Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bernard Chazelle, "Why Israel Won't Accept A Two-state Solution," Princeton University, June 25, 2008.

The two-state solution calls for visionary leadership that Israel does not have, international prodding that is nonexistent, and an obliging enemy that has never much been the obliging kind. The final nail in the coffin might be its dwindling popular support.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is often narrated as a morality play, where offers are generous, lessons are taught, consciousness is seared, terrorism is rewarded, etc. Let's quit the blame game and focus, instead, on what's feasible and what's not. For starters, one can safely notch the right-wing fantasy of a Jordanian absorption of Palestine in the "Dream on, settlers" column. Ethnic cleansing is passé.

What about a one-state solution? Within 10 years, Jews will be a clear minority in the population west of the Jordan, so a democratic unitary state (eg, modeled on South Africa) would mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state, an outcome not everyone would greet with cartwheels. Though rarely discussed, a federal alternative could be envisaged. Besides the sticky issue of land division, however, the physical laws of politics work against it. Absent a modicum of trust and a desire to share a common fate, centrifugal forces might prove too powerful to forestall an eventual breakup. If Belgium, a model of harmony by Mideast standards, can barely pull it off, what chance does a (con)federal "Isratine" have? Don't expect a democratic binational state any time soon.

The two-state solution has its appeal. It would satisfy a majority of Palestinians and confer upon Israel the statehood legitimacy that it craves. It would bring the Jewish state peace with the Arab world along the lines of the 2002 Saudi Initiative, as well as a recognized right of self-defense against Palestinian cross-border attacks. Unfortunately, 40 years of history have gamed the system against the two-state solution. Once the only realistic road to peace, it is now a challenge likely beyond Israel's ability. This leaves the region with two options: Apartheid or war. Barring a miracle, it will get both. So let's talk about the miracle.

Read more about the miracle here =>
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