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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why a 'Palestinian state' hasn't happened and never will

Stratfor has an interesting take on the Netanyahu - Obama meeting in Washington today. It's worth reading the whole thing, but I thought this part on why the 'Palestinian state' has never happened was particularly inciteful.
The foundation of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for years has been the assumption that there would be a two-state solution. Such a solution has not materialized for a host of reasons. First, at present there are two Palestinian entities, Gaza and the West Bank, which are hostile to each other. Second, the geography and economy of any Palestinian state would be so reliant on Israel that independence would be meaningless; geography simply makes the two-state proposal almost impossible to implement. Third, no Palestinian government would have the power to guarantee that rogue elements would not launch rockets at Israel, potentially striking at the Tel Aviv-Jerusalem corridor, Israel’s heartland. And fourth, neither the Palestinians nor the Israelis have the domestic political coherence to allow any negotiator to operate from a position of confidence. Whatever the two sides negotiated would be revised and destroyed by their political opponents, and even their friends.

For this reason, the entire peace process — including the two-state solution — is a chimera. Neither side can live with what the other can offer. But if it is a fiction, it is a fiction that serves U.S. purposes. The United States has interests that go well beyond Israeli interests and sometimes go in a different direction altogether. Like Israel, the United States understands that one of the major obstacles to any serious evolution toward a two-state solution is Arab hostility to such an outcome.

The Jordanians have feared and loathed Fatah in the West Bank ever since the Black September uprisings of 1970. The ruling Hashemites are ethnically different from the Palestinians (who constitute an overwhelming majority of the Jordanian population), and they fear that a Palestinian state under Fatah would threaten the Jordanian monarchy. For their part, the Egyptians see Hamas as a descendent of the Muslim Brotherhood, which seeks the Mubarak government’s ouster — meaning Cairo would hate to see a Hamas-led state. Meanwhile, the Saudis and the other Arab states do not wish to see a radical altering of the status quo, which would likely come about with the rise of a Palestinian polity.

At the same time, whatever the basic strategic interests of the Arab regimes, all pay lip service to the principle of Palestinian statehood. This is hardly a unique situation. States frequently claim to favor various things they actually are either indifferent to or have no intention of doing anything about. Complicating matters for the Arab states is the fact that they have substantial populations that do care about the fate of the Palestinians. These states thus are caught between public passion on behalf of Palestinians and the regimes’ interests that are threatened by the Palestinian cause. The states’ challenge, accordingly, is to appear to be doing something on behalf of the Palestinians while in fact doing nothing.

The United States has a vested interest in the preservation of these states. The futures of Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states are of vital importance to Washington. The United States must therefore simultaneously publicly demonstrate its sensitivity to pressures from these nations over the Palestinian question while being careful to achieve nothing — an easy enough goal to achieve.

The various Israeli-Palestinian peace processes have thus served U.S. and Arab interests quite well. They provide the illusion of activity, with high-level visits breathlessly reported in the media, succeeded by talks and concessions — all followed by stalemate and new rounds of violence, thus beginning the cycle all over again.

Where I break with Stratfor is their claim that Netanyahu is trying to change the rules of the game by taking the 'two-state solution' off the table. First, Netanyahu is not willing to say the words 'two-state solution,' but he is willing to talk about 'Palestinian self-governance' until he and everyone else is blue in the face. Netanyahu would be happy to continue the current charade of having a 'peace process' that goes nowhere. It's Obama who actually wants to set up a 'Palestinian state,' and who is trying to use Iran to pressure Netanyahu to do so.

What Netanyahu does want from Obama is his assistance in dealing with Iran, or at least his acquiesence that Israel do so. So far, that assistance has not been forthcoming. At this point, the only hope that it might be forthcoming would be if Hosni Mubarak also tells Obama that he has to deal with Iran regardless of what Netanyahu does with the 'Palestinians.' So far, there is no indication that Mubarak will do that. Abdullah apparently did not do so either.

What Stratfor says about Israel not being a real world power makes sense. But I don't believe anyone in the Israeli government believes otherwise. And while Israel may not be a real power, I believe that - at least so long as Iran does not go nuclear - it is the strongest power in the Middle East, and it believes that it can use that power against Iran with or without US consent. In other words, if Israel believes it is threatened by Iran, it will respond because it feels it must and because it does not believe that the US will come down on it for doing so.

