Friday, May 01, 2009

A Two State Solution Is The Only Solution For Israel

Stephen Walt of Foreign Policy magazine lays out the case simply. The only way Israel can continue to exist is the two-state solution: Israel right beside a Palestinian state. Anything less, and Israel risks becoming a country much like South Africa, willfully subjugating a group of people in order to maintain power.

There is concern that Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, does not want a two-state solution. After all, he's one of Israel's most prominent right-wing hawks. But Walt's article points out that an Israel divided into Israelis and Arabs cannot stand. The only way Israel can remain a Jewish nation is if the majority of its people remain Jewish. And the only way to do that, outside of Nazi-like relocation or genocide, is to cut off the parts of Israel which aren't Jewish, and let those parts form a Palestinian state. Two states, side by side, or no Israel at all.

So if a two-state solution is inevitable, assuming the leaders in Israel want to maintain the Jewish state, then all efforts must be made now to make it happen. For years this has been cast as the Palestinian fight-- they're the ones "fighting for freedom." But perhaps it is Israel, and Jews everywhere, that should be fighting for a Palestian state.

It's a radical idea-- that Jews should help the Palestinians. But perhaps its the only idea that makes sense. The Arab countries have paid lip service to the Palestinian cause. With all their money from oil, they'd rather build show cities like Dubai than build roads in Palestine. Jews have been generous to Israel, but perhaps their aid is misplaced. As my guide on my Israel trip said: "Israel doesn't need money. It needs Jews." And while I'm sure he didn't mean "give your money to the Palestinians," maybe that's where aid should focus-- to hasten the day when handing the keys of the West Bank and Gaza Strip to Palestine won't be an unmitigated disaster.

After all, a healthy, stable Palestinian state is in Israel's best interests. And if that state owes a debt of gratitude to Israeli and Jewish outreach, it's less inclined to act violently against the remaining land of Israel.

We can be cynics, and say that the Palestinians will use their own country as a staging ground to "finish the job" and destroy Israel forever(if you've ever been to Israel, you know how tenuous a strip of land the remaining Jewish state would encompass). Certainly the Gazans have shown what happens when Israel leaves and the crazier parts of the Palestinian cause take over. But its clear that Israel can't continue to be an occupying force, no matter how benevolent it tries to be. At some point, a Palestinian state has to be created... and it might as well be created on firm ground, on favorable terms, by an act of Israeli generosity.

Perhaps instead of putting the nation's energies towards expanding already thin Jewish settlements into hostile territories, Israel should implore the world to contribute to building a stable nation of Palestine. Ask the Arab countries first. Lets see if they put their money where their mouth is. Once the proper infrastructure is built, then Israel can begin the troublesome, more difficult task of making a peaceful transition of power.

Unrealistic? One needs only to look at the Balkans, once torn by hatred between ethic groups, which now has achieved a measure of stability. Separate ethnically-based nations can be carved out of one mixed bag, but it can't be a haphazard job. Palestine isn't nearly developed enough to stand on its own yet. The economic state of the Palestinians must be improved before they can be trusted to make decisions based on the common good, and not age old grudges. And it will take commitment from the people who have the most to lose--the Jews-- to make it happen.

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