Changing the paradigm

By Moshe Arens, Haaretz

Changing a paradigm may be as difficult as abandoning a deeply ingrained conception, but sometimes that is just what is needed. The time has come to reexamine the paradigm of “two states for two peoples” – Israel, and a Palestinian State in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

This model for the resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, first promoted by the far left, the admirers of Yasser Arafat and the advocates of “peace now,” has made gradual inroads into the minds of most Israelis, and has been embraced by those who in the past were its most vocal opponents, like Ariel Sharon. It is now looked upon as axiomatic by Israelis, as well as by most foreign observers. U.S. President George Bush’s road map, enthusiastically accepted by Sharon’s government, and now religiously followed by Tzipi Livni, is an elaboration of this paradigm. By now it has become a holy cow that you touch at your peril.

Underlying the paradigm is the assumption that in what used to be the British Mandatory territory west of the Jordan river live two nations – Jews and Palestinians – each entitled to establish a nation-state in order to attain self-determination in part of this territory. The Jews having already done so, it is now only proper that the Palestinians will do the same. If this has not occurred as yet, it nevertheless is bound to happen sooner or later, and there is no use resisting the inevitable. On the contrary, every effort must be made to further this process. According to Livni, the establishment of a Palestinian nation-state west of the Jordan River has become one of Israel’s national goals.

It is convenient to assume that within the boundaries drawn by Messrs. Sykes and Picot during World War I, live different nations – the Iraqi nation, the Syrian nation, the Jordanian nation and, of course, the Palestinian nation since Churchill separated what used to be Transjordan from the rest of Mandatory Palestine in 1922. These nations certainly did not come into being instantaneously at the conclusion of World War I, but are assumed to have developed a national identity in the intervening close to 90 years. As for the Iraqi nation, this has been called into question by recent events there. Who knows about the Syrian nation, and the Jordanian nation, composed of more than 60 percent Palestinians? It is just the Palestinians that more than the others seem to have developed a national identity since 1948, displaced by the creation of Israel from a good part of their natural habitat, abandoned by their Arab allies, having to rely on themselves for the achievement of their goals.

Did the Palestinians west of the Jordan river see themselves as part of the Jordanian nation while Judea and Samaria were annexed to Jordan and awarded Jordanian citizenship during the period 1949-1967? Would return of Jordanian sovereignty to Judea and Samaria satisfy their feelings of national identity? At the present these are strictly hypothetical questions, because the rulers of Jordan simply do not want that headache; they made that clear 20-plus years ago. For that matter, it is clear that the Egyptians, who invaded Gaza in 1948, stayed there until 1956, and returned after the Israeli withdrawal in 1957, see no reason to take responsibility for Gaza. None of the Arab states are prepared to integrate the Palestinian refugees in their midst. And Israel, which has integrated the Palestinians living in Israel as equal citizens, does not want to integrate additional Palestinians in Judea, Samaria and Gaza as citizens of Israel. The sad fact is that nobody wants the Palestinians.

Does that mean that the establishment of a Palestinian state is the only solution? That Gaza must be linked to Judea and Samaria? What may have seemed obvious until recently has been called into question by the recent violence in Gaza. Had the Palestinians only shown that they are capable of governing themselves, of suppressing terrorism, so essential an element of national governance in the Middle East, of abiding by agreements signed by their leaders, the paradigm of two states for two nations might have seemed the appropriate one. But who wishes for a state where violence reigns, and acts of terrorism are encouraged? And who wants such a state as a neighbor? It is all very well to talk of strengthening Mahmoud Abbas in the hope that he well bring stability to the Palestinian territories and suppress terrorism, but is this a realistic outlook? Can he really be expected to take control of Judea and Samaria, and more challenging yet, to wrest control of Gaza from Hamas? As things stand now, it looks like we better start looking for another paradigm.

July 9, 2007 | 3 Comments »

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3 Comments / 3 Comments

  1. Today’s NY Times seriously explores the Jordanian option. They describe a situation in which the “West Bank” Palestinians choose to become part of Jordan in an effort to find a stable living environment. From an Israeli point of view this begs the question of where the border will be between Jordanian Palestine and Israel. It seems to me that it will be difficult for the Israelis to hold onto much of Judea and Samaria if the Jordanians agree to take over administration of the Arabs in these areas. Any Israeli who loses sight of the security risk is crazy. The Jordanians may have something to offer in the way of an address for response but they are not our friends. And then there’s the issue of Gaza. Do we invite Egypt to take over its administration. Somehow I think we’ve been here before.

  2. I have said before that Israel may shift further “right” even as the rest of the world shifts further left. Europe, even with Merkel and Sarkozy still has a left of centre mindset; I can’t imagine them embracing anything but a two state solution.. With Gordon Brown in England there will be more unification there.

    In the US the men who hold the most power on the “right” embrace the two state solution, how much more the left which has gained traction over the lest year or two?

    This is why I say that if the trend continues with Israel going one direction and the world in large going the other, we my see nations unite to pressure Israel in a way far beyond what we see now.

    Nonetheless, Oslo, Camp David, the “Road Map,” etc.. along with any other proposals that seek compromise through capitulation have and will fail. They are unworkable in the current climate of cultural hostility and will be for some time to come. It is vain and hurtful for Israel to continue down this road even if the rest of the world refuses to let go.

    This is why I foresee a possible confrontation in the future as Israelis wise up while the international community remains blind, and willingly blind at that.

  3. This is an important article in two respects.

    First, Moshe Arens has name recognition and credibility. His message that the two state peace paradigm is dead and that a new peace paradigm needs to be found, carries weight.

    Secondly, Ha’aretz an Israeli main stream media venue has joined with Arens to put this message before the Israeli public for them to consider and discuss.

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