Monday, December 03, 2007

Annapolis—One More Well-Meaning Dangerous Road


With great fanfare in Annapolis last week, the present-day international consensus solution was reaffirmed: two states—one Israeli, one Palestinian—within the confines of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank. This is unfortunate because the “two-state solution” can AT BEST only lead to a temporary cessation of hostilities between Arabs/Muslims and Israel. It cannot lead to long enduring peace that includes a viably strong Israel in the Middle East.

The consensus is based on flawed assumptions. One flaw arises simply because the Arab/Muslim-Israeli conflict has been oversimplified in public discourse to the point where only Palestinian statelessness and Israel’s security needs are discussed as the lynchpin to regional peace. This is nonsense. One need only look to the fighting in Iraq or Lebanon to establish the fallacy. Arab and Muslim tribal animosity towards each other continues without regard to Israel.

And Arab and Muslim animosity towards Israel will not abate by splitting into two-states, the tiny area in which Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are now crammed.

Of course, regional dictators have a long list of self-serving reasons for blaming Israel and the Jews for everything wrong in the Arab world, and they have reason to sell Washington on the idea that if only the Israeli-Palestinian problem were solved, terrorism would abate and the sun would shine on the whole region.

Much of establishment Washington (and the rest of the world) plays along, I dare say, to appease important oil interests. And, present Israeli leadership cowers in the face of international pressure.

I was heartened that, rhetoric aside, the actions of Dr. Rice and President Bush run counter to the myth that this is an Israeli-Palestinian problem that can be solved by two states for two peoples. Just look at the Annapolis guest list. Dr. Rice and President Bush felt it necessary to invite and involve members of the Arab League. The guest list makes it clear that the problem to be solved is an Arab/Muslim-Israeli one. Present at the conference were Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The Muslim states participating were Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Turkey.

(For what it’s worth, Annapolis did confirm that the Foreign Minister of Saudi Arabia will not shake the Prime Minister of Israel’s hand, and that Arab Ministers, save the Jordanian one, will still not meet with Israel’s foreign minister.)

The chance for real peace between Israel and her neighbors in the next year is nil. Appeasement does sometimes work, but history has shown that in this particular conflict, and in this particular region it will not.

Nevertheless, with enough international political pressure, there could one day be a 22nd Arab state, a Palestinian one on the West Bank and in Gaza. This “triumph” will be no road to a lasting peace. It will leave Israel weak and in more danger, and the Palestinian state will be feckless.

Here’s my expectation. Whether or not a Palestinian state is recognized, it will eventually become apparent to international leadership that the present consensus solution is unstable, unworkable and untenable.

As is expressed in a recent RAND Study: "If the failed or failing states of recent years—Somalia, Yugoslavia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Afghanistan—have endangered international security, consider the perils in the Middle East and beyond of a failed Palestine, or the costs and risks of one so weak that it must be propped up and policed by the United States and others."

It is HIGHLY likely that an independent Palestinian state, limited to the West Bank and Gaza, will fail or be extremely weak. It cannot realistically be viable as an independent state.

Again, according to the hopeful RAND Study, “Palestine can only succeed with the backing and assistance of the international community—above all, the United States, the European Union, the United Nations, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. Resource requirements will be substantial for a decade or more.” Specifically, the RAND Study suggests that to have even a chance of success, this small Palestinian state would require $33 billion of aid over 10 years, $50 billion of aid through 2019, AND ACCESS TO ISRAEL’S LABOR MARKET (emphasis added)."

This approach is fantasy.

Sooner or later, after massive international funding fails, or perhaps after the outbreak of war, the international community will have to revisit the idea of having two non-viable states on this particular small parcel of land.

Simply put, the single-minded international pursuit of this “two-state” approach endangers the lives of some, and ruins the lives of many—Palestinians and Israelis alike.

There is plenty of room in the Middle East for ALL people who currently live there to be prosperous. But because there isn’t a humanitarian approach to the Arab/Muslim-Israeli problem, Israel's long-term viability is in danger, and Palestinian Arabs languish.

Time bombs in the Middle East will only be defused when international pressure is such that democratic states large enough to be self-sustaining are created for all Peoples in the region. To do this, not only must Israel’s boundaries be redrawn, but also, the boundaries imposed by the British and French at the end of World War I on much of the Middle East must be redrawn.

--David Naggar

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