The "Two State Solution": Reality or Delusion?
Arnold Soloway - Aug 03, 2010
PROBLEMS OF MIDDLE EAST PEACEMAKING
Study Paper August 2010
The “Two State Solution”: Reality or Delusion?
(A 10 minute primer)
By Arnold M. Soloway
1. Who wants a “Two State Solution”?
2. How would it serve America’s interests?
3. Do Jews have any right to a state in Palestine?
4. What is the “Strategy of Stages”?
5. Should Jerusalem again be divided?
6. President Obama, The “Two State Solution” and Israel?
Center for Near East Policy Research
The “Two-State Solution”: Reality or Delusion?
Following the U.S. lead, the near universal consensus appears to be that the Arab-Israel conflict can be resolved only by the establishment of a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Gaza, providing a “Two-State Solution”. But this approach ignores current realities and relevant history. The “Two-State Solution”, as proposed, inevitably would constitute an unwarranted threat to vital American national security interests and to Israel’s survival, a danger manifestly detrimental to U.S. credibility and its security interests in a true and lasting Arab-Israel peace.
Given current realties, while Israel is the lone bastion for democracy and human rights in the Middle East, there is little doubt that a new Palestinian Arab state would ally itself with and become a client of despotisms like Iran and Syria, and other forces hostile to America. Also by exporting terrorism, Jordan’s survival would be put in peril and Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and other Gulf states would be threatened. This would make the region more combustible than it already is – hardly in U.S. or Israel’s interest.
Briefly: Israel’s Legitimacy
In 1922, following the Allied victory in World War I, the organized international community of the time, the League of Nations, with the special concurrence of the U.S. (not a member), established the Palestine Mandate as a matter of binding international law, based on the “historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine”. It intended to establish “a National Home for the Jewish people”, specifically including all the territory of what later became Jordan and Israel, explicitly designated for “close settlement by Jews on the land” of Palestine. (The league similarly established French mandates for territories that became Syria and Lebanon, and another British mandate for Mesopotamia-Iraq.)
In 1923, however, for her own imperial interests, and without prior approval of the International Mandate Commission, Britain cut off 78% of the original Mandate territory to establish the Arab Emirate of Trans Jordan and installed as Emir a World War I ally, Abdullah, whose forces had been expelled from Arabia by the Wahabi Saudis. Abdullah, with some 2,000 Hashemite troops, took control of the territory in Palestine where Jews were expelled and no longer permitted to live. The territory for the Jewish national home in Palestine was thus reduced to a mere 22% of the original Mandate. The Jews who peopled that 22% of the Mandate were known as “Palestinians”.
In 1937, concerned by escalating Arab violence, the British created the Peel Commission to investigate the Palestine problem. The Peel Commission subsequently called for further subdivision of the remaining 22% of the original Mandate territory into two states, one Arab, one Jewish, as “a chance for ultimate peace”. The Arabs emphatically rejected the two state proposal.
In 1946, with British support, Abdullah converted the Emirate of Trans-Jordan into the Kingdom of Jordan, an Arab state within the Palestine Mandate, with himself as King. (“Palestine and Jordan were both under British Mandate, but as my grandfather pointed out in his memoirs, they were hardly separate countries. Trans-Jordan being to the east of the river Jordan, formed in a sense, the interior of Palestine.” [King Hussein Jordan, Uneasy Lies the Head, New York, 1962, p.118])
In 1947, after Britain surrendered its Mandate as a “sacred trust” to the United Nations, successor to the League of Nations, the U.N. General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, calling for partition of the remaining 22% of the Palestine Mandate. This “Two-State Solution” provided for a second Arab state in Palestine (Jordan being the first). Although disappointed by the small portion of territory it would receive, the U.N. proposal was accepted by the Jews as “Israelis”. It was forcefully rejected by the Arabs.
In 1948, five Arab armies undertook an avowed “War of Extermination” against the nascent Jewish State. To world-wide surprise, the Arabs were defeated. Under the subsequent armistice agreement when combat ceased, Jordan controlled the West Bank and Egypt controlled Gaza as “belligerent occupiers”.
During the nineteen years in which those territories were under complete Arab control, there was no agitation or effort to establish a Palestinian state.
