“At 4 P.M., the State of Israel Will Be Established”
—Yediot/Haaretz, May 16, 1948
“State of Israel is Born”
—The Palestine Post, May 16, 1948
“United Nations Approves State of Palestine”
It is conceivable
within the course of realpolitik that despite obfuscation; political
filibustering; dancing the diplomatic two-step (direct, indirect); wading
through a plethora of plans, initiatives, think-tank reports, white
papers and expert opinions (from Madrid to Oslo to Allon to Arab to
Faya’d); it appears increasingly likely that all might boil down to
a single resolution enacted by the United Nations Security Council.
When in August
2009, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Faya’d laid out his design
for perfecting the infrastructure and institutions necessary to support
statehood and slapped a two-year time frame on the plan, few realized
the speed and intensity with which it would resonate throughout the
world, picking up support from a wide range of interests.
the ‘Palestinian Street’ became energized with perhaps its first
tangible, reachable goals that diverted the populace from the mounting
cynicism and skepticism with which it viewed virtually all promises
made by its leadership until then. Supplemented by highly visible events
showcasing growing private sector entrepreneurialism, the mood on the
street improved markedly from where frustration was the dominant emotion
slightly more than a year ago.
community has bit big-time. For reasons ranging from the dynamics of
domestic politics to a sense – right or wrong—of supporting the
underdog, Faya’d’s start of the ‘countdown-clock to statehood’
is allowing western leaders to vouchsafe support for the Palestinian
cause replete with greater zeal and less personal/political risk.
leading security officials acknowledge the success of American and European
efforts to train a competent security apparatus and the success of the
Palestinian security forces in maintaining the peace wherever they have
been given the opportunity to do so. In response, sixty Israeli tour
guides are now being permitted to enter Palestinian areas and it appears
that other Israeli citizens will soon be allowed to traverse the checkpoints
Since all of
these developments clearly buttress the mantra of the “two-state solution,”
it belies the growing conventional wisdom that it’s primarily the
fringe of each camp that prefers the less-fashionable “one-state”
On the Israeli
right—but hardly “fringe”—former Defense Minister Moshe Arens
recently wrote in the mass-circulation Haaretz that Israel “is
already a bi-national Jewish-Palestinian state,” a position echoed
by parliament speaker Ruby Rivlin, a member of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s
Likud party. Those who adhere to this thought are diametrically opposed
to those who argue that the “one-state solution” spells death by
demography for the democratic Jewish state. Opponents offer a vision
of a dramatic handing-over to Israel’s Arab population the keys to
the kingdom on the morning that census figures show an Arab majority-of-one.
They even point to support for the one-state approach Libyan strongman
Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi took in a recent New York Times op-ed as
proof-positive that it must be “bad for the Jews.” Supporters of
the one-state option respond to the demographic argument in-part by
pointing to minority rule in Jordan and Syria. Some even cite a 1946
piece by Albert Einstein considered supportive of a single bi-national
character for fledgling “Palestine” – the term predominantly referring
to the region’s Jewish population at the time.
side, too, offers mixed views on the question of “one- or two-state”
option. Adopting the demographic argument, some Palestinian leaders
have employed the “one-state” idea as a threat to push the Israelis
toward final concessions. It’s an argument many Israelis accept: lose
some now or all later. Munib Al-Masri, the Palestinian billionaire whose
esteemed position has landed him in the unenviable role as mediator
between Fatah and Hamas, recently told The Media Line that, “Palestinians
can go either way, but the ‘two-state’ solution is better for Israel.”
The sole factor
both sides agree upon is that the status-quo is not sustainable –
an opinion shared reluctantly by some with Barack Obama.
years of interviews with Israelis and Palestinians, it has become noticeable
that fewer and fewer still offer references to Jericho cafes filled
with Jewish Israelis on Saturday nights or recall what Jewish Israelis
NOT clad in army green and manning checkpoints look like: visions lost
to both Israeli and Palestinian youth.
In that vein,
the Faya’d plan and the apparition of a U.N. resolution establishing
the State of Palestine loom large in catalyzing Israelis to take a position
before one is imposed upon them. Conventional wisdom sees Israeli leadership
as being more malleable in the aftermath of the Goldstone and Gaza flotilla
image debacles and most believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President
Obama share a clear understanding of what the final agreement is going
to look like
Many also see
the American interlocutor as losing patience with Palestinian obfuscation
in the form of seemingly endless pre-conditions: the latest being Israel’s
formal acceptance of ’67 borders and an international force to enforce
Those who preach stagnation have it wrong. Although timing and details are not yet clear, the parties should neither underestimate the movement at-hand nor be surprised when the announcement from the U.N. fills the headlines.
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