Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Good-bye Two-State illusion ??

Unfortunately, A two state modus-vivendi for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is on its way out. It seems less and less feasible under today's circumstances:
1. Palestinian conditions for such an eventuality are far from acceptable to us Israelis.
2. Our Israeli conception of such an eventuality is far from acceptable to Palestinians.
3. Our constant Israeli drive at expanding Jewish settlement and "government land" in the West Bank, while "adopting" Area C (see below) has made a viable Palestinian State almost impossible geographically.
4. Palestinians, recognizing the growing geographical unviability, are becoming quite satisfied with the possible alternative of being annexed into Israel, and eventually defeating the Jewish Zionist state through the reality of demography.

True, the Palestinian Authority is trying a bid via the UN to become a recognized State, and perhaps it will legally succeed. Such a success would put Israel in a weaker legal position as an occupying power, and make our legal arguments even less tenable in the eyes of the world. But this legal maneuver would still change little on the ground. The above circumstances would still hold true. Little would change in the difficulties of occupation, in the expansion of settlement, and in the probable lack of desire on both political sides to actually "want" a two-state compromise.

A two-state compromise, based on maps drawn by either Barak or Olmert, could have been implemented by us in the West Bank even unilaterally, without yet relinquishing our military control of the area. It would have meant giving "area C", which constitutes about 60% of the West Bank a similar status to that in areas A or B. Of course this would mean the end of easy settlement expansion into Area C. It would also mean the relocation of many settlements (against every grain in our present leadership's silo). This would also mean relinquishing a good deal of the present limitations on economic development. This would have given the ability to gradually build up and test the geographical and institutional viability of a Palestinian State.  But this also would have assured us of enough military control when needed until we came (if ever) to a feasible mutual compromise agreement with the Palestinians over issues which seem today uncompromisable. It may even have led us to some type of Federation which still would leave us a greater latitude and freedom in the realm of army and defense. (This of course, is what we should have done in Gaza….. Getting the settlements out – definitely YES; but leaving the army IN until reaching a mutual agreement along with the West Bank. Yossi Beilin said something like it then, and I totally agreed, but our governments no longer listened to us cry-baby, goody-goody, crazy Leftists. Not then, and certainly not today.)

(If you know everything about Areas A, B, and C in the West Bank, skip this paragraph; otherwise, read …..and weep or smile…..depending on your political inclination.) Between 1993-95 the Oslo agreements between Israel and the PA temporarily divided the West Bank into three areas of control, A+B+C. Areas A and B constituted the populated areas of the West Bank and ceded much security and civilian control to the Palestinian Authority. Area C gave Israel complete security and civilian control. Area C was a reasonable Israeli desire to have a temporary defense posture around all large population areas in the West Bank. It therefore took all the lands that surrounded those population areas and left the population areas in A+B as cantons with meager lands of their own surrounding them. (This is like taking all the land between Tel-Aviv and Hertzeliya, between Herzeliya and Natanya, between Natanya and Haifa, and from there till Nahariya and naming it as one district completely surrounding all these cities and their suburbs.) Of course this was temporary and was to last no more than five years, and mainly as a defense measure till we get the Oslo agreements moving.

Meanwhile, 20 years later, Area C has become the greatest permanent gift to our Right-Wing governments who are looking for ways to establish as much of a Greater Israel as possible. Why is that?? Well…… Area C is no longer there as a temporary defense measure. Area C is 62% of the West bank, surrounding all the population cantons of A+B, while therefore holding only about 5% of the Palestinian population itself. Area C is convenient for settling Israelis and has therefor seen a wondrous growth of Jewish settlements surrounding most cantons of areas A and B.  Area C is also suitable for pronouncing it as government or military land, regardless of actual ownership. (And, of course, with only 5% of the Palestinian population, it makes it a lot easier to find ways of making Palestinian life in Area C difficult as an incentive to move on, or, as is being done in the Hevron area and east of Jerusalem, actually forcing people out. Given enough time, we may even get area C to be completely "Arab-Rein".)

A little demography: Area C has today somewhere between 80-100,000 Palestinians. It has about 400,000 Jewish settlers (including 50,000 students in yeshivot and other facilities). East Jerusalem, de-jure annexed to Israel and a basic bone of contention, already has an additional 200,000 Jews adjacent to Area C.

And so…….here we are. We failed to set up some type of two-state situation, and we have succeeded in creating geographic and demographic developments in most of the West Bank which make such further endeavor assuredly useless. We are on our way to a de-facto (and perhaps later de-jure) annexation of at least "area C" into the State of Israel while leaving 40% of the West Bank as many small separate cantons with perhaps two million (!!) Palestinians and growing, and each individual canton surrounded by the greater "Area C".

