Inadvertently, President Barack Obama just made an important contribution to our
understanding of the Palestinian conflict with Israel.
Since Hamas ousted
all PLO forces from the Gaza Strip in 2007, Gaza has operated as a separate
political entity from Judea and Samaria. Indeed, it has been a de facto
independent Palestinian state, controlled by Hamas.
connection to Judea and Samaria has been financial. Every month, the
PLO-controlled Palestinian Authority in Judea and Samaria transfers tens of
millions of dollars in US and other international donor funds to Gaza to finance
the terror state.
Despite the clear distinction between the two areas,
the US and the rest of the world have continued to insist that an Israeli-PLO
peace deal will cover Gaza as well as Judea and Samaria. Obama always insists
that a future Palestinian state must be “territorially contiguous,” meaning in a
final deal Israel will be required to cut itself in half in order to give the
Palestinians a land corridor connecting Gaza with Judea and Samaria.
during his remarks at the Saban Forum on Saturday, Obama let the cat out of the
bag. Gaza, he admitted, is a separate entity. A peace deal, he explained, “is
going to have to happen in stages.”
As he sees it, a peace deal will
involve an Israeli withdrawal from Judea and Samaria. A post-Israel Judea and
Samaria will be so wonderful that the Gazans will decide to join
Obama explained, “If there is a model where young Palestinians in
Gaza are looking and seeing that in the West Bank Palestinians are able to live
in dignity, with self-determination, and suddenly their economy is booming and
trade is taking place because they have created an environment in which Israel
is confident about its security and a lot of the old barriers to commerce and
educational exchange and all that has begun to break down, that’s something that
the young people of Gaza are going to want. And the pressure that will be placed
for the residents of Gaza to experience that same future is something that is
going to be I think overwhelmingly appealing.”
Before considering whether
Gazans will likely behave as Obama expects them to, we need to consider the
implications of his assertion that Gaza will not be automatically included in a
Israelis and Palestinians engage one another for different
reasons. Israelis are told we need to engage the Palestinians because they pose
a demographic threat to our continued viability as a Jewish state.
remarks at the Saban Forum, Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that the
Palestinian “demographic time bomb” is an existential threat on the level of
Iran’s nuclear weapons program. If we don’t vacate Judea and Samaria as we
vacated Gaza, he warned, we will be doomed as a Jewish nation state.
the Palestinians, the peace process is supposed to lead to a satisfaction of
their assumed yearning for self-determination as a nation.
demographics and Palestinian nationalism have been the basic assumptions upon
which the peace process has been based. But the Obama-recognized fact that Gaza
is a separate political entity demonstrates the emptiness of both.
truth is that the “demographic time bomb” is a PLO-concocted lie. In its 1997
census, the PLO falsified its data and inflated the number of Palestinians by 50
They then projected natural growth and immigration rates that
bore no relation whatsoever to reality.
In truth, demography is one of
Israel’s strongest advantages, not an existential threat. Were Israel to absorb
the Palestinian populations of Gaza and Judea and Samaria tomorrow, Israel’s
Jewish majority would be reduced from 78% to well over 50%. While Israel’s
Jewish identity would not be in doubt, it would be weakened.
On the other
hand, without Gaza, there is no demographic threat to Israel’s Jewish majority.
If Israel applies its sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and offers a path to
citizenship to its Palestinian residents, Israel would still retain a two-thirds
Jewish majority. And if current fertility and immigration rates hold, within 15
to 20 years, Jews could well restore their 80 percent majority
Then there is the Palestinian nationalism issue.
acknowledgement that Gazans will have to be convinced to join a Palestinian
state in Judea and Samaria exposes the lie at the heart of it. Since the League
of Nations assigned both sides of the Jordan River to the Jewish people in 1922,
the international community has insisted that the path to peace will be forged
by taking land from the Jews and giving it to the Arabs.
First we had a
two-state solution when Jordan, with its overwhelming Palestinian majority, was
carved out of the Jewish territory.
For the past 20 years, we have been
told that we need a three-state solution with another Palestinian state in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza.
Since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, we have
had two Palestinian states – in Gaza and Jordan. And yet, the Gazans who we are
told are motivated by nationalist aspirations have refused to declare an
independent Palestinian state in Gaza. And now Obama is talking about a
four-state solution – three Palestines and one rump Israel.
Palestinians’ refusal to ever view the areas under their control as the focus of
their nationalist aspirations indicates that there is something awry in the
international community’s assumption that the Palestinians are motivated by
And that brings us to Obama’s projection that
once the Gazans see how great things are in post-Israel Judea and Samaria, they
will join the peace train. We’ve been told things like this before.
1993 we were told that the Palestinians as a whole would embrace peace once
Israel recognized the PLO and allowed it to set up an autonomous government in
Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In the event, the Palestinians became more violent and
radicalized and anti-Jewish under PLO rule, until in 2006 they elected Hamas to
In 2005 we were told that once Israel vacated Gaza, the Gazans
would abandon their war against Israel and use their energies to transform Gaza
into a Middle Eastern Singapore. Instead they transformed it into a Middle
In 2007, after Hamas ousted the PLO from Gaza, we
were told that the international community would pour so much money into the
PLO-run PA in Judea and Samaria that the Gazans would decide that they want the
PLO back. Instead, Hamas has grown more popular in Judea and Samaria.
other words, there is no reason to think Obama’s sunny projection is
Clearly without meaning to, Obama told us the
There is no demographic time bomb. Israel has no reason to
withdraw from Judea and Samaria. Absorbing the areas into sovereign Israel will
not endanger the country demographically.
And the fact that the Gazans do
not see themselves as part of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, (or in
Jordan), shows that the Palestinian national movement is not what it has been
billed as. Obama’s four-state solution is not about demography or Palestinian
It is about making up reasons to force Israel to surrender
its strategic and historic heartland.