On The Two State Fiction

So Abbas, as moderate a Palestinian as one could hope for, achieved at the UN global recognition that there is such a thing as a Palestinian people and Palestinian state. The victory was overwhelming; 138 to 9 and not even a reliable US ally like the UK, one of the 40 abstentions, was willing to vote against it.


Israel, the US, and seven more countries voted against the recognition of Palestine as a state. There is no surprise here. Under current management, Israel does not want a Palestinian state to exist, period, even a fairly limited entity like that Rabin was ready to accept. Israel will now act, as always in violation of international law, to further sabotage a possible Palestinian state by initiating construction in a zone known as E1, which would pretty much bisect the West Bank.


Supposedly, this is retaliation for Palestine having dared to peacefully seek recognition rather than negotiate eternally with Israel with the sound of bulldozers in the background. The two state solution, if it ever was a real possibility, is totally dead.


Loathsome and unimaginative as it is, Israeli policy is not really my concern. My question is how high a price is the US willing to pay in order to continue to cater to Netanyahu's every whim. It's not just the subsidies. Now it is also clear that the issue isolates the US not just in the Middle East but everywhere. The other seven votes against recognition of Palestine included Canada as well as such world powers as Palau, Panama, and Micronesia. On the other side, every BRIC nation voted for it.


Palestinian incompetence has hurt their cause for decades. But in hindsight it has also hurt Israel, as rather than negotiate in good faith it has exploited every Palestinian misstep to its favor. The strategy has all the appearance of someone trying to run out the clock. But the UN vote proves that Israel is playing a fool's game. Only in the imagination of the Israeli right will the Palestinian issue fade away. It won't. You can't run out the clock on a problem that has no expiration date.


I don't know how it ends, but it doesn't end well. Not, at least, if Israel continues to be run by Likud and it's ultranationalist allies.

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The irony is that...

Bird Dog's picture

...you say the U.S. is catering to Bibi's every whim, yet there is no U.S. president who has had a worse relationship with Israel than Obama. This means that an Israeli government will not have a Camp David like accord while Obama is president. As they say, elections have consequences.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

There's basically literally no way that can be serious

brutusettu's picture

"yet there is no U.S. president who has had a worse relationship with Israel"



It's a trap.



Unless that's completely underscoring how far out Bibi is.







Somebody's history starts after Eisenhower nt

HankP's picture


I blame it all on the Internet

Yeah, right...


Because bush made so much progress with his pal Bibi.


Netanyahu is extremely unlikely to do a Camp David accord. He actively sabotaged Oslo even while Rabin was still alive, not to mention afterwards. He will apply pressure on the West Bank till the Palestinians leave or react with violence. Were he on his own, he would directly expel the Palestinians. He does not believe in a two-state solution.


The only way to get him to play ball is to be willing to cut aid as leverage. But Obama doesn't want to go there. The United States would have to lean very hard on Netanyahu to get him to moderate. But our internal politics will not allow it.


There is precious little difference in this regard between a Romney administration and Obama's. Obama dares to send some slight signals of displeasure, but that's all there is to it. It's enough to annoy Bibi, but it's of no consequence on the ground.


Romney was quite clear that he had no solution. Elections have consequences, but policy towards Israel is not one of those consequences.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Since Bush and Bibi weren't in office at the same time,

Bird Dog's picture

non-sequitur. Bush was in office when the second intifada was underway, and it died out when 9/11 happened. An Israel-Palestinian accord was a backburner issue for Bush, given the WAMI, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc., but it still remains that he had a better relationship with Israeli leadership than Obama with Bibi, which is why Obama will make no progress with Israel.

As for Netanyahu and a two-state solution, current Israeli state policy is for it, but I agree that Bibi is not making it easy for Abbas.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

"A better relationship with Israel."


Did that "better relationship" have any practical policy results whatsoever? No? So your argument is basically that the Israelis were best pals with Bush, so nyah?

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

The point is that...

Bird Dog's picture

...there won't be any "practical policy results" if the relationship between Bibi and Obama is in the tank.

"Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency."

--Barack Obama, January 2009

No, the point is that


all the hand-wringing over the President's relationship with Israel makes absolutely no difference. Whether Israel has its choice for President in the White House or not, it continues down the same dead end policy path as before.

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

You are right...


...bush dealt mostly with Sharon, with Netanyahu briefly Foreign Minister and Finance Minister.


Sharon, at any rate, was hardly a dove either.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Europe lines up against Israel.

mmghosh's picture

Mildly.  But still.

