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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

October 17, 2002

Exclusive to IsraPundit: Jonathan Lichterman responds to
Terje Roed-Larsen’s article, Before it's too late

A fundamental concept has defined all peacemaking attempts between Israelis and Palestinians. It is called the two-state solution.

Yes, two states, Palestine and Jordan.

Would-be Middle East peacemakers have long determined that justice, security and peace between the two peoples is best achieved by creating two sovereign states west of the Jordan River: Israel and Palestine. That includes me, as one of the facilitators of the 1993 Oslo Accords and now the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

Are you actually arguing that Oslo was successful, Terje? So long as you keep enabling and appeasing the Palestinians, you will never be anything but a would-be peacemaker.

A viable, independent Palestine alongside Israel is still possible. But perhaps not for much longer, given four undeniable trends at work today.

Boy, is it still possible?, we’d better hurry up and declare that state, lest we miss the chance to have another autocratic repressive Arab regime hell-bent on killing Jews right next door. How much do you want to bet that Israel gets blamed for these four “undeniable trends?”

The first two are readily apparent - a deteriorating security situation fueled by vicious terror attacks and widespread violence against civilians, and an unprecedented Palestinian humanitarian crisis.

Yep, old terj-boy doesn’t fail. When describing the deteriorating security situation he doesn’t mention who is perpetrating the terrorist attacks and widespread violence against civilians. Who wants to bet that some moral equivalence is on the way?

And of course the “unprecedented” Palestinian humanitarian crisis is the culprit. I am sure the explanation of this will include the loss of humanity in Palestinian education, and the billions embezzled by the Palestinians’ leaders, and of course the necessity of Israel’s actions in response to the unprecedented level of terror attacks. I am sure that is what he means.

The other two, while less visceral, have serious long-term implications: The gradual destruction of the Palestinian Authority and Israel's expansion of its West Bank settlements.

The gradual destruction by Israel of the PA and of course the settlements. Yep so far all four blamed on Israel.

These trends force me, and I am far from alone, to ask two very troubling questions. Are we nearing the death of the two-state solution, the bedrock for all our peacemaking efforts?

You missed the funeral long ago on that one.

And if so, are we prepared for the consequences?

I.e., are we prepared to let Israel defend itself?

If indeed we are at a critical juncture, it is most vividly seen in the growing chasm between the diplomatic efforts to forge a peace agreement and the catastrophic situation on the ground. Diplomatically, an unprecedented international consensus has been formed around a three-year, three-phase road map by the Quartet (the United States, European Union, Russia and UN) that would lead to a comprehensive peace.

Yes, a universal consensus, including the UN, we all know that this will be an offer Israel cannot refuse. Get this Israel, the quartet has decided that you have three years until you are forced into a suicide pact.

The roadmap builds on major diplomatic initiatives from last spring's Arab League announcement to fully recognize Israel based on the two-state solution to U.S.

Yes, the Arabs will recognize the right of its co-member in the UN’s right to exist. Wow, what a concession. Maybe they will recognize Michael Jackson as the King of Pop as well, to really sweeten the deal.

The recognition of Israel’s right to exist is not a negotiating chip, it is a non-starter.

President George Bush's Rose Garden speech last June (reinforced recently in statements by British Prime Minister Tony Blair) which clearly outlined the vision of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

I happened to be standing next to Roed-Larsen as he listened to Bush’s speech. Here is how he heard it: “na-na-na-na-na-na-na we’re not listening na-na-na-na-na-na, . . . Palestinian State in three years . . . na-na-na-na-na we’re not listening.”

Moreover, the UN Security Council unanimously endorsed the Quartet Plan, which was unveiled in detail on September 17. The bottom line - we have a way forward.

I can't even comment on the hilarity of citing the UN as the source of approval when it comes to Israel.

But these promising diplomatic moves clash foursquare with the disastrous situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today.

Of course, not about the disastrous situation in Jewish Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, or Netanya.

To understand this better, consider two competing views found on both sides of the conflict - the constructionist and the destructionist. In simple terms, the constructionists believe in a two-state solution and the destructionists do not.

It’s all ball bearings these days. C’mon guys its so simple maybe you need a refresher course.

Israeli and Palestinian constructionists have similar outlooks.

Yes, they both think that it is all Israel’s fault.

They say the best way to foster peace, security and prosperity for both sides is through the creation of a democratic Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This state would work for the benefit of its people, and in the process control and stop violence against Israel. In this scenario, both sides win.

And they will all live in gumdrop houses on al-Lollipop lane.

Israeli and Palestinian destructionists both seek total control of the land at the expense of their adversaries, and are in a kind of unholy embrace that is fueling today's downward spiral. For them, only one state can emerge west of the Jordan River: Israel or Palestine. It is a zero-sum game.

Translation: "imperialist Sharon war-criminal humiliating and oppressing Israelis" are locked with the small minority of marginalized Palestinians who want to destroy Israel.

Today's trends show that the destructionists control the day.
First, major bloodletting over the past two years has killed more than 600 Israelis and 2,000 Palestinians. This death toll has sown deep grief and massive distrust on both sides, making negotiations difficult to begin, much less conclude.

Whew, finally. I never thought he would get to the numbers game of moral equivalence, where score is kept by the number dead.

Second, the Palestinian humanitarian situation is almost unfathomable. Hundreds of thousands remain under 24-hour curfew and the economy is in ruins.

