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Thereisnoplan Prediction – Unilateral Declaration of Palestinian StateComing Soon

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It’s been a whirlwind in the Middle East since the turn of the year.  Dictators toppled, others wobbled, others definitely off their appetites. There’s been a profound ‘decolonization’ of the Arab World, to the point where we can hardly talk of an “Arab World” at all. The fragmentation of the historical legacy of Western control of these disparate collections of people, most Muslim, many not is in full flow. There are and will be many changes, and the history of profound stagnation might alter for better and perhaps for worse.

Among the many truths that is emerging is this, Palestinians can no longer depend on the same friends they once had. In many respects, in Syria, Jordan, the Emirates, and in Saudi Arabia, a new-found urgency to remedy the injustices of their own populations means that the Palestinian cause isn’t quite so useful as a means of social control anymore. The Egyptian transitional government’s brokering of ‘peace’ between Fatah and Hamas, is an apparent exception, but even that is more about jockeying for domestic points with a restive Egyptian population.

Fatah and Hamas realize that without attempting to unify they can never hope to make any headway against an economically and militarily strong Israeli state that has been bolstered by the chaos outside their borders. This at a time when Fatah has made it clear it’s focused on a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian sovereign state. Ramallah knows that the world will not look kindly on the creation of that state unless the orphan status of Gaza is taken into account. Is Gaza to be a part of it or not? And if not, what will its status be. Therefore, in order to declare that state, Gaza must be part of it.

This, clearly, is what the rapprochement is all about. They’re wisely striking while they see an opportunity. The world is drunk on the idea of Arab nationhood, and the Palestinian’s want to get their piece of the action. Of course, the unilateral state idea predates the “Arab Spring”, but the new-found interest in the notion is no coincidence. Indeed, the joint declaration by Fatah and Hamas in Cairo was full of naive ‘statelike’ declarations that suggested implicitly that Israel’s sovereign status had to be matched by the new Palestine’s acceptance by the international community. Of course, it was dressed up in pugnaciousness that the ‘street’ seems to respond to, but nevertheless, the language suggested a more nuanced approach to ‘resistance’.

Israel’s response to the rapprochement has been one of outrage. On the face of it, the idea that Fatah should choose Hamas as an ally precludes the possibility of a peace accord with Israel. After all the Hamas charter is built around its dedication to the destruction of the Jewish state, but the story is perhaps a little deeper.

A unified and unilaterally declared Palestinian State is clearly in Israel’s interest. Just at the time when the Obama peace attempts have met with the usual dismal disappointment, and when talk of the single-state solution is starting to gain traction which would be a catastrophe for Israel, what could be better than the Palestinian’s voluntarily opting for the far less destructive two-state alternative. Of course, if the Israelis were seen to be supporting such a move, you can bet the Palestinian interest in the notion would evaporate but quick, leaving us back at square one. So naturally, Netanyahu and company are full of very vocal bluster about how bad an idea it is, even though the land-swaps and highway connection between Gaza and the West Bank are essentially already negotiated.  As for the ‘right of return’, it’s a fading idea, used as a deal breaker when it really was nothing of the sort. And a unilateral declaration by the Palestinians would preclude it by definition. In short, Israel is loving all this – but is doing it’s best to look really angry about it.

As for the Obama Administration, they can see some real advantage. After all, in return for a UNSC abstention, and studied but half-hearted resistance to a vote in the UNSC and Security Council, they can allow for a Palestinian state and take credit for – hey presto – peace in the region. Nobody’s going to grudge them that rhetorical claim.  Thereisnoplan wouldn’t be surprised if there are tri-partite back-channel discussions as we speak engineering the push for statehood. The Israelis want it but want their interest in it kept on the down-low, as does the US.

And then the state will be declared, Israel and American will grudgingly accept the “will of the Palestinian People” and everyone will be able to rejoice. The Palestinians will have their state, the Americans will be able to say that the world is safer because the Islamists will have one less grudge to hold, and Israel will have the peace it needs to be stronger, more just, and more economically powerful. Plus it will be able over time to form a strong alliance with the new state, placing it firmly in its economic orbit. It’s a win-win-win.

