This past Friday, December 6, 2019, the lower house of the US Congress, controlled by the Democrats, affirmed its belief in a fairy tale, which is the “two-state solution.”
By WILLIAM S. COMANOR
As all parents know, fairy tales are fictional accounts which sound good but are devoid of reality. We tell them to our young children to make them feel better about the world into which we have brought them, although with the recognition that at some time in the future they will be introduced to reality. The worse thing that could happen, we understand, is that our children fail to grow up and continue to rely on the fairy tales we once recited.Yet, this past Friday, December 6, 2019, the lower house of the US Congress, controlled by the Democrats, affirmed its belief in a fairy tale, which is the “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, by a vote of 226 to 183. It didn’t matter that there was no substance to the resolution or that there was little prospect that it would even be considered by the upper house of the Congress, the Senate, controlled by the Republicans. And of course, the facts on the ground mattered not at all. The enduring hostility between Fatah and Hamas was not part of the discussion, nor was the reality that Gaza already functions as a de facto state. All that mattered was that the fairy tale would be affirmed once again.Of course, the enduring hostility of congressional Democrats to the Trump administration provided the subplot. Since Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced that the US would no longer consider West Bank settlements illegal under international law – which Democrats consider an obstacle to realizing their proposed solution – a response was needed, and here it was.The worst thing about the resolution is that it made support for Israel into a partisan issue, which both parties had strenuously sought to avoid. But yet, the antagonisms accentuated by the ongoing impeachment proceedings, along with the omnipresent need to support a two-state outcome, proved too hard for the Democrats to resist. On the other hand, the Republicans saw it as a rebuke to the administration’s announced position that West Bank settlements were compatible with international law. And therefore the resolution passed largely on a partisan vote.An interesting feature of the vote was that the so-called “Squad” of left-wing, radical Democrats voted with the Republicans against it. The four, first-term congresswomen are stridently anti-Israel, and were led on this occasion by Rashiba Tlaib, who is of Palestinian descent and continually refers to a grandmother living on the West Bank. She and her compatriots support a “one-state solution” open to both Israelis and Palestinians, and therefore opposed the resolution. If the imagined “two-state solution” is a fairy tale, the Squad’s proposal is a vacuous figment of their imagination.With all the discussion on both sides of international law, there was a striking omission of its most recent expression in the agreed-upon Oslo Accords. Not only did the accords authorize the formation of the Palestinian Authority, but they also defined three areas of divergent authority on the West Bank. While the accords were couched as “temporary” outcomes, so were the lines defining the West Bank in 1949, which are widely relied upon today. The reality, unlike the fairy tale, is that the current circumstances are those defined in an international agreement.While fairy tales are comforting, particularly in their frequent conclusion that all can “live happily ever after” once an issue has been resolved, they are not an accurate projection of human affairs. They fail to account for the deeply held needs and goals of both people and nations. As such, they do not provide a stable structure for policy prescriptions. So it is for the “two-state solution.” That path has already been trod upon, and found wanting. It is time to move on.The author is a Professor at Fielding UCLA School of Public Health, Los Angeles; and Professor of Economics, Emeritus, UC Santa Barbara.