A bold proposal
By Seth J. Frantzman, review of Caroline Glick’s new book ‘The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East’
‘I saw that the Palestinians were lying, they were not serious about making peace,” says Caroline B.
Glick, who emphatically recalls her experiences in the 1990s as a sort of school of hard knocks, watching the failure of the Oslo agreement from its inception.
As an officer in the IDF and a “practitioner of the two-state solution,” she writes, “I saw up close how that policy is doomed to failure.” Almost two decades later, she has come to the conclusion that a one-state solution is the best option.
The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East is a bold, dramatic proposal, cleanly crafted and effectively argued. Its author is a well-known figure who is the senior contributing editor of The Jerusalem Post, where she writes twice-weekly syndicated columns. Prior to her lecturing and intellectual career, she describes in her book how she worked closely with the political echelons responsible for implementing the Oslo Accords; she was involved with negotiating six agreements with the PLO.
In 1997, she began work as Binyamin Netanyahu’s assistant foreign policy advisor.
“I saw how Israel’s embrace of the two-state solution made it impossible for it to assert its rights, including the rights of Jews to live in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and worship in Jerusalem,” she writes.
Given this background, she is expertly placed to provide insight into why the two-state concept may have been flawed from its birth. Between preparing her two young sons for a trip to the US, Glick sat down with the Post for an interview, ahead of her book’s release earlier this week.
The one-state solution is often thought of as a sort of chimera, accused of being embraced only by the radical Left and Right.
In the radical Left it is often described as a binational proposal, which deracinates the Jewish aspect of the state.
The one-state plan has a long pedigree, beginning in the initial British Mandate.
“Israel’s legal claim to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria is grounded in international law, through treaties and legal precedents, and is far stronger than the Palestinian claim to sovereignty over these areas,” writes the author.
However, the two-state concept also has a 70-year precedent, in the British proposal to partition Palestine, which was supported by UN General Assembly Resolution 181. In Glick’s estimation, backed up by several legal experts she musters, such as Elihu Lauterpacht, a judge on the International Court of Justice, there is no reason to assume the partition plan of 1947 means Israel is illegally occupying the West Bank today.
Since the partition plan was never accepted by the Arab states or the nascent Palestinian leadership, Israel’s rights became contingent on its independence, declared on May 14, 1948.
Law professor Avi Bell asserts that “the administrative boundaries of the British Mandate became Israel’s national borders.”
Glick articulates this position, noting that the “cease-fire lines [of 1949] did not demarcate political borders.”
Even if the notion of Israel’s rights to the West Bank are legitimate, the question is whether they are logical or pragmatic, and whether exercising them would lead to international isolation.
Many arguments against continued Israeli control of all of the West Bank have been trotted out, namely the demographic argument, that because of the large numbers of Palestinians there, continued administration is anti-democratic and is corrupting Israeli democracy. In writing this book, Glick sought to answer precisely these issues.
It all began with demographics. In 1997, the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics conducted a census which claimed there were 2.86 million Palestinians living in the West Bank. However, in 2004, Bennett Zimmerman and a team of fellow researchers concluded that the census overestimated the population by 50 percent.
“We got the demographic data and I saw that it was a dud,” Glick recalls, referring to the notion that the demographics of the Palestinians are often said to represent a “time bomb” against the state.
“I came up with a plan in 2007 that called for implementing Israeli sovereignty, first over the settlement blocs and moving on from there, depending on how the Palestinians responded. We find more and more that the presence of the PLO weakens Israel strategically and diplomatically, because it is an entity that is dedicated to weakening and harming Israel; the longer it is in place, the weaker Israel becomes.”
Glick argues that over time this plan crystallized to her and it became clear there was no reason to apply law in stages.
“No matter what, if we applied Israeli law tomorrow to the settlement blocs or Jordan Valley, we would be paying the full price but only doing part of the work. If there is a price we might as well do the whole thing, since we don’t have to worry about demography.”
Most of those who dismiss this idea out of hand say it won’t work, because Palestinians won’t accept it. There seems ample evidence in this direction, since the past decades have been dedicated to the opposite notion – namely the creation of a Palestinian state.
Glick’s rejoinder is that we are missing the elephant in the room. “It’s a policy that can work, it has worked in the Golan and Jerusalem, and it is better than what we have now, which is a policy that can never go forward, can only push us backward.”
Speaking passionately about the issue, she notes, “This is why I wrote a book. We haven’t had this discussion… if you push this [two-state] idea that has no basis in reality, you also block analysis, you can’t think about the Golan and Jerusalem precedents. The very paradigm blocks analysis, bars thought and discourse.”
In 1980 and 1981, Israel extended its law to east Jerusalem and the Golan. The Druse and Arab residents of both places may not have become pro-Israel bandleaders, but they accepted laws, obtained identity cards and, for the most part, prefer the situation to living under neighboring powers. Glick argues that, most importantly, the international community was relatively quiescent and the legal changes “did not destabilize the region.”
