Call Palestinian ‘Statehood’ What You Will
The two-state solution is dead. Its chief undertaker was then-US President Barack Obama and his emissary, Secretary of State John Kerry. The signal was given at the speech in Cairo in 2009, wherein Obama accepted the left-wing narrative, according to which the West is to blame for the ills of Islam. Because of colonialism, because of orientalism. The poor Arabs are not to blame. As part of his apology, Obama also accepted the Muslim stance (invented in the West) regarding Israel: Israel’s right to exist stems from the persecution that the Jewish people have suffered, most notably in the Holocaust. The continuation of that idea — which Obama did not say, but stems from it — as it can be found in the writings of certain thinkers, is that the Palestinians are “the real victims of the Holocaust.”
A year and a half after the speech, the Arab Spring erupted and the Middle East began to dismantle the nationalistic structures shaped by colonialist powers in favor of a return to tribal and clan structures. The Obama administration embraced the protesters in Egypt and supported the transfer of rule to a Muslim Brotherhood representative. He also embraced Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
On the other hand, he did not interfere with the 2009 election fraud in Iran, which took place about a week after the Cairo speech. About a year ago, I published a conversation with exiled Iranian filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf, who had been the spokesman for former Iranian Prime Minister Mir-Hossein Mousavi, the leader of the Green Revolution that protested the fraud. He spoke of the cry for help to Obama’s people, who denied them as much: “The people who went out into the streets in Iran said to Obama: ‘Are you with them or with us?’ Obama was with them, because he did not care who was in power — that is what I was told.”
For Israel, the speech signaled an ominous change in the US relationship with the struggle for this land. It is true that all the previous administrations supported a Palestinian state, but they did so out of geopolitical considerations and American interests. Obama’s support for a Palestinian state was first and foremost conceptual, or perhaps ideological, and relied on moral claims.
The Palestinians further toughened their position, since the Obama administration decided in its favor, in principle. Based on his overall interviews, speeches and acts on the topic, we can learn that the former US president completely accepted the left-wing stance on the conflict: Israel is the problem, and the Palestinians are the solution.
Obama’s and Kerry’s obsession was given expression in their “will.” In his last speech as secretary of state of the greatest superpower, Kerry did not address the problems and the chaos that the Obama administration left around the world in its wake, rather he focused on the settlement of Jews in their historical homeland as an obstacle to peace.
During his final hours in office, Obama approved the transfer of $221 million to the Palestinian Authority. Where will this money go? That same week, we learned that the Palestinian Authority will pay the wife of the terrorist who murdered four IDF soldiers in a vehicular ramming attack in Armon Hanatziv NIS 2,900 ($760) per month. We can mark a continuous and coherent line between the speech in Cairo and the final chord of the Obama administration.
Did the understanding that we were facing an American president who was “unusual,” an idealist (messianist) who could badly damage Israel, lead Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to change the stance of right-wing governments? Ten days after the Cairo speech, Netanyahu announced in a speech at Bar-Ilan University acceptance of the two-state solution. The fact that his speech corresponded with the Cairo speech can be seen in a full paragraph in which he determined: “The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel is not based on the series of disasters that befell our people … [rather] on one simple fact: This is the homeland of the Jewish people, and this is where our identity was formed.”
Netanyahu pointed to the root of the problem in the conflict — it is not Jewish settlement, nor the “occupation” (no withdrawal on our part brought peace closer), rather the Arab-Palestinian fundamental, century-long refusal to “recognize the right of the Jewish people to its own state in its historic homeland.” So the first principle he set for any arrangement was: recognition of Israel as the national home of the Jewish people. This principle was never met by any Arab or Palestinian leader, including those considered to be “secular” and “moderate.”
For example, Article 15 of the Fatah movement’s Palestinian National Charter determines that “the liberation of Palestine, from an Arab viewpoint, is a national duty and it attempts to repel the Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland, and aims at the elimination of Zionism in Palestine.” Not the territory captured in 1967, but the entire land. Did someone say “ethnic cleansing?”
Article 20 abolishes the Balfour Declaration and determines that “claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history.” Not just on the Temple Mount, but throughout the whole land. The article further states: “Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.” Jews belong to a religion, not a nation, and so they do not deserve the right to national self-determination of any kind, certainly not in this land, which, as stated, they have no ties to. By the way, this same spirit can also be found in the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee’s document, “The Future Vision of the Arab Palestinians in Israel,” published in 2006.
The second basic principle that Netanyahu set for any arrangement is that the Palestinian entity, once established, must be demilitarized in order to prevent it from becoming a terrorist entity in the heart of the country. This means that Israel would have full security control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. This principle was strongly reinforced with the collapse of the Arab regimes and the understanding that one cannot trust a signature from any entity that may turn into a Hamas or Islamic State group country on the mountaintop.
Netanyahu repeated these two principles this week, but added that full Israeli security control from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea does not fit in with the idea of two states, as it is “less than sovereignty.” And his answer: “So there is a limitation to sovereignty, if you want to call it as such.” And when he spoke again of a “demilitarized state,” he said, “call it what you will.” He added that the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin also thought so.
He ultimately said that the settlements are not an obstacle to peace, because Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and leaders in Ramallah “do not want a state beside Israel, [rather] they want to uproot our brothers and sisters, first in Judea and Samaria, and afterward, to uproot them also from the other settlements in Jaffa, Acre, Nazareth and the like. And they say it.”
In a situation like this, wherein it is clear to any reasonable person that a Palestinian state on the mountaintop will endanger the existence of Israel, Rabbi Akiva’s rule comes into play: Your life takes precedence over the life of your friend.
When author Amos Oz sought to justify the establishment of Israel, he spoke of a floating log to which castaways cling for lack of options. Now, too, there is no other choice, as experience teaches us that it is up to us to prevent the establishment of a terrorist state in the heart of our country. The time has come to return to late Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s plan for Palestinian autonomy. Call it what you will.