Our right wing leadership sees all this as a win-win situation. We will have annexed most of Greater Israel, while resolving the demographic problem by not annexing two million Arabs into the Jewish State.

The "sane" right-wing vision of the future sees these two million Palestinians living peacefully with municipal civil rights within their autonomy of separate cantons, hopefully with citizenship rights in Jordan, but without national civil rights (nor citizenship) in Israel itself. The "non-sane" right-wing vision is certain of God's intervention in our affairs. He will legitimize all actions we take to make life miserable for these two million Palestinians, so as to see their exit from the promised land. Both visions are unethical, undemocratic, apartheid oriented, and are a certain way to keep our Army from being a Defense Force to remaining a Police Force saddled with the need to oppress a constant and growing opposition by the oppressed.

So where do we go from here ?? ………"we", meaning those of us who have been fighting to preserve our Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State with equal civil rights for all its citizens. ……. "we", meaning those of us who have fought, protested, gotten our feet wet, and also voted for our governments to do all possible means for arriving at a two-state compromise.

Seems likely that those "we" will divide up into four different categories (actually it's already happening):

Category one: Give Up. …….. Join all those leftist and pseudo-leftists among our Jews in Israel who watched the developments from their living-room couch and had no time or energy to walk outside and YELL …. And fight back.

Category two: Never Give Up !! ……..continue a rear-guard action for a two-state compromise regardless of the geographic and demographic realities which have overtaken us and assure us that such a rear-guard action is futile……. An expression of remaining in the world of nostalgia……. What could have been …. If only.……….oh my, oh dear…….. at least we hold on to our allegiance.

Category three: Give Up Zionism …….. decide there is no way to have a Democratic Jewish State under these circumstances and begin fighting for a Democratic State without apartheid; a state where all citizens are equal… four million Arabs and six million Jews (Gaza is not in the picture)…… knowing that down the line we Jews will probably no longer be a majority and will forego our Zionist dream of a Jewish State.

Category four: Keep Searching !! …….. there may be other formulas for two peoples living on the same land but in different worlds. ……..perhaps some kind of Federation ……. Perhaps some kind of more extensive demographic autonomy extending into the whole of the land of Israel. ………perhaps some kind of…….something…….

Wait a minute…… this can't be one sided…… there needs to be a category in which both peoples talk to each other and want to come to a formula which each can swallow. Who knows what can happen once two peoples talk after realizing they can't get rid of each other.

Among those of us who have realized that the two-state formula is no longer viable today, I hear and read about a number of models based on Categories three and four above. None, so far, seemed feasible to me (explain and expand? ……perhaps some other time.). But I'm still in the "Keep Searching" category, and as lame as it may sound I'm into the following direction:

1. let's agree we can't get rid of each other….  and if so……..
2. talk and talk and talk…….till we get a compromise.

What do we talk about??
1. What we each want.
2. What we each can't give.

Hold on! …..What am I saying? …….Talk? Talk? Talk? ……..compromise??
But the compromise between what we each want and what we each can't give will eventually bring us right back to some kind of  two-state model………
So why leave it……………………………………??????
Perhaps what is no longer physically feasible today will be more palatable tomorrow.
Once cornered (and we surely are on the way to corner ourselves), it becomes easier to swallow.


Tzipora Banai said...

We should point out that a great deal of anti-semitism stems from our lack of moving towards peace with the Palestinians. The Western world supports the Pa;estiian desire for a free state. I support the two-state option although I understand it is difficult.

גילעד said...

We are forgetting the Arab league (Saudi)proposal 2002/2007, which generally proposing a regional pact, by which Israel will agree to withdraw to 1967 lines, come to an agreed settlement with the Palestinians, including resettling the refugees - without imposing on other Arab countries.

This proposal is offering Israel an opportunity for a bigger magnitude Peace - with full support of the Arab League, including Peace and diplomatic agreement with all AL countries.
This weighs a lot more than any other Two States, One State or federative visions I have read or heard, want to read more, Link to: http://www.thebestplans.org/plans/16a

אהרון שריף said...

to Tzipora and Gilad:
Thanks for your comments.
Tzipora: Certainly a great deal of anti-semitism stems from our lack of moving towards peace with the Palestinians. I'm not sure that would change were we able to move forward towards a two-state situation. Much of the "anti" also revolves around the idea that Israel should have never been established. Also: Western Europe is beginning to be influenced by the Muslim vote.
Gilad: I don't at all forget the Saudi proposal of a decade ago. It is one more possibility which our governments purposely ignored, though it was perhaps still very viable...then. Unfortunately, 10 years later, as i point out in my letter, the demographic situation won't politically allow any Israeli government to move or change the status of nearly a half a million Jewish Israelis. My point is for us to look outside of our "conventional box" to seek something which we can hopefully actually sell to a reasonable section of our Israeli public and to our possible government.