In 1967, after again defeating Arab armies in a war of self-defense and gaining control of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan Heights, Israel offered to return territory it had won in exchange for peace agreements with its neighbors. The Arab League responded with their Khartoum Resolution: “No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.” Once again, no “Two-State Solution”. But to enhance their appeal to Western public opinion, the Arabs of Mandate Palestine waived their traditional self-identification as “Arabs”, members of the Arab Nation, and for the first time took on the name “Palestinians”.
In 1974, the nine-year old P.L.O., at its Twelfth National Convention, adopted “The Strategy of Stages”. This was designed to create an impression of “moderation” – primarily for Western consumption – by agreeing to set up a Palestinian Arab state in any West Bank and Gaza territory vacated by Israel as Stage I, without recognizing the State of Israel. Stage II, was to be resumption and intensification of the “armed struggle” from the greatly enhanced power base, which would ensure the destruction of Israel and allow Arabs to take the rest of Palestine in Stage III. The “Two-State Solution” would advance the PLO’s Strategy of Stages for the destruction of Israel.
Despite these facts, in 1993, the Oslo Accords were signed by Arafat of the P.L.O. and Prime Minister Rabin of Israel at the White House, supposedly to allow for the development and growth of mutual trust and respect - leading to the establishment of a Palestinian State. (Afterwards, Arafat speaking to his own people reaffirmed the P.L.O. commitment to the “Strategy of Stages” for Israel’s destruction, and equated the Oslo Accords with Mohammed’s Treaty of Hudabya with the Koreish tribe, which the Prophet maintained for two years – until his forces grew strong enough to crush the Koreish.)
The Israeli government, driven by its intense desire for “peace”, and trusting that Arafat would honor his commitment to eliminate Palestinian terrorism and anti-Israel hate indoctrination, placed significant territory under P.L.O. control and without consideration of vital security issues gave arms to it’s “Police”. However, rather than moderating the Palestinians (PLO and Hamas alike), the Oslo Accords produced an unprecedented level of hate-education, resulting in an unprecedented wave of anti-Israeli Palestinian terrorism, a gross violation of Palestinian commitments made to Israel and to the U.S.
Oslo may have led to a Palestinian state in a “Two-State Solution”, but Arafat rejected the Two-State option. Instead, he launched the first bloody “Intifada” and intensified vitriolic anti-Israel hate indoctrination in programs that continue to this day. The “Hate Jews and Israel” mantra, heard every day in their Mosques and media, resonates powerfully among the Palestinian Arabs, unwitting recipients of gross historical revisionism. It is especially aimed at the young, even in programs designed for early school age children.
In 2000, with no regard for this very dismal experience, President Clinton joined by Ehud Barak, then Israel’s Prime Minister, offered to Arafat and the Palestinian Arabs a sovereign state with 97% of the West Bank and Gaza, its capital in East Jerusalem and large sums of money in compensation to Palestinian refugees. Arafat again rejected a “Two State Solution” and responded with the “Second Intifada”, including the bloodiest sustained terrorist attacks in Israel’s history. Nevertheless, the international politicos, led by the Obama administration, still focus almost exclusively on a “Two-State Solution”. They ignore the fact that over a period of more than seven decades at least five distinct international diplomatic initiatives for such a “solution” would have created a Palestinian state. All those initiatives were rejected by the Arabs who simply would not accept the concept of two states, Arab and Jewish, “living side-by-side in peace”. From those repeated rejections and close study of current Arab attitudes and aspirations, it is abundantly clear that their goal is a single Arab state from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Quite apart from intrinsically contradictory fundamental issues that would beset any Arab-Israel negotiations for a “Two-State Solution”, there is another basic problem. The Arabs are divided in two hostile camps. Fatah (P.L.O.) controls territory in the West Bank while Hamas maintains control of Gaza which it seized by force from Fatah.
The hostility between Fatah and Hamas encompasses a range of important political and theological differences. But they share the same ultimate goal: the destruction of the State of Israel. In both the P.L.O.-Fatah and Hamas covenants that goal is specific, clearly stated, and glorifies “armed struggle” – all having been substantiated by both terrorist actions and repeated declarations.