Thereisnoplan predicts it will happen, and fast.

Why the hurry? Because if it doesn’t the deal between Fatah and Hamas will unravel, and the opportunity is squandered.

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Written by coolrebel

May 4, 2011 at 3:00 am

Egypt: It’s All About the Army Now

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All this talk of “[insert term for revolution here] revolution” in Egypt is a tad premature, and seems to gloss over the apparently incongruous fact that the Army were welcomed into the streets by the protesters. Cheering when the troops get called out is hardly the stuff of the barricades.

The Egyptian moment is moving very, very fast, but it is starting to become increasingly clear that Mubarak’s future is in the hands of the Egyptian military, which is much revered in highly nationalistic Egypt (and in which every young man serves).

So with that in mind, let’s extrapolate what this could mean for Cairo.

Mubarak has a major problem. The moment he asks the Army to fire on the protesters is the moment he books his ticket out of Cairo. The Army’s own credibility and continued power rests on it NOT doing that. The protesters know this and with the brutal and hated police thoroughly routed, it looks like we’ve arrived at stage two of the game. The ball is in the Army’s court.

So what will the Military do? It’s unlikely they want to sacrifice Mubarak – who’s one of their own – and has plied them with plenty of goodies over the decades. But the longer the streets burn (and there’s plenty of unemployed youth to keep them that way) the closer it gets to the tipping point, of losing the public trust and undermining its own power and position.

That point may come soon. And if it does, the Military will have to make some serious decisions. Do they try to convince El-Baradei to lead a transition government, or co-opt an old Field Marshal to restore control? And how long will that transition last and to what? Will the choices the Military makes choke off the billions they get from the US Government?

And what about the Muslim Brotherhood? The powerful decades-old Islamist movement (which helped to spawn and has close ties with close ties to Al Qaeda) in this intensely religious country has wisely stayed behind the scenes. But is it poised to strike and take advantage of the weakness and turmoil facing its enemies? And if does, how will the military respond?

The idea that Egypt’s repressive police state is going to give way to a liberal democracy by next Tuesday is wishful thinking in the extreme. What’s more likely is that we’ll see major fissures developing, and a situation that’s more akin to the current state of Pakistan where Islamists battle a powerful army and toothless civilian army for control of a struggling economy.

Another worrying similarity with Pakistan could also emerge, where the Army – through it’s semi-rogue Intelligence agency surreptitiously supports the Taliban in order to keep it at bay. Could the Egyptians do the same thing in Gaza – opening the border – and plying Hamas with weapons in order to keep the Muslim Brotherhood from striking at the nation’s heart?

Finally, there’s the issue of peace with Israel. Mubarak earns billions by keeping it intact, but will the Military be able to maintain it in the face of an emboldened Islamist threat from within? Can they afford to recall their ambassador to Tel Aviv, and re-establish cold-war ‘hostilities’ with Israel?

To call the situation fascinating is an understatement. But one thing’s for sure, Egypt’s future remains in the hands of the guys with the guns. The question is what they do with them.

Written by coolrebel

January 29, 2011 at 12:37 am

Israel’s Future is in America’s Hands

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“I don’t accept the term “Jewish Lobby”,  tweeted William Daroff, Vice President for Public Policy at the United Jewish Communties. The American Jewish community is incredibly powerful, economically, and politically, but wisely doesn’t want that power to be categorized in easily pejorative terms.

At the heart of the mission of Jewish organizations that have a political presence in Washington is strengthening US-Israel relations, but as Mr. Daroff makes clear that mission remains limited for the most part to what happens Stateside. The American Jewish Community doesn’t have favorites between the left, center or right of Israeli politics. “It’s up to the Israeli electorate. It’s not my role in the Diaspora to tell them who their leaders should be”,  says Mr. Daroff.

