(January 11, 2021 / JNS) Dear Congressman Meeks,
As the new chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, you have been quoted as saying that you were looking forward to resuming humanitarian aid to the Palestinians as part of the new administration’s push for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israel conflict. You also, I read, support the return of the PLO Palestinian diplomatic representation to the United States.
“I’m a firm believer in the two-state solution,” you declared, continuing that “we may need to restart the U.S. assistance to Palestinian people, demonstrating that the United States is ready to lead again.” You added that the two-state solution is “the only way I believe that we can ensure a Jewish state of Israel that is viable and a peaceful Palestinian state.”
But is this “leading” or simply trudging a too well-worn path?
True, there was an initiative, H.Res.326 in the 116th Congress, which proclaimed “the sense of the House of Representatives that only a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can ensure Israel’s survival as a secure Jewish and democratic state and fulfill the legitimate aspirations for a Palestinian state.” Back on May 4, 2020, a number of self-declared “U.S. Foreign Policy Professionals” addressed the Democratic National Committee and requested that your party’s 2020 platform should
“expressly state a commitment to a resolution of the conflict that ensures both Israel’s security and future as a Jewish and democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens, as well as Palestinian rights, including self-determination, security and freedom. It should include clear opposition to the ongoing occupation, settlement expansion and any form of unilateral annexation of territory in the West Bank as well as clear opposition to violence, terrorism and incitement from all sides.”
Before I proceed, I wish that you carefully reflect on the above statement. Israel must provide equal rights for all its citizens, but it is silent on whether a future state of Palestine will have the same “all its citizens” makeup. In other words, will Jews be able to live there? At this point, I’ll just draw your attention to that matter and will return to it below.
I hope you can avoid partisan politics in your diplomatic outreach. After all, the Trump administration’s “Peace and Prosperity” Mideast plan also promotes a two-state solution. Nevertheless, allow me to suggest the two-state solution is not a solution.
- It has been tried before.
In 1922, the League of Nations granted “recognition … to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country” and “agreed that the Mandatory should be responsible for putting into effect the declaration originally made on November 2nd, 1917, by the Government of His Britannic Majesty, and adopted by the said Powers, in favour of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.” However, that future Jewish national home in Palestine would be limited to the area west of the Jordan River in that Article 25 promulgated a first partition. That article decreed that
“In the territories lying between the Jordan and the eastern boundary of Palestine as ultimately determined, the Mandatory shall be entitled, with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations, to postpone or withhold application of such provisions of this mandate as he may consider inapplicable to the existing local conditions.”
There it is, a two-state solution. All the area between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River should be the Jewish National Home. The area east of the Jordan River should be an Arab state. And it is. It is the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It officially became a country in 1946. It lies in “historic Palestine.” Palestine was partitioned and a two-state solution developed.
A second partition was put forward by the British Mandatory regime in 1937 as regards the territory west of the Jordan River and revised by the Woodhead Commission in 1938. A third partition was recommended by the United Nations, in 1947. In other words, in all these early two-state solutions, Jews were always losing land, having the territory of their national home reduced, with ridiculous boundary configurations being created, while the Arabs were steadily gaining land.
- It has failed.
Those early two-state solution plans were rejected by the Arab community’s leadership. Not only rejected, but those decisions were followed up by acts of raging terror and aggressive war hostilities. It not only failed at the time, but throughout the 19-year period when the areas of Judea and Samaria—mistakenly referred to as the “West Bank,” a term created by the illegal occupying power of Jordan—were in Arab control, no “Palestine state” was ever created. I repeat: For 19 years when the “West Bank” was under Arab control and outside of Israel’s administration, no Palestine was established.
I am sure you would agree that it behooves you to inquire as to why. Moreover, if the Palestine Liberation Organization, the PLO (whose delegation you wish to reinstate in Washington), was founded in 1964, have you asked yourself what “Palestine” were they “liberating?” Or were they simply attempting, once again as in 1937 and 1947, the elimination of any Jewish state in any area of “historic Palestine?” And ask yourself: Have they really surrendered that goal?
- A mimetic repetition of the “two-state” mantra doesn’t make it correct or work. Fundamental issues still are far from being resolved, notably concerning refugees and Jerusalem.
- Please, do not presume that there is only one abused side. There are Jewish resettlement rights in the areas they were ethnically cleansed from between 1920-1948, in a most violent fashion of terror, rape, brigandry and destruction of property. There is currently the ongoing Jerusalem/Temple Mount denial campaign. Just on Monday, Israel was accused at the United Nations by Jordan (we have a peace treaty with the kingdom, may I remind you) and the Palestinian delegation of seeking to “Judaize” the Western Wall Plaza because of renovation work that is being carried out there. If this issue is still cast in doubt—as if the Jewish people’s history simply does not exist in the imagination of these U.N. reps—can we expect peace from a future state of Palestine?
- Israel’s security needs cannot be met if the Palestinian Authority’s educational system instills hatred of Jews and Zionism. Nor if the P.A. supports the payment of compensation for the killing and injuring of Jews (see Taylor Force Act), or continues to instigate and incite anti-Jewish terror. On another level entirely is the real question of whether any territory of the Samarian and Judean Hills can be surrendered. The topographical advantages those hills provide introduce a crucial element—indeed, a strategic one. Rep. Meeks, Israel retreated from all of the Gaza Strip, and still, the rockets and missiles and terror tunnels continue. I put it to you that that scenario is what will happen if an independent Arab state of Palestine is established in the region where I now live, and it will result in Israel retaking the area after a short hellish period.
You will recall that since 2009, Israel’s governments under Benjamin Netanyahu have accepted the premise of a two-state solution, albeit it with two principles: that the “Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people” and that the “territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel.” Yet here we are, a decade after the 10-month moratorium on construction, excluding Jerusalem, that former President Barack Obama even demanded be extended, which did not succeed to prod the P.A. to engage in genuine negotiations.
Is there a sincere desire on the part of Mahmoud Abbas (who is in the 16th year of his term as “president” without elections) to negotiate? Has the P.A. become a model of good government, of a democratic society?
You know the answers to that.
Rep. Meeks, if you proceed to attempt to revitalize the two-state solution concept, I humbly suggest that you proceed slowly, learn the subject well and even reconsider your determination. If not, be prepared as many before you, to watch as the Palestinian side sabotages peace efforts again.
Yisrael Medad is an American-born Israeli journalist and political commentator.
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