Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Two-state problem

Danny Danon, who is now Deputy Defense Minister, caused a stir last week when he stated publicly that he and many of his colleagues in the Government coalition do not support a "two-state solution."  This is contrary to official Israeli Government policy and to the stated aims of PM Bibi Netanyahu, since his speech at Bar Ilan University just after taking office in his previous term in 2009, when he embraced the conventional wisdom that a "two-state solution" is the key to peace with the Palestinians. 
There are many who have questioned Netanyahu's sincerity in accepting this approach, and many think that like Ben Gurion when he accepted the UN Partition Plan in 1948, but privately admitted that he depended on the Arab's rejecting it, Netanyahu also is banking on the Arabs avoiding the two-state solution at all costs.  There are several reasons for this, first no Palestinian leader wants to go down in history as the one who finally accepted the existence of Israel as a Jewish State in Palestine, and second to do so will be an almost instant invitation for assassination. 
There are other factors, Pres. Obama in the beginning of his first term pressured Israel to institute a freeze on all construction on the West Bank, but although Netanyahu did impose such a freeze for 10 months, Pres. Abbas still refused to negotiate. Since then, after the freeze expired, Abbas has made the re-institution of a freeze a pre-condition to any negotiations.  He has also added acceptance by Israel of the pre-June 1967 borders (actually ceasefire lines) and the return of the so-called Palestinian "refugees" to Israel as further pre-conditions to negotiations.  If Israel accepted his terms then what would there be to talk about.  He knows that it is impossible for Israel to accept these preconditions, not only because the pre-1967 ceasefire lines are null and void, but Israel has made it an integral part of the two-state solution that Palestinian refugees must return to the putative Palestinian State and not to Israel.  It would be tantamount to commiting national suicide for Israel to accept these so-called refugees, who are not actually refugees but the descendents of refugees, who do not themselves have any legal right of return.
It is not surprising that some of the more right-wing members of Likud and Israeli Beitanu, as well as Bayit Yehudi, would reject the two-state solution, since the PA's policy was and remains the replacement of the Jewish State by a Palestinian State.  Also, for good reasons they do not trust any Palestinian entity to remain peaceful and not to become a spring board for terrorist attacks against Israel.  If the Palestinians returned to negotiations, sincerely wished to make peace with Israel and stopped all violent attacks, then Netanyahu might need to persuade his coalition partners that he is right, but until then the whole question is moot.


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