THE ISRAELI SOLUTION: A ONE STATE PLAN FOR PEACE IN THE MIDDLE EAST by Caroline Glick
Publisher: Crown Forum (2014)
History changed on June 24, 2002. On that day, President George W. Bush, who for the first eighteen months in office had not established a clear policy regarding the Israel- Palestinian conflict, announced his support for a two state solution. Couching his commitment to this new policy in guarded terms, Bush insisted that U.S. recognition of a Palestinian state would be dependent on the latter’s renunciation of terrorism, the cessation of incitement against the Jewish state and its willingness to recognize Israel as entitled to live within secure borders according to U.N. Resolution 242.
As a statement of U.S. intent it was not saying much. The Palestinians at that stage were still in the midst of a three year insurrection against Israel in which thousands of men, women and children on both sides would die. Any trust generated by the years of negotiation between Israel, the U.S, and the Palestinians had been dissipated in the wake of massive suicide attacks in Israel’s major population centers and reprisals by the IDF. Bush was also quite clear at the time that he had no intention of rehabilitating Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat as a negotiating partner. In fact his announcement on June 24th was an attempt to sidestep Arafat altogether and speak directly to the Palestinian people. Arafat’s role, as the course of events unfolded, would not be relevant anyway. for the next two years he would remain a virtual prisoner in his Ramallah compound and within two and half years would be dead from AIDS.
But the announcement was deeply significant. Until that time no U.S. President had gone on record as having accepted the two state solution as the ultimate goal of Israel-Palestinian negotiations. The 1979 Camp David Peace Accords had been silent on the issue; so too had the 1993 Oslo Accords. Although other Western leaders had been strident in support for the idea, for most of the U.S. leadership it remained a taboo topic.
No longer. Now the sin qua non of any projected agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is the establishment of a second state to exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The idea of Palestinian statehood has become so ingrained in the thinking of politicians, media commentators and editorialists worldwide, that mentioning any other kind of option is tantamount to lunacy.
But, as Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick argues forcefully in The Israeli Solution, the entire notion of a Palestinian state has foundered on the facts of Palestinian malfeasance and the reality that the Palestinians do not so much want their own state as the elimination of another. Her book is a long catalog of failed expectations on the part of successive U.S administrations and European governments who have been unable to understand or anticipate the dynamics of the Middle East conflict and continue to walk down a path that has only brought greater violence and hatred to the region.
What if the policy of support for a two state solution, given its abject failure, was dropped and a new plan encouraged? What if, instead of encouraging Palestinian rejectionism and reversion to terrorism by holding out the carrot of statehood, the Israelis took matters into their own hands and resolved the issue by simply annexing Judea and Samaria? It is not a new idea , of course, and has been mooted as the only solution to the conflict by members of the Israeli right for at least two generations. But never has the argument been made in such a rational and dispassionate manner – and the the arguments that Ms. Glick presents are well worth examining.
From Israel’s point of view the extension of Israeli law to the territories is absolutely essential for its future security. Without military control of the Jordan Valley and the Samarian highlands Palestinian terrorists can command the entire Israeli hinterland and can shoot down any incoming plane to Ben Gurion Airport. Any invading army, passing through the undefended roads of the Jordan Valley to Jerusalem would have clear access to Israel’s capital giving its defenders little chance for preparation against assault. The entire Sharon Plain – the locus of the major groupings of the Israeli population, would be open to bombardment.
But this is only one consideration for the sagacity of annexation. The Palestinians themselves would benefit if the kleptocratic, oppressive Palestinian Authority was removed and Israeli governance – with its democratic rights and benefits, could be installed. The counter argument, that Palestinians themselves would never accept living under Israeli rule is dismissed by Glick as a chimera. She provides ample evidence, through opinion polls and the actual migration records among the Palestinians, that they, by a wide majority, actually admire Israeli democracy and envy their Arab cousins who are Israeli citizens. And it is true enough. Repeated polls of East Jerusalem’s Arab population returns consistent preferences to remain governed by Israel rather than by a future Palestinian regime.
The great bugaboo in this argument – the one for which many Israeli leftists and advocates of the two state notion desperately reach when the word ‘annexation’ is mentioned, concerns the demographic time bomb. The argument goes that the growth of the Palestinian population is so great that within a generation in such a unified state it will emerge as no longer the 20% minority but as a 51% majority and would thereby enabled to vote the Jewish state out of existence. To counter this argument Ms. Glick relies on the ground breaking work of the America-Israel Demographic Research Group (AIDRG) which eight years ago smashed the popularly accepted notion that Arabs would soon outnumber Jews in the territory between the Jordan and the Mediterranean. The basis for these negative projections, the AIDRG reports argue, are Palestinian census numbers from the late 90s which were found to be both fabricated and inflated. The Palestinian numbers and projections also did not take account of the drastic drop in the Palestinian birth rate ( 2.0 compared to the Israeli 2. 6), the continued emigration of Palestinians, (departing because of an oppressive Palestinian regime) and the booming prosperity of Israel which has provided an economic climate in which Israeli parents want to have children. All told, the AIDRG claims, there will be a two-thirds Jewish majority, even in the event of an annexation, which will allow Israel to maintain demographic dominance over its territory.
