Home inSight The Opposite of a Two-State Solution Is Not One State

The Opposite of a Two-State Solution Is Not One State

Shoshana Bryen
SOURCEAmerican Thinker
U.S. President Bill Clinton watches as Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Rabin (left) and Jordanian prime minister Abdel-Salam Majali King Hussein of Jordan sign the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty in October 1994. (Photo: Thomas Hartwell)

The so-called “two-state solution,” to subdivide the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea between independent Israel and independent Palestine, fails the tests of logic and history. And it ignores the Kingdom of Jordan – whose participation is required for any stable, long-term arrangement.

There are presently three “states,” or at least three governments, west of the Jordan: Israel, the Palestinian Authority (PA), and Gaza. Pro-Israel “two-staters” think Gaza and the West Bank territory should become one state with Israel as the other, assuming-for-no-reason that it is Hamas that will disappear. Hamas vociferously disagrees. Assuming-for-no-reason that a single PA-governed state does emerge in both places, Israel would be left divided north from south by a corridor across the country so Palestinians could access both parts of their state. Arab armies tried multiple times to sever Israel’s waist in pursuit of conquest — this would have Israel do it for them.

The Palestinians — at best — would have a split rump state squeezed between a hostile Israel and a more hostile Jordan. But the only thing Hamas and the PA appear to agree on is that the State of Israel is the one that has to do the disappearing. They believe the establishment of Israel in 1948 was a mistake by the international community that needs to be rectified. Hamas believes it should be through violence and bloodshed; the PA would negotiate Israel away through the “right of return.” A nasty Hamas-Fatah civil war in 2007 was never concluded, and the PA government rightly fears Hamas more than it does Israel — in fact, the IDF and Shabak (Israel’s internal security agency) are what keep the PA in power.

Okay, say the pro-Israel “two-staters,” then make the deal between Israel and a West Bank “Palestine” now and leave Gaza for some future time. In that case, Israel would be left with a vicious, bloody, anti-Semitic, Iranian-supported enclave on its coast, unreconciled either to Israel or “Palestine.”

This is in addition to the not-minor problem that the PA functions only as a failed state living on American, EU, and UN handouts. The January 2017 statement by countries convened in France, ostensibly to promote the “peace process,” noted that despite billions in aid and services over the past 23 years, the PA cannot deliver services, has no infrastructure or viable economy, and has no civil society. Unmentioned is the ongoing Palestinian civil war. To bestow independence on such an entity is to birth another South Sudan.

No one’s aspirations then, legitimate and peaceful or not, are met by a declaration of Palestinian independence. Currently there is a stalemate, but, in fact, there could be two routes to progress.

First, recognition that the “Palestinian-Israeli conflict” is the narrowest definition of the Arab-Israel conflict that began before Israel’s independence and never has completely been concluded. Peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan do help, but other Arab states that declared war on Israel in 1948 and 1967 (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Algeria, and Syria) have not accepted their obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 242. They are still required to provide Israel, “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

Demonstrable Arab acceptance of 242 would allow the Gulf and North African States to enter into proper relations with Israel, and give Israel more flexibility in its negotiations with the Palestinians. It would also establish the principle of Israel’s permanence and legitimacy for the Palestinians.

Second, following Arab acceptance of Israel, Jordan could be brought into the process. The kingdom conquered (1949) and illegally annexed (1950) the West Bank and the Jordanian Parliament made West Bank Palestinians citizens. But annexation was unworkable in the long run because it ignored Jordanian history and demographics. The founding of the PLO in 1964 with the intention of “liberating Palestine” was aimed as much at Jordan, ruled by a minority Hashemite King, as it was Israel — and Jordan was thought to be easier. From 1967 – 1970, Palestinian terror groups grew in Jordan, establishing their own infrastructure at the expense of the king’s rule. Bloody Black September saw the king strike back, killing thousands and expelling thousands more in a war that continued through 1973. In 1985, Jordan and the PLO signed an agreement that King Hussein repudiated in 1986, at which point he intended to create aJordanian-Palestinian-Israeli confederation that would allow a Jordan-Israel agreement and keep Israel involved in the security of the territory.

In July 1988, Hussein renounced his claim to the territory and its people under threat from the PLO. He stopped paying 20,000 West Bank civil servants and slyly called Yitzhak Rabin “Jordan’s defense minister for the West Bank,” offloading the problem.