Meanwhile, Allahpundit argues that there won't be a 'Palestinian state' because there can't be one without Iran being defanged first.
What this meeting was really about, as Time explains, is deciding which one of those two issues to prioritize over the other. Ever mindful of his legacy, The One wants to settle the Palestinian question before confronting Iran — even though it’s the latter, not the former, where there’s no time to spare, and even though successful resolution of the latter would greatly increase the odds for a successful resolution of the former rather than vice versa. Consider: If Iran is defanged and steps back from its initiative to seed the region with proxies, Hamas loses its patron and peace becomes more likely. If, on the other hand, the Palestinians are somehow recognized as a state before Iran is dealt with — then what? Obama seems to think this will give Arabs across the region political cover to rally behind their new friend Israel, leading Iran to back down and give up its nuke program, but (a) if it’s true, as the left pretends, that Iran accelerated its nuke program because it felt threatened by hostile powers nearby (Israel and U.S. troops in Iraq), then a united Sunni/Israel front should only exacerbate the problem and (b) even Obama can’t be so naive as to think a Palestinian state will mean a sea change in Arab attitudes overnight, which is what it would take for this strategy to affect Iran before they build a bomb. Forty percent of Israeli Arabs are Holocaust deniers and barely half think the country they live in deserves to exist; with opinion among non-Israeli Arabs doubtless even grimmer than that, the best Israel could hope for from Arab leaders after a Palestinian state is formed is quiet neutrality between it and Tehran. Which is to say, Palestinian peace isn’t in fact a necessary prerequisite to dealing with Iran — but then, universal health care isn’t a necessary prerequisite to dealing with monstrous deficits either, no matter what Obama says. Funny how every time there’s a crisis The One has to deal with, the only “solution” involves some piece of his agenda that he would have been pushing anyway.
That's exactly the point. A 'Palestinian state' is part of Obama's agenda, but it's not part of anyone else's, except for the 'Palestinians.' It's not Netanyahu who is trying to change something. It's Obama.


At 8:24 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - Barry Rubin says much the same thing as you just have and while every one will talk about a Palestinian state - its just going through the motions. No one really wants one - not Israel, not the Jordanians, not the Egyptians and not even the Palestinians themselves. And they will all work to undermine Obama's goal to get one established. Eventually, Obama will realize its just a charade and play along with it like all the rest for the sake of appearances. There will be no Palestinian state any time soon.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

The Bible suggests, but does not state, arrangements that lead me to believe there *will* be a "Palestinian" state and some sort of shared &/or internationalized Jerusalem. If so, that won't last long.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Ashan said...

I think that the Stratfor analysis is weak, at best. "... No Palestinian government would have the power to guarantee that rogue elements would not launch rockets at Israel." What "rogue elements"? The whole PLO/Hamas thugocracy is a "rogue element". The irresponsible "peace" process pushed on us by foreigners with outside interests together with Israeli traitors and naive do-gooders brought this monster to straddle and strangle Israel on two sides. We are caught in a vice grip of interminable terror.

There will never be a "Palestinian" state primarily because the Palithugs have never and will not conceded anything. Abu Mazen crowed about it (in Arabic of course) not so long ago and bragged about "having fired the first shot" against Israel.

The PLO thug in Lebanon, Zaki, who you quote in an item further down the page tells it like it is. You need no other analysis:
"With the two-state solution, in my opinion, Israel will collapse, because if they get out of Jerusalem, what will become of all the talk about the Promised Land and the Chosen People? What will become of all the sacrifices they made – just to be told to leave? They consider Jerusalem to have a spiritual status. The Jews consider Judea and Samaria to be their historic dream. If the Jews leave those places, the Zionist idea will begin to collapse. It will regress of its own accord. Then we will move forward."

We kill the snake, or we die. Bibi understands this.

At 5:55 PM, Blogger Mervyn Doobov said...

I think you mean "insightful" not "inciteful".

I am surprised that no-one ever mentions, in the context of a two-state proposal, the great historical failure of this when geography splits two parts of one of the states. I refer to Pakistan, where the eastern part eventually split off and became Bangla Desh. Given the huge gulf that currently divides the two territories, and I don't mean geography, it seems inevitable that we are really talking about three states. Unlike Pakistan/Bangla Desh, however, neither east nor west Palestine would appear to be viable alone and we could eventually find both being absorbed, of necessity, into Jordan and Egypt respectively. So why not cut out the middle bit, that would undoubtedly be messy and go straight to the end play.

This brings us back to the old idea that there already is a Palestinian state; it's called Jordan.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - today the Washington Times has a good editorial about why the two state solution is actually an atavistic failed throwback to an earlier era:

Palestinians Aren't Ready For Statehood

The title really says it all. But the two points it makes are relevant to the situation at hand: the Palestinians must be helped to earn statehood and Iran must be countered. Without movement on those two fronts, a Palestinian state won't happen and will never be.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Myackie said...

Even the palestinians don't want a state...then they wouldn't be the world's biggest victims anymore...a title they seem to prefer.

At 8:16 PM, Blogger Kafir Harby said...

State? What State? The Palestinians already have a state, it is called Jordan. Do they want a second state? A new jihadi state? Not in a thousand years. Even a muslim in the White House will make no difference, the Israeli's are no fools.

At 3:38 PM, Blogger David said...

Great analysis! You made the whole point. The arabs already have a state, it is Jordan, and all the rest is just nonsense and b*** it.
As for Hamastan Egypt has to take care of it as they usually do with their dissidents.


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