This originally appeared in the Washington Jewish Week on March 25, 2013
Prior to President Barack Obama’s trip to Israel, he, Secretary of State John Kerry and others reiterated their commitment to a “two-state solution.” We strongly oppose the use of this term – and not for political reasons.
One should stop using this term even if one believes that establishing a Palestinian state is necessary to secure a final resolution and peace. The phrase should be dropped as a major misnomer, because it is inaccurate and false.
This term “two-state solution” falsely implies – even claims – that Israel is not yet a state, that it is not a sovereign, independent, U.N.-sanctioned state until and unless a Palestinian state comes into being alongside it. If this were not the implication, why would anyone be promoting the term “two-state solution”?
It also falsely implies that both sides are getting the same thing. Yet Israel is already a state and its legitimacy stands independent of whatever political solution might one day emerge.
Before 1948, the year the Israeli state was established, one could reasonably and accurately speak of a two-state solution, because that is what was being proposed – a state for Jews and a 23rd state for Arabs. Today, only a Palestinian state is being proposed and those advocating it should therefore call it the “Palestinian state solution.” But this too is fraught with problems, inasmuch as a Palestinian state under prevailing conditions would not bring peace and therefore provides no “solution.”
Quite the contrary: Palestinians have rejected establishing a Palestinian state in the context of accepting a Jewish state on each and every occasion it has been proposed. In 1937 the Peel Commission offered the Palestinian Arabs 95 percent of the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea – the other 5 percent would comprise a Jewish state. The Arabs said no. The U.N. offered to divide the land in 1947 into Jewish and Arab states. The Arab powers said no, and invaded Israel in an attempt to destroy the fledgling Jewish state. In 2000, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and, again in 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered more than 90 percent of the West Bank, all of Gaza and substantial parts of Jerusalem. In both cases, the Palestinian leadership said no and made no counteroffer.
Furthermore, from 1948 to 1967, all of the West Bank and Gaza and half of Jerusalem were controlled by Jordan and Egypt, yet no Palestinian movement called for a Palestinian state in these territories. If the denial of such a state is the crux of the problem, Palestinians could have been expected to have waged diplomatic and terrorist warfare on Egypt and Jordan in a bid to pressure these powers to create one. It never happened.
To call the creation of a Palestinian state a “solution” where Israel would be accepted continues to be highly unlikely. A July 2011 PCP poll showed that only 34 percent of Palestinians accept the idea of a peaceful Palestinian state alongside Israel. Moreover, there is no map in the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) that identifies a country called “Israel” – only the name “Palestine” appears on the entire territory of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Even the new Fatah ruling party emblem recently commissioned by the P.A. depicts the entirety of Israel draped in Palestinian headgear and labeled “Palestine.” Indeed, Abbas continuously and publicly states “I do not accept a Jewish state; call it what you will.” Their animus towards Jews is so strong that P.A. leaders – Abbas, Saeb Erakat, Ahmed Qurei to name three of the most senior – have insisted that no Jew will be permitted to live in a future Palestinian state.
Many P.A. leaders openly call for Israel’s destruction. In U.N. speeches, Abbas condemns Israel for “63 years of occupation” – meaning all of Israel is illegal so far as Palestinians are concerned. He calls Israel the “land of Mohammad and Jesus,” denying its Jewish connection. In a New York Times op-ed, Abbas even wrote that a Palestinian state will lead the P.A., not to peace, but to “internationalize the conflict as a legal matter … paving the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the U.N., human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.”
And how is a Palestinian state possible when rivals Fatah and Hamas control West Bank areas and Gaza respectively? All these facts, along with their refusal to negotiate are scarcely grounds for belief that a Palestinian state is a “solution” for a real peace.
Therefore, we must all stop using the inaccurate term “two-state solution.” Israel is already a sovereign state and a Palestinian state is not the solution to the lack of peace. Only when the Palestinian Arabs and the wider Arab world truly accept the Jewish people’s rights to the land as a Jewish state will a real peace finally emerge.
Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is director of the ZOA’s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establishment of Israel (London, 2004).