The 1994 Jordan-Israel peace treaty explicitly limits Israeli-Palestinian negotiations to west of the Jordan River — erasing without penalty Jordan’s 1948 aggression, 1950 illegal annexation, and 1988 abandonment of Palestinians who had been citizens for nearly 40 years.  It is time to reconsider, for Jordan’s benefit as well as others.

The arrangement that might have the best chance of working for America’s two regional allies — Israel and Jordan — is King Hussein’s old confederation. The Palestinians would have to live with something less than independence (independence is not part of the Oslo Accords), but could have political and economic benefits they do not now possess. And if Gaza has to remain on the outside, West Bank Palestinians will have more security than they now have.

It is not time to push for a confederated solution – or any solution – and it is unlikely the Arab states will soon come forward and meet their obligations under Resolution 242. But broader thinking is more likely to produce results than the illusory “two state solution,” and in fact, leaves two states – Israel and Jordan – where two were intended to be.

  • Peter Gardner

    We already had a two state solution that avoided splitting the Arab part: Palestine and Transjordan. Since nothing has worked since 1947, should not someone trace back through the various proposals, decisions, treaties, right to the origins in Balfour, Sykes-Picot and McMahon to see if there is any point at which the path of continual failure could more easily have been avoided, than today, had one principle either been avoided or adopted. Suppose, for example, Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza, in Israel itself and those with legal titles to property in these territories, were given a simple choice of citizenship: Jordanian or Israeli? On that basis, decisions could then be made on conditions of residence, permanent or temporary, and sovereignty of territory. Consideration could be given to dual citizenship on an individual basis according to carefully judged criteria – as, for example Australia does for established foreign residents.
    The Balfour Declaration carefully avoided attempting to define the boundaries of the territory of the homeland (it also avoided the term ‘state’) for the Jews and the principle of settling the borders through negotiation has been maintained since. Making the West Bank and Gaza autonomous regions within the State of Israel, which I understand would actually be preferred by a surprising number of Arabs, if ever allowed to express a view in confidence, is an obvious solution at least on a temporary basis while people decided whether to live in Jordan or Israel.
    I have assumed thus far there is sufficient goodwill to make such a solution feasible, a real possibility. At this point, it becomes apparent that an enduring problem is the concept of a Palestinian nation state. There never was one. There was no Palestinian state or administration by that name under the Ottomans. It was not even part of the Arab Nationalist movement. It was the name chosen for the British Mandate by Weizmann by reference to the Bible and readily agreed by the allies following WW1.
    Except for one other enduring problem: the concepts of a a national home for the Jews, and a State of Israel are both unacceptable to many Arabs and Muslims.
    In the modern world that belief is repugnant and unacceptable. It should not be tolerated nor accorded any weight in serious discussions or negotiations. The right to self-determination by all peoples was a founding principle of the League of Nations and then of the United Nations. It has been decided. Now it must be enforced. By whom? The UN is rapidly becoming unfit for purpose so alternative vehicles are required.
    Whatever method of enforcement, and whoever or whatever does it must be prepared to use all means to neutralise opposition and at the same time be sensitive to and respectful of the choices of citizenship to be made. Those wishing to shift to a new domicile must be helped and protected in making the transition, likewise those wishing to remain but as foreign nationals must respect the requirements of the host country, Israel or Jordan.
    It seems to me Hamas and the PA are unsuited to this process. It seems to me that only Israel and Jordan, if they would agree to work together, could provide the necessary enforcement and facilitation with minimum violence. If there are good people within the PA and Hamas (!) willing to assist as individuals or perhaps in official roles under the Israeli or Jordanian governments, it would be beneficial but it would be difficult to achieve their conversion to such roles. Otherwise, the PA and Hamas must be dissolved and their members must make the same choice of citizenship as private individuals.
    I have yet to mention Jerusalem. The original proposal of an international administration is probably no longer appropriate. In a world of modern nation states, and the fact of the centre of Islam, Mecca, being in such a state, the only sensible solution is for it to be part of Israel.

  • Beer Baron

    Excellent article, but I doubt it would work. First, Jordan has no more interest under the present king in taking responsibility for the West Bank than his father did. Second, the majority of the population in Jordan is already Palestinian and the demographic imbalance would be worsened by the addition of more than two million Palestinians who have no loyalty to the Hashemites and would like to see Jordan become a Palestinian state. This would destabilize a country now at peace with Israel and threaten Jordan’s pro-Western orientation.