THE BOOK is organized into three sections; the first describes the “chimera” of the two-state solution, the second examines how the plan will work, and the third analyzes the probable fallout from the plan. The first section seeks to show that the Palestinian leadership has been imbued with anti-Semitic ideas, which have been carefully covered up or conveniently forgotten over the years.
For instance, in 1994 Yasser Arafat gave a speech in Johannesburg, at the height of the Oslo Accords. “In the speech, Arafat said that the agreements that the PLO had signed with Israel were a contemporary version of the Treaty of Hudaibiya, a peace treaty that the Islamic prophet Muhammad had signed with the Quraish tribe in Mecca in 628, only to renounce it two years later when the balance of power shifted in his favor.” The Jews were then butchered.
Secondly she argues that the US policy in the region has supported a two-state paradigm due to a false reading of the region. First, “consecutive US governments have claimed that ‘the Arabs’ respond angrily to US positions that are even marginally friendly to Israel,” and also that the region’s problems are all related to the conflict with the Palestinians.
Glick convincingly illustrates that no US policy has actually been upended by the support for Israel, and that most of the region’s problems have nothing to do with Israel – such as the Arab Spring, massacres in Syria, ethnic rivalries, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Sunni-Shi’ite divide.
Without Israel, the region would be a spate of wars and conflict; similarly, without Israel America’s position would only be undermined – not enhanced. Thus, “Israel’s strategic position advances America’s core regional interests.”
In explaining her plan for applying Israeli law and control over Judea and Samaria, she argues that “there are no local Palestinians to whom Israel can safely transfer control of Judea and Samaria, or with whom Israel can exercise joint control of the areas.”
Some will wonder about Gaza, and why is it not included. Pragmatically, the author argues that Israel not only relinquished claims to the area in 2005, but demographically and politically the country has no interest in administering it. The solution proposed involves not only applying law, but also making Palestinians eligible for citizenship with “reasonable limits… for instance, past or current membership in terrorist organizations.”
Many will think that offering a million or so Palestinians in Ramallah, Jenin, Hebron and other locales Israeli citizenship is problematic. Glick responds, “I am concerned, but I don’t think that my concern outweighs my concern for what will happen if we don’t do this. I think this is the only thing that has a good chance of protecting us and ensuring our survival, prosperity and strength in the coming generations; no other policy model is either viable or better than this one.”
The insight she offers is that the actual two-state solution has only made acceptance of Israeli rule more difficult; in a sense, by nurturing the Palestinian Authority, Israel has been undermined. “I do think that there is a difficulty in implementing something. The Palestinians under the PLO have become tinged with a genocidal hue, they have been taught from birth that they should seek the destruction of Israel. This is a challenge that is easier to contend with without a PLO army protecting them. It is easier to deal with them, without the PLO exhorting them to kill Jews on a daily basis. For this to continue, the possibility open to us will get smaller with every passing day.”
Glick isn’t wearing rose-colored glasses either: “I don’t think this is going to be easy; it is difficult. This is the basis for a debate. This book puts out this policy and what I’m saying is let’s think about how to implement this, let’s think about whether this is the best policy; I’m convinced this is what best for Israel, for Palestinians and the Arab world and the US. I’m willing to have that argument, and I think it’s important to have that discussion; it’s too bad we didn’t begin in 2000.”
Ironically, the one-state plan here argues that Palestinians themselves will be one of the net winners; gaining access to Israeli citizenship and the opportunity to integrate into a modern democratic state, rather than continue the destructive policies of the last 20 years. “Many of the Palestinians, if given freedom to live under the liberal democratic rule of Israel, will be relieved to be living in a free society – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they had a moderating influence on a lot of the Israeli Arabs.”
As examples, she gives us Israeli Arabs such as Eleanor Joseph, Milad and Mohammed Atrash and others who have embraced IDF service and the state as part of their identity.
Glick acknowledges that there are many other factors at play. For instance, the Kosovo precedent will always hang over Israel. In that case, a rebellious irredentist population concentrated in one part of Serbia began a terror campaign in the late 1990s and asked the international community for support. International intervention forced Serbia to leave Kosovo, and a new state was set up based on the right to self-determination. Ariel Sharon was worried about that scenario playing out in Israel.
Similarly, even after annexation, Israel will face the fact that Jordan has a large Palestinian population. What if those Palestinians, angered over losing hope for a state in the West Bank, begin a campaign in Jordan, the so-called “Jordanian option” that was proposed in the 1980s in which Jordan becomes a Palestinian state? Glick notes that there is chaos in the region, and chaos brewing in the West Bank. “I think the best way to stabilize the situation is to say ‘bring it on,’ we didn’t choose to have a state with a 30% Arab minority. But better to have 30% than no state, a state we can defend with borders and historically coherent in Jewish history, rather than have radical forces on our borders, nonexistent regimes abutting our cities.”
“I think that just on the basis of that, it is worth seriously considering this policy I set forth,” Glick says, optimistic about the future.