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An offer that can be refused

Due to the awesome lack of appreciation of the realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, there is a widespread belief in the western media, political and intellectual circles that the essential framework of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement, known as the ‘2-State Solution’, is both widely known and accepted.

This is proclaimed almost weekly by The Economist and Haaretz. They are joined by the great writer Amos Oz and an international army of similar minded commentators and politicians. President Obama claims that a Palestinian state alongside Israel would satisfy the justifiable national aspirations of the Palestinians and the justifiable security needs of Israel.

In this view, the ‘2-State Solution’ as a permanent settlement appears so good as to be almost irresistible; so simple, sensible and obvious that it is hardly necessary to make out a serious case for it. International bodies such as the UN, EU and the Quartet, don’t even try.

Unfortunately, this widely known and accepted solution, which will supposedly satisfy the essential national aspirations of the Palestinians and thus produce peace, has proved amazingly resistant to implementation. As a result, a parallel belief has developed that Israel is the chief blockage.

Opinion leaders & the knowledge of presidents

To remedy this, many would be willing to impose the supposed ‘solution’ on Israel. A more genteel approach is suggested by The Economist which has repeatedly called on President Obama to explain his vision for the ‘2-State Solution’ in detail and to allay Israeli fears by showing how it will actually enhance Israel’s security. This would seem to be an irresistibly attractive and winning idea. Yet Obama has steadfastly resisted it. Why? Could it be that in reality he has no idea?

Neither has The Economist. Otherwise, with its world-wide knowledge-base, extensive historical understanding and advanced analytic capacities, it would surely tell us and so improve the world significantly. Likewise, we recently had the pleasure of a little homily from former president Bill Clinton. Speaking in Israel towards the end of last year at the Saban Forum, he explained that this region of the Middle East was very small. As a result, he said, you (the Israelis) have to get along with the Palestinians.

What should we think of such banalities – that the former president is a genius and no-one in Israel could ever have thought of this?

The fatal flaw

Unfortunately for its advocates, there is a fatal flaw at the heart of the belief that the ‘2-State Solution’ is widely known and accepted. Here it is.
The flaw is that the belief is only widely known and accepted where it doesn’t count. Where it does count, in the Palestinian and Arab world, it is neither widely known nor accepted.

Not a single Arab state or leader has ever declared a willingness to accept Jewish national rights in the region or to accept Israel as Jewish state with recognized and secure borders, as required over 40 years ago by UNSCR 242. Nor has any Palestinian ‘parliamentary’ organization, party, faction or armed group. In fact, they rarely miss an opportunity to remind the world that this recognition will never occur.

The attraction of the ‘2-State Solution’ to its advocates is that they believe it is an acceptable solution and/or a just solution. The problem that they fail to grasp is that in the dominant Arab/Palestinian view it is neither just nor acceptable (see The Driving Force of Palestinian Politics #1 ).

By contrast, Israel has accepted the idea of a Palestinian state on several occasions. For example, in 1947 the Jewish community in pre-Israel British-controlled Palestine accepted UNGAR 181, which proposed 2 states as a way to solve the conflict. This willingness has been based on political realities and the recognition of Arab national rights. It has been repeated and supported by Israeli proposals most notably in 2000/1, 2008 and by the Netanyahu government in 2009. Each time the Palestinians have rejected any reciprocal recognition of Jewish national rights and rejected proposals for 2 states as a way to end to the conflict.

Unfortunately, the world largely chooses to ignore this. As a result, the wishful thinking that the 2-State Solution is widely know and accepted is perpetuated and the conflict is misunderstood and continued.

The insurmountable Palestinian problem

Naturally, however much it may wish to do so, the reality is that the Arab world can hardly deny the actual existence of Israel. Instead, the Arab world is consumed by hostility to Israel’s existence and remains firmly in denial of the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state.

The problem for the Palestinians and the wider Arab world is that acceptance of the ‘2-State Solution’ as a final settlement would mean an agreement to end the conflict. If it really were an end to the conflict it would mean that the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state would have to be accepted. This would mean that the goal of eliminating Israel would have to be abandoned. In turn, it would also mean that measures to protect Israel’s right to exist would have to be acknowledged. To avoid this, the West Bank Palestinian leadership twists and turns for formulations that would accept a Palestinian state while at the same time rejecting a Jewish state.

The insurmountable difficulty for them is that to take the required measures for a permanent historical compromise-accommodation with Israel would mean contradicting their view of themselves. It would violate their entire sense of identity, history, justice, and their place in the real world as well as in Allah’s world. It would be a betrayal of their belief that they were the victims of an unforgiveable crime; that the entire land belongs to them; and that the Zionists are usurpers and therefore deadly enemies. In sum, it would tear apart their belief that history, justice and God are on their side.

As a result, the measures and compromises required to reach a permanent accommodation to the Zionist-entity have never been seriously considered in the Palestinian or wider Arab world. Yet when viewed from misty mono-cultural western eyes, this is incomprehensible and unbelievable. As a result, it is ignored or dismissed.

 

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