Following Yasser Arafat’s death, Abu Mazen, the P.L.O.’s second-in-command, who, at Arafat’s side, was directly involved in many deadly terrorist acts over the years, now has the title of “Chairman Abbas”. He has taken over command of Palestinian Arab governance (P.L.A.) and has attempted to transform his and the P.L.O.’s image by adopting a mask of moderation to gain favor in the U.S. and the West. Unlike Arafat, he speaks dresses and acts in a more “Western” fashion. This has allowed current U.S. policy–makers to ignore his terrorist past, to portray him now as a “moderate”, and to accept him as a partner in the pursuit of Arab-Israeli peace through a “Two-State Solution”. These political policy-makers also evade reference to the fact that despite Abbas’ supposed “moderation”, as Arafat’s First Deputy he instituted hate-education in the Palestinian Authority in 1994, and has sustained hate-education as Arafat’s successor. His “Strategy of Stages” and the articles in the P.L.O. covenant specifically calling for Israel’s destruction by “armed struggle” remain unchanged. In addition, Abbas and the P.L.O. still will not even acknowledge Israel’s right to exist; they insist on the expulsions of all Jews from half of Jerusalem and territories the Arabs lost in the 1967 war, and they claim “the right of return” for millions of Arabs to a reduced Israel within its 1967 armistice lines, which in itself would mean the end of the Jewish national home.
The ultimate Abbas-P.L.O. goal remains the same as Arafat’s: the elimination of the Jewish State. Seeing the true face of Fatah, what can be expected of the even more extreme Hamas? Unequivocally committed to Israel’s destruction and still continuing terrorist actions, a “transformation” is hardly credible. Nevertheless, Hamas is being pursued avidly by U.S. ex-officials and public figures implicitly representing the Obama administration, urging reconciliation of Hamas and Fatah, so that they can appear as a single Palestinian entity for negotiations with Israel. Presumably for humanitarian aid, but in part at least to encourage that reconciliation, on June 9, 2010 President Obama granted $400,000,000 to be shared by Fatah and Hamas. How the total sum is to be divided and who will control its actual disposition was not disclosed. However, with Hamas now receiving significant support and arms from Iran and Syria, “reconciliation” of Fatah and Hamas, at best would be a very temporary affair, but it would open the door for increased U.S. pressure on Israel to make further “concessions” toward the “Two-State Solution”.
The Obama administration argues the extreme urgency of achieving this end so as to gain support from the Arab states in our conflict with the Taliban and Al Qaeda. Certainly we want any intelligence and support we can gain from the Arab states, but long experience demonstrates that the factor that really determines the policies and actions of Arab leaders concerns threats to their survival in power. Domestic, regional, and global factors impact inter-Arab, Arab-Western and Arab-Israel relations much more than the Palestinian issues despite their often impassioned rhetoric.
During Israel’s armed conflict with Hezbollah in Lebanon, and later with Hamas in Gaza, the Arab outcry against Israel was largely muted and during the 2009 Gaza War Arab countries rejected the call for an emergency session of Arab leaders on behalf of Gaza; a number of Arab regimes are increasingly apprehensive about domestic challenges from forces like Hamas; the “Two-State Solution” is viewed as a threat by Jordan and others because it would endow Hamas with greater regional influence and power. Certainly Arab hostility toward Israel persists, but because the Arab-Israel conflict in Palestine is not their most vital concern today, the support we want to gain from the Arab leaders depends less than ever on the degree of pressure the U.S. puts on Israel and more on their assessment of who will prevail.
Obviously, that critical assessment will be profoundly influenced by Iran’s prospective emergence as a nuclear power. The Arab states know that Israel poses no existential threat to them, while Egypt, Jordan, the Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and other Arab states do fear the prospect that a nuclear-armed Iran could pose an existential threat to them.
“The world’s most open secret is that the Arab countries of the Middle East fear a nuclear Iran as much, and perhaps more, than Israel does…the comments this week by United Arab Emirates Ambassador to the U.S. Yousef Al-Otaiba are worth noting…asked if he wanted the U.S. to stop the Iranian bomb program by force”, he answered: ‘Absolutely, absolutely. I think we are at risk of an Iranian nuclear program far more than you are at risk’. Mr. Otaiba’s other comments leave no doubt what he and most Arab officials think about the prospect of a nuclear revolutionary Shiite state. They desperately want someone, and that means the U.S. or Israel, to stop it, using force if need be.”
