There's a sleeper in the two-states-living-side-by-side scenario now tantalizing the Mideast peace process. As described by Professor Barry Rubin Israelis have offered a perfectly sensible five-point plan that takes into account their need for future security:
Explicit Palestinian recognition of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.
Demilitarization of a Palestinian state in such a manner that all of Israel's security needs will be met.
International backing of these security arrangements in the form of explicit international guarantees.
A solution to the Palestinian refugee problem that must be outside the borders of Israel.
Acceptance of the agreement as a final end to the conflict. Palestinians would not be able to raise additional claims following the signing of a peace agreement.
Although a hopeful theme threads through current conversations, proposals, and counter proposals, a specter of former days still taints the process. It is the sleeper, as we say: the remnant of the infamous Khartoum Resolution of September 1, 1967. Leaders of eight Arab countries joined hands in a policy declaration based on three specifics: No peace with Israel. No recognition of Israel. No negotiations with Israel.
The situation has changed somewhat, mainly because Egypt and Jordan have peace agreements with the Jewish state. Also, after the October 1973 Yom Kippur War, it was pretty well settled that the Arab states could not deliver a military knockout blow to Israel. Thus Palestinians decided another strategy was needed. It involved dialoguing and rhetorical zigzagging and hornswoggling to persuade the Western countries to enter the game as mediators. The result was the Road Map two-state solution framed by the United States, European Union, United Nations, and Russia.
While professing loudly that it is not meddling, the international community is on the verge of imposing a settlement to its liking. For their part, the Palestinians and their Muslim and Arab mentors are making sounds of qualified approval, titillating the would-be framers into thinking things are moving ahead and that a solution is just around the corner.
But there is an almost unspoken agenda under the table that would deliver an Arab victory in the war against Israel without firing a shot. If you've been listening, you have heard Palestinian negotiator Mahmoud Abbas and company holding the line on three basics: (1) No recognition of a Jewish state. (2) No concessions on the refugees' return to Israel proper. (3) No surrender to the Palestinian claim on Jerusalem, which is another way of saying the war will go on until Israel is destroyed. Different tactic, same endgame.
Why so? Because if Israel is not a Jewish state, it is open to occupation by anyone. It is fair game for an invasion of millions of refugees, thus becoming merely one more Muslim-dominated entity with a subservient minority of stateless Jews. Islamic dominance of the Temple Mount and Old City of Jerusalem would be seen as certifying the claim of the supremacy of Allah and his followers.
Should such become the case, all of Israel's other requests would be null and void. Why, for instance would a Palestinian state need to be demilitarized? Or why should there be a need for secure and recognized borders? Everything would, in fact, become Palestine. This is nothing less than war by demographic revolution.
A major component in diplomatic negotiations is always the nuance factor. Consequently, much is made about how words and phrases are used and interpreted. So far the big word is Jewish. We will all do well to watch what is done with that word and whether it will become the death knell for the Palestinians accepting a state of their own.