The problem with a two-state solution
If statehood presupposes some measure of financial self-sufficiency, the new “State of Palestine” barely qualifies as an intramural club.
Abbas at UN Headquarters in New York Photo: reuters
Last September, the Palestinian Authority successfully lobbied the UN General
Assembly to be formally ordained an independent state. They were
enthusiastically sponsored by the World Bank, the IMF and a host of other
nations happy to welcome them to the ranks of full sovereignty. Norwegian
Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store smugly proclaimed that they were well “above
the threshold of a functioning state.”
Well, the devil infamously pitches
a tent in the details – all depends on what one means by “functioning” and
“state.” If statehood presupposes some measure of financial self-sufficiency,
the new “State of Palestine” barely qualifies as an intramural
Foreign aid accounts for well over a quarter of their overall
budget making their daily governmental operations, and their general solvency,
dependent upon the charitable impulses of others. When those pledges don’t
arrive, mayhem ensues: Abbas just announced that government employees will only
be collecting one half of their salaries until their donors pony up.
IN mind that one of the basic conditions of statehood, according to the 1933
Montevideo Convention, is the existence of a “stable government.”
that Abbas is no longer soliciting the UN for recognition as a state he can
sheepishly admit: “We are subject to very sensitive and fateful
This combination of fragility and dependence is a startling
departure from his previously ringing rhetoric about national independence and
And its lack of fiscal integrity is only one
indication of how far short the PA falls from any meaningful sense of political
autonomy. It should be noted that it has no formal constitution or plans to
fashion one. It has something that looks vaguely like a legal system, replete
with courts, but no independent judiciary. Absent is a free press, though there
is an embarrassing abundance of government sponsored propaganda.
place of a univocal military force, they have the infinite conjugations of
tribal militias, regional warlords and subnational terrorist
Instead of a recognizable educational system, they have
hate-fomenting madrassas, only regulated to ensure they are sufficiently
contemptuous of Israel and its allies.
MOREOVER, ITS limp pantomime of
democratic process fails to inspire confidence. President Abbas is now in the
seventh year of a four-year presidential term and there are neither plans for a
new election nor protests in the streets demanding one. Much of this apathy can
be attributed to the widely held perception that his office, and the Palestinian
government in general, is an emphysemic lung only sustained by the life support
of donor nations. The real power is concentrated in terrorist organizations and
their sponsor, Iran.
But much of that civic languor is symptomatic of a
population that has no tradition of real political participation, the kind that
engenders the habits and mores that underwrite not only democratic forms in
particular, but a healthy nationalism in general.
Another criterion of
statehood as postulated by the Montevideo Convention is the existence of a
“permanent population.” This is not merely about warm bodies tethered to a
geographical location but a people bound to each other by a sense of belonging,
politically congealed by a shared identity.
This is not conjured by legal
proclamations or bureaucratic institutions but rather precedes them, even births
THE CENTRAL failing of any conceivable two-state solution to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict is that there is only one state and then a swarm of
angry factions, unbridled by univocal law. Abbas has no real authorization to
broker agreements of behalf of this patchwork quilt of competing interests, and
no power to compel them to submit to terms. He could never guarantee Israel
peace and security, even if those were goals for which he honestly
Augustine famously remarked that a true commonwealth is held
together by a common object of love and an overlapping constellation of
The newly minted State of Palestine is only born out of mutual
hate, animated by the desire to destroy a whole people, rather than the passion
to sustain their own. Its deepest purpose is not to have a state but to deny the
It is not clear that such malignancy can be a sufficient basis
for national identity nor it is clear that our legalistic categories of
statehood can adequately capture the ancient, theological conflict that rives
the Middle East. However, it is now crystal clear that a state cannot simply be
created by fiat, UN directed or otherwise.
The writer is the
editor-in-chief of Dailywitness.com and a frequent contributor to Fox News.