The Arab states that are inclined to offer U.S. intelligence and other support recognize tacitly that Israel today constitutes a force for stability in the region and may be their best hope for security against a hegemonistic Iran, particularly as they witness the lack of American resolve to face the challenge of Iran.
Jerusalem: Forgotten History?
The “Two-State” proposal invariably contains a divided Jerusalem. The Arabs will accept a portion of Jerusalem for their state as a tactical component in their Strategy of Stages, but aware of what that portends and the fact that “East Jerusalem” contains the Jewish quarter of the Old City with the “Western Wall” of the sacred Temple, Israel could not yield to such a “solution”
Three Thousand years ago, King David made Jerusalem his capital and Jews have aspired to live in Jerusalem ever since.
In 135 A.D., the Roman emperor Hadrian crushed the Jewish revolt and created the “Aelia Capitlina” including Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Bethel, in which Jews were forbidden to live for about six centuries. But after that epoch, a determined remnant returned to Jerusalem. Through centuries of harsh, chaotic, perilous conditions- attacks and invasions by hostile neighbors; intermittent, desultory Muslin dominion; the Crusades; Ottoman Turkish rule – Jews persevered and more came home to Jerusalem.
Since the 1840’s, Jews have comprised the largest single group of Jerusalem’s inhabitants. Moreover, since the 1880’s, Jews have been a majority of its population. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any nation other than ancient and modern Israel. (The Temple Mount, where King Solomon and later Herod built the Jewish Temples of biblical time, later became the site of two major mosques.)
Jerusalem has long been a city of people from diverse backgrounds. There were fairly distinct Jewish, Arab, Christian and other neighborhoods, but in all its history the city was never divided – until the Jordanian occupation in 1948.
In the 19 years (1948-1967) when the area was totally under Jordanian control, no major political or religious leaders from another Muslim country bothered to visit or pray in the Jerusalem Mosques.
Jerusalem always has played the central role in Jewish religious and political life. The “Western Wall” was part of the Jewish Temple built more than 2,000 years ago. Jerusalem has been an integral feature in daily Jewish prayer, and when Jews pray anywhere in the world, they still face Jerusalem. (Muslims face Mecca.) To the Jewish people, “Jerusalem” is a synonym for all of Israel, their ancestral homeland.
“During Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, the Jordanian Arab Legion invaded eastern Jerusalem, occupied the Old City, and expelled all its Jews – many from families that had lived in the city for centuries. ‘As they left’, the acclaimed historian Sir Martin Gilbert later wrote in his book, Jerusalem in the Twentieth Century, ‘they could see columns of smoke rising from the quarter behind them’ …the looting and burning of Jewish property was in full swing.
“For the next nineteen years, eastern Jerusalem was barred to Jews, brutally divided from the western part of the city with barbed wire and military fortifications. Dozens of Jewish holy places, including synagogues hundreds of years old, were desecrated or destroyed. Gravestones from the ancient Mount of Olives cemetery were uprooted by the Jordanian army and used to pave latrines. Jerusalem’s most sacred Jewish shrine, the Western Wall, became a slum. It wasn’t until 1967, after Jordan was routed in the Six-Day War, that Jerusalem was reunited under Israeli sovereignty and religious freedom restored to all. Israelis have vowed ever since that Jerusalem would never again be divided.
“Only from 1948-1967 – during the Jordanian occupation – was the eastern part of Israel’s capital ‘Arab territory’. Palestinians have no more claim to sovereignty there than Russia does in formerly occupied Eastern Berlin.”
Bi-Partisan Congressional Resolutions repeatedly have affirmed the conviction that “Jerusalem should remain an undivided city and recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.” In 1990, Senate Concurrent Resolution 106, the House of Representatives concurring:
“(1) Acknowledges that Jerusalem is and should remain the capital of the State of Israel;
(2) Strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic religious group are protected.”
In 1992, Senate Consecutive Resolution 113, with the House of Representatives concurring:
“(1) Congratulates the residents of Jerusalem and the people of Israel on the Twenty-Fifth anniversary of the reunification of the historic city:
(2) Strongly believes that Jerusalem must remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected as they have been by Israel during the past Twenty-Five years; and
(3) Calls on the President and Secretary of State to issue an unequivocal statement in support of these principles.”
