had been presented with the option of a state – both before the creation of Israel and afterwards.   Nor was there a mad rush to remind him that both before and after the creation of Israel the Arabs and Palestinians had rejected all these opportunities.  

3/  Despite this, there is a definite mad rush from a growing number of international actors, the UN, EU, and many individual states, in favor of a Palestinian state.  The new deliberations of the ICJ will compound this.  

4/   By contrast, in Israel the once widespread appeal of the two-state solution is no longer so widespread.  The accumulated shocks of the 2nd intifada, the series of mowing-the-grass wars from 2008 to 2023,  and the attacks of 7th October have seen to that.  Yet its inner logic ensures that it is unlikely to be killed-off altogether.  Therefore, as before, much confusion will be caused by the failure to distinguish between two conflicting concepts of the two-state solution.

Two-State Solution ‘A’ 

5/  Amos Oz’s essay Help Us To Divorce explains its appeal, especially to the ‘western’ liberal-democratic mind-set.   The core argument is that two rival national groups claim the same territory.  This characterization provides a logical, moral, and political basis for an agreement to divide the territory into a state for Arabs and a state for Jews.  For many, this conceptzia offers a reasonable, equitable, and practical win-win resolution of the conflict. 

6/  This is Two-State Solution ‘A’ is where Jewish national rights are acknowledged and respected as the basis that could lead to a historical compromise where the two national movements agree to two-states for two peoples with mutual acceptance as the core principle.  Only this version can possibly lead to a successful two-state solution. 

7/  Western supporters in particular have been unable to imagine any palatable alternative to its simplicity and clarity.  Its inherent justice appears so morally conclusive to its advocates that all decent people should agree.  This has elevated the two-state solution to the level of a holy grail, taken for granted and endlessly repeated.  No further elaboration is required.   As a result, a great deal of emotion and conviction have been invested in the idea for it to be given up easily. 

8/  Yet its Achilles heel is that its adherents primarily focus on their own aspirations for peace. These are considered so self-evidently superior to alternatives that it is unnecessary to examine actual Palestinian aspirations.  As a result, advocates of two-states make two foundational assumptions:

  • the Palestinians will accept a West Bank-based state as an end to the conflict,
  • the conflict is essentially a territorial dispute over land distribution rather than an existential battle.  

The Palestinian Rejection of Two-State Solution ‘A’

9/  Unfortunately, the Palestinian Arabs and the bulk of the Arab and Muslim world reject this characterization of the conflict and its solution. For them it is a winner-takes-all struggle with no middle path.   Two-State solution ‘A’ is entirely alien to the PA and to Hamas.  This awkward reality is consistently and systematically obscured by international organizations such as the EU and UN, and the bulk of the international mass media.  

10/  Much is made of the PA recognition of Israel diplomatically.  In reality, Israel exists as a fact-of-life and no-one disputes it.  Yet the PA refuses to accept Israel as a Jewish nation-state with a right to exist.  Therefore, insofar as it considers Israel a state it is not accepted as Jewish, and insofar as it is Jewish it is not accepted as a state, but is instead derisively dismissed as the Zionist Entity with a limited life.

11/  Tireless assertions from President Abbas and other PA leaders make it clear that they will never accept a Jewish state and that only an end to Israel will end the conflict.  This is why, like Hamas in Gaza, the PA claims all the territory from the river to the sea, the ‘48 territories, the interior.   This conforms exactly to the demands of the Palestinian National Charter, 1968

12/ According to the Charter, Jews are a religious group only, without separate national rights.  This is why the PA objects to the phrase ‘two-states for two peoples’.  Its justification for this exactly mirrors the Charter:  that Jews are not a People but a religious community with no independent national rights.   Similarly, the PA follows the Charter in denying any Jewish historic or religious links to the region (article 20).

13/  This rejection of two-states for two peoples is a clear denial of the same rights of national self-determination for Israeli Jews as they demand for themselves.  It is an undisguised declaration of the long-standing aim of ending Israel as a Jewish state – the exact opposite of the two-state solution ’A‘.  

Two-State Solution ‘B’

14/  Two-state solution ‘B’ is where the Palestinian rejection of Jewish national rights is perpetuated and a state hostile to the existence of Israel is established alongside the Zionist Entity.  Further, the Palestinian claim to the whole territory of Israel along with the refusal to accept Jewish Israelis in a future Palestinian state, incorporates both ethnic cleansing and genocidal aims.   

15/ Typifying this outlook, the annual Palestinian commemoration of the Naqba mourns the failure of five invading Arab armies to destroy Israel in 1948-9.  The continued Palestinian refusal to accept a Jewish state retains the same disastrous winner-takes-all approach.   

16/   By making a win-win two-state solution impossible, any real peace process is killed stone-dead.  This is the driving force of the conflict.   Yet it is consistently ignored by Western leaders who see it – or choose to see it – as mere Middle Eastern hyperbole and negotiation tactics.

