An earlier version of this article appeared in March 2018 in my blog, not much has changed except that we have lost several more Jewish and American lives since then thanks to the inept response to terrorism by the American and Israeli governments.
Before discussing alternative solutions, it might be helpful to consider some of the reasons we need to look at alternatives. There are many possible approaches to this topic but for now, just consider the failure of past American policies that have led to this moment in history.
America has suffered from poor leadership for far too long. Not just poor leadership, but a failure of American leaders to pursue the strategic interests of the United States. Past American Administrations have wasted resources and spilled precious American blood pursuing failed policies that are incoherent, counter productive, and in some cases indefensible. In spite of the pending Embassy move, it is not yet clear if the current President has actually altered course or is just rearranging the deck chairs.
Former President Bill Clinton admitted he was a failure, though he probably still does not comprehend the extent of the damage caused by his misguided obsession with the PLO. His admission may stem from his own inability to comprehend the depth and nature of his own failure. In American Greatness and the PLO Caroline Glick said, “When Clinton left office, it wasn’t just the peace process that lay in shambles. Americaʼs reputation was also massively weakened. In contempt of Washington, North Korea was racing toward the nuclear finish line. Iran was taking over south Lebanon through Hezbollah and murdering Americans in Saudi Arabia. India and Pakistan went nuclear. And al-Qaida bombed two US embassies and one US naval destroyer.” Clinton’s failure wasn’t a failure to deliver a peace deal with Arafat, his neglect and incompetence betrayed the national interest of the United States.
By all accounts Arafat never had any intention of making peace. As Morton A Klein stated in The Truth is Not a Political Position, “On the very same day the Oslo accords were signed in Washington, Yasser Arafat broadcast his ‘stages’ message in Arabic: ‘Since we cannot defeat Israel in war, we do this in stages. We take any and every territory that we can of Palestine, and establish sovereignty there, and use it as a springboard to take more. When the time comes we can get the Arab nations to join us for the final blow against Israel.’”
By focusing on the PLO and ignoring much greater threats, Clinton’s failure helped set the stage for 9/11. Unfortunately, George Bush and Barrack Obama did no better in regard to the PLO. Both continued the failed policy of engaging the PLO and working with Fatah terrorists in direct opposition to the national interest of the United States.
Mahmoud Abbas was Arafat’s second in command and is reported to have been involved in the financing of the Munich massacre among other acts of terror. Like Arafat before him, Abbas is also reported to have stolen millions in foreign aid since taking power and just like his predecessor, Abbas has no intention of making peace with Israel.
To make matters worse, President Bush engaged in two land wars in Asia with no exit strategy for either and botched both. The Bush administration apparently had no clue of what to do after the initial success on the battlefield. In spite of the American military victories on the ground, once again the politicians in Washington managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
President Obama continued the failed policy of engaging with the PLO and pulled US troops out of Iraq leaving the more dangerous enemy, Iran, in a position of advantage. At the same time he continued our involvement in Afghanistan, where the US has no strategic interest and there is no hope of ever building a functional state. Estimates indicate that the government in Kabul will fall within 24 to 48 hours after American forces leave. Whether we leave now or 10 years from now, the end result will be the same.
In a 2014 article titled, The Real Realpolitik, Stephen Bryen PhD, a former Under Secretary of Defense, remarked “The legendary Hans Morgenthau, master of realpolitik, would say the United States has not pursued its national interest or applied a wise policy in support of those interests. This, in the end, is a policy and a moral failure, wasting economic and human resources and risking of lives of millions of people around the globe. Political realism, at its best, and Morgenthau was its best, was different from realpolitik in one crucial way: under its adherence to the wise and constructive use of power was a profound moral message. You are not a great power because you can launch drones from afar, or mow down your enemies with flying gunships. You are a great power when you articulate strategic objectives aimed at preventing aggression and upheaval, and using force, if needed, to drive home the point.” [emphasis added]
While pursuing policy in regard to the Arab-Israeli conflict, leaders must first understand the true nature of the conflict. Israel is not the cause of problems in the Middle East and neither is the absence of another Arab State. Creating another Arab State will not solve anything, it will only create more problems.
