For some weeks now, commentators have been telling us that if only Israel agrees to accept the US position regarding the two-state solution, it would be possible to progress quickly and secure a final-status agreement.
This hypothesis is premised on seven assumptions, all of which are false. Had the US administration undertaken a real assessment and examined the fundamental assumptions underlining the solution, it may have reached different conclusions.
So what are the seven false assumptions?
1. “Establishing a Palestinian state in line with the 1967 borders is the essence of the Palestinians’ national aspiration.” It is true that the Palestinians wish to get rid of the Israeli occupation, yet a small and divided state whose establishment would force them to agree to end the conflict and their demands is the Palestinians’ nightmare, rather than their national aspiration. They could have secured such state three times in the past (in 1937, 1947, and 2000,) yet three times they rejected the offer with horror. What is the basis for assuming that the Palestinian ethos, which is premised on a “desire for justice,” need for revenge,” recognition of their victimhood, and mostly the “right of return” has changed all of a sudden?
2. “The gap between the Israeli and Palestinian positions is bridgeable.” Reality is different. The maximum an Israeli government (any Israeli government) can offer the Palestinians and still survive politically is far from the minimum that a Palestinian government (any Palestinian government) would be able to accept and survive politically.
3. “Egypt and Jordan want to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved, and therefore they will be a contributing factor.” Reality is the different: Both Egypt and Jordan prefer the status quo to continue, whereby the conflict continues and they can continue to blame Israel. As long as the conflict exists, Egypt has the ultimate excuse for all domestic and regional troubles. Meanwhile, for the Jordanians, a neighboring Palestinian state - likely under Hamas’ rule - would mark the end of the Hashemite Kingdom.
4. “A final-status agreement would bring stability and security to the region.” The exact opposite is true. There is no chance that the small and divided Palestinian state would be viable. The frustration to be created by such situation (certainly in Gaza,) with Israel being stripped of “defensible borders, is an obvious foundation for instability.
5. “At this time we have an opportunity that must not be missed.” If we compare the situation that prevails today to the situation that prevailed in 2000, we reach the clear conclusion that the chance of securing an agreement back then was much greater than it is currently, yet it didn’t happen. Is it possible at this time to reach an agreement in Judea and Samaria, not to mention Gaza, when Hamas is the dominant Palestinian movement?
6. Progress on the Palestinian front is vital in order to enlist the support of Arab states against Iran.” How are these two issues related? Arab states (such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia) have a supreme interest in curbing Iran, irrespective of the Palestinian issue.
7. “There’s only one solution to the conflict.” What is this assumption based on? When was a thorough examination that looked into the range of possibilities been undertaken last, here or in the US? Alternate solutions, whereby the Palestinian are no longer under Israel’s control, can be presented easily.
Regrettably, and irrespective of the manner in which the American assessment was undertaken, the Obama administration’s conclusions are clear-cut. The chances of securing a final-status agreement on the basis of the two-state formula and implementing it successfully are not much greater than the prospects in 1993 (Oslo,) 2000 (Camp David,) and 2007 (Annapolis.)
We should hope that the almost assured failure would not have negative ramifications on other fronts, such as the effort to curb Iran or Israel-US ties.