I had a discussion with a friend the other day in which we talked about one-state and two-state solutions. She didn’t see how a two-state solution could work (neither do I), but a one-state solution is worse. What to do? My usual response is “do nothing and wait for the Arabs to change,” which is kind of unsatisfying, I admit.
Backing up a bit, the two-state solution won’t work mainly because the major Palestinian factions – roughly divided into the Arafatists and Hamas – don’t want it. Neither group can swallow a sovereign Jewish state of any size, although their ideas of the kind of Arab state that they would replace it with and their strategies for getting there may differ.
The Obama plan envisions either somehow getting the Palestinian factions together or having the Arafatists crush Hamas. In either case the resultant will continue to ‘resist’ the ‘occupation’ which began with the Zionist aliyah of the 1880’s. Either the administration is naïve, or it just doesn’t care about the result once it has discharged its obligation to create ‘Palestine’.
The fundamental problem is that the Palestinians think that they can win if they resist persistently enough. They like to use the example of the 200-year occupation of the Holy Land by the crusaders.
This is why the Oslo accord failed. The agreements proposed at Camp David and Taba called for an actual end to the conflict and did not include a ‘return’ of Arab refugees to Israel. In other words, they left the Jewish state standing. But Arafat thought that with more patience and sacrifice, he could reach his goal of no Jewish state.
Daniel Pipes explained this in one of the most widely (and deliberately) misunderstood remarks anyone has made about the conflict. He said that the Palestinians had to be beaten and humiliated, they had to lose hope on a large scale before there could be peace. He was accused of everything from Islamophobia to advocating genocide, but all he meant was that they had to stop believing that they could win everything before they would consider a compromise in which both sides would have something.
As long as the Palestinians continue to believe that the destruction of Israel is just around the corner – or at least inevitable – there will be no peaceful solution to the conflict.
They are encouraged in their intransigence by the international Left, which makes a huge amount of noise in their favor, and by Western governments that see some advantage in supporting them. And hatred of Israel has become a religious issue – a brand new ‘pillar of Islam’ – for many Muslims.
Recently the anti-Israel forces have a new primary patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran. Iran has changed the military balance of power in the region by arming Israel’s traditional enemy, Syria, by installing its Hizballah proxy in Lebanon, by arming and financing Hamas, and most of all, by developing nuclear weapons.
A very troubling sign is the movement of Turkey away from the West and Israel and toward the Iran-Syria-Hizballah-Hamas bloc. Nothing made this more evident than last week’s Mavi Marmara incident.
The Palestinians see all this as vindication of their patient strategy and are positively salivating over the thought – voiced by Ahmadinejad this week – that Israel’s destruction is at hand. The hope that feeds Palestinian extremism is coming from Iran.
The Obama administration thinks that by forcing Israel to acquiesce to the creation of a Palestinian state it will reduce extremism and make it easier to deal with Iranian ambitions (this is called ‘linkage’). But as we’ve seen, weakening Israel only exacerbates extremism. And Iran is driving the Palestinians, not the reverse!
Most observers believe that the buildup of arms on Israel’s northern border, as well as in Gaza, will certainly lead to war at some point. Are they just going to pile up all of those rockets and not use them? It’s not likely.
Ahmadinejad and his new ally Erdoğan seem to enjoy predicting war and hinting that it will lead to big changes (by which they mean the end of Israel). But this can work both ways.
When war comes, there will be an opportunity to change the equation which has stymied all attempts at a solution of the conflict. This will require Israel to frame its war goals as not simply to repel the attackers and punish them enough to deter future attacks (for a while, anyway), but to fundamentally shift the balance of power in the region. But Israel can’t do this alone.
The most important goal must be to neutralize Iran as a destabilizing force. At the very least this implies that its nuclear weapons development capability must be destroyed. At the most it must include forcing a regime change. Iran must not be able to continue its role as ‘the arsenal of rejectionism’.
The Syrian missile arsenal, especially its non-conventional weapons, must be eliminated.
Hizballah and Hamas must be removed as military threats, and their leadership wiped out as well. Israel could have finished Hamas in 2008-9, but was prevented from doing so by US pressure. This simply can’t be allowed to happen again.
This is a massive task even for a major military power, which Israel is definitely not. Too bad that the Obama administration doesn’t realize that a humbled Iran would be the best thing that could happen for US interests.
Israel is only a sideshow for Iran, whose main goal is to kick US influence out of the Middle East so that it can control the oil supply and build its Caliphate. Indeed, one of the main reasons Iran is hostile to Israel is that it sees it as an American base (of course another reason is that to be the leader of the Muslim world, you have to be the biggest enemy of Israel, a lesson Turkish PM Erdoğan has taken to heart).
The Obama approach seems to be to withdraw from the Mideast while doing his best not to step on the toes of Iran and the Muslim world so that when the nuclear, oil-rich Caliphate becomes a major world power, it will let us alone. This of course misses the point that for religious-ideological reasons, it won’t let us alone.
But the US has the ability to set the Iranian nuclear project back a generation, or end it altogether, although there is a very small window of time within which this is possible.
Meanwhile, Israel could bring down Hizballah, which has been called Iran’s Foreign Legion, and which is one of Iran’s main tools for striking against the West. It would also be happy to neutralize Syria and Hamas.
By cooperating with Israel, an ally both practically and ideologically, the US has a chance to resist and even reverse Iran’s progress, and perhaps change the course of world history. And at the same time, by removing the driving force behind Palestinian extremism, Obama could actually achieve what he has promised to do: end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
What a deal!