EVEN for the most starry-eyed, the news that the Palestinian Authority has rejected direct negotiations with Israel after meeting US envoy George Mitchell would have been a surprise. After all, these guys are supposed to be the moderates. For the hard-nosed realists, it was proof-positive that the Palestinians are still squandering golden opportunities.
You can already hear the excuses — they don’t really mean what they say; Israel hasn’t done enough to address their legitimate grievances; we just need to get the moderates together; we’d like to live in peace so surely they want to also.
The process towards trading land for peace that began in Oslo has failed. Today, still, the widely accepted notion for peace is the two-state solution. Barak and Olmert went that route and were turned down.
The big question is whether this model can actually work.
General Giora Eiland, former director of the National Security Council and former head of the Planning Department of the IDF argues that a permanent solution must be sought, but one based not just on the two-state solution. In discussing regional alternatives to a two-state solution, Eiland writes, “It is hard to believe that the diplomatic effort that failed in 2000 can succeed in 2010, when most of the elements in the equation have changed for the worse.”
What is he referring to?
Abdallah Jarbu, Hamas’ Deputy Minister of Religion has called Jews a “foreign bacteria: a microbe unparalleled in the world”. And: ” I condemn whoever believes in normalising relations with Israelis … They are not human beings. They are not people.”
How is pint-sized Israel usually rewarded when it concedes land? In 2000 it withdraw from its security corridor in Southern Lebanon and Hezbollah moved in, turning it into a launching pad for a deadly missile campaign. In 2005, it pulled out of Gaza and Hamas seized control and lobbed more than 10,000 missiles into Israeli towns, killed and kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
A two-state model can only work if the other side doesn’t want to destroy you. The Hamas charter declares that every inch of Israel should not be given up since it is an “Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Muslim generations until Judgement Day … There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad.” Hamas doesn’t recognise Israel’s right to exist on religious grounds. So unless they violate their theological principles, they cannot sign up to a two-state framework.
state carved into Israel’s
back is a card that
cannot be unplayed.
Is locking together two states in a tiny territory a ticking time bomb? Are the Palestinians prepared to “go all the way” in forging a new relationship with Israel, or are they intent on merely pocketing territorial gains and then going back to the devastating mentality of violence. ¬†People who are 13,711 kilometres away expect Israel to have an unpredictable genie unleashed on it just on faith.
The prospect of a full Palestinian state smack between Israel and Jordan is seen by many as a huge risk. Defence experts say Israel must not relinquish military control over the West Bank because it has too many vital interests there, including the aquifer thath gives Israel 40 per cent of its water. Others point out that it would leave the country too narrow to defend, just 15 kilometres from the border to Tel Aviv.
Any agreements with Fatah will be written on sand because nothing will prevent Hamas from orchestrating another military coup in the West Bank. A Hamas-dominated state carved into Israel’s back is a card that cannot be unplayed.
The trouble with conceding strategically significant land for assurances of peace is that while Israel yields something tangible, it only gets promises that may prove to be lies. After all: For how long will a Palestinian state accept restrictions on its sovereignty? As Jonathan Rosenblum notes: “Conditions placed on a Palestinian state would not be worth the paper they are written on. The world does not recognise such a thing as conditional sovereignty. No matter how egregious the treaty violations of the state of Palestine, no country in
the world … would withdraw
A sovereign state has the right to enact laws as it sees fit, can control its own borders, is free to invite foreign “military advisers” from Al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Hezbollah, sign defence agreements with Iran and Syria, eliminate Israel’s early warning radar stations on the ridge of the West Bank mountain range and its own air space, thus reducing Israel’s air space to that of a mere 15 kilometres between Israel’s most dense population centres and the sea. Nothing would stop a Palestinian state next door to Tel Aviv, stockpiling an arsenal of poison gas and chemical and biological weapons.
Liam Fox, the British Secretary of Defence was told by Iranian politicians that Hamas and Hezbollah are “part of our defence policy against Israel … Hamas is not part of the Palestinian problem. Hamas is the foreign policy wing of Iran in Israel.”
Although the world is pushing for the quick establishment of a Palestinian state, if rocket attacks or worse take place, it will be Israeli soldiers who will have to risk their lives to stop the attacks. No-one else.
Dvir Abramovitch, the Jan Randa lecturer in Hebrew-Jewish Studies, is director of the Centre for Jewish History and Culture at the University of Melbourne.