OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

The fantasy of a ‘two-state’ solution

It needs remembering that there already is a Palestinian state: Its name is the Kingdom of Jordan.

The old border fence between Israel and Jordan, June 17, 2020. Photo by Yaniv Nadav/Flash90.
The old border fence between Israel and Jordan, June 17, 2020. Photo by Yaniv Nadav/Flash90.
Jerold S. Auerbach
Jerold S. Auerbach is the author of 12 books, including Print to Fit: The New York Times, Zionism and Israel (1896-2016) and Israel 1896-2016, selected for Mosaic by Ruth Wisse and Martin Kramer as a “Best Book for 2019.”

British writer Douglas Murray, associate editor of The Spectator, has written an illuminating article in the New York Post about the fantasy of the endlessly repeated call for a “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian/Hamas conflict. Labeling it “one of the least successful ideas in the world,” he explores its unrelenting appeal to U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Several weeks following the horrific Hamas slaughter that murdered more than 1,200 men, women and children in southern Israel, Biden embraced this absurdity. In a Washington Post article, he wrote: “As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution.”

Blinken was not far behind. The “best way” to resolve the conflict, he said on CBS, “remains a two-state solution.” He insisted that “there needs to be a clear and credible pathway to a Palestinian state.”

In a visit with 88-year-old Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas, now serving the 19th year of his four-year term, Blinken reiterated American support for reforming the P.A. and establishing “an independent Palestinian state.” The likeliest leader is Hamas, not known for its pursuit of peace.

Neither Biden nor Blinken seemed to grasp the consequences for Israel if their absurd fantasy became reality. A Palestinian state would comprise the West Bank (known in Jewish history as biblical Judea and Samaria) and the Gaza Strip. Some 500,000 Israelis (often lacerated as despised settlers) now live in their ancient homeland. The idea that they—or their government—would relinquish it for a Palestinian state to please Biden and Blinken (or Hamas and the Palestinian Authority) is preposterous.

They also ignore the fundamental question of linkage. How might the West Bank and Gaza—50 miles apart—be connected as a single state? There are two possibilities, equally illogical. The longest highway in the world is one; the longest underground tunnel is the other. Israel is unlikely to permit either bisection. Perhaps worst of all, a two-state solution would require an Israeli withdrawal back to the highly vulnerable nine-mile-wide borders between 1948 and 1967.

There is also no indication that Palestinian residents of Judea and Samaria are eager to go to war against Israel, which they would quickly lose, nor eager to unify with Hamas, whose folly in attacking Israel has become ever more evident in Gaza. They may not embrace their relationship with Israel, but they have a choice: They can always leave to become citizens of another Arab country. There is no indication of mass emigration or its likelihood.

In his book titled Enemies and Neighbors: Arabs and Jews in Palestine and Israel, Ian Black, a visiting senior fellow at the Middle East Centre at the London School of Economics, has carefully explored and insightfully analyzed their difficult, indeed often violent, relationship. He is convinced—for good reason—that the idea of a two-state (Israel and Palestine) solution to a decades-long conflict is unlikely to be resolved in the foreseeable future. It may be true, he writes, that “Israel’s independence was the Palestinians’ catastrophe.” But it also needs remembering that there already is a Palestinian state in historic Palestine. Its name is the Kingdom of Jordan, and it has a majority Palestinian population.

It is worth comparing Biden’s approach towards Israel with his predecessor, Donald Trump.

While Biden seems to delight in chastising the Jewish state, Trump relocated the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, recognizing the ancient Jewish city as the capital of Israel. During his presidency, the United States became the first country to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Unlike the former Obama-Biden team, Trump did not view settlements as a violation of international law.

Despite Biden’s proud claim about his friendship with Israel, the Jewish state can do better with a different president, and better friend, in the White House.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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