Middle East Non-Solutions
By Steven Plaut
The mantra crops up almost everywhere. "You Israelis have two simple choices," it goes. "You can either annex all of the 'occupied territories' and grant equal Israeli citizenship to all of the Palestinians there, in which case Israel will no longer be a Jewish state. Or you can agree to a two-state solution, in which Israel continues to exist alongside a Palestinian Arab state. Simple. Make your choice!" The posing of these two "choices" for Israel is part of the campaign to convince Israelis that there is no alternative to the "Two-State Solution."
The first "alternative" is often dubbed these days the "One-State Solution" by its anti-Israel advocates. Israel and its Jewish population would be enfolded within a larger Arab-dominated Islamic state. A better term for this is the "Rwanda Solution." It is little more than a recipe for a second Holocaust of Jews, a Nazi-style final solution, in which the Middle East conflict would end because the Jewish population of the Middle East would be exterminated.
But the "Two State Solution" is little better. The creation of a "Palestinian" state "alongside Israel" would not solve anything and would not end the conflict. To the contrary, it would be the opening round for a major escalation in the conflict and the launching of an all-out war by "Palestine" against the rump Jewish state -- a war in which "Palestine" would be joined and backed by the entire Arab world and much of the non-Arab Muslim world. Like rump Czechoslovakia after Munich, the remaining Jewish mini-state would be the target for aggression and irredentist belligerence, manifested in rocket and missile attacks. The thousands of rockets that were fired at Sderot and the Negev after the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will appear as a child's game by comparison.
Let us note that neither the "One State " nor the "Two State" is a viable solution to the Middle East conflict. Neither would resolve anything.
There is no two-state solution -- only a two-state "solution." There is also no such thing as a "One-State Solution," at least if one means by that the granting of Israeli citizenship to all those claiming to be "Palestinians." So how must Israelis respond to the diktat that they choose either the one or the other? They must answer neither.
Israelis cannot formulate and propose "solutions" to the Middle East conflict for the exact same reason why the Western allies could not have proposed or formulated any "solution" to the ambitions of Germany in the late 1930s. No solution would have satisfied those ambitions, and none could have appeased Hitler. The quest in the 1930s for "solutions" resulted in years of delay, during which Germany re-armed and support for Hitler within Germany solidified. Similarly, no "solution" could have prevented the assaults against Pearl Harbor, Malaya, and the Philippines by Imperial Japan. The only solution to those conflicts was Western victory.
In short, "solutions" are magical panaceas sought by lazy, shallow, and impatient minds.
The entire Oslo "peace process" initiated by Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres was based upon the belief that peace can be achieved by pretending that war does not exist. Never mind what the Arabs are saying.
The Middle East conflict also has nothing to do with territory. The Arab countries already control territory nearly twice that of the United States (including Alaska), while Israel is smaller than New Jersey. The architects of the "peace process" argued that possession of territory twice the size of the U.S. without the Everglades-sized West Bank is a recipe for endless war, but if Israel just turns that Everglades-sized zone over to the "Palestinians," all will be peaceful. Twenty-two sovereign Arab states have produced war and barbarism, but creating a 23rd Arab state as a "Two State Solution" will produce peace.
Now, if Israelis refuse to embrace the above two pseudo-solutions, insists the left, then Israel will end up an "apartheid regime" -- one in which "Palestinian Arabs" live under endless Israeli "occupation" and control, but without Israeli citizenship, without the right to vote. It is always amusing to hear whining about the absence of the Palestinian right to vote in Israeli elections, especially when it comes from the very same people who do not care that Arabs have no free elections anywhere else in the Middle East. And never mind that Israel is the only country in the Middle East that is not an apartheid regime. Essentially, the insistence that Israel must choose one of the two pseudo-solutions or else it will morph into an "apartheid regime" amounts to the belief that Israelis are better off allowing their country to be annihilated rather than risk becoming the target of name-calling.
In reality, the most productive way to seek to resolve the Middle East is to take as the starting point the list of what is ruled out, what must never be. No "solution" to the Middle East conflict is possible if it involves creation of an Arab "Palestinian" state, and none is possible if it involves "Palestinians" being granted Israeli citizenship. Both of these nonstarters must be ruled out absolutely. Once that is understood, any proposal based upon those two nevers can be taken into consideration.
The immediate implication is that Israel must remain in the West Bank, and the "Palestinian" population there will be granted neither Israeli citizenship nor national sovereignty. The United States occupied Okinawa for decades, and American national historic and cultural roots did not originate in Okinawa. Indeed, American armed forces still fill that island. There is no time limit on how long Israeli "occupation" can last, and the very word "occupation" is actually a misnomer. In any case, the Israeli presence in the West Bank is sui generis and not comparable to any other case of "occupation."
So if West Bank "Palestinians" will be granted neither Israeli citizenship nor national sovereignty, what can they be offered? The original "peace proposals" offered by Israel in the 1970s and 1980s spoke about limited local autonomy. Had the Palestinians played their cards right, they could have enjoyed as much freedom and prosperity under local autonomy as do Puerto Rica, Guam, and American Samoa. But the Israeli Labor Party lost patience with the idea after a few years and decided to frog-leap to a "Two State Solution." It imported Yasser Arafat's storm troopers into the suburbs of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and proclaimed its "recognition" of the "Palestinian people."
There is indeed another "solution" for West Bank "Palestinians" unhappy with the two nevers defining conflict resolution. They can leave. There are those 22 sunny Arab states, plus lots of other Muslim states, whither any unhappy West Bank "Palestinian" can move and live amongst his kin. After all, Jews unhappy with life in Argentina, France, or Hungary demand not the annihilation of those countries, but merely the right to move to Israel. The fact that the "Palestinians" prefer Israeli "occupation" over blissful residence in these alternative countries speaks volumes about just how badly treated the "poor suffering Palestinians" really are.
The "Palestinians" find these constraints on their options distasteful? Too bad! Part of adulthood means coming to terms with the fact that, as in Mick Jagger's words, "[y]ou can't always get what you want." What the "Palestinians" and their apologists want is the annihilation of Israel and a second Holocaust of Jews.
And they are not going to get what they want.