The US would be far better off working to strengthen Israel, the only stable democracy in the Middle East and our only real ally in the region. The Palestinian-Israeli issue is not a “deal” that can be made through negotiations. That has been tried for 50 years. The US should not be trying to make deals with terrorists and should not seek to create another Arab State.
The world already has twenty-one Arab States and about 40% of those are failed states. None of the existing Arab States can be classified as stable democracies. Propping up a corrupt dictator that supports and promotes terrorism is a recipe for disaster. Likewise, “Efforts to unlock the potential of the Palestinian economy” don’t address the fundamental issues. In this case, the issue has nothing to do with the economy.
Arabs have repeatedly stated their goal is to liberate all of Palestine, from the river to the sea. There are numerous polls and studies that indicate this is still the true goal of a majority of Arabs in the territories. Daniel Polisar’s essay on Mosaic answers the question Do Palestinians Want a Two-State Solution?. His excellent article is well written and researched scholarly work with a lot of interesting information, but the short answer is no.
For the Palestinians and other Arabs, calls for another Arab State are synonymous with calls to destroy Israel. The “three no’s” in The Khartoum Resolution from the Arab League and Arafat’s “stages” plan should have made it clear. If only western leaders would believe them. It is time to end the discussion of a “two state solution”. It only serves to perpetuate the conflict, encourage Arab aggression, and weaken Israel. The idea that there could be two states west of the river, was fatally flawed from the very beginning.
Jewish Settlement Rights Derived from the Mandate
Former US Undersecretary of State Eugene V. Rostov supported Israel’s right to settle in the territories in ‘Palestinian Self-Determination’: Possible Futures for the Unallocated Territories of the Palestine Mandate‘ (Yale Journal of International Law, 1980), when he said,
Jewish rights of close settlement in the West Bank are derived from the Mandate. Therefore they exist; it is impossible seriously to contend, as the United States government does, that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal.
Not only the US government, but most governments in the UN have claimed the settlements are illegal. It is a lie. Caroline Glick in her book, The Israeli Solution, which I highly recommend, devoted an entire chapter to the legal claims to the territories, but she sums up the debate very clearly in this one paragraph.
The reason the nations of the world decided to confer sovereign rights over the territories of the Palestine Mandate to the Jewish people is that they believed the land belonged to the Jews by historic right… …no nation other than the Jews had ever perceived the Land of Israel, or Palestine, as their national home. Not only had the nations of the world determined that the Jews had the best claim to national sovereignty over the land; the language of the Mandate indicates that they determined that the Jews had the only valid claim to national sovereignty there.
Israel is the Legitimate Sovereign in Judea and Samaria
The real issue is the legal sovereign of the territory. As Caroline Glick pointed out, throughout history, territory captured in a just defensive war has belonged to the victor. Especially when the losing state cedes all claims to the territory as Jordan did. Claims by activists, the media, and delusional world leaders that Israel is somehow in violation of international law are simply not true.
Since the Arab leaders have not adhered to their previous agreements, there is no incentive for Israel to grant any concessions now. “During an address to the United Nations General Assembly on September 30, 2015, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas asserted that the PA was no longer bound by the Oslo Accords as well as all subsequent agreements between the PA and Israel.” Since the Arabs have effectively annulled the Oslo accords, why should the Israelis continue to abide by the accord? The Oslo accords should be formally annulled and left a relic of the past.
As the United States develops a new policy in the Middle East it is important, as Stephen Bryen pointed out, that leaders articulate the strategic objectives of their policies. The United States should support and work to strengthen our strategic ally in the region, which is Israel and where ever possible weaken our enemies.
President Trump took the first steps in recognizing Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel and ordering the US Embassy moved to Jerusalem. One possible next step could be an unequivocal renunciation of the two state solution. Cutting funding for the PA should not be far behind. There are several alternatives that have been proposed but only a few address the real core issue of the conflict. Martin Sherman’s Humanitarian Paradigm is the most promising in part because a large number of Arabs actually want to leave. As many as 50% want to leave Gaza and 20-40% want to leave Judea and Samaria depending on their age group.
If those that want to leave were allowed to leave, other options and opportunities to resolve the conflict may become apparent. After nearly a hundred years of turmoil and failed policies, the US should be looking at alternative solutions. It is time for a new approach in the Middle East.
Levi Randolf is a contributor of Blitz.