EDITORIAL: The two-state solution, which Washington, London and Paris are suddenly clamouring for, is now only possible if an independent peacekeeping force along the 1967 borders can ensure that Israel will stop interfering in the affairs of the Palestinians. That is why liberal civilian populations on the Jewish and Muslim sides have been losing interest in it since at least the turn of the century.
In fact, poll after poll has suggested that most Palestinians now reject the two-state solution in favour of reclaiming all their historic land “from the river to the sea”, which shows increasing support for Hamas’s narrative since it won the election and formed government in the Gaza Strip in 2006.
But Jews, especially Zionists, also claim the land “between the river and the sea” as their historic heritage. And since its fierce backers in capitals wanting to turn history back to the two-state solution understand this very well, their calls can at best be interpreted as their own attempts to enforce a ceasefire without upsetting Tel Aviv too much.
For, even as images of dead women and children cause disgust and uproar all over the world, only France has meekly called for a stop to the slaughter in a rare show of defiance. And, sure enough, the Israeli government has responded very strongly.
The fact is that those finally willing to revisit the two-state solution will, willingly or unwillingly, have to allow a far deeper debate about the occupation. There is no question of Arabs, especially Palestinians, ever trusting Israel to honour any negotiations in future. Not the least because of the ironclad commitment across all shades of Israeli political opinion to maintaining the status quo and never allowing the Palestinians their freedom.
Even as the so-called west celebrates Israel as the only “vibrant democracy” in the Middle East, the Zionist state has three parallel legal systems. One is for Israeli Jews – which is where the vibrant democracy begins and ends. The second is for Palestinians who are citizens of Israel, with at least 30 laws that form an entire culture of discrimination against them.
And the third is for the miserable residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, which is basically whatever the military feels like doing – from illegal detentions to torture to outright murder. The Israeli supreme court accepted and advocated these systems even before protests erupted across the country to protect it from Netanyahu’s onslaught just before the surprise Hamas attack and subsequent genocide in Gaza snatched the world’s attention.
So, enforcing the two-state solution would require the world’s leading countries, headed by the United States, to keep Israel in line. At the moment, that is not even a remote possibility. If anything, the situation is a hair trigger away from spiraling out of control and sucking regional powers into the fighting.
The Turkish president, for example, has changed track completely and now celebrates Hamas fighters as mujahideen, a deliberate, calculated attack on the West for its impotence in the face of Israel’s cruelty.
It’s a shame that the limp get together of Muslim countries last week could not categorically say what countries like Russia are openly saying, that recognised and accepted international law does not give occupying states the right to use the excuse of self-defence to wipe out civilian populations.
It has been reported that Iran is considering active engagement as well. And Washington has urged Tel Aviv not to light up the Lebanese border as it secretly negotiates with Tehran because of the danger of forcing China and Russia, Iran’s allies, into the mix as well.
This is the most toxic the Middle East has been in a long time. And the biggest reason for the chaos is America’s failure to rein in Israel. It can talk about long-term solutions all it wants, but if it doesn’t help stop the carnage in Gaza right now, war not peace plans will soon become the number-one item on the agenda.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023