On Sept. 21, U.S. President Joe Biden addressed the U.N. General Assembly. In his speech, he referred to a negotiated “peace between the Jewish and democratic State of Israel and the Palestinian people.” He added that such a peace is “the best way to ensure Israel’s security … and give the Palestinians the state to which they are entitled.”
The pernicious political fantasy of the “two-state solution” has been so thoroughly inculcated into the minds of most Western leaders that it is almost axiomatic. It leads to the assumption that, while the time may not be right for negotiations, a Palestinian state will someday come into being, because the Palestinian Arabs have a “right” to it.
This myth has no basis in logic, history or law. To counter it, two approaches are helpful. One is to emphasize the point that there is no solid history for “Palestinian Arabs.” Before the founding of Israel, the Jews in the land were known as “Palestinians.” Arabs identified as part of the Arab nation or as southern Syrians.
The term “Palestinian” in reference to the Palestinian Arabs came into common usage with the founding of the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1964, established by Egyptians with the goal of delegitimizing the Jewish presence in the land. Yasser Arafat, the PLO’s longtime chieftain, was Egyptian.
The PLO charter laid claim to the land held by the Jews—that is, Israel within the Green Line, excluding Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It registered no claim against Egypt, which held Gaza, or Jordan, which held Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. After 1967, when Israel gained control of these areas, the PLO changed its charter to lay claim to them.
Finally, we might ask what distinguishes this “Palestinian people.” How are they unique? What have they contributed towards the betterment of the world in fields like culture, science or diplomacy? How have they demonstrated that their state would be successful and not as thoroughly mired in corruption, repression of human rights and violence as the Palestinian Authority?
The Palestinian Arabs’ “entitlement,” in other words, is a myth. That the world has bought into it means nothing. It is still a myth.
President Biden, unfortunately, is not alone in continuing to adhere to this baseless paradigm. A day after Biden spoke, Israel’s interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid also addressed the General Assembly. His English was excellent and his delivery first-class. He said some things that were on the mark—for example, regarding Iran. But then, as had been predicted, he endorsed the “two-state solution.”
“An agreement with the Palestinians, based on two states for two peoples, is the right thing for Israel’s security, for Israel’s economy and for the future of our children,” he said. “Despite all the obstacles, still today a large majority of Israelis support the vision of this two-state solution. I am one of them.”
How Lapid imagines that permitting a sovereign Palestinian Arab state within the borders of Mandate Palestine would be the “right thing” for Israel’s security defies imagination. Indeed, he could not have picked a worse time for his proposal, as violence in Judea and Samaria is on the rise. A good deal of the violence is the work of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, the military wing of the Fatah Party, which rules the P.A. At the same time, the P.A. has proven increasingly reluctant to cooperate with Israel on security matters.
Lapid did attempt to cover himself by saying, “We have only one condition: That a future Palestinian state will be a peaceful one. That it will not become another terror base from which to threaten the well-being and the very existence of Israel. That we will have the ability to protect the security of all the citizens of Israel, at all times.”
The prime minister would no doubt argue that he did no harm by raising the issue because of his proviso that a Palestinian Arab state must be peaceful. But this is not the case. He has brought the issue forward, which makes Israel increasingly vulnerable to international pressure.
This was Lapid’s “day in the sun,” an international platform for promoting his left-wing views. Elections are coming, and he is courting those who think as he does. His failure and theirs is an inability to grasp the significance of ideology.
Arlene Kushner is a freelance writer, investigative journalist and author. She has written books on the PLO and Ethiopian Jews, and major reports on UNRWA. She is a co-founder of the Legal Grounds Campaign, which provides courses to law students regarding Israel’s legal rights in the Land of Israel. Her blog, focusing on political and security concerns in Israel, can be found at www.arlenefromisrael.info.