The United States can no longer afford to pursue a futile course. The article below both explains why negotiations cannot bring about a two-state settlement and provides a workable alternative strategy.
Imposition of the Two-State Solution By the U.N.
Because conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is a principal irritant in relations between the Muslim world and the West, settlement of the issues that propel that conflict should be resolved as quickly as possible by implementing the two-state solution. For Israel, the essential feature of the two-state solution has been to purchase peace with the Palestinians in exchange for land on which the Palestinians might build a homeland of their own. Heretofore, the expectation has been that the Palestinians and the State of Israel would first work out the details in a negotiated settlement. Then the two-state solution would be implemented, as each party would carry out its obligations under their negotiated agreement. The role that the United States has played in this process has been to assist the negotiations.
It hasn’t worked. Despite years of effort, the parties have failed to reach agreement. One stubborn reality blocking agreement has long been recognized. It is that, while Israel is a state with well established political processes for authorizing its negotiators, the Palestinians are a population with conflicted persuasions and only a weak and dubious processes for deciding their policy objectives and authorizing their negotiators.
Now, another obstacle to a negotiated settlement must be recognized. This time the obstacle is on the Israeli side: It is the practical inability of the government of Israel to carry out its key obligation under a negotiated agreement–the obligation to deliver land for the Palestinian state. In the years of failed negotiations, 400,000 Israeli setters have moved into illegal settlements within prospective Palestinian territory. The Israeli government has failed to summon the will to resist the settlement process. In the few instances of government action to expel only a few settlers the entire settler community has offered such ferocious resistance as to discourage further effort by the government. It is time to recognize that, even if elected Israeli officials were to agree to a plan to exchange land for peace, those officials could not survive in office long enough to carry out their obligation to remove the settlers. Conclusion? The two-state solution cannot be implemented by way of negotiations: If the two-state solution is to be achieved, it will only be by imposing it from without.
Therefore the Obama administration should seek intervention by the United Nations to impose a two-state settlement of U.N. design, that settlement to include:
1) Creation of a Palestinian Protectorate;
2) The integrity of the Protectorate to be guaranteed by military forces contributed by a mix of Western and Near-Eastern powers;
3) The contributed forces to both disarm and defend the population;
4) Israeli settlements on the wrong side of the established boundary to be confiscated at fair value under eminent domain and sold to Palestinians under competitive bidding;
5) The Protectorate to devise and impose laws reasonably expected to be acceptable to a majority of Palestinians;
6) A Palestinian judiciary to enforce the laws, subject to first appeal to the Protectorate and then to the U.N.;
7) The Protectorate to set up general governmental institutions, and prepare for free elections;
8) Internationalization of Jerusalem under a secular governmental authority.
That it may be possible politically for the United States to play the role proposed above is suggested by the following facts:
1) The birth rate of Palestinians exceeds that of Israeli Jews, which raises the prospect of a Muslim majority in Israel within twenty years. That, in turn, raises the question of the survivability of Israel as a Jewish State. That prospect alone should be enough to motivate a majority of Israelis and a majority of Israel‘s American friends to favor creation, by the U.N., of a Palestinian Protectorate.
2) Until the two-state solution is implemented, a majority of Palestinians will live under increasingly oppressive conditions as second class citizens in an increasingly apartheid society. Their reaction to these conditions will surely spell continuing violence and insecurity for Israel and its citizens. Furthermore, the continued suffering of the Palestinians in their stateless condition will continue to generate anger and hatred (against both Israel and the United States) throughout the Islamic world. This fact, too, should be sufficient to motivate both Israel and the American government to seek U.N. creation of a Palestinian Protectorate.
Donald C. Smart
San Leandro, CA