Having spun the line that European governments had misunderstood Israel's plan to create a settlement that would cut the West Bank in two and separate it from East Jerusalem, the prime minister's office vowed that nothing would alter their decision. The European diplomatic protest was, by its meek standards, unprecedented. Israeli ambassadors were summoned in Britain, France, Sweden and Spain but none of the four threatened any concrete measures to punish Israel.


From their inception, the West Bank settlements have been a cumulative study in opportunism. It matters not whether the horrified US secretary of state is a Republican or a Democrat. Condoleezza Rice said in 2007 that Har Homa should not be built. Five years later it is a fact on the ground, "the last brick in the wall of Jerusalem", and never be surrendered. The same is about to happen to an area of land called E1, which lies between another egregious act of occupation, Ma'aleh Adumim, and Jerusalem.

The Israeli NGO B'Tselem says the plan dates back to 1999. Every US administration since has condemned it, because it would sever the Palestinian state from its capital in East Jerusalem. Although European diplomats call it a red line, it should have surprised no one that it is now to be crossed. Each piece in the jigsaw of settlement planning had been laid by previous Israeli administrations. Sealing the West Bank off from Jerusalem had been their purpose from the start.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Et tu Australia?


Not exactly lining up against Israel, but the wind has shifted in Australia too. To that we add that this is being reported by Jeffrey Goldberg, hardly a critic of Israel. Yet even he is forced to wonder:

Gillard is among Israel’s best friends in Australia, and certainly the most powerful. When her Cabinet rises against her over her support for Israel in the UN, and when she refuses to side with Netanyahu in his battle with Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the moderate Palestinian camp, the question that needs to be asked is this: Is Netanyahu paying any attention at all?

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Why should he?

HankP's picture

it's obvious that he can do whatever he wants and there's no political price to pay. Why shouldn't he do whatever he wants and leave it to some unnamed politician in the future (after Netanyahu is safely retired) to deal with it?


I blame it all on the Internet



Israel is digging a hole for itself. This is not a sustainable path.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.

Testimonies by Veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces From Gaza

mmghosh's picture



It is true that Israel officially disengaged from the Gaza Strip in August 2005, withdrawing its ground troops and evacuating the Israeli settlements there. But despite the absence of a permanent ground presence, Israel has maintained a crushing control over Gaza from that moment until today.


The testimonies of Israeli army veterans expose the truth of that “disengagement.” Before Operation Pillar of Defense, after all, Israel launched Operations Summer Rains and Autumn Clouds in 2006, and Hot Winter and Cast Lead in 2008 -- all involving ground invasions. In one testimony, a veteran speaks of “a battalion operation” in Gaza that lasted for five months, where the soldiers were ordered to shoot “to draw out terrorists” so they “could kill a few.”

Israeli naval blockades stop Gazans from fishing, a main source of food in the Strip. Air blockades prevent freedom of movement. Israel does not allow building materials into the area, forbids exports to the West Bank and Israel, and (other than emergency humanitarian cases) prohibits movement between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It controls the Palestinian economy by periodically withholding import taxes. Its restrictions have impeded the expansion and upgrading of the Strip’s woeful sewage infrastructure, which could render life in Gaza untenable within a decade. The blocking of seawater desalination has turned the water supply into a health hazard. Israel has repeatedly demolished small power plants in Gaza, ensuring that the Strip would have to continue to rely on the Israeli electricity supply. Daily power shortages have been the norm for several years now. Israel’s presence is felt everywhere, militarily and otherwise.


By relying on factual misconceptions, political leaders, deliberately or not, conceal information that is critical to our understanding of events. Among the people best qualified to correct those misconceptions are the individuals who have been charged with executing a state’s policies -- in this case, Israeli soldiers themselves, an authoritative source of information about their government’s actions. I am a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), and I know that our first-hand experiences refute the assumption, accepted by many, including President Obama, that Gaza is an independent political entity that exists wholly outside Israel.

freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

no comment

brutusettu's picture

where (IDF) soldiers were ordered to shoot “to draw out terrorists” so they “could kill a few.”

Mr. Abbas is Doing Fine, Thank You Very Much For Your Support!



...As much fun I might have at Rachel Corrie's expense, she was in some essential sense correct in what she was doing. I just don't agree with abject foolishness or, when things go dirt wrong, well, that's the way it is...


Mr. Abbas must now get to work:


West Bank Unemployment:


Unemployment rate: 23.5% (2011 est.) 