There has always been a sharp cultural divide between Jews who live in Israel, and those who live in the rest of the world, (known as the “diaspora”), and Mr. Daroff makes clear that Diaspora Jews shouldn’t have a say in how Israel is run. “We don’t interfere in the elections of others, just as I don’t want them interfering in American elections.”

But in many respects American Jews already do have an undue influence. Home to more Jews than in Israel itself, about six and a half million, American Jews care deeply about defending the State of Israel and their votes, and financial contributions, in Presidential and Congressional elections increasingly reflect that concern. Nobody denies that representatives from the US Jewish community watch the White House and Congress very carefully and try to maintain firm US support for Israel. That support comes in the form of an aid package worth $2.5 billion in 2007, mostly in the form of a military grant, and cements the single most important strategic alliance in the Middle East.

Despite White House concerns over the years that Israel is not doing its part to push forward the Middle East peace process, the idea of removing or substantially reducing the aid package is a third rail. Doing so would unleash an uproar against the incumbent President and would never be sanctioned by Congress. Which is unfortunate, because it’s the only bargaining chip the US has that Israel really cares about.

The idea that American Jewish groups would support or not oppose a US move to remove aid from Israel seems laughable now, but there may be more to the idea than meets the eye. And here’s why.

Israel is at a historical crossroads. It has three choices.

Firstly, to maintain the status quo, occupying the West Bank, holding a hard line on peace negotiations while containing Hamas in Gaza, and Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is the position that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu takes.

The second approach, “The Two State Solution”, calls for the creation of a sovereign Palestinian State alongside Israel, most probably to include East Jerusalem. Variations of this deal have been offered to and rejected by the Palestinians at various times in the last decade or so, usually because they did not include the “Right of Return” of Palestinian refugees to Israel proper.

The third trajectory is the “Single State Solution” whereby Jewish and Palestinian populations merge into a single state. This idea is starting to gather currency among Palestinians who believe they have a long-term demographic advantage (a thesis disputed by some Demographers in Israel who don’t see the Jewish population becoming the minority anytime soon). It is totally unacceptable to the Israelis. Over time Palestinians might move to a “long-game” continuing their rejectionism in the hope of forcing a single-state solution on what they hope will be a Jewish minority, with the support of the International community. Over time, as calls for a single-state approach among Palestinians increase, their appetite for a side-by-side arrangement may dwindle even further. This may happen in a matter of two decades or so.

By far the best approach for Israel and the United States is the two-state solution, and everything but the Right of Return should be on the table. For Israel, the two-state solution would achieve a number of goals. Firstly, after a period of fierce independence, the nascent Palestinian state would rapidly lose Arab state support and become reliant on Israel. Secondly, the new state would mean Arab populations would start looking inwards at injustices in their own non-democratic countries, destabiliizing Israel’s potential foes. Thirdly, a rejuvenated Palestinian population, supported by Israel and the International community may embrace peace. And fourthly, Israel would be able to take advantage of the new stability to build its economy, infrastructure, and society.

To suggest that Diaspora Jews should be mere spectators as this drama unfolds is naive. They are involved and should be involved.  It’s in the interests of American Jews to make their voices heard through their Community leaders in Washington, not with the same tired policies of retrenchment that lead to a continuation of an ultimately destructive status quo, but by proactively influencing the US Government to “go outside the box” and catalyse a desirable two-state solution before it’s too late.

It’s also in the interests of United States to listen to the newer, bolder entreaties of American Jews, to break the log-jam of a habitually frustrating Middle-East Peace process that, right now, it refuses to control.

Both the Palestinians and the Israelis must know that American interests demand peace in the Middle East, and that the US is prepared to apply meaningful financial and other diplomatic pressure to both sides (and in the case of the Palestinians to their allies too) in order to get it.

That pressure can come in the form of sticks, and carrots. The carrot could be more civilian aid to facilitate – for example – new homes and communities for current West Bank settlers moving back to Israel proper, ahead of the declaration of a new Palestinian state.

