A solution to grapple with
Every time negotiations for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict fail — and they have now failed under the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations — peace processors ritually repeat that creating two states is the “only” solution. The Palestinians willing to negotiate with Israel, however, insist they will never accept any plan that requires them to (1) recognize a Jewish state, (2) relinquish their alleged “right of return” and (3) sign an “end-of-claims” agreement certifying an end to the conflict. It is, thus, difficult to see why creating an Arab state along Israel’s long eastern border — a state that would consider a Jewish state illegitimate, assert a right to “return” to it and refuse to declare the conflict over — is a “solution,” much less the “only” one.
In her new book, “The Israeli Solution: A One State Plan for Peace in the Middle East,” Caroline Glick, one of Israel’s leading columnists and public intellectuals, suggests, “The time has come for American policymakers to reconsider their devotion to the two-state formula.” She describes it as one of the most unsuccessful foreign policies in United States history — one that has repeatedly produced peace plans that fail and Israeli offers of a state that Palestinians reject. She argues that the U.S. should consider a one-state plan “based on actual Israeli rights rather than fictitious Israeli culpability.”
The Glick plan would apply Israeli sovereignty — and Israeli law — to the disputed territories, which are part of the minimum territory specified for the Jewish homeland in the League of Nations Mandate. Palestinians would receive automatic permanent residency status, with Israeli citizenship for those who seek it, except for members of terrorist groups. Palestinians would become part of a free society and a vibrant economy — neither of which they enjoy under what Glick correctly calls the current Palestinian “kleptocracy” funded by the “peace process.”
Those who tend to judge a book by its cover may dismiss Glick’s solution out-of-hand as unrealistic, counter-productive or utopian. Such adjectives, however, are more appropriate to describe a peace process that has produced multiple wars, with relentless suicide bombings and incessant rocket attacks, launched from precisely the land turned over by Israel to the Palestinians in a series of futile attempts to trade land for “peace.”
Glick reviews and responds to the inevitable objections to her plan, and argues that it would better serve not only the parties in conflict, but the interests of American foreign policy as well. She presents a persuasive case — with footnotes supporting her factual assertions and citations from an impressive array of authorities, demographic studies and maps — that the plan would create a defensible democratic state with a stable two-thirds Jewish majority. The “one-state solution” is frequently posed as a threat to Israel; Glick demonstrates that it is, in fact, an opportunity.
Glick shows that the oft-cited prediction that Palestinians will become a majority is based on demonstrably inaccurate Palestinian census figures, plus transparently unrealistic projections. She points to an entirely different demographic issue:
“The real demographic threat is that if a Palestinian state is created, vast numbers of Palestinians will flee to Israel (as they began to do immediately after Israel undertook its ‘peace process’ with the PLO in 1993), and a sufficient number will emigrate to Judea and Samaria from surrounding Arab countries to overwhelm Israel.”
The book contains an extensive history of the conflict — a wise inclusion, because the failure to remember history is at the root of the repetitious peace process failures, as is a naive belief that history would end if a Palestinian state were created. As history has repeatedly shown, however, and as peace processors have repeatedly discovered, the Palestinians are not interested in a state if the price is recognition of a Jewish one.
As Jewish Journal president and columnist David Suissa recently wrote, the Palestinian “narrative” is that Israel is an imperialist, colonial enterprise, forced on Palestinians because of postwar European guilt, and that Israel is a thief that stole Palestinian land to rectify a European sin. Under the Palestinian narrative, a Jewish state is a crime. It is a narrative that cannot produce peace, particularly after the Palestinians have educated generations of their children in it.
Zionists once spoke forthrightly about history (in an era before everyone became entitled to his own “narrative”). In his 1936 testimony in Jerusalem to the British Peel Commission, David Ben-Gurion claimed that the Jewish rights to the land long predated the British Mandate: “The Bible is our Mandate, the Bible which was written by us, in our own language, in Hebrew, in this very country.” These days, it would be deemed politically incorrect to make any claim based on the foundational book of Western civilization, but the book is, among other things, a historical report about the land.
Glick herself steers clear of a biblical argument and relies instead on subsequent history and law: (a) No nation other than the Jews ever claimed the land as its national home, and (b) the League of Nations assigned the land to the Jews in a mandate that retains its validity under Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. The Jewish claim to the land acquired in 1967 also rests on international law because Israel acquired it in a defensive war, from a country (Jordan) illegally occupying it, after it joined the 1967 war against Israel.
After that war, U.N. Resolution 242 called for a negotiated withdrawal from an undefined portion of the disputed territories to “secure and recognized” borders for Israel in exchange for “termination of all claims” against Israel. The resolution has never been implemented — but not for lack of Israeli offers of a Palestinian state (which were made and rejected in 2000, 2001 and 2008). The critical problem has been that the Palestinians want a state without recognizing a Jewish one. They want to retain a “right” to prosecute their claims — based on a blatantly false “narrative” — not to terminate them.
In repeatedly endorsing a two-state solution, Israel has thus subordinated its own rights to its forlorn hope for Arab recognition of a Jewish state. More than 65 years after the U.N.’s 1947 resolution used the phrase “Jewish state” 30 times, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, still rejects the idea. He also rejects “two states for two peoples.” No two-state solution is possible without a Palestinian leader willing to prepare his people for peace by endorsing a Jewish state, in Arabic, in public, at last.
By recounting history that many people do not know and proposing a solution different from the one that has repeatedly failed, Glick challenges readers to re-examine the parameters that have led to 20 years of failure. She provides a comprehensive account that is useful even for those who think they already know the history, and essential for those who know they do not. She sets forth her alternative policy in readable, well-reasoned, fact-based terms.
In his forward to Glick’s 2008 book, “Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad,” former CIA Director James Woolsey compared Glick’s writings to the prescient essays of George Orwell and Winston Churchill in the 1930s. She exhibits the same qualities in her new book, rejecting the false comfort of peace-process slogans as she substitutes facts for wishful thinking. One need not accept every aspect of her plan — or indeed accept her plan at all — to recognize that in the future no serious discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can proceed without grappling with the Israeli Solution. Caroline Glick’s book is nothing less than required reading.