But first let us get some facts correct...there are no current plans whatsoever to build on E1, no permits issued, no plans approved...but yes, Israel did lash out and stated that E1 would be open to future Settlement Planning...whatever that means.


If E1 or new settlement areas begin construction, then, Yes, we need some Rachel Corrie's out of the vast unemployment from the West Bank...non-violent but serious resistance. 50,000 carted off to jail if necessary...


Much better than the death and devastation of the Gaza method.


(If only because they would continue to have my support and, historically, this is how to change repressive regimes. We all know this to be true...massive, peaceful, civil disobedience)


Best Wishes, Traveller


How can Mr Abbas reduce unemployment.

mmghosh's picture

Your suggestion is impractical.

The Israeli government estimates the value of EU imports from settlements at around €230m a year [7]; compared to €15m a year from Palestinians [8]. The discrepancy is partly driven by Israel's policy of providing large subsidies to settlers [9], including for infrastructure, business development, and agriculture while imposing stringent restrictions on the Palestinian access to markets and resources.


Settlers enjoy easy access to international markets, and have established modern agribusinesses and industrial zones. In contrast, the Palestinian economy is "severely constrained by a multi-layered system of restrictions" [10] imposed by Israel, including roadblocks, checkpoints and limited access to land, water, and fertilisers. As a result, Palestinian exports have fallen from over half of GDP in the 1980s to less than 15% of GDP in recent years [11], effectively invalidating the EU's preferential trade agreement with the Palestinians.


Among the settlement goods that are on sale in Europe are dates, grapes, citrus fruits, herbs, wines, cosmetics from Ahava, some of the carbonation devices from SodaStream and some of the plastic garden furniture produced by Keter.


"Goods from West Bank settlements are produced on the back of house demolitions, land confiscations, and military occupation.



Not to forget womb-to-tomb welfare state benefits paid for by external aid, among others.




freedom is a fundamental value that does not need to be justified in terms of some other value like efficiency

Very Poorly Phrased by Me, I Meant Only to Man the Rachel Corrie



...barricades...the bodies are there, unemployed, lining highways and roads all across the West Bank...they need to be mobilized, peacefully, against the construction of new settlements.


That is what I mean also by this is Mr. Abbas's work...to pull these unemployed and disenfranchised and put them in the fire...without firing back. A difficult task to be sure, but this is his essential remaining work.


But nice data from you, as always.


Best Wishes, Traveller

the palestinians


Don't have the overwhelming numerical advantage the Indians and the south Africans had. asking them to try to be Gandhi is asking for them to be held up in small groups at checkpoints where enough of them will be murdered to cow the rest. The dynamic is just not the same. It's closer to north American plains Indians. How would it have worked out for them if they'd tried a little cumbaya?

Former PM Olmert Supports Palestinian UN Bid...


According to Olmert, the Palestinian Authority is the only partner Israel has for a peace deal. “Doctor Mahmoud Abbas is against terror – these are the guys we need to strengthen,” Olmert said. “We have to help them. What happened in the last few years – the reluctance for dialogue caused a certain reduction, an erosion in the status of the Palestinian Authority… [they] are the only partners we have for peace.”

The change in Palestinian status could give the Palestinian Authority and Abbas a boost in popularity. Erakat said, “I hope the day after tomorrow we will begin serious reconciliation between us and Hamas, hoping that Hamas will accept that when we have differences, we go to ballot boxes, not bullet boxes.”

Amanpour asked Olmert if he intends to run for Prime Minister in the Israeli elections in January. Olmert said he would only make an announcement on Israeli soil, but did say, “I will be very much involved in the attempt to change the policy of Israel toward a much more forthcoming, creative and flexible policy that will help bring peace between us and the Palestinians.”





Good for him

HankP's picture

but the polls I've seen don't give me much hope for any progress on the Palestinian issue.


I blame it all on the Internet

It's the only solution

HankP's picture

short of ethnic cleansing or genocide. Israel will never accept that many Arabs into their polity.


I blame it all on the Internet

Israel will never accept the 1967 perimiter either.


Or anything close to it.


The two state solution, in the sense of two truly independent states, is a beautiful lie. It will never, ever happen.


The alternatives are a confederation or commonwealth such as I proposed, or a continued series of conflicts with the ever present risk of uncontrolled escalation.

This was clear enough to Larkin, whose patriotism rested on the notion that England was the worst place on earth with the possible exception of everywhere else.