In 1995, the Jerusalem Embassy Act, S.1322, was passed. Among it’s cosponsors: Joseph Biden, Ted Kennedy, John McCain, Harry Reid, John Kerry, Joseph Lieberman, Strom Thurmond, Bob Dole. It was termed a “Statement of the Policy of the United States”:
“(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected;
(2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel.”
In 2007, Hillary Clinton, now Secretary of State, issued a paper stating: “Hillary Clinton believes that Israel’s right to exist in safety as a Jewish State, with defensive borders and an undivided Jerusalem as its capital, secure from violence and terrorism, must never be questioned”.
In 2008, Barak Obama stated: “Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided”. But the very next day, Obama explained that he actually supported dividing Jerusalem, and said: “The point we were simply making is that we don’t want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the 1967 War, that it is possible for us to create a Jerusalem that is cohesive and coherent”.
What, if anything, does a “cohesive and coherent” divided Jerusalem really mean? The point is that in his push for a “Two-State Solution”, even before any Arab-Israel negotiations, President Obama unilaterally rejected the idea that Jerusalem should remain undivided.
The New Paradigm
President Obama’s publicly stated position on Jerusalem logically concentrates attention on other positions and actions he has taken that ominously diminish the U.S.-Israel relationship: His eloquent Cairo apology to and effusive praise for the Muslim world, while implicitly criticizing Israel; his very deferential attitude in various encounters with Arab leaders, contrasted with the utter disdain and disrespect he publicly showed Israel’s Prime Minister, Netanyahu; his repeated acerbic demands on Israel alone, while courting terrorists that Israel must contend with every day. President Obama also seems to ignore the grim prospect that the “Two-State Solution” would effectively advance the P.L.O.’s “Strategy of Stages” for the destruction of Israel.
Most disconcerting: President Obama’s diplomatic outreach to Iran has proven an abject failure; all the U.N. and U.S. sanctions will not bring Iran to give up its pursuit of nuclear weaponry, leaving us dependent on “containment”. But it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to contain a nuclear-powered Iran, the dominant power in the Middle East with growing influence beyond. And from its past experience of simply ignoring successive U.N. resolutions and U.S. opprobrium with no hurtful reprisal, it will have no real fear of a U.S. or international community response to any of its future actions.
The portents of a nuclear Iran are obvious, ominous, and far-reaching. Israel, the “Little Satan” has been targeted for prompt annihilation, but the repeatedly announced threat goes beyond the Middle East, by one means or another to extend its lethal reach to the “Big Satan”, the U.S.
Although giving occasional rhetorical assurance that “the American-Israel bond is unbreakable”, judged by his actions, President Obama has shown little concern for the existential threat to Israel from a nuclear-powered Iran and how that would affect our own security interests. Rather, he has warned Israel against taking preventive defensive action to thwart Iran. But permitting Iran to go nuclear and pandering to terrorists and their state sponsors, while disavowing America’s exceptional commitment to protect and advance freedom in the world, is strategically and morally unacceptable.
Taken together, these negative perceptions are troubling to all who are concerned about our own security and future as well as that of Israel. They lead to a most disturbing conclusion. Despite a long, mutually beneficial relationship, and the rhetorical assurances, Israel’s security and survival appear less important to President Obama than his ardent cultivation of Arab-Muslim favor.
This paradigm is perceived in the Middle East and in other regions as yet another sign of America’s wavering resolve and abandonment of its historic role as a powerful moral and strategic force. That perception emboldens not just Israel’s enemies, but our own: Iran and the formidable network of radical Islamist terrorists who have declared war on us to advance their own theocratic and political ambitions.
These unpleasant realities challenge the sanctimonious pretensions of the “Two State Solution”. They signal the dangers inherent in attempts at a quick, simple “fix”. In our own security interest, the realities instead call for a renewed, resolute American commitment to strategic and moral leadership in the war against Islamist terrorism and the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. This still is the best hope for essential stability, and ultimately a true and lasting peace in that much troubled region and the world at large.
America can and must do better.
1. Israel’s Legitimacy in Law and History, Center for Near East Policy Research, 1990
2. The Wall Street Journal, July 8, 2010
3. “Jerusalem – One City Undivided”, The Boston Globe, July 22, 2009
4. Outpost, May 2010