If you want to know how to make peace between Israel and its Arab neighbors more difficult, if not impossible, look no further than U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s remarks to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier this week.
Blinken told his Israeli audience that both Israel and the Palestinians should be “enjoying equal measures of freedom, security, opportunity, justice and dignity.” The question for Blinken is: Why are you telling this to an Israeli audience?
While one can never be sure of what a progressive means when they use such terms, the reason the Palestinian people do not know what it means to enjoy freedom, security, opportunity and dignity is their own failed leadership. That has been true ever since Israel’s creation in 1948.
History puts the lie to the assertion that Israel stands between the Palestinians and freedom, security, opportunity and dignity.
- In 1948, when the United Nations Partition Plan established the Jewish State of Israel, it also created a separate Arab state. The Jews accepted partition. The Arab states rejected it and instead declared war on Israel.
- From 1948-1967, Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria and Egypt illegally occupied the Gaza Strip. During that 19-year period, there was no effort by the Arab world or the international community to establish a Palestinian state. That effort waited until Israel captured those territories in 1967. Then, magically, the whole world demanded a Palestinian state.
- In 1978, Israel and Egypt entered the Camp David Accords. Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin made peace between their two countries without resolving the Palestinian question. Sadat understood that the Palestinians had no interest in making peace with Israel. He knew that waiting for them to do so meant Egypt and Israel would be doomed to a perpetual state of war.
- In 1994, Israel and Jordan signed a peace agreement without resolving the Palestinian issue. Like Sadat, King Hussein of Jordan understood that the Palestinians had no interest in making peace with Israel and that waiting for them to do so meant dooming Jordon and Israel to a perpetual state of war.
- In 2000, President Bill Clinton brought then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and the founder of modern terrorism Yasser Arafat to the brink of peace. Israel agreed to Clinton’s proposals. But as Clinton has made clear ever since that effort failed, it was Arafat who walked away from the negotiating table. Arafat then returned to Judea and Samaria and immediately declared war on Israel by starting the second intifada, which he was planning while he attended the “peace” talks with Clinton and Barak.
- In 2005, as part of a complete and total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dismantled all existing settlements in Gaza. He used the IDF to forcibly remove Israeli settlers who refused to leave. Not a single Jew remained in Gaza, which is Judenrein to this day. Rather than building a state of their own and living in peace with Israel, Hamas took control of Gaza and periodically starts wars by launching missiles into Israeli cities in order to kill civilians indiscriminately.
- In 2008, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered a peace deal to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. As President George W. Bush made clear at the time, it was Abbas who walked away and started the “War of Knives” against Israeli civilians. Abbas said “no” because the Olmert offer did not allow for the “right of return” and because Abbas refused to commit to ending hostilities with the Jewish state.
- In 2019, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan entered into the Abraham Accords with Israel. Like Sadat and Hussein before them, they realized that waiting for a resolution of the Palestinian issue meant their countries would never make peace with Israel.
If Blinken’s statements were not fanciful and ahistorical enough, he truly entered the world of Never-Never Land when he spoke about the two-state solution: “Anything that moves us away from that vision is, in our judgment, detrimental to Israel’s long-term security and its long-term identity as a Jewish and democratic state.”
To be clear: The two-state solution is dead and no amount of fairy dust, heel-clicking or wishful thinking will revive it. It is dead because no one but the Biden administration wants or believes in it—not the Palestinians and not the Arab states.
Notwithstanding that reality, like a rat trained to find cheese at the end of a maze, Blinken followed up on his meeting with Netanyahu by visiting Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Abbas, of course, rejected the creation of a Palestinian state in 2008 and there is no sign that he would not do so today. The reason for this is that Abbas believes that so long as there is a Jewish state, the struggle to destroy it must not end. He has believed this for his entire life.
The two-state solution is also rendered ridiculous by the fact that Hamas currently controls Gaza and publicly advocates not just the destruction of Israel but the extermination of all Jews living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel cannot make peace with a genocidal death cult.
What usually goes unspoken, moreover, is that America’s Arab allies oppose the two-state solution. They understand that it would ultimately result in a terrorist state in the heart of the Middle East dominated by Hamas and Iran. Such a state would be an existential threat not just to Israel but also its Arab neighbors.
The Arab states have no illusions about the P.A. either. They know that Abbas and his minions are corrupt and useless. Indeed, the Gulf states have cut off all financial aid to the P.A. They see no reason to give the Palestinians money when it will simply be stolen by corrupt bureaucrats and sent to bank accounts in Switzerland.
If fighting to sustain the flat-lining two-state solution were merely a waste of time, it would be bad enough. But in fact, the Biden administration’s efforts actively harm the cause of peace.
This is because many Arab states want to enter the Abraham Accords, but the Biden administration has put them in a position in which this is almost impossible. The Arab states cannot be seen as caring less about the Palestinians than an American president. If it wants to advance the cause of peace, the White House should at least go about its misguided diplomatic efforts quietly and out of the public eye. This would give those Arab states the safe space necessary to normalize relations with Israel. The Biden approach effectively gives the Palestinians veto power over the peace process. The Arabs are done with that and it is time the Biden administration got the message.
The administration is very unlikely to change course, however, because President Joe Biden is almost certain to run for reelection. As a result, he must appease his progressive base, which sees the Palestinians as people of color oppressed by a systemically racist, apartheid, white Israel. While Biden may not agree with this, he is more interested in helping himself politically than in pointing out that the progressives’ view of Israel is a baseless lie.
The truth is, we must be willing to accept that some problems have no solution and need to be managed rather than solved. To the extent that there is a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, it will have to wait until Saudi Arabia joins the Abraham Accords. This would finally put an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict and only then will Israel and its Arab partners be free to engage in a constructive effort to resolve what is currently an intractable problem.
Unfortunately, Blinken’s statements have pushed that day further into the future. The Palestinians will have to wait that much longer to know the blessings of freedom, security, opportunity and dignity.
Regardless of how well-intentioned Biden’s efforts are, they are counter-productive and undermine the quest for peace. Foreign policy must be based on reality and the world as it is, not as we would like it to be. Policies based on fantasy and magical thinking are always bad and perilous policies. Blinken’s statements on the two-state solution do not advance peace, they make the world more dangerous.
Eric R. Levine is a founding member of the New York City law firm Eiseman Levine Lehrhaupt & Kakoyiannis, P.C. He is an essayist, political commentator and fundraiser for Republican candidates with an emphasis on the United States Senate.