The 2-state approach: A fruitless detour from the 242

The most important political outcome of the 1967 Israeli-Arab war was the 242 UNSC resolution outlining the parameters for a comprehensive and lasting solution of the Israeli-Arab conflict. It is worth reminding this in light of the present push by France for a UNSC resolution that would become a new framework for negotiations based on the 2-state approach.
What makes France so confident that it has the key on how to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict? Looking at the mess France created in Libya does not instill too much confidence in its wisdom: France's disgraceful military intervention toppled a regime that did not pose any threat to any neighbor, had renounced and dismantled its development of nuclear weapons and had fought Al-Qaeda sympathizers within its borders. France heralded it was bringing freedom and justice to Libya, but it left instead that country in complete shambles and ripe for extremist groups to take root in it and spread from there to other countries.
Politicians in the West, especially in Europe, love to criticize Netanyahu, seeing him and his policies as the main obstacle towards achieving the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. They choose to ignore the fact that for the last twenty years the 2-state approach has been pursued by all stripes of the political spectrum of Israel - from left to right, from Ehud Barak to Ariel Sharon, from Olmert to Netanyahu - and failed to produce the hoped-for outcome. One can begin wondering about the sanity of trying again and again an approach that was already tried multiple times and failed to produce any tangible results. Is there an alternative to the failed 2-state approach in the middle of the upheaval going through the whole Middle East? Yes, there is: the 1967 242 UNSC resolution.
The implementation of the 242 got a good start with the Egypt-Israel peace treaty signed in 1979. The next step was expected to be a peace treaty with Jordan. However, in a surprise move, Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed in 1993 the Oslo Accords, bypassing Jordan. This temerarious approach (nowadays called the “2-state solution”) enjoyed a short-lived Golden Age in the late nineties: three Nobel Peace prizes were awarded. However, it soon hit its first reality check when in 2000 the PLO rejected the peace proposal presented by President Clinton. Since then, it took a steep downturn from which it never recovered. The PLO launched an Intifada with suicide missions coming one after another from the West Bank and terminating in the Tel Aviv and Jerusalem streets. Hundreds of Israelis were murdered and thousands injured.
An effort to revive the moribund Oslo approach was taken by Israel in 2005, when – in a unilateral and dramatic move - it dismantled all the Jewish settlements in Gaza and left the strip to the PLO. The hope was that if the PLO could show that it could successfully govern the Gaza strip (that posed a smaller security risk to Israel), favor economic development and promote peaceful relationships with Israel, this model could later be tried on a larger scale in the West Bank. None of this happened: the PLO was not built for this challenge. Since 2007, after the violent takeover of the Gaza strip by Hamas, Gaza has been one more intractable issue for the proponents of the 2-state solution.
What would happen if Israel gives the control of the West Bank to the PLO, as envisioned in the 2-state approach? We will watch a second takeover by Hamas. Paraphrasing the US Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, who tried to justify the failure of the US to foresee the threat of ISIS in Iraq: Hamas - like ISIS - has the will to fight. The only reason that Abbas is still in charge of the West Bank today is because he has the backing of the Israel Defense Forces that keep Hamas in check. Tel-Aviv, Jerusalem and Ben-Gurion’s airport are only a few miles away from the West Bank: Israel does not have the luxury to embark in a second Gaza-type experiment with the PLO.
The Oslo accords were an audacious attempt by Israel to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict. It will take political courage to recognize that this approach was a mistake and led to a dead end. Is there a sensible way out of this stalemate in the middle of the Arab Winter? Yes, there is: the 242 UNSC resolution.
Most Israelis - from left to right, secular and religious – are in favor of the partition of the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River because they want to preserve the identity of a Jewish state. “Jewish” because they are proud of their roots in this land and of the contribution of the Jewish people to the human civilization in the arts and sciences, religion and philosophy, through History and they want to continue with this legacy and excel also in the future.
What is the main drive of the Palestinian struggle? It does not seem to be a state for a stateless people, living in peace with its neighbors. If this were the drive, it could have been reached long ago and in much more favorable circumstances. President Abbas’ declaration, in his latest visit to Jordan, describing Jordanian and Palestinians Arabs as “one people living in two states” should not be ignored nor dismissed lightly.
Is there a path to return to the 242 approach? Yes: work now towards the reunification of the West Bank with Jordan. This approach has a much stronger chance of success: There are already peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan that have withstood the test of time. Palestinians in the West Bank have rich historical and family ties with Jordan. Half of the Jordanian population today is of Palestinian origin and they are fully integrated in the Jordanian society. Even the Queen of Jordan is Palestinian! Jordan has already a special official status in Jerusalem's holy Muslim sites. A demilitarized West Bank, as part of Jordan, will not hurt the national feelings of sovereignty of anyone: It already works fine for many years with Egypt's Sinai. Jordan has a stable and reliable regime that the Israelis trust. A “Marshall plan” should be implemented to help Jordan reintegrate the West Bank: This economic investment will ensure that Jordan remains a strong ally of the US for many years to come and help shield Israel and Jordan from the upheaval, instability and wars ravaging the Middle East.
What about the Gaza strip? Gaza could wait for a later time. The reunification of the West Bank with Jordan could proceed to completion without having to “consult” Hamas. In the meantime, a tight military embargo should be kept on Gaza, allowing at the same time commercial relations between the Gaza strip and the rest of the world. If Hamas wants to continue firing its missiles at Israeli towns and cities – Israel should hit back with full force. At some time the Gaza people will get tired of Hamas, lose their fears and overthrow this regime. Gaza could flourish as an independent state, like Monaco or Singapore, or strive to join Egypt or Jordan. In all cases Gaza should be fully demilitarized. There is nothing that stands between the people of Gaza and a better future for their children, except for their present destructive approach towards Israel.