It is vitally important to see things as they are not as we wish them to be or how we need them to appear. A few weeks ago Naftali Bennett spoke, possibly out of school, that Israelis would no longer support the ‘two state solution’ and that it was, effectively, DOA. This created a firestorm of accusations both from the AJC here in the US and from some parts of the Israeli government as well as the media in and out of Israel. There were threats, condemnations, calls of racism of course, and the requisite spin management and ‘walking back of statements’ although to my knowledge Bennett himself hasn’t qualified or modified that statement since.
But what is Bennett saying? Did he say, as some have jumped on, that Israel is going annex all of Yesha? Did he mimic the Arabs reared on the mother’s milk of “one Palestine from the river to the sea”?
No and No.
What he said was that Oslo was over, the Peace ‘process’ is over and there is no purpose in flogging an idea that was stillborn 20 years ago and hasn’t magically come to life to since. He said simply, that Israelis are fed up with pretending there’s anyone on the other side of the table at all. There is not. Not an enemy, not a partner, nothing. No one. He said that the tactic of talking to yourself at the behest of the President of the US or Tony Blair is a dead end. That the so called “Arab Plan” which was concocted by Saudi Arabia in 2002 and pulled off the shelf last month is still the dead letter it always was. He said the details don’t matter because the whole farce is imaginary.
But what is this mythical beast? A two state solution is the end result of hammering out the terms of separating the Arabs and the Israelis from one another. It is not and was never a statement of what or how the Israelis were going to create a national identity FOR the Arabs. No amount of concessions is going to do that. A ‘two state’ solution is the condition where the Arabs do whatever it is they do over there and they don’t muck with anyone else. And the Israelis pull up the drawbridges and do the same. This is the basic nature of countries. We do our thing and you do yours. Where we have something to do with one another is generally in the areas of trade and treaties. “Two-states” assumes that a permanent state of war doesn’t exist between the two states.
But let’s sweep aside all the blather about Abu Mazen’s pre-conditions. Let’s look for example at the Israeli PoV suggested that ‘peace’ is preferable to whatever this is because it would afford a ‘peace dividend’ to Israel which could then be used for some other domestic purpose. The left we imagine expects the peace dividend to take the form of cash gifts to the Arabs. But most Israelis, if current polling is to be believed don’t believe that a ‘two-state’ would result in a sufficient reduction of Arab terrorism to take advantage of that peace dividend. Israelis would be pressed back to the 1949 Armistice Lines AND have to defend themselves just as they do today. In fact it would cost a great deal more to accommodate the exodus of all the Jews in Yesha who would have to be evacuated since Abu Mazen and every single Arab leader since forever has stated categorically that the #1 or #2 requirement of any ‘palestinian’ state is complete ethnic cleansing of all Jews.
The very idea is absurd. Does anyone see the silliness of John Kerry coming to Israel and meeting with everyone EXCEPT their elected leaders? He visits Abu Mazen, Shimon Peres, and Livni, not Netanyahu or one from Israel either in a leadership role or a position of bargaining. And Bennett got TWICE the votes of Livni in the last election.
This is why the two-state has always been a dead letter. It relies on two people’s two governments that function to some goal. It doesn’t even have to be the same goal – just some direction at all. After 20 years of nothing most Israelis have come to the conclusion that there’s no Arab goal and no one to implement one if it were handed to them. They turned down three offers of statehood. Fair enough, now they can figure out whatever they can to do whatever they want in terms of their own future.
On June 21, Naftali gave an interview with Lally Weymouth of WaPo where he touches on these points and more.
You can debate the merits and efficacy of annexing all of Area C, 60% of Yesha, as he proposes. Or you can look at it, as I do as a starting point to an annexation of perhaps no more than 8-10% of Yesha plus East Jerusalem. Or you can come up with your own plan. Here’s one that proposes annexation of all of Yesha:
In any case it doesn’t matter what the Arabs think. We know what they think. They think ‘no’. Whatever it is, whatever you say whenever you say it. Doesn’t matter. “No”.
The idea of ‘peace’ and the idea of a ‘solution’ have been inextricably linked for decades where the result has been neither of those things. Like Hank Hill (KotH) telling a Christian Rocker “You’re not making Christianity any better and you’re making rock and roll worse”. The time has come to end all of that. If ‘peace’ and a ‘solution’ are ineffable together then they might as well be ineffable separated from one another. Tackle them separately, or don’t tackle either one – not in any way that requires talking to anyone else. The peace process was never more than a force fit that suggested if you talk about talking about talking about these ineffable things long enough, someone will eventually get so tired of hearing it they’ll cave. It’s half-right. Everyone is sick of hearing it and they’re not going to cave. They’re just going to stop pretending.
In Lionel Shriver’s book “We Need to Talk About Kevin”, a mother blinded to her own son’s sociopathy ignores what he does TO HER and others until he massacres his entire school. At the end, Kevin’s asked why he did it and he answers, honestly, that he doesn’t know why. As if that would matter now. It’s a story about denial, about sticking your head in the sand. It’s a dark joke where the ending is a punchline spoken by God Himself to a man who drowns in a flood waiting for God to miraculously save him, and it goes something like “Hey! I sent two boats and a helicopter, what other miracles did you expect?”