Both the New York Times and the Washington Post feature long pieces today on the apparent demise of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. And who can deny it? Following the collapse of Secretary of State John Kerry's ill-conceived mission, it is impossible to imagine anyone even trying to resuscitate it anytime soon. Unfortunately, it will likely take some unforeseen event (probably a catastrophic one) to revive it -- until after a few weeks or months, it collapses again.
The American media is coming closer than ever before to reporting that it was Prime Minister Netanyahu and his coalition of rightists and religious fanatics who shot the dove dead. In the rest of the world (including in much of Israel itself) there is no hesitation about stating this simple fact: so long as Israel continues to build and expand settlements there is no chance of achieving peace.
The idea that anyone can even argue about that fact is ridiculous and as uniquely American as climate change denial. In the rest of the world (let alone the science community) the idea that climate change is manmade is an indisputable fact, with its evidence all around us.
But not here. As is the case with support for Netanyahu's policies, climate change denial is an acceptable position in America because a powerful lobby made up of millionaires and billionaires (led by the Koch Brothers) insist on it.
Just as it is common in the United States to hear right-wingers claim that "the science isn't in" on climate change (when it has been for 40 years), it is common to hear right-wingers (and fellow travelers) here claim that both sides are responsible for the collapse of the peace process. Or even, incredibly, just the Palestinians.
That is ridiculous on its face. It might be true if Palestinians were occupying Israeli land and refused to stop building on it. But the opposite is the case. Israel today controls 100 percent of historic Palestine and the Palestinians control not a single acre. Israel's 100 percent consists of both the State of Israel and the West Bank. Additionally it controls Gaza by controlling its air space, land entries and exits, and sea ports. The Palestinians control nothing.
Yes, "everyone" knows this but it bears repeating.
The entire conflict in 2014 comes down to the Palestinians' determination to achieve statehood in the 22 percent of historic Palestine consisting of the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza.The PLO conceded the 78 percent that is the State of Israel by signing the Oslo agreement in 1993 and the Arab League Initiative in 2002 and again in 2007. The Palestinians have never reneged on recognition of the State of Israel.
Even Hamas has indicated that although it favors a Palestinian state in all of historic Palestine, it would follow the lead of the PLO if a two-state agreement could be reached.
And what would Israel get in exchange for giving up territory that is not rightfully theirs?
In exchange for yielding the occupied 22 percent, Israel would get security arrangements (guaranteed by the United States) that would guard it against any attack from outside its borders. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has been working with both the Israelis and the United States to defend Israel from violence for a decade now and not even Netanyahu denies that it has succeeded. Bring Hamas into that arrangement, which will likely happen if Palestinian unity is achieved, and Israel will have the security which it claims as its goal. To a large extent, Israel already has it anyway, a result of both the success of the security wall and Israeli-PA security cooperation.
It is hard to imagine a better deal for Israel than guaranteed security and full sovereignty in 78 percent of historic Palestine. After all, a hundred years ago, Arabs owned 100 percent of the land and Israel (Jews) controlled none. How can anyone call 78 percent a bad deal for Israel?
Nonetheless, it is highly unlikely that this obvious solution will ever be implemented? Not so long as Israel refuses to commit to ending the occupation.
As for the one state alternative (touted by much of the BDS movement and opponents of Jewish sovereignty in any part of Palestine), its prospects are even worse. After all, if the Israeli government is unwilling to yield 22 percent. how likely is it that it will yield 100 percent?
And yielding 100 percent is precisely what the one-state vision means. It means one state composed of Israelis and Palestinians in which sovereignty would be shared. That may be a lovely idea in theory but in reality it would mean that Jews would not even have full sovereignty in Tel Aviv. In other words, we would be back to the 1940s when there was not a single spot on earth (including Palestine) to which Jews could flee for their lives. The idea that Israelis would ever accept that (given their determination to hold on to the West Bank) is tantamount to believing that if you are denied one cookie you should demand two.
One staters may believe that their vision can be achieved without Israel's agreement by, I don't know, boycotting it to death. Can they really believe that the 10th strongest military power in the world, armed with 200 nuclear weapons, populated by seven million fierce patriots and supported by the not completely powerless worldwide Jewish community (and the United States government) is going to simply go out of business? No, they can't. But that is most decidedly their dream.
The good news is that the Jewish State of Israel is here to stay. The bad news is that, unless something changes, it will never have real security and will increasingly become an international pariah. Even worse, the Palestinian people will continue to be denied both their state and their basic human rights by Israel, and those in the United States who use campaign contributions to ensure that the United States never strays from its role as defender of whatever the fat cats want.
At one time it was possible to say that the status quo is in Israel's favor. Or that it is in the Palestinians'. No more. The status quo is clearly on the side of the worst elements on both sides whose idea of peace for their side is the peace of the grave for the other.
Meanwhile, watch this whole issue recede from view, another victory for all who think the current situation is just fine.