A unity government of the Palestinian Authority and the terrorist Hamas doomed any possibility of a two-state solution. This war was a game-changer.
Remember the calumny heaped on Israel for unilaterally destroying Iraq’s nuclear reactor, Osirak, in 1981? Nine years later, when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August, 1990, and the US organized a coalition to go to war against Saddam Hussein, the US and the Arab world were profoundly grateful to Israel.
The coalition had to face conventional — not nuclear — weapons in Iraq and Kuwait.
One day — much sooner than nine years from now — those who heap calumny on Israel for defending itself against Hamas on Hamas’ home territory may also come around with a profound thank you. Before Operation Protective Edge, a two-state solution was impossible for the simple reason that Gaza was excluded.
The US, Israel and the Palestinian Authority excluded Gaza because it was ruled by a terrorist organization, Hamas. None was going to negotiate for a state ruled by a terrorist entity. Then the PA stepped in with a pragmatically impossible, morally outrageous device: a unity government with Hamas.
Whereupon Hamas kidnapped three Israeli teens and showered Israeli civilians with missiles.
So much for the possibility of a two-state solution under a joint PA-Hamas government.
Israel’s defensive war against Hamas has now made a two-state solution possible. Obstacles remain, to be sure, but not obstacles in principle. The potential is there.
Both Israel and the US would back a Hamas-denuded PA takeover of Gaza. Whatever its failings, the PA realized in 2005 (as Hamas might now realize) that terrorist attacks — call them infitadas, missile strikes, whatever you want — won’t gain it anything. Gaza under PA rule presents the possibility of a true, not a truncated, two-state solution. Of course, PA control of Gaza will have to entail the demilitarization of Gaza, including the defanging of Hamas. Anything else would be a non-starter.
These are the remaining obstacles, besides the critical details of borders, settlements and land swaps:
• The PA will have to withdraw its genocide claim against Israel in the International Criminal Court. Rightly, Israel will not negotiate with anyone who regards Israel’s right of self-defense as illegitimate.
• The PA will have to warm up to the idea that, especially after the discovery of the Hamas terrorist tunnel network, Israel will be even less likely to renounce its military presence along the Jordan River.
• The US, the UN and the EU will have to understand that Israel will no longer allow the importation of building materials into Gaza without direct Israeli supervision over their destination and use. The rebuilding of civilian life in Gaza is one thing; the subversion of that goal by Hamas into rebuilding its terrorist tunnel network is quite something else. The US, the UN, the EU — and, for that matter, Israel itself — would undermine any possibility of a two-state solution by sowing the seeds of a Hamas comeback via terror tunnels.
No doubt, these are not small obstacles. But they are immeasurably smaller than the prospect of one Palestinian state on Israel’s eastern border, and another, terrorist Palestinian enclave along Israel’s southern border. A “two-state” solution means one Palestinian state, not two, plus Israel.
Let Secretary of State John Kerry prove his mettle now, not by bringing Hamas’ demands to ceasefire negotiations, but by grasping the realistic future for peace on Israel’s borders: a demilitarized Gaza and West Bank — an elimination of the Israeli need to wage wars of self-defense. On this basis, a two-state solution is possible.
Copyright © 2014 by the Intermountain Jewish News