(Cross-posted at LeftInLowell)
So the elections are in and it looks like the hard-liner Israelis (as well as hard-line Palestinians) have sucessfully reaped benefits from the current rounds of conflict. This, in all likelyhood, means more lip-service to a two-state solution at the same time as settlements continue to expand. It seems to me that incentives for Palestinians to negotiate at this point are dwindling by the day. At some point they will come to the conclusion that any two-state option that Israel is willing to give isn’t one worth having. What then?
More below the fold.
Once the two state solution is off the table, the international community is going to be confronted with the very real problem that there is a politically and economically repressed majority in Israel. They will effectively be governed without representation by a government willing to employ the most intrusive policies of any western democracy. Indeed, there will be a question if the term ‘democracy’ even applies to Israel any more.
Stephen Walt explains that there are three options as he sees it:
First, Israel could drive most or all of the 2.5 million Palestinians out of the West Bank by force, thereby preserving “greater Israel” as a Jewish state through an overt act of ethnic cleansing. The Palestinians would surely resist, and it would be a crime against humanity, conducted in full view of a horrified world. …
Second, Israel could retain control of the West Bank but allow the Palestinians limited autonomy in a set of disconnected enclaves, while it controlled access in and out, their water supplies, and the airspace above them. … In short, the Palestinians would not get a viable state of their own and would not enjoy full political rights. This is the solution that many people — including Prime Minister Olmert — compare to the apartheid regime in South Africa. …
[Third,] … The Israeli government could maintain its physical control over “greater Israel” and grant the Palestinians full democratic rights within this territory. This option has been proposed by a handful of Israeli Jews and a growing number of Palestinians. But there are formidable objections to this outcome: It would mean abandoning the Zionist dream of an independent Jewish state…
He then goes on and questions if we are ready with a plan B:
But if a two-state option is no longer feasible, it seems likely that the United States would come to favor this third choice. …
If the two-state solution dies, as seems increasingly likely, the United States is going to face a very awkward set of choices. That’s one reason why Obama and his team — as well as Israel’s friends in the United States — should move beyond paying lip-service to the idea of creating a Palestinian state and actually do something about it. But it’s hard to be optimistic that they will.
And while I’m at it, here’s one more heretical thought. Shouldn’t someone in the U.S. government start thinking about what our policy should be in the event that the two-state solution collapses?
I’d like the Israel hawks to tell me supports what’s wrong with Stephen Walt’s logic here. And if nothing is wrong with his logic, I’d be interested to know what their estimate is of the time frame at which point Palestinians decide any state they could get is not a state worth having due to settlement expansion and overcrowding, and they begin demanding the vote instead…
And Greenwald wonders about the potentially increasing cost of supporting Israel under these circumstances:
If, as it appears, the face Israel is now choosing for itself is that of Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, then the cost to the United States of ongoing, one-sided support for Israel is going to skyrocket, and the need for serious change in U.S. policy towards Israel will be even more acute. It’s worth recalling that Barack Obama, when still seeking the Democratic nomination in February, 2008, said:
I think there is a strain within the pro-Israel community that says unless you adopt an unwavering pro-Likud approach to Israel, then you’re anti-Israel, and that can’t be the measure of our friendship with Israel.
It will be vital to ensure that Obama actually meant that. Netanyahu’s pledge to allow the still-further expansion of West Bank settlements makes an already-distant two-state solution less viable still, and his explicit vow to keep the Golan Heights “forever” makes negotiations with Syria doomed from the start. He actually just objected that Israel’s destruction of huge parts of Gaza “did not go far enough.”
One Chinese curse is certain,… Israel (and by extension the U.S.) will be living in ‘interesting times’ for some time to come.