Friday, March 1, 2013

The Impossibility of a Two-State Israel-Palestine Solution

The Internet is full of well-intentioned ideas for peace in the Middle East, specifically a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  Most of these ideas are garbage.  This conflict is as old as the earliest settlements in the Levant.  It will continue until one party is no longer able or willing to continue the conflict and the remaining party is a viable nation-state.  

The most promising chance for peace in the modern era was the Faisal-Weizmann Agreement of 1919.  The end of WWI allowed a window of opportunity for wise Arab leaders to acquiesce to a Jewish state in Palestine, in exchange for Jewish help in developing their economies.  The borders of the proposed Jewish homeland were contiguous with all of what are today called "occupied" Palestinian territories.  The entirety of this territory gives a single state strategic depth and is defensible.  The meddling of Great Powers's Sykes-Picot Agreement ruined what would have been a comprehensive peace.  Meddling continued with the UN Partition Plan for Palestine in 1947, with borders so ludicrous that no one in their right mind could accept them.  Palestine's borders are just as ludicrous today, with the Gaza Strip and West Bank obviously indefensible and impossible to sustain economically.  

Palestinians have never been fully accepted by other Arabs, who view them with disdain as interlopers with little legitimate claim to territory.  Their inability to assimilate into Israeli civilization is not Israel's fault; indeed, many Arabs have succeeded as Israeli citizens and have been elected to the Israeli Knesset.  Arab Israelis retain their Muslim religious affiliation and have served honorably in the Israeli military.  Their kinship with Palestinians has not prevented them assimilating into Israeli society.  They have found peace in their own way.  Many other Arabs and Israelis work for peace in their own ways, despite radical Muslims who reject Israel's right to exist.

The international narrative advocating some kind of two-state solution is a curiosity.  Its persistence attests to the deep pockets of its sponsors, specifically the petroleum-producing Arab states, and the ready audience among naive advocates in the NGO and diplomatic communities.  I would like a two-state advocate to explain who will defend the Golan Heights from a corps-strength Arab armored assault.  

I am not aware of any instance in recorded history where two different civilizations simultaneously occupied the same piece of real estate without one eventually driving out the other.  A humane solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would begin with recognition of Israel's de facto strategic supremacy in the contested territories.  This provides the policy basis for eventual acceptance of Israel's de jure sovereignty over all of Palestine.  Assimilation of Palestinians into Israeli society will not be easy but Israeli Arabs are a living model of success.  The alternative to assimilation is expulsion and resettlement, an eventuality that Transjordan (now the Kingdom of Jordan) was expected to accept.  Under international law, a conquering state can resettle unassimilated foreigners.  This was done peacefully after WWII in numerous instances.  Italy yielded some of its Trieste territory to Yugoslavia after WWII (finalized by the Treaty of Osimo) and many Italians in Istria were forced to migrate to Italy proper.  

The state of Israel and the Palestinian diaspora are two incompatible civilizations.  The untenable status quo puts a non-viable proto-state of Palestinians in the midst of a viable Israeli democracy.  This subjects the Palestinian people to the endless manipulation of outside powers, specifically radical Islamic governments and movements that view them as permanent dependents.  This is a tragedy for the Palestinian people that a two-state solution will perpetuate.  The stronger civilization at this moment in history is clearly Israel.  It is a democratic, multi-ethnic, technologically advanced society that has been a bulwark of American security interests in the Middle East for most of its modern history.  The United States would do well to align its interests with those of Israel, the ultimate guarantor of its own Arab citizens' security.