Israel, the US and the Palestinians: A Recipe for Failure

It’s easy to feel like one is trapped in some sort of alternate reality where the world is just a big funhouse of mirrors these days. After

US Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives at his office in Jerusalem on March 31, 2014, for peace talks with his government and Palestinian Authority leaders. Credit: State Department

US Secretary of State John Kerry is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives at his office in Jerusalem on March 31, 2014, for peace talks with his government and Palestinian Authority leaders. Credit: State Department

decades of right wing Israelis and even more radically right wing American Jews campaigning for the release of Jonathan Pollard, his release might actually happen. But it will not be a result of the right wing campaign, nor will it be the US playing its ace in the hole with Israel for some extraordinary Israeli concessions. It won’t even be some dramatic gesture of friendship or a “humanitarian” gesture now that Pollard is old and has been reportedly sickly.

No, Pollard might be released so that the talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which have gone on for eight months with noting but negativity resulting from them, can continue pointlessly. All this time, freeing Pollard has been one thing every administration has refused to do, and now they will do it for, essentially, nothing. Why? I explore this and other questions today at LobeLog.

If a Two-State Solution Fails, What Next?

My latest report for Inter Press Service, this one is about a new poll commissioned by pollster Shibley Telhami. The poll examines American attitudes in the event of the failure of a two-state solution. The results may surprise many.

The One-State Burden

In the American Prospect today, Gershom Gorenberg raises the key argument against a one-state solution: that nationalism is too strong

Gershom Gorenberg

Gershom Gorenberg

on both the Jewish and Palestinian side for them to reasonably exist in a single state.

I agree with much of Gershom’s argument. But it is worth pointing something out, something I have been arguing forcefully about in my series of three articles this week (see them here, here and here). It is summed up in Gershom’s closing paragraph:

“The challenge to one-staters is to explain how two national groups, Jews and Palestinians, will peacefully put together a single state, live together in that state, and prevent it from ripping apart. Expecting that their nationalism will disappear is even less realistic than expecting the gold, red and blue flag to vanish from Catalonia.”

Yes, that is the challenge to one-staters. But where is the challenge to two-staters to explain how a Palestinian state with full sovereignty (meaning the right to self-defense and a total absence of Israeli forces in its territory), viability (where the area is not broken up by settlement blocs like Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim), connection between the West Bank and Gaza, a capital in East Jerusalem, and an acceptable resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue (which is both a human rights issue and a central issue in the very Palestinian nationalism Gershom discusses) is to be achieved under the two-state formula.

Oslo fails on all of those points. Yet somehow, for Gershom and many other sincere two-staters who recognize the need for Palestinian freedom and are not only concerned about Israeli security, this challenge does not have the same force as the one they bring up for one-staters. In my series, I explained why this is—because two-states has an international consensus behind it, arrived at by circumstance, happenstance and a 40-year old Palestinian decision, but not because it was necessarily the best path, while one state solutions have no political backing.

But the message for Gershom, Jeremy Ben-Ami and other purportedly pragmatic two-staters is how we get to a truly workable resolution if we begin from a point where we discount some possibilities because they have serious problems while ignoring problems of at least equal magnitude in other solutions simply because the latter is the path preferred by those enforcing an unhelpful and no longer viable consensus.

One State Or Two, A New Peace Process Is Needed

This article originally appeared at LobeLog.

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

J Street President Jeremy Ben-Ami, champion of the two-state solution

In a debate recorded by the Institute for Palestine Studies, human rights lawyer Noura Erakat squares off with Hussein Ibish, a senior fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, about the current peace talks and the prospects of a two-state solution. There was a lot in the exchange that was interesting, and it’s worth your viewing. But one point in particular caught my attention. Continue reading

Oslo At 20: A Failed Process

Ian Lustick’s piece in the New York Times this past weekend certainly raised some hackles. The half-dozen experts I saw speak at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace last week, however, largely agreed and bolstered his arguments about the abject failure of the Oslo Peace Process. For me, I believe all these scholars’ works back up the point I’ve been making for years: the Oslo two-state formula was ill-conceived and the intervening two decades have altered its contours only in the direction of making a resolution to the conflict even harder to achieve. I explore at LobeLog.

Wolves In Drag

Another right wing Israeli Knesset member is advocating annexation. This time, though, she is willing to grant citizenship to all the Palestinians of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It’s not a feasible, or a just plan, but it’s another example of how the right is thinking forward while the center and center-left desperately clings to failed plan. So who do you think is going to be setting the agenda in the post-Oslo age? I explore in Souciant this week.

The One-State Solution

As a long-time supporter of a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine, I can only mourn the success the settlers and the Israeli and US governments have found in destroying that path. But reality is reality, and I’ve been saying for some time that the Oslo process is dead. So what to do now? A single state is already a reality, and it is an ugly one. I examine an alternative and the prospects for getting there at Souciant this week.