BY AARON HECHT, JPOST—
The “two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become almost universally accepted as the only way to bring the prolonged struggle between Israel and its Arab neighbors to an end. Those who hold this view – in Europe, the US and even in Israel – dismiss anyone who disagrees with it as either ignorant or fanatical.
Yet the “two-state solution” has largely become obsolete. It was designed to resolve a conflict which is still with us, but which history, technology and ideology have all passed by.
That original conflict was a territorial fight over the same piece of land between Jewish nationalism and Palestinian Arab nationalism which involved the use and threat of conventional ground forces.
Those elements remain today, but they have now been overtaken by radical Islamic regimes and movements armed with advanced missiles and non-conventional weapons of warfare.
So giving up the Judea/Samaria ridgeline to create a Palestinian state at this time would leave Israel facing either weak leaders who could not stand up to zealous Islamist forces, or belligerent rulers ready to smuggle and fire rockets and missiles at its civilian heartland. The violent Hamas coup in Gaza and the successful Hezbollah takeover in Lebanon are both testimony to this stark new reality.
The original conflict over dueling land claims dates back more than 100 years and involves two competing historic narratives and national identities. The Jewish people proved willing, time and again, to compromise their claim to all the land for the sake of securing a Jewish state within a portion of their ancient patrimony. The Palestinians, however, wanted it all and thus rejected every attempt at dividing the land into two states – a position emboldened by pan- Arab backing.
Yet when Egypt broke from the pact and signed its peace treaty with Israel in 1979, the Arabs were no longer in a position to threaten Israel’s existence through conventional military means.
That should have led to Palestinian compromise, but such has not been the case. And the reason why is that the very same year a new threat to Israel began emerging in the form of the Iranian Revolution and its subsequent discovery of the effectiveness of ballistic missiles and other means of mass terrorism.
Under the new parameters of the conflict, Israel is confronted by Islamic radicalism first inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which has since spawned rival Sunni jihadist movements like al-Qaida and Hamas. They, too, have discovered the utility of non-conventional threats to vulnerable civilian populations, like suicide bombers and massive rocket barrages. As a result, this new conflict has become much more dangerous and insoluble than the earlier one. And things can only get worse if the old formula of “two-states” is still pursued.
Fatah represents the old, dying paradigm of secular, pragmatic Arab nationalism. Hamas represents the Islamist camp which believes any form of compromise with the enemy of Allah is not only treasonous but an unpardonable sin. With such true fanatics you can make no deal.
The current Arab Spring of popular uprisings against the “old guard” of secular dictators in the region is primed for an Islamist backlash that would empower the Muslim Brotherhood and other regressive religious elements.
Arab nationalism was an ideology with political, economic and military dimensions. But Islamic radicalism is all of that fused with spiritual fervor and dreams of someday instantly annihilating its enemies. It will not be satiated by Israeli land concessions meant to create a less-than-glorious Palestinian mini-state, not when it ultimately seeks world domination. •