Monday, May 11, 2009

Moving Beyond the Two-State Solution

From The BESA Center News Bulletin, May 2009, by Prof. Efraim Inbar, director [my emphasis added]:

[Prof. Inbar] says the two-state paradigm is obsolete and calls for conflict management with re-linking of the Palestinian areas to Egypt and Jordan

“The two-state paradigm has a long pedigree and current popularity in contemporary academic and diplomatic circles, but it has no chance of achieving a stable and peaceful outcome in the coming decades,” writes Prof. Efraim Inbar in a major study released in January. “It is an obsolete paradigm.”

The Rise and Demise of the Two-State Paradigm, calls instead for a “regional approach” to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy whereby Palestinian areas would be linked again to Egypt and Jordan, and the conflict would be “managed” – not solved.

“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,”– says Inbar.

“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. 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,” concludes Inbar.

Inbar’s 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 an alternative approach. Inbar argues for a new “regional
approach” to the Palestinian question, involving a greater role for Arab states in managing
the Palestinian populated areas. “Linkage or retrocession of these areas to some form of Egyptian and Jordanian security control and civil administration has a greater chance of stabilizing the situation than the previous paradigm,” says the study.

“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,” says Inbar. “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.”

Inbar’s Hebrew-language study, and an English-language version (which was published in the spring issue of Orbis), can be found online at
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