Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Two State Two Step

I like Tom Friedman. I think he's a great writer and generally quite perceptive. In some ways he's a hawk, but he understands the realities of the world. He's critical of Israel, at times, but supportive at others. He has been an advocate of a two-state solution, but he's realizing that this might be a solution that is nearing its usefulness.

In an essay today in the NY Times, entitled "This Is Not a Test" Friedman suggests that the possibility of a two state solution is nearing its end point. The reasons are two fold -- Hamas and the Jewish Settlements on the West Bank. He's hoping that Israel will elect a centrist government in the February 10th elections that will rein in/close the settlements, but puts the onus for the recent invasion on Hamas, though there's considerable evidence to suggest that Israel was looking for a reason to invade.

My concern is with Friedman's hope that Israel will elect a government that will say no to the settlements. Who will that be? Even under Labor Governments no real effort has been made to stem the tide of the settlers. And the most likely scenario is that Likud will take over, and Likud has from the very beginning been keen on expanding the settlements, not pull them down. Sharon pulled the settlements out of Gaza and then essentially sealed the borders. When Hamas won democratically held elections both Israel and the US refused to acknowledge their legitimacy, leading in my mind to much of the problems that are present now. You can't say -- hold elections and then when people hold them say, we don't like the results.

So, where will all of this lead? At this point a "two-state" solution is the only solution on the table, but time is running out. Demographics is one issue -- both inside and outside Israel proper. And, there is no sign that the settlements are coming down any time soon. So, what do you make of the 1967 borders?

Friedman seems to be recognizing what a lot of others are recognizing -- we need to start working on a new solution.

George Mitchell has a lot on his hands!

2 comments:

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I DON'T like Friedman, who initially cheered the Iraq war and who is an unabashed defender of globalized capitalism.

However, I think he is right about the narrow window of opportunity here and have thought so for a decade.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I saw a great interview on The Daily Show with Jimmy Carter about his new book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land. Carter notes that the issues (and outline for peace) are the same as in 1978--but that the Israeli settlements (and the Wall) plus the election of Hamas (and division of Palestinian authority into 2) make the outcome harder--but not impossible. Carter notes that a 1 state solution would eliminate a Jewish state because Israeli population is declining while Palestinian (and Israeli Arab) population is increasing--rapidly. Israel is aware of this and that's why 87% of their population favor a two-state peace within the 1967 borders (the only Israeli borders ever recognized internationally).