olmert abbas 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
October 2009: After the failure of the Annapolis conference two years ago, the two-state solution has finally been buried. The Palestinian Authority has disbanded itself, proclaiming that the official policy of the Palestinians will henceforth be a one-state solution, a democratic state with the right to vote for all its citizens over the age of 18. "The battle of the womb," they call it. "We will win through the womb. There will be a majority of Palestinians in this state."
The responsibility for caring for the Palestinian population has been thrust back into Israeli hands. With no PA to care for education, health and all the other daily needs of the Palestinians, the government in Jerusalem has been forced to take over, creating a heavy economic burden. Hamas has become the dominant factor in Judea and Samaria. It has ceased all violent actions against Israel, proclaiming that "the womb" is a more powerful weapon than Kassam rockets or suicide bombers.
A worldwide movement has gathered momentum denigrating Israel for its "apartheid" policies and calling upon it to grant voting rights to all its inhabitants. Demonstrations are held daily outside Israeli embassies, in a similar fashion to the rallies outside South African embassies during the apartheid days. The legitimacy of the State of Israel is increasingly being called into question as country after country slap boycotts on Israeli goods and institutions. Anti-Semitism is on the rise, with daily attacks on Jews. The pro-Israeli stance of Washington is coming under fire in American public opinion for defending a state that is so blatantly ignoring basic democratic rights.
SOUNDS BAD? A one-state solution is rapidly gaining supporters among Palestinian radical elements. A failure in Annapolis could eventually tip the balance in its favor. The idea being currently floated in certain circles in Israel, that the Palestinians would become Jordanian citizens with the West Bank remaining under Israeli rule, is laughable; the Hashemite Kingdom would be committing hara-kiri by agreeing to such a solution. There could be an eventual confederation between Jordan and Palestine, but only after the Palestinians first achieve independence.
I just cannot understand our right-wingers, good Zionists, for failing to realize that the failure of the two-state solution spells disaster for the Zionist dream. This is not a question of Left versus Right; it is about understanding the reality on the ground. For Israelis - and Palestinians - to lead normal lives they must separate from each other, and that means living in two separate states.
A two-state solution, however, has its price, which both Israelis and Palestinians will have to pay. Jerusalem, a key factor in any solution, is a case in point. Jerusalem, arguably, is today the most divided city in the world - Jerusalemite Jews don't venture into Palestinian suburbs, and the Palestinian Jerusalemites steer clear of west Jerusalem.
Take, for example, the isolated village of Walaja, a so-called suburb of Jerusalem, mentioned in Prime Minister Olmert's speech in the Knesset last week. How many Jewish Jerusalemites have ever heard of Walaja? How many have ever visited it? How often does the Jerusalem Municipality tender to its needs?
As for the Shuafat refugee camp, you could count the number of Jerusalem Jewish civilians who have ever been there on the fingers of one hand, and still not use all the fingers. I could offer a dozen more names, all part of the Jerusalem Municipality and all equally unknown to the vast majority of Jerusalemites.
When the leader of the opposition, Bibi Netanyahu, theatrically declares in the Knesset that Annapolis will decide on the division of Jerusalem, he means Walaja, Shuafat, Kalandiya and a dozen more such places.
The real problem of Jerusalem, of course, is the Old City and the Temple Mount. Creative solutions that will satisfy neither side will have to be found; that will be part of the price for a two-state solution. Zalman Shoval, head of the Likud's foreign relations department and a former ambassador to the US, intimated as much when he addressed the Foreign Press Association this week.
IT WOULD be infantile to imagine that the Israeli and Palestinian negotiating teams could come up with solutions for Jerusalem, the refugee question and borders before the Annapolis event.
They will, however, have to decide on a document that will be sufficient for Annapolis to take place and be termed a success, for failure is not an option. Its consequences would be too harrowing - the collapse of the moderate, anti-violence and pro-peace camp of PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad and President Mahmoud Abbas, victory for Hamas and other extremist factions, and the eventual demise of the two-state solution.
Annapolis will have to be the trigger that can initiate serious negotiations. Annapolis must not be a one-off affair; it must be the start of a series of meetings to move the process forward, and to get the international players - and in particular the US - more involved. The Palestinians will have to take steps against the terrorist organizations; the Israelis will have to freeze settlement building and remove illegal outposts.
It will not be easy. Both sides will have to make painful concessions. There will be strong opposition, Israeli and Palestinian, to moving from the maximal demands that exist at present.
But eventually we will have to make the choice - to make the most of the opportunity that exists to end the conflict, or to be drawn, willy-nilly, into the unknown of a one-state solution, with all its dire consequences.
The writer is president of the Israel Council for Foreign Relations, an independent organization operating under the auspices of the World Jewish Congress, and a former director-general of the Foreign Ministry.