The Métropolitain

Jerusalem recognition opens door to out-of-the-box solutions

Par David T. Jones le 7 janvier 2018

Washington, DC - After more than a generation of excavation in the Middle East, the US government has finally concluded that the hole it has been digging for the “Two State Solution” has no foreseeable “pot of gold” at the bottom.  Nor, to mix metaphors a bit, does the room filled with manure have a pony in it as hypothesized by the little optimist.

So we have stopped digging (and closed the door to the manure pile). 

It was not that that “the two state solution” has not seemed both tantalizing and seductively attainable.  It should have been Political Science 101 simple:  a state for Israel.  A state for Palestine.  Land swaps transferring parts of Israel to Palestine to compensate for the major settlements constructed in the West Bank post-1967.  And Jerusalem as the capital for both Israel and Palestine. 

Nor has been for lack of U.S. diplomatic effort at the highest political level and most sophisticated diplomatic expertise.  Although a Middle East solution was pursued since 1967, with a partial success in the return of the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in 1979, following the end of the Cold War the U.S. felt free to devote major effort to the Middle East.  Combined with the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s aggression in Kuwait in 1991, US regional prestige was unprecedented.  And throughout the Clinton Administration, persistent and creative diplomatic efforts (with Clinton at times almost acting as an action officer) sought to nudge, cajole, bribe, pressure the sides into agreement.  And failed.

Defeat is an orphan, and it is feckless to attempt to lay blame.  

But, in the intervening years, circumstances for agreement have worsened rather than improved.  

--Essentially, the Palestinians have fragmented.  Gaza is now controlled by Hamas, a political force that the US, Israel and others have designated as a terrorist organization.  The rest of Palestine lies under the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas, the successor to the dead Yasser Arafat, but with no comparable power or panache.  

-- Israel’s leader, Benjamin Netanyahu leads a political coalition with no significant interest in reaching agreement with the Palestinians.  “The Wall”—now many years in construction—has effectively separated Palestinians and Israelis, greatly reducing terrorist attacks.

There is no “valid interlocutor” that can bridge the gaps between Hamas terrorists, feckless PA officials, and indifferent Israelis.  Thus the American conclusion that a “shake the box” move might break loose frozen positions.

In the weeks leading to the US announcement it would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the global hissy fit far surmounted “sky is falling” dimensions.  It was a remarkable illustration of disingenuous arrogance for UN members to attempt to direct a sovereign state how it should recognize another country and/or locate its embassy.  And the consequence of these wild fulminations?  Virtually nothing; a handful of disparate demonstrations and Palestinians rioting with little more velocity than on any given Friday.

But by shaking the box, so to speak, the US has opened the potential for thinking outside it.  Is a “one state” solution possible with Egypt annexing Gaza and Jordan the West Bank?  Is a “three state solution” with Israel, “Palestine,” and Gaza as states possible?