What then of world reaction when and if such an annexation occurs? This would clearly be one of the most troubling results of a would-be incorporation of Judea and Samaria within Israel proper. Ms. Glick also deals deftly with this problem. The surrounding Arab nations, caught up in their own upheavals and battling economic decline, the rise of ISIS and the growing threat of a nuclear Iran would voice protests but would do nothing – either because they are too weak militarily or because they would be glad to be done with the Palestinian problem, which has become as much as a millstone around their necks as it has been a wedge to use against Israel. The United States could well threaten to sanction Israel in the U.N. and withdraw important diplomatic coverage – but only in the short term. The U.S – Israel economic partnership is so strong and formidable and support for Israel in both Congress and among the American people in general so unswerving, that any U.S. administration would have to think twice about the isolation of Israel.
The real problem might come from the Europeans who have staged a decades long diplomatic assault against the Jewish state in an attempt to weaken and delegitimize it. Ms. Glick believes that the Europeans will also come around to seeing the one state solution as the only way forward for the Middle East as they find themselves having to deal forcefully with their own restive Arab populations who refuse to integrate and now seek separation. Tied to Israel economically – and dependent to a certain extent on Israeli technology, Europe won’t be able to afford economic sanctions and in the event they are pushed through, Israel can weather the storm by pivoting from Europe, its second largest trading partner to the growing markets in India and China.
In its overall sanguine and perhaps overly simplistic approach to the matter of annexation, Ms. Glick goes to great lengths to stress that this is not the easiest of paths for Israel to undertake.
Yet what she neglects to address is the vehemence with which the Israeli left – made up of secularists, academics, authors and journalists, will greet such a development. It could be said that there is a greater demand for an independent Palestinian state in the salons and streets of Tel Aviv than there is in Ramallah and that it has become such a sacred cause for this segment of the Israeli population that it rivals Judaism itself as the State religion. To dislodge this cherished article of faith from the breasts of these elites is not as simple as passing legislation one day and moving the IDF in the next. One can imagine massive civil disobedience and internal strife in Israel which could last years. In addition, lets not forget the fallout in other parts of the world. Jewish communities around the world would be attacked and the governments in some places may do little to protect them. The rather ineffective BDS movement would receive an enormous shot of adrenaline with many communities agreeing to target Apartheid Israel – this time outlawing not just Israeli products deriving from Judea and Samaria (aka The West Bank) but from Israel proper;
And the United Nations Security Council ( with the U.S. refusing to apply its veto) will vote, not only to sanction Israel but to officially recognize a State of Palestine between the Jordan River and the 1949 Armistice Lines giving Palestine a seat in the General Assembly. All of which will amount to a greater degree of isolation and the designation of ‘pariah state’ than the Jewish state has ever known before.
One might also ask questions about the threat of military force. The author glosses over this possibility in her discussion of possible European responses, but she forgets about the formidable Turkish army and navy and its previous attempts, working behind the scenes, to break the blockade of Gaza in 2010 during the Mavi Mamara episode. Is it possible that Turkey, with European support and backing, could ignite a regional war against Israel which would draw the Jewish state into a protracted international military conflict that could rapidly spread?
These rather dramatic events, given what we have witnessed just this year in the world reaction to the Gaza War (which was only, we should remember, a limited military engagement of self- defense, and not an outright annexation) should inspire pause.
The word ‘solution’ connotes the idea of permanence – that the actions Israel undertakes in extending Israeli law to the territories will ultimately lead to an end of the Arab- Israel conflict and the imposition of a lasting, if grudging, peace. But this is not at all clear. Ms. Glick fails to recognize, (at least in her book – although she has done it elsewhere) that the Arab-Israeli conflict is not truly about territory, but is a religious and cultural war, driven by the twin Muslim beliefs that Jews are dhimmis who do not deserve the status of statehood in a traditional Muslim neighborhood and that the continued existence of such a state is a stain on national honor and identity that can only be redressed by the elimination of the State of Israel.
Given these enduring beliefs, such an intractable problem as the Arab-Israeli conflict may defy a permanent solution. Arab governments will never surrender their enmity to Israel because, as Ms. Glick should know, Arab enmity to Israel is both useful and religiously sanctioned. The whirlwind of hatred that has spun out of the Middle East because of this enmity will not abate and will most likely only intensify following annexation, sweeping up in its vortex the latent antisemitism of Europe and the adversity of other world governments to create a gale of resistance unlike any Israel has ever encountered.
Israeli statesmen for the past 67 years have been aware that international isolation is always the price that might be paid for taking matters into their own hands. Most often that isolation has only lasted weeks or months – as was the case when the Begin Government authorized the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osirak in 1981. But the risks of unilateral action on Israel’s part are real and cannot be taken lightly nor ignored.
What we may be left with is an intractable problem that even with annexation cannot be solved but only managed. Whether the annexation of Judea and Samaria could help manage the problem or else exacerbate it is a question that is difficult to accurately predict. While there remain excellent moral, political and historical reasons for Israel to extend Israeli law to the territories, there are just as good countervailing arguments against it. Any responsible Israeli government must weigh these considerations very carefully before committing itself to a course which could prove as disastrous as it proves providential.