But the stick would have to come first. And although it may sound crazy, the best way for the American Jewish Community to support Israel is to make clear to the US Government that it would not oppose a threat to cut off Israel’s aid package if it doesn’t hold up its side of the bargain.

I can hear Mr. Daroff laughing now.

Will he still be laughing in twenty years?  We shall see.


Written by coolrebel

November 15, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Israel must shape its future before the future is out of its hands

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There are three possible paths for Israel to take, and two outcomes.

The paths are as follows;  First, a two-state solution, in which Israel and Palestine sit side by side and Palestine becomes a client state of Israel.  Second, a one state solution in which Israel falls under the demographic hammer and loses its identity after a monumental all-consuming war. Third , resistance to any solution in which Israel falls under the demographic hammer, and loses its identity after a monumental all-consuming war.

Clearly, the only path that is remotely feasible is the first, and yet there is a very good chance that the next prime minister of Israel will be a man for whom all but the third option are complete anathema. Netanyahu speaks the language of pragmatism, but with Avigdor Lieberman breathing down his neck, it’s unlikely to go anywhere. This is a problem, a very, very big problem. And it’s made worse by the fact that in a few years the demographic future of Israel will become very obvious to the Palestinians who will quite simply wait Israel out, until they outnumber the Jews in Israel proper. That possibility makes the two-state option all the more important to pursue now. To do it, Israel needs to both assert its power, and make powerful and strategic concessions.

Until Israel realizes that peace is a powerful and unbeatable weapon against its enemies it will remain on a very shaky trajectory. The irony is that peace in the Middle East is fast becoming a misnomer. The issue isn’t peace anymore, it’s what’s acceptable for Israel. Peace is a weapon in Israel’s arsenal.  The Palestinians, usually outsmarted by Israel realize this and don’t want to let it take hold. Hence the constant war. Not surprisingly, for a Western democracy, the Israeli population doesn’t take too kindly to the rabid anti-semitism of Hezbollah to the North of Hamas to the South. Which of course is pretty much why rockets are lobbed at Sderot on a daily basis. It’s not that they do any serious physical damage but they enrage the Israeli population enough for them to do the wrong thing when it comes time to vote. Hamas and Hezbollah use Israeli’s fertile democracy as a weapon against it. It’s the most powerful weapon they have. And it works well.

How does America combat that weapon? How does the US  “out-influence” Israeli policy? The answer is we make Israel realize that its future lies in a direction directly opposed to that which Hamas and Hezbollah encourage with their rocket fire. Like the terrorists we influence Israeli democracy in the purest possible way.  America is Israel’s only serious ally. It’s a bond that must not break, but in order to make Israel realize that no solution now will be a disaster for the nation in the future we have to be cruel to be kind. In short, we have to cut Israel off from military and economic aid unless they give up the territories and Gaza to a new Palestinian state, whether run by Hamas or Fatah. That might sound insane, but there’s method to this madness.

In the medium term, a Palestinian state has no place to turn but Israel, because the dirty little secret of the Middle East is that Palestinians are pariahs to the Arabs. They are pawns, pure and simple, and the moment they are empowered is the moment they become an enemy of Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia and just about everyone else. No more aid, no more support, nothing.  And the more Israel helps them, the more attractive a Palestinian state becomes and the less likely that the demographic hammer will fall on the State of Israel. This is the new reality, and there is no escaping it.

Israel must not be railroaded by Iranian nukes, or Hamas’ Qassams, or Hezbollah’s threats. It has to respond to the existential threat on its future with a wily realization that history is not on its side unless it attempts to manipulate the future to insure its own peaceful continuance and therefore success as a nation.

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Written by coolrebel

February 20, 2009 at 1:00 pm

American Power – Redefined.

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The Neo-Cons are dead. Long live the Neo-Libs.

