The Jewish liberals, long dominant in the Israeli/Jewish lobby, though no more, are worried that their plan for a little controlled Palestinian mini-quasi-almost State didn't quite work in the end. It used to be known as 'the Oslo Peace Process'...and they were all wildly enthusiastic about it; leading to today's disastrous consequences. Be careful when reading Tom Friedman; he comes with a lot of political baggage amidst the flowery verbage.
A two-state solution is in doubt
Thomas L. Friedman The New York Times
Monday, July 1, 2002
WASHINGTON Recent events in the Middle East leave me wondering whether we're
witnessing not just the end of the Oslo peace process, but the end of the whole
idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
When the Palestinians' Intifada II began more than a year ago, in the wake of a
serious proposal for a Palestinian state by President Bill Clinton, I argued
that Palestinians were making a huge mistake. When the party to a conflict
initiates an uprising, then suicide bombing, at a time when the outlines of a
final peace are on the table - as the Palestinians did - it shatters
everything. In this case it shattered the Israeli peace camp, it blew apart the
fragile confidence-building measures that took years to build, and it generally
left the Israeli public feeling it had opened the gates to a Trojan horse.
This is particularly true in the case of the Palestinians because they never
articulated why their uprising was necessary, given the diplomatic alternatives
still available, or what its precise objectives were. They seem to have been
heavily influenced by Hezbollah's success at driving Israel out of Lebanon and
seem to have bought into the fantasy that they could give birth to their own
state in blood and fire. Yasser Arafat went along for the ride.
"This Intifada II was Arafat's 1967 war," says the Middle East expert Stephen
P. Cohen. Like Egypt's former president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, "Arafat got
completely swept up in the fantasies of the moment and failed to distinguish
between what was real and what was not. And like Nasser, it will be the
beginning of his end."
But here's the rub: Even if Arafat went away, and even if Israel was ready to
give his successor all of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, the security
requirements and limits on Palestinian sovereignty that Israelis would insist
on - given the total breakdown in trust over the last year - would probably be
so high that no Palestinian leader could accept them.
If that is the case, it means that a negotiated two-state solution is
impossible and Israel is doomed to permanent occupation of the West Bank and
Gaza. And if that is the case, it means Israel will have to rule the West Bank
and Gaza permanently, the way South African whites ruled blacks under
apartheid. Because by 2010, if current demographic patterns hold, there will be
more Palestinians in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem than Jews.
And if that is the case, it means an endless grinding conflict that poses a
mortal danger to Israel.
Because there are three trends converging in the Middle East today.
The first is this vicious Israeli-Palestinian war. The second is a population
explosion in the Arab world, where virtually every Arab country has a
population bubble of under-15-year-olds marching toward a future where they
will find a shortage of good jobs and a surplus of frustration. The third is an
explosion of Arab satellite TV stations, the Internet and other private media.
Basically what's happening is that this Arab media explosion is taking images
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and beaming them to this population
explosion, nurturing a rage against Israel, America and Jews in a whole new
Arab generation. Of that new generation someone will go to dad and say, "Dad,
there is a Pakistani gentleman at the door selling a suitcase nuclear bomb. He
wants a check for $100,000, and I would like to personally deliver the suitcase
to Tel Aviv." And dad is going to write the check.
The only hope for Israel is to get out of the territories - any orderly way it
can - and minimize its friction with the Arab world as the Arabs go through a
wrenching internal adjustment to modernization.
I applaud President George W. Bush's call for Arafat to be replaced, in what
amounts to Bush's last-ditch attempt to "re-accredit" the Palestinians as a
partner for a two-state solution with Israel. But it is a travesty that Bush
did not act to "re-accredit" Israel, too, as a peace partner for a two-state
solution with the Palestinians by insisting that Israel begin pulling back from
some of its settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. It would help the
Palestinians undertake their reforms, and it would put Israel in a better
position to withdraw unilaterally, if it has to.
Bush blinked because he didn't want to alienate Jewish voters. Sad. Because
Bush may be on Israel's side, but history, technology and demographics are all
The New York Times
Copyright © 2002 The International Herald Tribune