(Editor’s note: Evelyn Gordon provides an alternative strategy to the delusionary two state solution. This article, which we have divided into two parts—the second installment will be in the next Outpost—is all the more timely and useful now that Prime Minister Netanyahu and Secretary of State Kerry seek to resume—yet again!—negotiations for an all-embracing agreement.)
It’s a longstanding truism of international relations that “everyone knows” the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet today, after more than two decades of negotiations under several different Israeli, Palestinian, and American governments have repeatedly failed to produce the two-state agreement whose terms “everyone knows,” it is past time to put this false idea to rest. In fact, what the talks have shown is that even when there’s agreement on general principles, the remaining gaps are insurmountable—and often there isn’t even agreement on principles. What this means is that, for now and for the foreseeable future, a final peace is not achievable.
To most Israelis, this isn’t news. Repeated polls have confirmed that while a stable majority still favors a two-state solution, an even larger majority doesn’t believe an agreement can or will be signed anytime soon—or that the Palestinians are serious about reaching one.
And little wonder. After all, every proposal made by either Israel or international mediators in the past 20 years has met with summary rejection. Yasir Arafat turned down offers by Prime Minister Ehud Barak and U.S. President Bill Clinton in 2000-01; Mahmoud Abbas never even responded to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s offer in 2008; and last year, according to a senior American official, Abbas first “rejected all of [Secretary of State John] Kerry’s ideas” and then “refused” an American proposal personally presented by President Barack Obama.
No less telling, each territorial concession by Israel has produced not a decrease but a dramatic increase in Palestinian terrorism. In the two-and-a-half years following the Oslo Accords in 1993, when Israel withdrew from most of Gaza and parts of the West Bank, more Israelis were killed by Palestinians than in the entire preceding decade. The second intifada, which erupted in 2000, produced more Israeli casualties in four years than all the terror attacks of the previous 53 years combined. Since 2005, the year in which Israel evacuated every last soldier and settler from Gaza, Palestinians there have fired over 16,000 rockets and mortars at Israel’s civilian population. People who are serious about making peace generally don’t use every bit of territory ceded to them in order to attack their “peace partner.”