Not in the economic sense, but in terms of America’s entire place in the world

It’s not just conservatives who believe that the continued hegemony of the United States is critical to the wellbeing of human-kind.  But the Neo-Lib prescription veers from the Neo-Cons very substantially after that. We neo-libs do not feel that military power is the key to our continued dominance. Instead Neo-Liberalism calls for a Wilsonesque revival of America’s power through goodwill and largesse, backed by  a Rooseveltian (and I mean Teddy) “big stick”. For too long, under the Neo-Cons, we talked loudly and carried a stick that frankly got smaller and smaller the deeper we fell into the morass of Iraq and Afghanistan.

It may seem like an odd time to be talking about American hegemony.  Our nation is in an economic crisis unlike any it has experienced in decades. The threat to our continued power is probably at its highest point since the Second World War, which would seem a perfect time to reassert it. Fortunately, our adversaries around the globe aren’t in any better shape than we are, and in many respects have further to fall. Even more fortuitous is the presence of a new President who could be the beacon for Neo-Liberalism. While Obama may have shown some early weakness on the domestic policy front, particularly with his reluctance to detach himself from tried-and-failed centrism, but on the foreign stage, he has an opportunity to rebuild and reinvigorate US power.

So let us begin to forge a plan for the rebuilding of American power. Here’s how.

China: Our main adversary is China. Indeed there may be a developing zero-sum relationship developing in Sino-US relations. America must stop its policy of appeasement towards Beijing and use the threat of internal dissent in the Chinese hinterland to drive a rebalancing of our trading and military relationships with China – to our advantage. We must regain the political and financial initiative in our dealings with Beijing, and expose their charlatnism and double standards for our own ends, and those of our allies. Finally, we must seek to compete with China in Africa, and not cede ground there.

The Middle East: Instead of segmenting the various theatres, from East to West, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis, we should see them as part of an ongoing war (whether cold, diplomatic, economic, or hot) for stability in the region. The interconnectedness of every part of the Mid East to virtually every other, requires a more supple diplomatic and economic approach, sharpened by the use of economic warfare for pursuit of our political ends. Our priorities in the region should be a) a rapid two-state solution to the Palestinian issue, forcing Israel’s hand if necessary. b) normalization of trading and diplomatic relations with Iran regardless of their nuclear ambitions c) The weakening of the Taliban by choking their opium funding. d) achieving stability and strength in Pakistan by developing close ties with the Pakistani Army and undermining the ISI.

Europe: We must actively seek to reforge our partnership with Europe in trading terms, while recognizing the political differences we have with the EU, particularly on diplomatic and military strategy. Europe is not a viable military partner, and must not be seen as such. However, the US must commit itself to preserving European stability in the face of rising internal terrorist threats, and current and future economic instability. Our main conduit to influence in Europe will continue to be the UK. Our relationship with London should be strengthened.

The World Environment: In the face of global warming, America must take the lead on the Environment, forcing China and India to follow suit, or face international consequences. We must make massive investment in a post-fossil fuel economy, and aggressively export and control world innovation in the green economy. It will also strengthen our domestic economy.

International Bodies: America should begin to withdraw its support for the UN and over time should seek to replace it with a new international body with less of an accent on peacekeeping and cooperation, and more on effective military and political action. The various UN agencies need to reconstituted and folded into a new international structure. The IMF and World Bank need to be repackaged, with greater authority, under US auspices, to preserve financial and economic stability.

International Communications: America must maintain its control of the Internet, and be responsible for its regeneration and development. It remains the bedrock of America’s innovation advantage, which the US must leverage to the maximum degree by being highly competitive in the world marketplace.

Foreign Aid: We have just committed nearly a trillion dollars to a “stimulus package”. Half of that money carefully invested in our more strategic allies, such as Pakistan, Afghan farmers, and Iran, over a presidential term will help to drive America’s campaign to rebuild its goodwill, and give us a powerful foothold in what could otherwise be troublesome nations.

