by Dan Illouz
Hat tip: Dr. Jean-Charles Bensoussan
Israel and its friends should immediately take a good look at all the possible alternatives to the two-state solution, and discuss what it would like to see implemented regarding the conflict.
This past week in Israeli politics will be remembered as the week in which the two-state solution died.
The week started with the Labor Party convention, during which the party officially endorsed a proposed change in policy suggested by its leader, MK Isaac Herzog. The proposal suggested that the party platform recognize the fact that the two-state solution is not feasible in the near future. While the Labor Party still believes in the two-state solution, it does not call for its immediate implementation anymore. When the leading left-wing party in Israeli politics refuses to see the two-state solution as an immediate goal, this marks its death.
The week continued with what can be seen as a moving funeral to the twostate solution. Several speakers from Left and Right set out their views as to the correct course of action in the Arab- Israeli conflict.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke, and spoke directly to Herzog: “A year ago, I clarified that facing the great changes happening in our region and since all territory that is cleared is captured by extremists, it doesn’t look like we can implement the two-state solution under the current circumstances. And then you attacked me.”
Then, referring to Herzog’s new pessimism with regard to the proposed solution, Netanyahu said: “Good morning, Buji! I’m glad you woke up. Welcome to the Middle East.”
If, on the Israeli side, there is a clear movement toward a prudent approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which rejects quick fixes and utopian solutions and opens the door to discussion of alternative solutions to the conflict, those who care about Israel should also seek to understand what is happening on the Palestinian side.
After all, conflicts have two sides, and unilateral solutions to conflicts are bound to fail. Therefore, a deeper understanding of the trends on the Palestinian side will allow Israelis to better assess what their next move should be, now that there is near-unanimous agreement that, at least in the short term, a Palestinian state will not be created.
The end of Mahmoud Abbas’s rule
It is no secret that Mahmoud Abbas’s rule over Judea and Samaria’s Arab population is extremely weak. Many have claimed that if the Israeli army was not in the area in order to protect his rule, Abbas would quickly lose power to Hamas terrorists or another competing faction. In such a delicate situation, and with Abbas turning 81 next month and nearing the end of his career, the most important question one must ask to understand the various scenarios for the future in the Palestinian Authority is: What will happen once Abbas no longer rules? In a recent interview with the Israeli press, Jerusalem Affairs Minister Ze’ev Elkin, who serves on the security cabinet, set out his vision of four scenarios.
Either Abbas will have one successor from the Fatah movement, or there will be a Hamas takeover. It is also possible that a deal will be made between Hamas and Fatah for combined rule. Finally, in the scariest scenario, there will be no clear succession, and the confusion will lead to anarchy.
Anarchy in Judea and Samaria
Elkin believes that the last scenario is the most likely, and in such a scenario, since there would be no centralized address to communicate and coordinate with on the Palestinian side, the Israeli response to such anarchy would be very difficult.
These various scenarios, and the likelihood of the disintegration of the PA followed by complete anarchy, bring up critical questions to policy-makers: First of all, should Israel intervene in the internal affairs of the Palestinians in order to influence what will happen there in the next few years? If not, would the rise of complete anarchy warrant such an intervention? Add to that equation the instability of the Middle East as a whole and the rise of Islamic State, which is inspiring terrorist attacks even within Israel, and you have a recipe for real disaster.
How will Israel be able to control the free flow of weapons in Judea and Samaria from the Palestinian security forces to terrorist groups with no central address to hold accountable? Will Israel be able to properly defend Jewish communities both within Judea and Samaria and outside?
Threats create opportunities
The threats posed by the instability in the PA and the unclear succession to power create a great opportunity for the Israeli Right.
For years, the Right has ignored the need to propose a clear alternative to the two-state solution, preferring to simply express opposition to the twostate solution.
Various solutions were proposed, but no real and serious discussion occurred as to their merits. No real research was undertaken to foresee the economic, demographic and security implications of each. The alternatives were mostly suggested as a marketing technique to justify opposition to the two-state solution.
If only a tiny fraction of the money invested in furthering the failed two-state solution would have been invested in the study of alternatives, we would have a marketplace of ideas to discuss. We would not be left without any solution to implement in the short term.
The current situation, with a deep understanding on the Israeli side that the two-state solution is not currently viable, and complete instability on the Palestinian side, might finally give us a window of opportunity to look into alternative solutions and study them thoroughly.
Unfortunately, as events unfold, there is very little time. Chaos in Judea and Samaria might set in soon, and Israel should know what its short- and longterm goals are before being faced with it.
Only thus will Israel know how to react to Abbas’s weakness, or to the eventual dismantlement of the PA. Only when we know where we want to get to, can we properly discuss the best way to get there.
This is why Israel and its friends should immediately take a good look at all the possible alternatives to the twostate solution, now rendered obsolete, and discuss what it would like to see implemented regarding the conflict. Once such a solution is defined, Israel will be able to better asses its relationship to the PA and to the Palestinian Arabs.
Dan Illouz is an attorney and a former legislative adviser to the Coalition Chairman in the Knesset. He previously served in a legal capacity at the Foreign Ministry. He is a graduate of McGill University Law School and Hebrew University’s master’s program in public policy.
Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.