There seem to be two views of the path ahead for the Palestinians. There is the American/Israeli view that Israel can negotiate the establishment of some kind of Palestinian state with the Abbas/Fayed administration in the West Bank:
It is our mutual aim to reach the joint vision of establishing two states for two peoples living side by side in peace and security and “we want to do this as soon as possible,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas during Monday afternoon’s meeting in Jericho.
Olmert sought to give Abbas the feeling that he had real intentions to move forward with the establishment of a Palestinian state and the two spoke of the fundamental issues that would be the basis for its creation. — Jerusalem Post
And there is the other view, held by Hamas — but also in circles opposed to Hamas — that Palestinian unity is a prerequisite to statehood:
Jibril Rajoub, a former PA security commander closely associated with Abbas, also saw no purpose in the meeting, saying that the Israeli government was incapable of advancing the peace process.
Rajoub, who had just returned from Egypt, urged Abbas to restore contacts with Hamas and to put an end to the situation of “two Palestinian Authorities – one in Gaza and the other in the West Bank.”
Both of these points of view assume that the creation of a Palestinian state should be the primary goal today. Many of those who believe that the only practical solution to the conflict is a two-state solution believe that the way to get there is to start with the two states. And some others believe that the way to get to a one (Palestinian) state solution is also to start with the two states.
But there are two big problems that have to be solved first.
One is that the ‘moderate’ Palestinian and Israeli bottom lines on certain issues are simply incompatible. These issues, of course, are borders, Jerusalem, and refugees. They can’t be negotiated away. This means that one side or another will have to be forced to agree. This does not bode well for the ultimate solution being a peaceful one.
The second big problem is that Hamas can’t be part of the process — because their bottom line doesn’t include Israel at all — but at the same time it is impossible to ignore them (after all, they are fighting a low-level war against Israel and preparing for a high-level one).
If we need to solve these problems before establishing the Palestinian state, how can we do it? I admit to being biased toward a solution which implies the continued existence of the State of Israel.
Let’s look at the second problem — Hamas — first. To borrow a phrase from Ted Belman, there is only a military solution to Hamas. I can’t think of a way to be less popular with my progressive friends than to advocate war, but a war of self-defense is a just war, and this would definitely be a war of self-defense.
Interestingly, a solution to Hamas would also be a solution to the first problem. I believe that the ‘moderate’ Palestinians have highly unrealistic positions because they believe that they are attainable by a combination of military pressure — from terrorists such as Hamas and Hezbollah, as well as nations like Syria — with diplomatic and economic leverage applied to the West by, for example, Saudi Arabia (this calls their ‘moderation’ into question, but that’s another topic).
So a demonstration that Israel cannot be defeated by terrorism would go a long way toward giving a voice to those Palestinians who are prepared to take positions on the major issues that are compatible with a true two-state solution, one in which Israel continues to exist. But this is not going to happen as long as Hamas is able to pursue its program.