Almost unfathomable, we will be able to fathom it with this wise sage's guidance. Context???? IF THEY WOULD STOP KILLING THEY WOULD NOT BE UNDER CURFEW!!! Who started the war, and why is the economy in ruins? Could the corruption rampant from those receiving the funds be responsible? These are the tough questions to which Roed-Larsen does not have the answers.

International aid is the primary factor in preventing total societal and economic collapse, and the anarchy, hunger and disease that would follow.

Is he talking about the international aid in the form of the bounty for the heads of Jews, or Europe's blood money which has been nothing more than mad-money for Arafat. Yep, that money is really going to good use.

It is a good thing they are preventing the anarchy with international money. Boy we wouldn’t want anarchy, whew, disaster avoided. What their was a murder of some collaborators? What, there was a murder of a PA police chief? Whew, thank Allah there was no anarchy.

Third, Israel has, through military action, come very close to destroying the institutions of the Palestinian Authority, and with them any semblance of a central government. These institutions took nearly a decade to build, and are essential for building a peaceful and prosperous Palestine.

Yes they took nearly a decade to build up their arsenal to kill Jews. Of course Israel has destroyed them with military action. Of course, no context for that military action, just soldiers on a lark. Of course Arafat’s corrupt and terror steeped regime had no role in destroying PA institutions.

The fourth trend is perhaps the most significant of all: Israel's continued expansion of West Bank settlements, and the land confiscation that goes with it. Even as the world repeatedly calls for a freeze to all such activity, it continues apace. The settlements, and the highways that serve them, could soon envelop East Jerusalem, cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank, which would then also be split in half. Other settlement projects will bisect the northern West Bank and encircle Bethlehem and Hebron to the south.

Terj-boy finally got around to the settlements. Arafat was so concerned with the settlements that they were made the corner-piece of the Oslo accord, you designed. Oh, they weren't the cornerstone of that agreement, you mean they just became important because it plays well in currying rage against Israel? “Land confiscation?” Whose land is being confiscated? What about the land that was sold to the Jews by the Arabs?

Of course Roed-Larsen being so intimately familiar with the Palestinians is well aware of the PLO's charter position regarding the settlements: The settlements in Tel Aviv and Netanya and Haifa are all obstacles to peace.

Israelis and Palestinians are warning that these trends will soon make it impossible to create a viable Palestinian state in control of its own land, borders and resources. The result: the death of the two-state solution.

Translation. Israel has made it impossible to create another Arab thugocracy hell bent on its destruction.

What does that mean? Let's be frank.

Have you not been frank with us before this. Thank you for finally being frank.

If Israel retains overall control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, it will be faced with a difficult choice, given the sheer presence of the Palestinian population. Palestinians could soon be left living in a string of unconnected homelands run by local warlords, which will not give them the freedom they covet and would almost certainly guarantee continued insecurity for Israel.

Oh, more on the settlements.

“Freedom they covet?” A bunch of Thomas Paine’s they are. Israel will have "continued insecurity?" You mean, unlike the security of a hostile neighbor with the freedom to import heavy weapons?

The other option is Israel controlling the land, but without the people. That is known as "transfer."

Ack, the T word. Of course there is no mention of something in the middle, an autonomous but non-sovereign Yesha. That would not fit the paradigm, because it is too logical.

We have not yet reached the death of the two-state solution.

Faster please!

But it will take immediate and steadfast efforts from Israelis and Palestinians, backed by the international community, to take us off the destructionists' path.

Translation: The international community can hasten the demise of Israel if they really hurry.

In this I have confidence, recently bolstered by two polls conducted last August, which show that a majority of Israelis support the creation of a Palestinian state, provided Palestinians follow a policy of non-violence.

I was lucky, because I happened to be next to Roed-Larsen when he read the poll. Terje: "Look, a majority of Israelis want a Palestinian State, . . . and something about violence"

Moreover, one of the polls says that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians approve of using non-violent means to establish their state.

Was that the same poll that found 80% support for continued suicide bombing? Oh, that says violins, not violence.

We all know what must be done.

A segue to Reed-Larsen’s Final Solution to the Jewish Question.

To the Israeli people, I ask - are you prepared to ask your government to go back immediately to the negotiating table, to stop all settlement activity and work together with Palestinians and the international community to build a peaceful and viable Palestine?

Are you prepared to call in Dr. Kevorkian to help you?

If not, are you prepared to deal with the outcome?

What the hell is that supposed to mean?

To the Palestinian people, I ask - are you prepared to stop not just terror, but all forms of violence, whether you consider them legitimate or not? Do you recognize, as many of your leaders now do, that violence and terror have only served to undermine your national ambitions and create a crisis for your people unmatched for more than two generations?

I actually have to give him some credit on this one. He did not ask Israel if they are willing to stop their endless genocide of the Arabs like I thought he would. He directs the violence question squarely on the Palestinians in this Final Solution section. Of course straight from the Asrawi hand-book he is not saying that it is wrong, it just hurts the cause.

To the international community, I say - it is time to move decisively to put this peace process back on track and reach a two-state solution. Otherwise we must be prepared to address the consequences of its death.

Yes we must avoid the situation where Israel is allowed to fight its battles. Open those wallets and start sending more money and putting more pressure on Israel. A boycott or two may be nice. What are these consequences of the death of the two state solution he keeps talking about?

The writer was one of the facilitators of the 1993 Oslo Accords and now serves as the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process.

This is a little like taking credit for being one of the architects of the Edsel or the Titanic.

Contributed by Jonathan Lichterman