Saturday, June 15th 2024   |

OP-ED: A two-state solution now is tantamount to suicide for Israel

By YAARA SEGAL

(Jewish Journal via JNS.org) – American activist and author Maya Angelou once said: “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

The Hamas rocket manufacturing site in Al-Bureij, the Gaza Strip. Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.

Oct. 7, 2023 was by no means the first time that Hamas showed the world who they were, but the atrocities committed that day will forever mark a turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For perhaps the first time, Israelis were left with no choice but to believe the Palestinian side whose actions were nowhere near signaling for peace, nor any solution resulting in any type of coexistence.

Shortly after the immediate shock and strong condemnations of the Oct. 7. monstrosities, we watched the American administration hastily return to its usual ways, as it repeatedly stressed the importance of returning to the old and familiar path of a two-state solution which would entail the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

In pushing for this solution, the administration made it very clear that it is completely oblivious to the new reality Israel has been facing in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks.

Asking Israel to support a two-state solution at this time is tantamount to asking Israel to commit suicide. Israel simply cannot allow the creation of an Iranian-backed Islamist state at its doorstep.

On his most recent visit to Israel, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken raised the so-called two-state solution again, when he said the following during a press conference in Jerusalem: “As I told the prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu], every partner that I met on this trip said that they’re ready to support a lasting solution that ends the long-running cycle of violence and ensures Israel’s security. But they underscored that this can only come through a regional approach that includes a pathway to a Palestinian state. To make this possible, Israel must be a partner to Palestinian leaders who are willing to lead their people in living side by side in peace with Israel and as neighbors.”

What Blinken and the U.S. administration are actually suggesting is that Israel, in response to the Octo. 7 massacre, should reward Hamas by allowing them to create a sovereign Palestinian state.

Who exactly is the Biden administration thinking of giving the control to? To the incompetent and corrupt Palestinian Authority, whose leaders, Yasser Arafat and Mahmoud Abbas, have turned down every single Israeli peace offer since the botched Camp David summit in the year 2000? 

Both Arafat and Abbas had several opportunities to establish a Palestinian state, however they rejected these offers time and time again, denying their people the opportunity to live in peace and security in their own state next to Israel.

Since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, the P.A. has done literally nothing to prepare its people for peace and compromise with Israel. 

Even in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 massacre, the P.A. has continued to launch a massive campaign of incitement against Israel. P.A. leaders have refrained from publicly condemning the atrocities. In fact, senior officials, including Jibril Rajoub and Azzam al-Ahmad, have praised Hamas, calling the Iran-backed Islamist terrorist group an “integral part of Palestinian society.”

Instead of calling for the removal of Hamas from power, P.A. officials are now talking about the possibility of forming a “National Unity Government” after the war ends. They have made it crystal clear that they see Hamas as a legitimate and acceptable partner in the Palestinian arena despite the savage murders, rapes, beheadings, mutilations and kidnappings they committed on Oct. 7.

In many ways, it is hard to see how the P.A. is any different from Hamas. When speaking in Arabic, the P.A. and Hamas leaders sound almost identical, especially when it comes to talking about Israel. They both employ the same vapid terminology in their condemnation of Israel, accusing it of “war crimes,” “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing” and “apartheid,” while simultaneously calling for its destruction. As such, it’s hard to see how the P.A. under its current leadership could be entrusted with managing a Palestinian state that exists peacefully alongside Israel.

And there’s another problem. When Blinken and other Western powers talk about the need to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel, they are turning a blind eye to the sentiment of the Palestinian public.

The vast majority of the Palestinian public has lost confidence in Abbas and the P.A. leadership. Public opinion polls published by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research have shown that most Palestinians prefer Hamas over the P.A. Moreover, between 70% to 80% of the Palestinians are demanding the resignation of 88-year-old Abbas, while more than 50% support the option of an “armed struggle” against Israel. If presidential elections were held today, the polls show that most Palestinians would vote for Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, as opposed to less than 40% who preferred Abbas.

According to these findings, a future Palestinian state (if established anywhere in the near future) would be run by a Palestinian terror group that does not recognize Israel’s right to exist, believes in jihad (holy war), and openly declares that its ultimate goal is the elimination of the only Jewish state.

Since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, the enclave has been transformed into a de facto semi-independent Palestinian state. At the time, Israel handed over Gaza to P.A. leader Abbas and his government. A year and a half later, the P.A. collapsed, leaving the territory to Hamas.

In some ways, Gaza had more signs of sovereignty than the West Bank. Unlike the West Bank, there was no Israeli military or civilian presence in Gaza. Israel even abandoned the Philadelphi Corridor along the Egypt-Gaza border. This meant that Gaza had full control over the Palestinian side of the border with Egypt and the outside world.

Hamas had the opportunity (and the funding) to build schools and hospitals and turn Gaza into the “Singapore of the Middle East.” Instead, the terror group chose to turn the area into a major base for global jihad, and a launching pad to attack Israel.

Hamas turned Gaza into an independent Islamist state, one that built an army and manufactured its own rockets as well as other types of weaponry. Due to the absence of Israeli military presence along the border with Egypt, Hamas managed to smuggle in large amounts of weapons and construction materials that it used to build one of the world’s most sophisticated underground tunnel networks.

Hamas didn’t attack Israel to liberate Gaza from “Israeli occupation.” That “occupation” ended in 2005 with the Israeli disengagement. What happened on Oct. 7 illustrated Hamas’s top and only priority: murdering Israelis. Hamas leaders repeatedly state their intent to “liberate Palestine” from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, replacing Israel with an Islamist state. They have openly promised to launch as many Oct. 7-style massacres as required to reach this goal.

Before Oct. 7 most Israelis believed in peace with the Palestinians and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state next to Israel. Even hardline right-wing Israeli leaders such as Benjamin Netanyahu and the late Ariel Sharon had voiced support for the two-state solution. Today many Israelis no longer believe that this is a realistic scenario in the foreseeable future. A barbaric massacre will do that to people.

Israelis are eager to see a brave Palestinian leader who would stand up and denounce terrorism, recognizing Israel’s right to exist as the homeland of the Jewish people. For now, a leader like this is nowhere to be found. Sadly, one of the only times we see Palestinian leaders united is in their radicalization against Israel.

It’s hard to understand why the U.S. administration is unable to see what many of us in Israel now know for certain: You can’t reach any solution that includes the word “two” in it, when only one side is willing to recognize the other.

Yaara Segal served in Israel’s Foreign Ministry and is the former senior adviser to Israel’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates.

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