In Brief—Three scenarios are set forth, a continuation of the status quo, the Two-State solution or a One-State solution. Will any of them lessen the tensions and anger that drive the conflict between the Israeli government and the Palestinians?
Between a Rock and a Hard Place—
As I write this in the middle of August 2014, the Israelis and Palestinians are again killing one another in anger that has grown through the years since the creation of the state of Israel. I have analyzed the ongoing conflict and have come to the conclusion below. It’s possible my analysis overlooks something important and, certainly, conditions can change that will affect the situation. That said, readers who care about this tragic waste of lives and treasure are invited to share your thoughts.
As I see it today, there are three possible outcomes. Can any one of them solve the problem?
- The Continuation Scenario.
- The Two-State Scenario.
- The One-State Scenario.
The Continuation Scenario—
The Continuation Scenario means that essentially the situation remains as it is today. As it exists today, it’s a military solution that pits a highly professional Israeli army with sophisticated weapons against a non-professional group that fires homemade rockets into Israeli territory frightening many Jews but killing or injuring few. By contrast, the Israeli military indiscriminately kills more than twenty times as many Palestinians, many of them non-combatant civilians and children.
Despite widespread opposition from throughout the world, Israeli government policy encourages the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank of the Jordan River, recognized as Palestinian territory. Israeli Zionists—and that is most Israelis—believe that their deity granted that territory to the Jews, and Israel plans to make it part of Greater Israel. To protect those settlers, the Israeli government has built high walls that often separate Palestinians from their land.
These are just a few of the facts that fuel Palestinian anger at the Israelis. For an explanation of Palestinian anger, I suggest you read my piece “Predictable Enemies: Israel v. Palestinians.” Yes, it’s possible that as a result of the Israeli military action Hamas will reverse course and seek peace, but the mutual hatred and anger is not going to go away even if Hamas stops firing rockets into Israel.
The Two-State Scenario—
The Two-State Scenario is the plan favored by most Israelis and the majority of the western world. It envisions the Jewish state of Israel, living side-by-side with a Palestinian state. The Palestinian state would consist of two sections, Gaza and the West Bank that are separated by Israel and not connected with each other. Presumably, the two states would be at peace. My question is: Given the acrimony between the two groups since the creation of Israel in 1948, what is the realistic chance of peace?
The One-State Scenario—
The One-State Scenario is vehemently opposed by the Israeli government and many in the western world. The reasons for opposition are that a single state would defeat the intention of giving the long-oppressed Jews a homeland, it would negate the deity’s intention that the area should belong to the Jews, and the greater Palestinian birth rate would mean that the Palestinians would eventually outnumber the Jews.
Despite this, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the coalition party Habayit Hayehudi, a right wing party, has suggested that the Israeli government break with the past and accept a modified One-State scenario in which the Palestinians would be given qualified citizenship and equality, BUT Israel would become the Zionist dream of a Greater Israel that would take in the West Bank, and Israel would remain a Jewish state. The suggestion could be a first step in the right direction, but is unlikely to gain any traction given attitudes that currently exist and widespread negative views about Bennett.
The Continuation Scenario suggests that any peace between the two groups has the chance of a snowball in Hell. Anger would not subside and military confrontation is guaranteed.
The Two-State Scenario is merely a political slogan and a phony attempt to paper over reality. Reality is that decades of oppression will not diminish Palestinian anger. The predictable result will be war between the two states and Israeli occupation. Assuming that the Jewish settlements would have to be abandoned under this scenario—and that is politically impossible at this point—Zionists will feel betrayed that a Greater Israel must go on the ash heap. Finally, it is possible that the Palestinians will want a land connection between the two separate parts requiring Israel to cede part of their land. Ain’t gonna happen, Charlie.
Notwithstanding Bennett’s suggestion mentioned above, the One-State Scenario is unlikely for the reasons stated: strong governmental and popular opposition, not least from the Zionists; defeat of the idea of a Jewish homeland; the greater Palestinian birth rate.
The only rational solution for the government in the One-State Scenario appears to be to grant Palestinians equal rights, full citizenship and a place in the government. The unacceptable alternative to the One-State Scenario would be to cleanse Israel of its Palestinian population. Given the anger that arose from the earlier expulsion of the Palestinians, imagine how ethnic cleansing will be received by not just the Palestinians, but the whole world.
The Dreary Conclusion—
As I said at the outset, it’s possible I overlooked some important factor, and conditions could change. Nevertheless, my best guess is that the Continuation Scenario will continue to soak that part of the world in blood for years to come. Barring rational changes, there are no acceptable choices on the horizon. Human nature and ham-handed politics will determine the course.
On the assumption that I have overlooked something or I’m simply too pessimistic, let me hear from you. For the sake of simple humanity, I hope I’m wrong.
*Note: Since I wrote the above, two important actions have taken place. 1) Independent representatives of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have been denied access to Gaza by the Israeli government on shifting and contradictory grounds. The request of the organizations is for the purpose of determining the facts in the conflict. 2) Nine people, including the wife and young child of the commander of Hamas’ military wing, were killed by a deliberate Israeli attack intended to kill the Hamas leader.
Query: Are these Israeli actions likely to inflame or reduce Palestinian anger toward Israel?