Fifteen years ago, I supported the two state solution vision from the Oslo Accords of creating a Palestinian homeland in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. However, my support for such a model dwindled with each year. It is not a question or right or wrong, but a question of realities on the ground. Let’s look at some of the recent history:
- (JUL-2000) Israel’s PM, Ehud Barak, proposed for a permanent agreement at the Camp David Summit, where PA Chairman, Yasser Arafat, rejected the offers without any counter proposals.
- (SEP-2000) Second Palestinian Intifada (Uprising) starts and continues for five years. More than 1,000 Israelis were murdered in suicide bombings/ terrorist attacks, and many more were critically wounded.
- (JAN-2001) Taba talks took place with counter negotiations, but no agreement was put in place. After which Ariel Sharon took office.
- (JUL-2003) First segment of the West Bank Security Fence is constructed. Since construction, number of attacks have been reduced by 90% and murdered/ wounded by 70/85%.
- (AUG-2005) Israel’s PM, Ariel Sharon, authorizes the withdrawal of all Jewish Settlers and Israeli military from Gaza. Palestinian Authority (aka Fatah) takes over administration of Gaza while Israel controls its borders, coastline and airspace.
- (JUN-2007) Hamas takes control of Gaza from Fatah via military coup.
- (SEP-2008) Israel’s PM, Ehud Olmert, offered the most generous peace deal on record to the new Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas. Offer was not responded to and Bibi Netanyahu came into office.
- (2008, 12 & 14) Hamas initiates three conflicts against Israel from Gaza. The responses by Israel are named Operation Cast Lead, Operation Pillar of Defense and Operation Protective Edge.
- (NOV-2012) UN votes to accord Palestine ‘Non-Member Observer State’ status.
- (DEC-2014) UN Security Council did not adopt a draft resolution for full Palestinian Statehood.
- (APR-2015) Palestinians become a member of the International Criminal Court and seek investigations against Israel for operations in Gaza and settlements in West Bank.
There are other events that happened, including a war with Hezbollah, the Arab Spring, rise of ISIS and Iran Terror Proliferation/ Nuclear Ambitions. The key items that I take away from the above is the agreements that were proposed and negotiated in 2000, 2001 and 2008 had the recipes for success. Two sticking points have been refugee right of return and recognition of Israel as a Jewish State. From what I have read, compensation for lost property is part of the agreement, but refugees can only return to the West Bank or Gaza. As to recognition of Israel as a Jewish State or Homeland for the Jews, I think the two are linked and that the Palestinian Leadership has their eyes on all of Israel. Maybe not in the short term, as they maybe treating a peace deal as a hudna. Otherwise such recognition is in my opinion quite reasonable.
Since the aforementioned negotiations, the Palestinian Authority has chosen to stop engaging with Israel and is pursuing recognition and their terms via international venues. Considering the repeated wars with Gaza, Israelis are less optimistic of an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank. Many, rightly so, envision Fatah being quickly replaced by Hamas. This would result in a much worse security situation than what is already painful today (i.e. Palestine becomes Hamastan). You just have to look at a map to understand the proximity issues to Israel’s major cities, namely Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and Beersheba.
- So, the question is what are Israel’s options?
Israel could keep the status quo, i.e. containment of the Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza until they are able to reasonably affect self determination. It has been 20 years since Oslo II with very little progress, some might say just the opposite and that we’ve seen regression. Or does Israel try another experiment/ solution, like:
- A One State Solution with Israel annexing the West Bank, giving the Arabs citizenship and leaving Gaza to itself, see +972 Magazine and The New Yorker, or
- Support the creation of Palestinian Emirates, i.e. City States.
Nevertheless, I think Israel well within their rights to declare the Oslo Accords null and void. New thinking is warranted, as the Oslo dream of two states seems to be on life support. Whether the patient is brain dead is up for debate.