Time for a change in Mideast

David A. Rubin is a local attorney.

By David A. Rubin

It’s been hard to miss all of the Israel-related activity of the past week. The U.N. Security Council passed a one-sided resolution, from which the United States abstained. The next day Secretary of State John Kerry gave a lengthy speech directed primarily at Israel. In the coming weeks, we are told, there will be a summit in Paris, no doubt to pressure Israel further.

Ostensibly, all this is about Israeli “settlements,” which are viewed as the reason the parties cannot reach a two-state solution. But this week, Kerry let it be known that the true concern is that the West fears Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may no longer feel wedded to the two-state solution. As Netanyahu is the democratically elected leader of Israel, it can be assumed that many in Israel feel the same way.

The two-state solution proposes a Palestinian state and a Jewish State living side-by-side in harmony. It is a beautiful vision, but it is not a Middle Eastern vision. It is a Western vision imposed upon the parties long ago, and it has never been accepted by the Palestinian Arabs or surrounding Arab nations. 

It has been attempted over and over, always with the same result: rejection on the side of the Arabs. The reason for this is that influential fundamentalist Muslims believe (mistakenly) that Islam prevents them from ever allowing a Jewish State on formerly Muslim land. This makes the two-state solution a nonstarter.

A two-state solution was the recommendation of Britain’s Peel Commission in the 1930s. King Abdullah I of Jordan was rumored to be willing to accept it. He was murdered in 1951 by a Muslim fundamentalist on the steps of the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. This was also the U.N.’s partition plan. But Muslim Arab nations rejected it and attacked Israel in 1948. 

In the 1970s, shortly after the 1967 war, the government of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin assumed it would negotiate secure borders with Jordan and return the rest of the captured land. It never happened, probably because Jordan’s King Hussein feared he would be murdered as his father was. 

In 1979, Egypt did make a land-for-peace deal, and Israel gave away the Sinai, dislodging settlements to do it. Shortly afterward, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat was assassinated by the fundamentalist Islamic Brotherhood.

During the 1980s, Christian intellectuals spoke on behalf of the Palestinians, and some negotiated in good faith. But Yasser Arafat, a Muslim trying to reign in fundamentalist elements, was still their leader, and no deal was made. During that period, the Christians were mostly driven from the disputed areas. Bethlehem was once 70 percent Christian. It is now 15 percent. 

By the time Arafat and Rabin shook hands on the White House lawn in 1993 to celebrate the signing of a Declarations of Principles for peace, the native Palestinian Arab population was almost entirely Muslim. Arafat’s Fatah had morphed from secular into fundamentalist in order to keep up with its rivals Hamas and Islamic Jihad. 

A deal similar to that which Kerry described in his lengthy speech was actually presented to Arafat in 2000, and he rejected it. Arafat was later quoted as saying that if he had accepted it, he would have been murdered. 

In 2008, then–Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered another similar deal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who refused it. 

Iimmediately after Kerry’s speech this week, PLO Executive Committee member Mustafa Barghouti stated that no Jewish State will ever be agreed to by the Palestinians.

Some have defined insanity as repeating the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. For one hundred years, we have seen the Two State Solution fail.  Successful people know that if one way doesn’t work, another must be tried. There are many other approaches out there, and some of them may better the lives of the Palestinian Arab people rather than enriching their corrupt leaders. Instead of berating Netanyahu, endangering Israel, indulging belligerent Palestinian leaders and rewarding them for inciting murder, true leaders and lovers of peace must respect the people who are living the reality in Israel, join them in concluding the answer must lie somewhere else, and help them to resolve this conundrum successfully.