Is there no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? - Opinion

ENCOUNTERING PEACE: Let’s not be mistaken: The lack of conflict resolution does not only hurt the Palestinians, it directly affects Israel as well.

Right-wing activists protest outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Sunday against the demolition of structures at the Homesh outpost in Samaria. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Right-wing activists protest outside the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on Sunday against the demolition of structures at the Homesh outpost in Samaria.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The right-wing solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is: We have no solution. The forming of the current government of Israel was predicated on the modus operandi that there would be no solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for as long as the government exists. The right wing of the Israeli government is simply incapable of facing the reality of the existence of a Palestinian people.

There are some on the Right and on the Left who say there is no solution to this conflict. Those who understand the conflict in all its complexities say, under the present conditions, the prognosis is there will be constant waves of terrorism, which the State of Israel knows how to contain. There are some prescriptive alternatives to trying to resolve the conflict by using economics to subdue Palestinian national and religious aspirations (the latest alternative on the hit parade is referred to as shrinking the conflict) while continuing to employ the strong arm of the Israeli security services to preemptively arrest any suspects of terrorism (machabel chashud in Hebrew).

The Palestinian Authority’s security forces continue to comply with Israel’s demands for full security coordination and cooperation with the occupation. The more extreme ends of the right wing in Israel call for removing Palestinian residency rights, more home demolitions, expropriation of land and physical resettlement. On the ground, these actions are actually encouraged by extreme groups of ultra-violent settlers, mostly coming from illegal outpost settlements in the Hebron Hills, the Jordan Valley and around the West Bank. They have the tacit support of the Israeli army. In modern Hebrew this situation is called nihul hasichsuch (managing the conflict).

There are many throughout the entire spectrum of the right wing who continue to deny the existence of a Palestinian people and don’t believe that the 50% of the people who are not Jewish living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean have any national rights at all. A large number of the talk-backers to this column are from that group.

The more pragmatic elements within the right-wing talk about some form of autonomy for the Palestinians without territorial control, sovereignty, immigration rights, an army, or control over their external borders. Their model is more or less the one that has emerged from the Oslo Accords (1993), which instead of being a five-year interim arrangement has become a permanent political reality.

 Border police and settlers clash at West Bank Homesh hilltop. (credit: Berla Crombie) Border police and settlers clash at West Bank Homesh hilltop. (credit: Berla Crombie)

They call this less than a state. In reality, it has no resemblance to a state at all and falls far short of what would be acceptable to any Palestinian. No Israeli would ever agree to live under those terms either. The Israeli army is the legal sovereign in the occupied areas and has enabled hundreds of thousands of Israelis to live in those areas with a completely different legal and economic status than the millions of Palestinians living there. These Israelis have Israeli citizenship while many Palestinians do not. This resembles apartheid much more than any agreement of civil autonomy.

It is amazing that there are still people in Israel who continue to believe that there is no such thing as Palestine or the Palestinian people. It is equally amazing that there are Israelis who believe that the Palestinian people will acquiesce and simply give up their demand for self-determination. There are many in Israel, including the right wing members of the current Israeli government who believe that economic benefits granted to Palestinians, such as the right to work in Israel, will quell Palestinian aspirations and their right to resist the continued Israeli military occupation. They are wrong. The economic measures can delay an explosion, but they cannot prevent it.

There is a lull in political action by the international community and by the Palestinians themselves. This is due to the crisis of leadership among Palestinians, the divided Palestinian political house and the lack of political leadership in Israel willing to face the reality that this conflict cannot be managed for a never-ending period of time. Prime minister Naftali Bennett and his right-wing colleagues have declared without hesitation that they will not negotiate with the Palestinians. MK Yair Lapid has already declared that when he becomes prime minister, he too will not negotiate with the Palestinians. What hope and political horizon are the leaders of Israel leaving the Palestinians? Does anyone believe that the dream of every young Palestinian is to be a laborer in Israel?

Let’s not be mistaken: The lack of conflict resolution does not only hurt the Palestinians, it directly affects Israel as well. The continued occupation, its daily suffering felt by almost every Palestinian and the lack of hope for a peaceful resolution to the conflict sends a clear message that the failure of the decades-long struggle for an independent Palestinian state means that the only option left is to fight for full equality in one state. While the international community and parts of the Israeli government cynically continue to parrot the mantra of the two-state solution without recognizing one of the two states, the Palestinian public is rapidly moving away from that political option.

The one-state reality on the ground will emerge as the only choice given to the Palestinians and eventually the international community will catch on. By that time, Israeli Jews will not be in the majority between the river and the sea (by many assessments that is already the case). Personally, I no longer have a problem with the possibility of Israel being the state of all of its citizens – including all of the Palestinians – but I don’t believe that is what the majority of Israelis want. The acceptance of the notion that the current Israeli government cannot negotiate with the Palestinians must be challenged. This is, in fact, the best government possible to reopen negotiations with the Palestinians because without the right wing engaged in actively framing the narrative no solution is possible.

The writer is a political and social entrepreneur who has dedicated his life to the state of Israel and to peace between Israel and her neighbors. He is now directing The Holy Land Bond.