Abbas, Fayyad at Bethlehem mass 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
What would be so terrible if the state of Palestine continues to gain more and
more recognition, even from Israel’s friends and allies? That is the game in
play today. Almost all of the world’s leaders have come to the conclusion that
the Netanyahu government has nothing to offer the Palestinians and that another
round of negotiations at this time will be fruitless.
The Americans are
also coming to the same conclusion, but it is more difficult for the
self-appointed mediator and policeman of the world to accept the failure of its
intervention and the limits of its power.
At the same time, the same
leaders understand that the two-state solution must be saved. If Israel is
unwilling, or unable to act in its own best interests by ending the occupation,
the international community does not have to sit idly by as the best chance of
peace withers away once again. The risks and consequences of another round of
violence are too great to the parties, the region and to the world to allow an
irresponsible Israeli leader to dictate the possible death of the only solution
that can end the conflict.
No one is a great supporter of
unilateralism. No one really believes that the conflict will be resolved
through unilateral steps. It is quite evident that a negotiated agreement must
be reached that will determine permanent borders and other core issues. Security
arrangements must be agreed by both parties and supported by international
monitors and peacekeeping forces. The lessons of the unilateral disengagement
from Gaza without agreement have hopefully been learned by all.
the face of Israeli refusal to seriously engage in real negotiations and
Palestinian refusal to come to the table until they see Israeli seriousness, the
rules of the game need to be changed to compel the parties to reach a negotiated
BINYAMIN NETANYAHU supports the two-state solution – at least
that is what he claims. Our prime minister is intelligent enough to
understand exactly what that means; he knows what the permanent status peace
agreement looks like. He is well aware that his predecessor Ehud Olmert was
quite close to reaching an agreement, and both he and Palestinian Authority
President Mahmoud believe that with several more months of negotiations an
agreement could have been reached.
That agreement would have brought
about the birth of Palestine on more than 95 percent of the West Bank with
territorial exchanges on a 1:1 basis, with two capitals in Jerusalem and some
form of a special regime in the Old City. This is the agreement, there will be
no other and this is also the vision of peace that almost every world leader
So even if Netanyahu has a different vision of peace, in his
heart of hearts he has to be aware that he cannot convince the Palestinians to
accept less. He must also realize that Israel cannot allow itself to miss the
possibility of reaching a negotiated agreement and there will probably never be
a better opportunity than right now.
What can Israel do if the process of
recognizing Palestine continues? Probably nothing. It can kick and
scream, threaten and protest but unless it is interested in working against
itself, there is actually very little that can be done to block the
It can bring back checkpoints all over the West Bank as
punishment. Will this help the security situation, which has never been better?
It can withhold taxes and customs which it collects for the Palestinians in the
framework of one of the only aspects of the Oslo agreement still working. Will
the US and the EU, which are bankrolling the establishment of the Palestinian
state, sit idly in the face of breaches of working relationships which are so
vital to stability and security?
It could prevent Palestinians from traveling
because it controls all of the movements of the Palestinians. How long would
that work and how could that be in its interest?
Israel could unilaterally annex
parts of the West Bank, but this would cross lines in international relations
that no government before has even seriously considered. It could get the US
Congress to write more letters to President Barack Obama and more House or
Senate resolutions backing its policies, but that would not really
Let’s face it, there is very little that Israel can actually do to
prevent the world from recognizing Palestine. Eventually the US will also
recognize it and, at least according to Netanyahu, so will Israel. So what are
we waiting for? For decades we have tried to prevent the creation of the
Palestinian state. One prime minister after the other since Yitzhak Rabin
has come to the conclusion that the only way to end the conflict is by accepting
the logic that was behind the 1947 UN partition plan. So much blood could have
been saved if we had been wise enough to accept the inevitable when our
neighbors did in 1988 (41 years too late). How much more blood must be
shed before the inevitable is implemented?
The conflict is resolvable. The
two-state solution is the only solution. It can be achieved today and there is
no better leader than Netanyahu to do it. Netanyahu and Abbas can lead
their peoples to a new beginning – a new day when the slogan two states for
two-peoples becomes a reality.The writer is the co-CEO of the
Israel/Palestine Center for Research and Information (www.ipcri.org) and is in
the process of founding the Center for Israeli Progress