SOLDIERS AND Border Police question a Palestinian couple at a roadblock leading from the West Bank in 1995..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The status quo is leading toward one state and perpetual occupation, but most of the public either ignores it or has given up hope that anything can be done to change it. And with this passive resignation, the problem only gets worse, the risks get greater and the choices are narrowed.
This sense of hopelessness among Israelis is exacerbated by the continuing violence, terrorist attacks against civilians and incitement, which are destroying belief in the possibility of peace. There is absolutely no justification for terrorism, and there never will be.
And the most recent wave of Palestinian violence has included hundreds of terrorist attacks in the past year, including stabbings, shootings, vehicular attacks and bombings, many by individuals who have been radicalized by social media. Yet the murderers of innocents are still glorified on Fatah websites, including showing attackers next to Palestinian leaders following attacks. And despite statements by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his party’s leaders making clear their opposition to violence, too often they send a different message by failing to condemn specific terrorist attacks and naming public squares, streets and schools after terrorists.
Far too often, the Palestinians have pursued efforts to delegitimize Israel in international fora. The United States has strongly opposed these initiatives, including the recent wholly unbalanced and inflammatory UNESCO resolution regarding Jerusalem. And the US has made clear its strong opposition to Palestinian efforts against Israel at the ICC, which only sets back the prospects for peace.
Most troubling of all, Hamas continues to pursue an extremist agenda: it refuses to accept Israel’s very right to exist. It has a one-state vision of its own: all of the land is Palestine. Hamas and other radical factions are responsible for the most explicit forms of incitement to violence, and many of the images that they use are truly appalling. And they are willing to kill innocents in Israel and put the people of Gaza at risk in order to advance that agenda.
Compounding this, the humanitarian situation in Gaza, exacerbated by the closings of the crossings, is dire. Gaza is home to one of the world’s densest concentrations of people, enduring extreme hardships with few opportunities. 1.3 million people out of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million are in need of daily assistance – food and shelter. Most have electricity less than half the time and only 5% of the water is safe to drink. And yet despite the urgency of these needs, Hamas and other militant groups continue to re-arm and divert reconstruction materials to build tunnels, threatening more attacks on Israeli civilians that no government can tolerate.
Despite America’s best efforts over the years, the two-state solution is now in serious jeopardy.
The truth is that trends on the ground – violence, terrorism, incitement, settlement expansion and the seemingly endless occupation – are combining to destroy hopes for peace on both sides and increasingly cementing an irreversible one-state reality that most people do not actually want.
Today, there are a similar number of Jews and Palestinians living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. They have a choice. They can choose to live together in one state, or they can separate into two states. But here is a fundamental reality: if the choice is one state, Israel can either be Jewish or democratic – it cannot be both – and it won’t ever really be at peace. Moreover, the Palestinians will never fully realize their vast potential in a homeland of their own with a one-state solution.
Let me emphasize, this is not to say that the settlements are the whole or even the primary cause of this conflict. Of course they are not. Nor can you say that if the settlements were suddenly removed, you’d have peace. Without a broader agreement, you would not. And we understand that in a final-status agreement, certain settlements would become part of Israel to account for the changes that have taken place over the past 49 years, including the new democratic demographic realities that exist on the ground. They would have to be factored in.
But if more and more settlers are moving into the middle of Palestinian areas, it’s going to be just that much harder to separate, that much harder to imagine transferring sovereignty, and that is exactly the outcome that some are purposefully accelerating.
OK, you’ve probably realized by now: all the above is taken word for word (with the exception of “we” or “our” being turned into “United States” or “American”) from US Secretary of State John Kerry’s speech on the state of the Israel-Palestinian peace process last week.
And yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had the chutzpah to describe it as “a speech that was almost as unbalanced as the anti-Israel resolution passed at the UN last week,” ridiculously claiming that it passionately condemned “a policy of enabling Jews to live in their historic homeland and in their eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
One wonders how Donald Trump will react when our ungracious, arrogant and self-righteous prime minister responds similarly when the new US administration chooses to deliver a few home truths to Jerusalem.The writer is a former editor-in-chief of The Jerusalem Post.