Undoubtedly you have heard a great deal of talk about “a two-state solution.” But that does not mean it was truly ever viable as a way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict. In truth, it was no solution. Let us look at the evolution of this idea:
The germ of the idea can be found with the Oslo Accords, which had been vigorously promoted by the left in Israel. For the success of the accords, it was deemed important to involve the PLO, which was considered the representative of all Palestinian Arabs, and not just the local Arab population of Judea and Samaria.
Thus, chairman of the PLO Yasser Arafat and his inner circle were brought from Tunis. The unvarnished truth is that, whatever image Arafat wished to project, he and his associates were unrepentant terrorists. The naïve optimism within certain quarters of Israel at that time was that with new circumstances Arafat would move beyond his previous method of operating. Once that notion took hold, and Israel was committed to working with Arafat, a blind eye was turned, again and again, to the reality of how he functioned.
Israel and the PLO signed on the first stage of Oslo, the Declaration of Principles, in 1993. This established the Palestinian Authority and set out a five year interim period of self-government for the Palestinian Arabs. A supplementary agreement was signed on May 4, 1994, stipulating that this self-government would begin with Gaza and the Jericho area. An elected council was to be responsible for education, culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism within the Palestinian Arab areas; a police force would be maintained for internal security. Israel retained control over roads, borders, security for areas of Jewish residence.
Negotiations on the permanent status of the Palestinian areas were to begin by the third year of this interim period and were to conclude by 1999. Among the issues to be determined within these negotiations were Jerusalem, borders, settlements and refugees.
Permanent status: Nothing was said in this agreement about a full, sovereign Palestinian state.
On May 10, 1994, mere days after the Gaza-Jericho agreement had been signed, Arafat gave a speech in a mosque in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the invitation of Nelson Mandela. His talk, given in English, was supposed to be off the record, but a South African journalist secretly recorded it and then publicized it. That speech includes this:
“The Jihad will continue…
“This agreement I am not considering it more than the agreement which had been signed between our prophet Mohammad and Quraysh.”
Arafat was referring to Muslim history: In 628, Muhammad, who assessed his following as not yet sufficiently strong to take Mecca in battle, forged a ten-year peace treaty—the Hudaibiya Pact—with the polytheistic Quraysh tribe that held the city. The pact “agreed to remove war from the people for ten years…” It also permitted the Muslims access to the city for purposes of worship.
Two years after signing, when he had garnered considerably more strength, Muhammad abrogated the treaty and attacked the Quraysh with a force so overwhelming that they surrendered without a fight. Muhammad did this by first quietly preparing while the Quraysh guard was down and then finding a pretext for battle. Desperate entreaties by the Quraysh did nothing to dissuade him.
In Islamic law, the way in which Muhammad conducted himself is viewed as a model of proper behavior when dealing with non-Muslims.
The term for this is hilam – “by stratagems you will make war.”
In 1974, after the Yom Kippur War, it became evident to the Arabs that Israel could not be “liberated” in one operation. The PLO then adopted the “Strategy of Stages,” that spelled out a tactic for weakening Israel slowly in stages, towards the aim of ultimate destruction.
Any subterfuge was considered permissible in service of this goal.
One key subterfuge was a pretense of moderation.
Another was a manipulation of public perception that would deprive Israel of legitimacy.
Dennis Ross, who had served as special envoy during the Clinton administration, later said this about Arafat:
Every agreement he made was limited and contained nothing he considered irrevocable. He was not, in his eyes, required to surrender any claims….he never prepared his public for compromise. Instead, he led the Palestinians to believe the peace process would produce everything they ever wanted…
We can see, then, that Israel has never had a legitimate peace partner. It has all been subterfuge.
Oslo II, which was signed in 1995, divided Judea and Samaria into Areas A, B, and C. But it did not promise a full sovereign Palestinian Arab state any more than the first agreement did.
Yet somehow public opinion was manipulated so that the world began to see that state as the “right” of a poor, beleaguered Palestinian Arab people.
Two states for two peoples, living side by side in peace and security, with Jerusalem as a shared capital.
This became the publicly enunciated goal, but it was no more than a carefully crafted fantasy.
Not only were there to be two sovereign states within this fantasy, the parameters of the Palestinian Arab state were fully defined up front: Israel was to move back behind the 1949 armistice line, which was called the “1967 border,” and eastern Jerusalem, including Jewish holy sites, was to be the capital of that state.
The proof that the Palestinian Arabs are not sincere when they talk about “two states” lies in the fact that a final peace treaty has never been signed. The PLO cannot sign such a document because it would call for “end of conflict,” and they intend no such thing. Any agreement struck with Israel is intended only to weaken Israel to make further defeat of Israel more possible in the future.
If the PLO leadership had truly wanted a state, they could have had one in 2000, when then-prime minister Ehud Barak made a generous offer, or in 2008, when then-prime minister Ehud Olmert made an even more generous one.
Always, the Palestinian Arabs find an excuse to walk away from an offer.
Arafat, and after him Mahmoud Abbas, who is no less a terrorist, have broken every major commitment of the Oslo Accords—most notably in terms of dismantling terrorist infrastructure and ceasing incitement.
A promise to do these things comports well with the desire for acceptance by the West. To actually do them would be to undermine the possibilities for achieving the final goal. The potential to do violence must be retained as a weapon to be used when needed.
For a long time, pressure was applied to Israel, to “make gestures for peace,” every time the PLO failed to come through. This was precisely the wrong approach, for such gestures are seen by the Arabs as weakness and invite further intransigence and more terrorism. It is a little known statistic that more Israelis have died annually in terror attacks since the signing of Oslo than died annually before.
Today, the majority of Israelis, both leadership and the electorate, is opposed to a “two-state solution.” Other alternative solutions to the conflict—such as autonomy for the Palestinian Arabs— are being considered.