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by Moshe Arens


The supporters of the "two-state" solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have a sure way of nonplussing those who express reservations about it. Just look them in the eye and ask "so what's your solution?" The answer to this attack should be an invitation to sit back, relax and analyze the problem for a few moments. Let's agree on a few axioms that any proposed solution should not violate.

Axiom No. 1. Jews have a right to settle and live in the Land of Israel. This right is founded not only on the Bible and the history of the Jewish people, but has also been recognized by the international community in the League of Nations mandate for Palestine, a recognition that has never been revoked. It is true that some people do not recognize this right. The Palestinian Authority has a law on its books providing the death penalty for selling land to a Jew. It may be that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton do not recognize this right, but they should be reminded of the time when there were restricted communities in the United States where Jews were not allowed to live. That kind of restriction is long gone in the U.S. and should certainly not be applied now in the Land of Israel.

Axiom no. 2. There is a limit to the size of the minority population that can be included within the borders of the State of Israel without endangering the Jewish state's ethnic coherence. Just what that limit is depends on the degree of integration of these minorities into Israeli society. Whereas Israel has been very successful in this area with the Druze and the small Circassian community, by virtue of their service in the Israel Defense Forces, it has yet to seriously tackle the challenge of integrating Israel's Arab population. There is no reason to assume that we have already reached the upper limit, but we may not be far from it.

Axiom no. 3. No populated region on this earth will remain permanently without some national sovereignty. The present status of Judea and Samaria and Gaza is an anomaly that will not last.

Axiom no. 4. Jordan is a Palestinian state. Seventy percent of its population is Palestinian, and if its Bedouin are to be counted as Palestinians, as they are in Israel, then its entire population is Palestinian. This is a statement of fact and does not preclude the establishment of a second or third Palestinian state.

So what are the possible alternative solutions that do not violate these axioms? Here are four.

  1. Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip become a Palestinian state — the "two-state" solution.
  2. Judea and Samaria become a Palestinian state, and the Gaza Strip becomes another Palestinian state — the "three-state" solution.

  3. Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip are incorporated into Jordan.

  4. Judea and Samaria are incorporated into Jordan, and the Gaza Strip is incorporated into Egypt — more or less a return to the situation before the Six-Day War. It is hard to think of any additional solutions that do not violate the four axioms, but let us now look at implementing these solutions.

It turns out that the precondition for implementing any of the four is the elimination of Palestinian terrorism. The withdrawal of the IDF from Judea and Samaria would turn the area, much of it next to Israel's major cities, into bases for acts of terror against Israel's civilian population, whether by suicide bombers or rockets. Inevitably the IDF would have to respond against the areas from which these acts of terror originated.

In other words, neither the "two-state" nor "three-state" solution can be implemented before Palestinian terrorism has been suppressed. The same is true, although not quite in the same sense, for the third and fourth alternatives. Both Jordan and Egypt have shown that they are capable of dealing with the danger of terrorism. The Jordanian security services have been successfully dealing with Palestinian terrorism ever since "Black September" in 1970. The Egyptians have been dealing with Muslim Brotherhood terrorism, and in recent years with Hamas and Hezbollah. However, neither would be prepared to risk overloading that capability by incorporating terrorist-infested areas into their territory. The defeat of Palestinian terrorism could open the possibility of implementing any of the four solutions.

The inescapable conclusion is that Palestinian terrorism has to be eliminated before seriously approaching any of the alternate solutions. At the moment, the "two-state" solution is a fantasy. This will sooner or later become clear to Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. So what's your solution?

Moshe Arens is an Israeli aeronautical engineer, researcher and former diplomat and politician. He has served as ambassador, minister without portfolio, and defense minister.

This article appeared june 2, 2009 in Haaretz


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