Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Two States?

Shalom All,

Watching Hillary Clinton and George Mitchell meet with heads of state and promise to reinvigorate the peace process is simply painful. It is not that I do not wish to see peace. I am an advocate for a two state solution...ultimately. ULTIMATELY is the important word here. Two states are simply not possible right now. One of them cannot function as a state because it cannot even function as a semi-state. The other has a government that cannot survive (politically) the battles necessary to bring about two states. When utopianism meets realism, utopianism cannot be victorious.

There are now calls for Egypt and Jordan to take over Gaza and the West Bank respectively. Personally, I believe that may be the only logical solution to what is a crisis at the moment, but good luck in getting Egypt and Jordan to buy in. Gaza needs security as well as prosperity. Israel can only seal borders, it cannot police the streets of Gaza. Clearly both Fatah (The Palestinian Authority) and Hamas have both failed to stop the violence occurring in Gaza among Palestinians and out of Gaza against Israel. Israel cannot possibly allow unfettered access to and from Gaza into its territory and it would be the height of outrage to force it to allow the radicalism of Gaza into the West Bank by creating a free access corridor between the two. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank cannot allow that either. Thus, at the moment any Palestinian state would remain bipartite.

Now, there are voices that call for recognizing Hamas rule over the entire PA. No one in their right mind could possibly do that either among Israelis or among Fatah officials in the West Bank. Lives would be at stake. To ask Abbas to surrender rule to Hamas in the West Bank would be worse than asking the IDF to turn its eye to the events at Sabra and Shatila. For those who loudly protest those events to this day, it is the height of hypocrisy to demand that it happen again. The blood of revenge and civil war would pour freely in the streets and rockets would come out of Ramallah and Bethlehem, not only out of Gaza.

In essence, trying to force a two state solution now will result in the impossibility of a two state solution for decades and a dramatic increase in death and suffering. There is simply no competent Palestinian leadership by any of the three major definitions of the term "Competent":

com·pe·tent (kmp-tnt)
1. Properly or sufficiently qualified; capable: a competent typist.
2. Adequate for the purpose: a competent performance.
3. Law Legally qualified or fit to perform an act.

Certainly no government is capable of uniting the Palestinians and ending violence against Israelis. In my mind, that rules out definitions #1 and #2. Then there is the fact that one entity controls Gaza (Hamas) while another controls the West Bank (Fatah-Palestinian Authority) and there are major legal disputes as to whom should be considered the representative of the Palestinian people, which eliminates definition #3. It would seem to me that only a competent government, one meeting all three of these definitions, could possibly aid in the creation of a two state solution.

Personally, I believe that neither Hamas nor Fatah, not one or the other, but NEITHER, has the ability to become competent. I believe that some other group or groups need to arise whose origin is not in violence, nor in the eradication of Israel. Both Hamas and Fatah, also in essence known as the Palestinian Liberation Organization, originated as terrorist organizations bent on Israel's elimination. I am doubtful that this can occur under either's authority either. Thus, it is my belief that outside help is needed and that such help needs to be from Egypt for Gaza and from Jordan for the West Bank.

Right now, Palestinians need to see their lives improve, their bellies filled, their security maintained (against their own people and against Israeli attacks). They need to see their institutions play a functional role in their lives. Children need to go to school. Doctors and nurses need to be able to treat patients. People need to be able to go to the market. Life needs to happen before their can be two states. Rockets need to stop falling upon Southern Israel and that responsibility needs to be entirely upon the government of Gaza, not upon Israel, and not based upon concessions from Israel. Israel's concession is not to attack Gaza once attacks from Gaza stop and to allow life to go on and improve there. Moreover, if rockets continue to be fired from Gaza there is no hope that Israel will be willing to see a Palestinian state in the West Bank because it can not but anticipate that such violence would erupt there as well, something far more dangerous than continued rocket fire from Gaza. And if in the interim violence erupts in the West Bank as in Gaza, you will not see improvement in the lot of Palestinians, but dramatically worsened conditions in the West Bank as Israel is forced to defend its citizenry. Hamas is not the answer any more than Fatah is. Ultimately, if violence continues to be used against Israel from Gaza, much less from the West Bank as well, there is no hope for the suffering of the people of Gaza to end. NONE. EVER, much less to end soon and no hope for a two state solution or for that matter, any state at all for the Palestinian people.


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