The two-state delusion
The liberal-Left in Britain, and elsewhere, is engaged in willful blindness about Israel's ability to forge a two-state solution. The reality is that it isn't in Israel's gift to bring one about because the Palestinians always reject it. It's time the West woke up
In the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's incredible election triumph, one thought seems to have struck with particular force: that all hope for a two state solution is now dead and buried.
The Guardian lamented the election result, claiming that "there will be no peace process with the Palestinians" while an editorial in the Independent dismissed Netanyahu's appeal to security:
"It emphasises the degree to which paranoia is now the dominant undercurrent in Israeli politics". For the Financial Times, Netanyahu's win was a "scorched earth victory...laying waste to any residual hopes that Israel might negotiate a solution with the Palestinians whose territory it occupies".
Across the pond, Tom Friedman declared that Bibi would make history by becoming the, "father of the one state solution". Peter Beinart, writing in Ha'Aretz, warned that the, "peace process is over and the pressure process must begin". In the same paper, Gideon Levy issued a quite demented rant, declaring that, "Netanyahu deserves the Israeli people, and they deserve him". The nation, in voting for Bibi, was "very ill indeed".
Then came the warnings. A furious Nick Clegg, Deputy Prime Minister, said that in the wake of Netanyahu's apparent refusal to back a two state solution, "the world, including the British Parliament, would have no option, inevitably, but to recognise a Palestinian state".
The US followed suit, with its own threat to stop supporting Israel at the UN as part of its re-evaluation of policy.
According to these voices, the nation of Israel suffered a most grievous blow last week. It could have entered the 'broad, sunlit uplands' of a Herzog premiership and broken the Israeli-Palestinian impasse with adept diplomacy. Instead this 'insular' electorate effectively condemned itself to the narrow minded nationalism of Netanyahu, the 'prime barrier' to peace.
If we ever needed a demonstration of left-liberal myopia and mind numbing ignorance, this was it.
For quite simply, with or without Netanyahu, there will be no Palestinian state in the short to medium term. To remind oneself why, one need only remember the efforts made by his predecessors, Barak and Olmert, both of whom offered far reaching concessions to Arafat and Abbas respectively.
Their efforts were rebuffed because of Palestinian intransigence: an insistence on the right of return, a refusal to recognise Israel as a Jewish state, a denial of Jewish rights to Jerusalem and a refusal to give Israel secure borders.
Olmert and Barak were not diplomatic hawks, any more than Livni or Herzog. Zionist Union would likely have been as generous in its proposals, and it would have suffered a similar fate.
Not that Netanyahu has been an intransigent foe of a two state solution, at least as Prime Minister. In what amounted to a Clause 4 moment for Likud, he committed himself to the principle of a demilitarised, Palestinian state living alongside Israel in 2009.
He engaged in at least two futile diplomatic initiatives, one of which involved the highly controversial release of terrorists to mollify Abbas. He was rewarded with a unity pact between Fatah and Hamas.
The common factor in the failure to create a two state solution is therefore the rejectionist Palestinian leadership, not Netanyahu. This is the same leadership which encourages the most insidious and morally reprehensible incitement. It glorifies terrorists, salutes suicide bombers and pays salaries to the families of murderers.
The Palestinian media is engaged in an all out war against the Jews but unlike Israel, which obviously has its own share of racists, this is a matter of state policy. The PA is helping to poison a new generation of young Palestinians, destroying any chance of peace.
But even if none of this was true, there is a further difficulty. It is a given that, in the event of an election in the West Bank (6 years overdue), Hamas would likely triumph. Can anyone seriously pretend that this would lead to a benign outcome?
If so, they've been asleep for the last decade while Hamas has amassed a vast arsenal of rockets and initiated war after punishing war with the Israelis. To pretend that a Hamas ruled West Bank would not seek to inflict similar mayhem on the citizens of Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa is to engage in a most hyperbolic level of wishful thinking.
Indeed, even Hamas may one day be seen as benign rulers. For it is hardly difficult to imagine a scenario in which parts of the West Bank were taken over by supporters of Islamic State with their insatiable appetite for ethnic cleansing and territorial conquest.
Situated only a matter of miles from Ben Gurion airport, and within easy range of Israel's cities, these theocratic fascists would present a formidable challenge.
It is these frightening regional dynamics that Netanyahu alluded to when he said that he did not want to create a Palestinian state that would become a haven for terror. For sure, he whipped up these fears for short term electoral gain and his comments about the Israeli Arab vote, later rescinded, were unforgivable.
But his 'security first' message still had powerful resonance among great swathes of the Israeli electorate, and for a good reason. It was rooted in the ugly reality of the Middle East, not in wishful thinking. Bibi's visceral warnings about Iran and terrorism worked because there was something of substance to them.
Yet much of the centre-left commentariat remains transfixed by a delusion. For them, it's all about a sinister bogeyman called Bibi whose hardline approach and his own alleged myopic tendencies have stirred endless trouble around the world.
They want to wish away the jihadi menace, ignore Hamas and Hezbollah and pretend that Abbas' glorification of terror and relentless incitement isn't real. In other words, they want to bend reality to their wishes, as if they were engaged in a giant act of political telekinesis. Life isn't that simple.
Of course, none of this mandates passivity. Israel should do what it can to create a range of economic, cultural and sporting links between Israelis and Palestinians. Peace should be built at the grassroots level with the aim of fostering co-existence, and the West should support such efforts. The threat of jihadism beyond Israel's borders must be curtailed as well.
Eventually, a moderate Palestinian leadership may emerge that will improve the prospects for peace, stability and prosperity. But to pretend that there's an easier fix, an instant panacea to solve the conflict, is blind in the extreme.
Jeremy Havardi is a journalist and the author of two books, Falling to Pieces, and The Greatest Briton
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