The world still believes that the “two-state solution” will end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But when the Palestinian Arabs invoke this idea, they are concealing something very sinister.
I. “Half a loaf is better than no bread.”
For decades, the phrase “two-state solution” has triggered a conditioned reflex. But the Israeli and Palestinian sides each interpret the term differently.
Most people of good faith believe the phrase refers to the idea of partition. This dates back to the British empire’s Peel Commission, which on July 7, 1937 recommended the division of what was then Mandatory Palestine into two unequal parts: One an Arab state and the other a Jewish state, with small population transfers.
The Commission concluded its recommendations, “‘Half a loaf is better than no bread’ is a peculiarly English proverb; and, considering the attitude which both the Arab and Jewish representatives adopted in giving evidence before us, we think it improbable that either party will be satisfied at first sight with the proposals we have submitted for the adjustment of their rival claims. For partition means that neither will get all it wants.”
Zionist leaders Chaim Weizmann and David Ben-Gurion accepted the “half a loaf” because they understood the limitations of power. In contrast, the Palestinian Arab leadership, led by the Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, rejected partition.
During World War II, the Mufti ardently collaborated with Nazi Germany, spending most of the war in Berlin as an honored guest. On Nov. 2, 1943, the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, he participated in a rally at the Luftwaffe building in Berlin. His speech was broadcast by radio to the entire Arab world.
The Mufti said, in part, “Germany is also fighting against the common enemy who oppressed the Arabs and the Muslims in their respective lands. It understood the Jews perfectly and determined to find a final solution to the Jewish menace, which will contain their mischief in the world” (emphasis added).
He further declared, “Allah has determined that there never will be a stable arrangement for the Jews, and that no state should be established for them. … I do not have the slightest doubt that we shall succeed in the victory against them, despite the massive help of the cruel Allies. Allah helps those to victory who help him. We will win and liberate our lands from the claws of the Allies.”
It is clear that the Mufti viewed the war against the Jews in religious terms and explicitly supported the Nazi genocide.
After the war, the U.N. Partition Resolution of November 29, 1947 again raised the prospect of a “two-state solution.” The Jews again accepted partition, but the Arabs did not, which proved a costly mistake. The nascent State of Israel defeated an Arab invasion and won its 1948 War of Independence.
Thus, in both 1937 and 1947, the Jews of the Land of Israel were the only side that accepted partition—“half a loaf.”
II. “Justice for Palestine” and the strategy of phases
At present, the idea of “territorial compromise” is advocated either by Israel’s enemies or well-meaning outsiders and “progressive” Israelis.
The Palestinian Arabs’ objective, however, is to achieve what they call “justice” by means of the “armed struggle.”
Article 21 of the Palestinian National Covenant states: “The Arab Palestinian people, expressing themselves by the armed Palestinian revolution, reject all solutions which are substituting for the total liberation of Palestine and reject all proposals aiming at the liquidation of the Palestinian problem, or its internationalization.”
In a 1972 interview with Oriana Fallaci, and later in 1980, PLO chief Yasser Arafat stated the Palestinian position succinctly: “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel and nothing else.”
During a visit to Venezuela in February 1980, he elaborated in an interview with El Mundo: “Peace for us means the destruction of Israel. We are preparing for an all-out war, a war which will last for generations. …. We shall not rest until the day when we return to our home, and until we destroy Israel. … The destruction of Israel is the goal of our struggle, and the guidelines of that struggle have remained firm since the establishment of Fatah in 1965.”
Over time, intransigent pronouncements and terrorist attacks harmed the Palestinian Arab cause. Thus, the PLO needed to repair its image in order to achieve its political goals.
In Feb. 1970, Salah Khalaf (aka, Abu Iyad) led a PLO delegation to Hanoi and met the legendary Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap. North Vietnamese political experts advised the PLO members on how to manipulate the Western media and transform their public image from terrorists to “moderates.” Abu Iyad described this important encounter in the book My Home, My Land, a series of interviews with Eric Rouleau published in 1978.
The North Vietnamese recommended devoting attention to the intermediate stages of their war with Israel and to accept “provisional sacrifices.” By seemingly accepting “the division of the land between two independent states, without stressing that this was only an interim phase,” the PLO’s opponents in the West would be placated. This is the true origin of the “two-state solution.”
One Vietnamese adviser “explained that they would prefer to use moderate, even vague terms, so as not to offend American Jews, many of whom were active in the antiwar movement.”
Yossef Bodansky, director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, wrote in his book The High Cost of Peace that, years later, the North Vietnamese recommendations became the basis of the “‘Phases Program/Phased Plan,’ which was formulated in the resolution of the Twelfth Palestinian National Council in Cairo on June 9, 1974.”
Bodansky described how this strategy was meant to work: “The Phases Program/Phased Plan calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state on any part of the disputed territory that becomes available, whether through war or through a negotiated process. … In adopting this policy, the PLO leadership stressed that accepting any part of Palestine was legitimate as long as the entity established there would serve as the basis for the liberation of the rest of the country—that is the ultimate destruction of Israel.”
The “Phased Plan” eventually led to the Oslo Accords in the 1990s, which several Palestinian leaders acknowledged had been signed in bad faith. For example, Faysal Al-Husseini, whom the media designated a “Palestinian moderate,” declared in an interview published on June 24, 2001 in the Egyptian newspaper Al Arabi that the Oslo arrangements constituted a “Trojan horse.”
“When we are asking all the Palestinian forces and factions to look at the Oslo Agreement and at other agreements as ‘temporary’ procedures, or phased goals, this means that we are ambushing the Israelis and cheating them,” he said.
He added, “If we agree to declare our state over what is now only 22% of Palestine, meaning the West Bank and Gaza—our ultimate goal is [still] the liberation of all historical Palestine from the [Jordan] River to the [Mediterranean] Sea, even if this means that the conflict will last for another thousand years or for many generations.”
It is clear that Al-Husseini was expressing what Palestinians in general really mean when they speak of the “two-state solution.” The term conceals their ultimate strategy of bringing about the politicide of Israel via an open-ended religious war involving military and non-military tactics.
If our leaders sincerely want to advance the cause of peace, they should not delude themselves about the Palestinians’ true intentions. Advocating the “two-state solution” in any form gambles with the future of the Jewish state that the Palestinians remain determined to destroy. We must listen to them carefully and take their words at face value.
Dr. Joel Fishman is a fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.