Realistic solutions seem further away than ever

Everyone wants a two-state solution:

The next few weeks are critical in reviving the Middle East peace process, Jordan’s King Abdullah II said Friday.

Abdullah spoke after a meeting with Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper. The two agreed that peace in the Middle East could only be achieved through a two-state solution. — Jerusalem Post

But what does this really mean?

Assuming that one of the two states is Israel, then probably the idea is that Israel will sign a peace treaty with the Abbas/Fayyed government in the West Bank.

Two states, yes, but no ‘solution’ in a real sense. About 43% of the Palestinian population lives in Hamastan (Gaza). Hamas also has influence in the West Bank, and despite the continued flow of money and arms to Abbas’ Fatah, is probably more capable in a military sense than Fatah. So what are the options?

Will Hamas see the light and evaporate, giving full control to Abbas? Hardly likely.

Will Hamas be isolated from the world and wither away? This seems to be what the US is hoping for. But it’s also not likely. Iran is happy to fund Hamas’ military budget, and certainly it will not be possible for the rest of the world to ignore the needs of the population. Israel cannot hermetically seal Gaza without creating a humanitarian crisis.

The most probable outcome is some kind of unity between the Palestinian factions, as favored by Egypt and Saudi Arabia. If this happens, there’s no doubt that Hamas, by virtue of the greater degree of commitment of its adherents, will come to dominate the regime. In that case, Israel will have a two-state solution in which her partner is a antisemitic, terrorist entity whose primary reason for being is to destroy her.

Another possibility is for Israel to crush Hamas militarily. There’s no doubt in my mind that there will soon be an opportunity, since Hamas is likely to join in the next flare-up instigated by Hezbollah, backed by Syria and Iran. Alternatively, Israel could try to preempt a two-front war by attacking Hamas now. This wouldn’t be easy nor would it be cheap in terms of lives, for both sides.

Of course, if Israel were to succeed in destroying Hamas, the question of who would fill the power vacuum arises. It’s not at all certain that it would be somebody friendlier than Hamas.

Realistic solutions — for any number of states — are hard to come by.

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