Friday, February 22, 2008

The Perils of Two-State Pauline

How many ways can there be to spin the same old dreary reality? The New York Times exhibits considerable optimism on this point in their latest offering on Israel and the Palestinians: "Arab Leaders Say the Two-State Proposal Is in Peril." Let's review a bit, shall we?

Back in the days when Hamas lead the Enemies of Peace on Both Sides Inc., Palestinian Division, Israel negotiated the beginning of a two-state solution. They negotiated in good-faith, and together with Yassir Arafat, who was negotiating in bad faith, there was some implementation of the solution. Some of that implementation still stands: that is why Israel recognizes something called the "Palestinian Authority," although the former enemies of peace, now friends of Hudna, have since seceded from it.

Back in 2000 (aided and abetted by famous advocates of Apartheid Dennis Ross and Bill Clinton) the Zionist Entity made a serious final status proposal. It was met with an increase in terror. Then, of course, Israel created further obstacles to peace in 2005 by putting Gaza, some of the territory offered in 2000, into Palestinian hands anyway. The non-achievement of Palestinian state viability, we learn, threatens more "radicalism," but if that is where the radicalism comes from then what did the Saudis spend their money on, anyway? I hope that whets your appetite for the main course--you are going to be asked to swallow a great deal:
Arab leaders will threaten to rescind their offer of full relations with Israel in exchange for a complete Israeli withdrawal from occupied lands unless Israel gives a positive response to their initiative, indicating the Arab states’ growing disillusionment with the prospects of a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At an Arab League meeting next month in Syria, the leaders are planning to reiterate support for their initiative, first issued in 2002. The initiative promised Israel normalization with the league’s 22 members in return for the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as the capital, and a resolution of the issue of Palestinian refugees.

But this time, "there will be a message to Israel emphasizing the need to respond to the initiative; otherwise, Arab states will reassess the previous stage of peace," said Muhammad Sobeih, assistant secretary general of the Arab League in charge of the Palestinian issue. "They will withdraw the initiative and look for other options. It makes no sense to insist on something that Israel is rejecting."

Many Arab leaders never warmly embraced the idea of a two-state solution to the conflict because of their distaste for Israel, but they accepted it as a means to stabilize the region and tamp down extremism. Now, however, there is a growing feeling that Israel wants to create only a rump Palestinian state that would be neither viable nor truly sovereign. And that, officials say, is not only unacceptable, but also dangerous.
Are you getting tired of the "viable state" meme? Viable in what sense? Is Lebanon's current pluralistic form politically viable?
That perception hit Arab leaders hard when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians crashed through the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt last month, in the wake of an Israeli policy to cut off supplies to Gaza to protest the rule of Hamas there and the continuing rocket fire on Israel.

When the Palestinians poured into Egypt, suddenly, officials in both Jordan and Egypt — the only neighbors with peace treaties with Israel — grew frightened that Israel planned to solve its Palestinian problem by forcing Egypt to absorb Gaza, and Jordan the West Bank. [...]

"There is a general Arab sentiment of despair regarding this issue," said Dureid Mahasneh, a member of the Jordanian team that negotiated the treaty with Israel in the 1990s. "I challenge you to find anyone who took part in the negotiations with Israel to say that he is optimistic."

That despair is accompanied by anxiety and fear that momentum is moving in favor of the more radical players, like Hamas and its patron state, Iran.

"Hamas is going to be fortified," said Mahmoud Shokry, a retired Egyptian ambassador to Syria who serves on the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs, a government advisory group. “Not only Egypt, but all the Arab countries have to think about this.”

Arabs blame Israel — as the occupying power — for the diminishing viability of a two-state solution, even while Mr. Sobeih said he would never, under any circumstances, accept Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state. [...]
Oops! Somehow a significant detail appears!
“People no longer trust that a Palestinian state can be established, for one sole reason: the brutality of the Israeli state and the retreat of the Arab world,” said Abdullah el-Ashaal, a former assistant to the Egyptian foreign minister and a professor of international law at Cairo University, who was articulating a widely held position in this region. "And this is why there is a return to the radicalization of the Arab attitude, meaning the words 'peace process' no longer hold any meaning." [...]
Or at least any meaning that has to do with peace.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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