The answer to the question of how to resolve the conflicting claims over Palestine has been to partition Palestine into two states. This assumes, however, that the parties only have a dispute over land, but this has never been the case. The conflict has always had political, religious, historical, geographical and psychological dimensions. The international community’s unwillingness to accept this reality has led to the continued fantasy that a two-state solution is possible. An honest appraisal of the historical record indicates it was never possible for one principal reason, the Palestinians have never been prepared to share any part of the land they claim as their own. This irredentism is based in large measure on the view that Jews have no place in the Islamic world – except as second-class citizens (dhimmis) under Muslim rule. No UN resolution or State Department formula will change this reality and therefore it is time acknowledge the two-state idea as presently conceived is dead.
Before readers pigeonhole me as a right-wing extremist, let me lay my cards on the table. In 1988, I wrote in Commentary that Israel should unilaterally withdraw from the territories. My logic was that Israel could not possibly negotiate more secure borders than it could draw for itself. At the time, the main alternative was the Jordan option; however, this wasn’t actually an alternative since King Hussein had given up his claim to the West Bank. Moreover, I argued that Israel would be better off if a small Palestinian state was established in the West Bank surrounded by two large countries that both had vested interests in preventing the Palestinians from becoming a threat.
Even after the disengagement from Gaza I believed this. It was a minority view, but one held by some serious people like Michael Oren. It is true the evacuation from Gaza did not bring peace, but Israel has proved it can address the threat posed by Hamas. Moreover, Gaza was never going to be annexed to Israel so I still believe Israel is better off without having responsibility for nearly two million Palestinians or the need to keep soldiers in constant danger to protect fewer than 9,000 settlers.
The Gaza experience clearly shifted Israeli public opinion to the right. Today, there is little enthusiasm for territorial concessions to the Palestinians. Even those who believe Israel should withdraw from the West Bank do not believe it can be done so long as there is no evidence the Palestinians are interested in peace and a great deal of evidence ceding the area would lead to the establishment of Hamastan.
For some time, I believed the Palestinian people wanted peace but were denied the opportunity by their leaders. Decades of incitement and educational brainwashing regarding the evils of Jews and Israel have had an impact, however, and now poll after poll has found opposition to peace among Palestinians. The joint poll conducted in June by the Israel Democracy Institute and the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, for …read more