An Israeli Immodest Proposal
Through Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon, the Likud government of Benjamin Netanyahou has announced what it thinks of President Obama’s two-state solution to the Palestine question: No thanks! In Yaalon’s own words, “Western way of thinking (read the two-state solution) has proven irrelevant and dangerous to this region.” By this, of course, he means that Likud reaffirms its opposition to an independtn Palsetinian state, a position on which Mr. Netanyahou hinted at the possibility of some softening while he was in Washington. Yeah, right.
Likud has an alternative solution, of course. According to Mr. Yaalon, what Likud proposes is a settlement whereby part of the West Bank would be annexed permanently to Israel (presumably the parts already parts of Israeli settlements), and the rest would be given back to Jordan, from whom the West Bank was seized in 1967. Palestinians would have the choice of becoming citizens of Israel or Jordan. Problem solved?
Never mind the international legal niceties of all this, such as the fact that annexation of occupied territories violates several legal agreements to which Israel is a party. Never mind what the Palestinians may feel about all this, since it ends their dream of an independent state. Never mind that Jordan has shown absolutely no interest in such an arrangement. All those things are irrelevant.
What is relevant is that such a solution serves two Israeli (ay least Likud) purposes. First, it means the settlers (who are, of course, the electoral backbone of the current regime in Israel) do not have to move. Second, it avoids the appearance of a fully sovereign Palestinian state on Israel’s borders that might, like virtually all other states, develop its own military and security forces.
What is the Obama administration to say about this? Presumably, as long as it goes no farther than being a trial balloon, we will do nothing beyond expressing our reservations through diplomatic channels. If, however, this goes beyond its present status to something more formal, then there is a real problem that includes the possibility of an open breach in U.S.-Israeli relations. Are the Israelis really willing to let matters go to that? We’ll see.
Note: I am going on vacation for a week, so there will be no posting until next week.