Foreign Debt: Over time the US should seek to reduce and restructure its debts away from adversarial creditor nations, such as China, and Middle Eastern Sovereign Funds and towards friendlier debtor nations such as the UK, Taiwan, and Japan.

Domestic Policy: Strengthening US infrastructure, developing a viable universal health care system, boosting effective education, rebuilding the middle class, and reforming the US regulatory framework are a keystone to projecting US power abroad. The new President should use his virtual lock on Congress to push through required reforms.

The broad framework of neo-liberalism is simple. We believe that the goal of US hegemony is worthwhile, achievable, and necessary for the stability of the globe. Achieving our ends will be through rebuilding and projecting US economic power, the extension of US economic, diplomatic and technological influence, and the development of a more supple, lethal military to back-up our ambitions.

Israel. No More Mr. Nice Guy

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it's got to the point that israel needs to project raw power to secure a two-state solution.
Turns out you have to fight for a
two state solution

From now on, it’s no more Mr. Nice Guy in Israel. Promising “a disproportionate response” to Hamas for rocket attacks signals a new direction for Jerusalem. For years they have been on the wrong end of one of the most successful PR juggernauts of recent history – the Palestinians.

Nothing seems to dent the Palestinian love-bubble. The fact that Hamas has been targeting innocent Israelis for years through suicide bombings and rocket attacks seems to mean nothing, the fact that they use human shields means less, the fact that they brutally murder anyone remotely seen as an informer, irrelevant. Hamas has maintained lock-tight control on Gaza in order to further its longstanding total war against Israel. It gets as close as it can to starving its own people into hatred. The constant portrayal of Gazan as victim is incongruous with the fact that most of Hamas leadership has nothing to do with the place. To them maintaining the degradation of the world’s largest refugee camp is a means to an end. 

Meanwhile, Israel, a liberal democracy, gave Hamas plenty of time to stop the missile attacks before they became politically unacceptable. IDF policy is very clear on trying to minimize civilian casualties, and when there are abuses, IDF soldiers are disciplined and tried in closer accordance with the rules of war than in any other democratic country. Israel supplies Gaza despite the hatred coming from there towards the Jewish state. Meanwhile Egypt does nothing, locking down its borders, and providing precious little aid, as it imagines in terror what the Islamist threat from Gaza would mean for their authoritarian government. The rest of the Arab world also talk a good game, but deliver nothing.

The list goes on and on, but nothing that Israel seems to do gets any traction with the world community, and overturn their constant moral equivalency. There are numerous reasons for this. Latent anti-semitism, large Muslim communities in Western States, the disproportionate power of various petro-states keen on stoking the fire of Israeli-Palestinian conflict for their own ends. The Arabism of European diplomatic corps plays a big role too. Israel has made blunders, but the bar is set so high for them, and the scrutiny so great by sniping British and French journalists that it’s hard not to.

There’s nothing new about this – but there might be something very new about Israel’s approach to the barrage.

Olmert and Livni, two pretty moderate polticians, seem to have decided that Israel will no longer compete for goodwill from Europe. And if that’s true, they’re right. Courting Europe is a lost cause. As long as Israel doesn’t engage in independently verifiable rather than Palestinian-only reported excesses, then with America’s constant support, Europe is simply not a relevant part of their equation. They can do without it.

Israel’s future is on the line, and strategically the ‘no more Mr. Nice Guy’ approach makes far more sense. The demographic clock is ticking there, and in fifty years or so, they will have to abandon democracy in its purest form, unless they have created a two-state solution. It is more imperative than ever. This was the realization that created the new Sharon, who’s untimely departure from the scene led to a major strategy vacuum, until now.

Palestinian power is a chimera. All they have is PR. The Palestinians go with their strength (and don’t get me wrong, rocket attacks are part of the PR machine), and so should Israel. To get that two-state solution Israel must be seen as an immovable force, negotiating from a position of raw power rather than weakness. Unless the Palestinians become afraid that Israel will never relinquish control of its own state to an Arab majority, they will never opt for a two-state solution.