The Israeli Rejection of Two-State Solution ‘B’

17/  The Two-State Solution ‘B’ is the only version available as all offers of splitting the land have been rejected outright by the Palestinians.  This zero-sum perspective has dominated Palestinian politics for a hundred years – which makes it far more than mere Middle Eastern verbal diarrheaShort of its demise, the only possible conclusion is victory for one side.  Therefore, the key question becomes: which side will win?  This is a very difficult prospect to contemplate for those who seek a peaceful solution.   

18/  A Palestinian state created on the basis of two-state solution ‘B’ is bound to use its new status and power-base to escalate efforts to destroy Israel.   In Israel, this provokes alarm, excitable language, and combative attitudes.  Many opponents of Israel find such outbursts shocking.  Instructively, the Palestinian aim of obliterating Israel does not seem to shock them at all.  

19/  The unpleasant reality is that there is no body of Palestinian opinion with any political weight, with any social weight, with any economic weight, with any numerical weight, with any religious weight, or with any military weight, that sees the conflict differently.  Once this is grasped, it is clear that the ONLY way to win the Israeli public to accept Palestinians is for Palestinians to accept Israel.  

20/  This means that the Palestinian National Charter must be jettisoned and the aim of destroying Israel abandoned and replaced by a recognition of reciprocal national rights.  Currently, incessant reiteration of the two-state mantra by those who only see its formal fairness but not the factual unfairness of Palestinian rejectionism, totally misses the danger to Israel from the Two-State Solution ‘B’.  

How to Escape this Impasse

21/  Vast numbers of individuals, organizations and states appear oblivious to all this.  This illustrates how seriously Israeli public-diplomacy has failed to reach them.  It is also a strong indication of where Israel’s public and state diplomacy should focus.   Otherwise, we will repeatedly see how easily Israel’s interests can be ignored in international diplomacy.   

22/  The winner-takes-all approach of the Palestinians ensures that the hundred-year war of attrition will continue.  Further, it will continue with the assistance of the international community in its enthusiasm for a Palestinian state.  In order to avoid or curtail this, Israel needs the international community to become active in working to persuade or pressurize the Palestinians to abandon their disastrous aim of destroying Israel – instead of promoting policies that encourage them.    

23/  This means that the formal assumptions of the UN and EU that the Palestinians are seeking peaceful coexistence with Israel need to be challenged.  Therefore, a series of short and simple questions should be repeated ad infinitum by Israeli Public Diplomacy:    

  1. How can a Palestinian state intent on Israel’s destruction produce a successful two-state solution?
  2. How can a Palestinian state intent on Israel’s destruction bring about peace and stability in the region?
  3. How can a Palestinian state that aims to destroy Israel be in accordance with international law? 

24/  The difficulty of producing even half-way decent responses shows the need for the UN, EU and others to be publicly bombarded with these questions.  The crucial issue is not the expectation of a miraculous mass conversion to Israel’s side.  It is to enable the international public to grasp that the core foundational element of Palestinian policy is the cause of the failure to reach a peaceful resolution.

25/ This sets the framework for two further questions for use by Israeli public diplomacy:

  1. What measures have the UN and EU ever undertaken to express indignation, condemnation and opposition to PA and Hamas intentions to destroy Israel?
  2. What measures will the UN and EU undertake to ensure the Palestinians immediately retract this aim?

26/   In this way, the ability of the UN and EU to escape public scrutiny and challenge is eroded.  At the same time, putting them on the defensive educates the International public regarding areas crucial to Israel that are usually obscured by these international organizations and the bulk of the international media.  This will make it systematically more difficult for these institutions to ignore Israel’s interests.    

A Strategy for Public Diplomacy

27/    Failure to adopt this approach condemns Israeli public diplomacy to permanent defensiveness in responses to media-driven bias and event-facts.  These largely consist of tragic human-interest stories which undoubtedly fuel the conflict but do not cause it.   By contrast, Israel needs international public knowledge of what may be called causal-facts.  These place the blame for the conflict where it belongs – on the Palestinians – and point to the only way to secure a peaceful solution of any type. 

28/  This requires that Israel’s public diplomacy becomes hyperactive and focuses on these issues:

  • in every article in the foreign media,
  • in every interview with the foreign media, and 
  • in every international forum.

29/   To achieve all this, a further level of public diplomacy is required.  This is to place resolutions before international organizations, such as the UN and EU, that deal with:

  • the Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state, 
  • their intention to eliminate Israel,  
  • demands to condemn Palestinians for their rejectionism,
  • measures to punish their continuation,
  • the ONLY way to secure a peaceful solution to the conflict. 

30/  Israel has a global network of friends – all eager for Israeli support and leadership.  Therefore, emanating from Jerusalem to every Israeli embassy, and from these to local advocates for Israel, that network should be put to good use.   The chief requirements are having the will to do it, the correct focus, and clarity of strategic goals. 

 

Published in the ‘Times of Israel’   9 April 2024.

                          

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