Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Rise and Demise of the Two-State Paradigm

From an email introducting a BESA Center Security and Policy Study, No. 79, January 27, 2008 by Prof. Efraim Inbar (follow the link to download the full study):

In this new BESA Center study, Prof. Efraim Inbar, Director of the Begin-Sadat Center, argues that the "two-state solution is an obsolete paradigm." He calls instead for a regional approach to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy whereby Palestinian areas would be linked again (or "retrocede") to Egypt and Jordan, and the conflict would be managed -- not solved.

The study traces the development of the two-state concept and international diplomacy based on it since 1917; analyzes the failure of Palestinian state building since the beginnings of the Oslo process; and suggests policy options for the future.

"While the two-state paradigm has a long pedigree and current popularity in contemporary academic and diplomatic circles, it has no chance of achieving a stable and peaceful outcome in the coming decades," writes Inbar. "At present, Palestinian society is caught in the crux of a civil war between radical Islamists and nationalists, neither of which truly seeks establishment of a small Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel."

"After more than 100 years of conflict, it is apparent that the two national movements, the Palestinian and the Zionist, are not close to a historic compromise. It is equally clear that the Palestinians are not able to build a state; they have been given the chance but produced only a 'failed state' that is corrupt and anarchic. This is true both of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as well as the Hamas government in Gaza."

"Mistakenly, most Israeli and Western leaders still think that they can engage in building a Palestinian state that will choose coexistence with Israel. But political engineering from the outside has its limits, as has been amply demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Palestinian society has a long way to go towards political maturity, sobriety and moderation, and this change must grow naturally from within; which will take decades, if at all."

"In the meantime, we are stuck with two rival Palestinian entities on Israel's borders which are nowhere near merging into a responsible partner for Israel. So for now, the two-state option is not relevant."

"Linkage or retrocession of the West Bank and Gaza to some form of Egyptian and Jordanian security control and civil administration has a greater chance of stabilizing the situation than the previous paradigm. While these Arab countries will initially resist this step, wise diplomacy and long-term conflict management will move in this direction."

"In the wake of the Israeli operation against Hamas in Gaza, Western leaders are blindly rushing to reconfirm their commitment to a two-state solution. Yet Palestinian independence has proven to be a bad idea. The new US President and his Mideast envoy have an opportunity to take a fresh look at the situation, to reject retrenched and stale thinking, and strike out in new directions -- particularly since they advocate a regional approach."
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