Written by coolrebel

February 1, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Bush Laterals to Obama. Mid-East Peace

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Among all the other total disasters Bush is handing over to Obama is the small matter of finding peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the current attacks on Gaza are part of an old school of thought. The future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will have a completely new landscape.

Benny Morris, a prominent historian of Israeli History wrote a superb primer on Israel’s current predicament in the New York Times. To sum it up, Israel faces unconventional enemies in both Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza, as well as the looming threat of Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and the demographic ticking time bomb of the increasingly radicalized and fast growing Arab-Israeli population that is likely to outnumber the Israeli Jews by 2040 or 2050.

These days Palestinians might just be playing the long game. They could try to simply wait out the Israelis, keeping up the pressure, sustaining the kind of damage and degradation that will keep their populations radicalized, and then force the Jewish State into either apartheid or a single-state solution, which would be a stepping stone in their eyes to the destruction of Israel. For the Jews, a single state solution would not be a solution at all. Jews would be the minority in an Arab State which would most likely dismantle the trappings of Israeli democracy after securing power, and attempt to assert its power over the Jews perhaps to the point of revenge. It’s hard to imagine Israel giving up its military power, nuclear weapons, and liberal democratic traditions without a fight, even if democracy in its purest form has to take a back seat to their self-preservation.

Israel will do everything in their power to scuttle a single state solution. They have no choice but to seek a two-state solution while there is still time. The Two state approach is a huge advantage for Israel. A Palestinian state is likely to be a client of Israel’s before long, wholly reliant on them economically. Arab states will no longer be able to use anger at treatment of the Palestinians as a cover for suppressing their own populations, and Israel’s demographic problems will be solved for once and for all. They will drop the Palestinians very fast. Not only that, but the inevitable power struggle between Fatah and Hamas for control of the new state (and whether it’s merely a stepping stone to the destruction of Israel or the end of the conflict) will severely weaken the nascent state. With new found peace, Israel can unleash the potential of its technological and economic power.

But the closer the demographic race in Israel becomes without the creation of a viable Palestinian state, the less likely the Palestinians will be to opt for one. By 2020, the year zero of Israeli Democracy might only be twenty years away and the two state solution might seem like second best for the Palestinians. They may be more likely to just stall the idea. It’s an approach that won’t look much different to the one that they use now.

Obama will likely be President until 2016, and it will be on his watch that the defining diplomacy in the region will take place. At its heart, the issue is simple. Can the Palestinians be convinced that a two-state solution is their best bet, or will they hold out for almost certain chaos by waiting for a single state approach?

American Foreign Policy will be far better served if a Palestinian state sits alongside Israel. A single state trajectory is fraught with unpredictable and unpalatable scenarios for the US. But the longer the Palestinians stall, the sweeter the two-state deal will have to be to tempt them, and the more likely the Israeli public will oppose the idea.

Unless the Israeli government succeeds in introducing the threat of a single-state solution as a way of moving the voting public in favor of two-state approach, Obama and his team will have to help to refocus them. And the only serious way to do that is with tough love. It would be a risky move, but removing US military and financial support for Israel might just make Israel realize that its future lies in accommodation.

Among other concessions, Israel will have to share Jerusalem, it will have to link the West Bank to Gaza, it will have to resettle its West Bank settlers in Israel proper (unless they wish to live under Palestinian rule), and it will have to support and supply the new Palestine. It will never agree to the Palestinian right of return – which would be tantamount to capitulating to a single state solution voluntarily.

Israel will be forced to make concessions. Many will regard them as unfair, but the demographic realities trump everything else. Obama has to convince the Israelis and Palestinians that their best deal is now.

Abba Eban, the father of Israeli Foreign Policy, once said famously that “Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.” For many years those words rang true, but it’s frightening possibility that Eban’s wisdom may no longer be relevant. Perhaps the Palestinians’ best opportunity now lies in continuing to miss them.

Written by coolrebel

December 30, 2008 at 10:28 am