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

March 02, 2003

Anatomy of an Illusion: The Israeli-Palestinian Two-State Solution

Eric L. Rozenman, former executive editor of B'nai B'rith's International Jewish Monthly, comes out strongly against a two state solution. See why.
Renewed advocacy of it (the two state solution) late last year by "the quartet" of the United States, Russia, the European Union and United Nations prior to Palestinian reform and without realistic prospects thereof contradicted President Bush's June 24 vision of a post-Arafat, non-violent, democratic West Bank and Gaza Strip. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's acceptance, albeit qualified, of a twenty-third Arab country on soil he himself long considered Israel's strategic and national heartland confirmed a dangerous sense of inevitability for the two-state plan.

But if armies can't resist the power of an idea whose time has come, then diplomats cannot enforce a vision inherently out of focus. A fundamental flaw in the two-state plan is oscillation of Palestinian Arab politics between the thuggish corruption of Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority and the murderous bigotry of Sheik Ahmed Yassin's Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas). A November public opinion poll showed that while 76 percent of West Bank and Gaza Strip residents supported a mutual cessation of hostilities between Arabs and Israelis, only eight percent supported a Palestinian school curriculum teaching that Israel was legitimate and that peace could be reached without Arab control of all the former British Mandate for Palestine (Israel, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza Strip).

So President Bush's "vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, side-by-side and at peace" remains inapplicable.

Worse, attempting to reach it via "the road map" drawn by the United States with its other quartet partners -- Russia, the United Nations and the European Union -- would prove to be a highway to hell
. Like the Oslo "peace process," attempting actually to follow the road map and force such a state into existence during the next three years (Bush's timeline) appears likely to provoke more, not less violence.

Anyone who has stood in Ariel, the Israeli "settlement" (a modern town of 14,000 Jews) just before sunset and watched the Dead Sea fade into shadow below and to the east and the lights flicker on along Tel Aviv's shoreline below and to the west understands: There is no room, geographically, demographically, economically, militarily or otherwise for two sovereign, equal states in the 40- to 45-mile wide, 180-mile long strip west of the Jordan River between Lebanon and the Negev Desert. Definitely not when the people of one state cheer their children's murder/suicides in the other.
What could be more obvious.
The Jewish state in Palestine requires borders more expansive than those of June 4, 1967. This is especially so since a demilitarized West Bank and Gaza Arab Palestine, isolated from Syria, Iraq, and Iran, as stipulated by proponents of the two-state solution, is a fiction, as noted above. Israel's own failures and international utility regarding Hezbollah in the ostensibly U.N.-patrolled south Lebanon "security zone," Arafat's illegally enlarged, illegally armed "police" and Palestinian militia, and the nearly two and a-half year siege of Israeli cities and towns by gunmen, bombers, mortar crews and rocket launchers testify to that.

Meanwhile, the Arab population on the remaining West Bank and Gaza Strip will require territorial and economic depth on which meaningful sovereignty can be exercised. An arid, over-crowded entity the size of four smallish American counties cannot suffice.

Therefore, the remaining unallocated portion of Mandatory Palestine -- the West Bank and Gaza Strip -- must be divided between two states, Jordan and Israel, Arab Palestine and Jewish Palestine. The shape of this territorial compromise also is relatively clear. Before launching intifada II the Palestinian Authority already controlled or shared control with Israel of 54 percent of the territory (which includes the vast majority of the
Palestinian population). MORE
You may recall that Sharon, in his Herzelia speech, accepted the Bush vision but supported a Palestinian state only on 42% of the land. It may be that such a state is so unworkable that the natural thing would be to add it to Jordan. My guess is that Sharon is counting on this. Thus no second Palestinian state. With the bulk of the Arab population in these areas, there would be very little dislocation of people and little destabilization of Jordan. All refugees outside these areas would have to be absorbed by the host country.

Its not over 'til its over.