A two-state solution is the only way
The whole right-wing discourse over the fate of the territories mirrors the citizens of Shalom Aleichem’s shtetl who tackled their problems by following their own twisted logic.
E1 area near Jerusalem. Photo: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post
Barry Shaw (“Why a two-state solution will never work,” December 28, 2012) uses
over 1,200 words essentially to make one point: that a two-state solution is a
threat to the existence of the State of Israel, because any Palestinian state
will be run by Hamas. He challenges those who believe in a two-state solution to
justify their belief in such a situation.
I am happy to take up
Mr. Shaw’s challenge. We should begin by noting that two polls this week
showed that a large majority of Israelis, including a majority of those voting
for the Likud and Bayit Yehudi, support a Palestinian state established under
conditions that are well known. But Mr. Shaw believes these conditions will not
Any Palestinian state, he argues, will be run by Hamas, and any
demilitarization agreements will be broken. Although I don’t agree, let us, for
the purpose of this response, assume Mr. Shaw’s worst-case scenario.
establishment of a Palestinian state will not happen in a void, but with an
agreement to end hostilities, and with the support of the Arab League and the
international community. This will change the context of the dispute, the
involvement of other parties, and their relationship to the Palestinian
However, I do not rely on the international community for
security; I rely on the deterrent power of the IDF. The towns of Metulla and
Kiryat Shmona are as close to Hezbollah’s guns and rockets in the North as Kfar
Yona and Netanya will be to the borders of a Palestinian state. Yet hardly a
shot has been fired in anger from Lebanon for over six years. The silence from
there during the recent Gaza war was most eloquent.
terrorists know what destruction will fall on their local population if they
seriously threaten Israeli citizens.
I am not a military expert, and
neither, I suspect, is Mr. Shaw. I do note, however, that most of those with
recent senior military experience, including former IDF chiefs of staff and
heads of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) regularly support a two-state
Given their experience, they have obviously factored Israel’s
security needs into their proposals. I trust their judgement. Mr. Shaw
apparently does not.
THERE IS no magic wand to ending the conflict with
It will be done slowly, over a long period and with
many challenges en route. Mr. Shaw either believes it will never happen, which
is a counsel of despair, or that it has a better chance of being achieved
through the continuation of the existing situation, possibly developing into a
single-state solution. I believe that while the establishment of a Palestinian
state might not by itself create peace, it will create more favorable conditions
through which the conflict can be managed and eventually resolved.
current situation cannot hold. If Israel, by its words and actions, continues to
undermine a two-state solution, Hamas will probably take over in the West Bank
long before there is any negotiation about a Palestinian state. It will then be
able to use the “oppression” of the Palestinians to justify its attacks. To
adopt Mr. Shaw’s rhetorical approach, I might ask if we are prepared for a third
intifada with regular attacks on settlements, not to mention within Israel
itself. Are we ready for yet more delegitimization of Israel for killing
“innocent” Palestinians just seeking to create their own state, which the United
Nations has approved? And whom will Mr. Shaw blame for this outcome, the
two-state advocates again? Perhaps this time he will look in the mirror. These
events will weaken Israel’s security and diplomatic position. The idea that the
status quo can continue, even for a few years, does not stand up to serious
BUT I have a question for Mr. Shaw to match the one he
set for people like me. I understand your concerns about the threats from a
Palestinian state. To some extent, I share them, but I believe they can be
managed. More positively, I believe the existence of a Palestinian state will
both strengthen the Jewish values of the Jewish state, and help secure its
long-term future, making the risk of going down this path worthwhile. But what,
Mr Shaw, is your vision of the future? I know what you don’t want – a
Palestinian state – but what do you want? What will be the status of more than
two million Palestinians in this vision? I have read some answers being offered
by right-wing Knesset hopefuls in the current election campaign, and they are
They include making West Bank Palestinians citizens of Jordan,
presumably without giving Jordan any sovereignty over the land in which they
actually live. But we can deal with that, I’m told, by bribing the Palestinians
to leave for Jordan, and of course they will readily agree. Or we could give
them autonomy over their own lives, like a glorified local authority.
am sure they will be thrilled to be responsible for emptying their own dustbins,
but whose citizens will they be? Perhaps they will receive Israeli citizenship,
but without its full democratic rights, and we all know what the name for that
The whole right-wing discourse over the fate of the territories has a
Chelm-like quality to it, mirroring the citizens of Shalom Aleichem’s shtetl who
tackled their problems by following their own twisted logic, completely
impervious to the ridicule to which it exposed them outside their own small
world. And please don’t quote Bilam’s famous saying that we are a people who
As Bible commentators have pointed out, Bilam meant this to
be a curse. Some people seem determined to make sure that it happens.
writer is a fellow of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.