Israel and the Two State Solution. If not now when?


For decades Israel has been caught in a violent catch 22, with people outside of the immediate conflict zone, working to toxify the environment. The two state scenario has proven to be a rabbit hole that simply perpetuates an already complex situation. This has allowed space for the radical terrorist groups to repackage themselves as a movement of humanitarian concern (BDS). It is time to change the equation.

How do you make peace with people, who by and large, refuse to accept the presence of Israel? In reality this question is not ours to answer. If it were in our power, if it were down to what we want, the civil conflict in British Palestine would never have started. Even if it had, even if partition was refused in 1947, peace would have been made following the first Arab/Israeli war in 1949. Look around you at the world we live in, we, as Jews, never get to decide when we are accepted.

In September 2000, I was in the West Bank conducting business in Bethlehem, Jericho and Ramallah. Just weeks, days, before the second intifada broke out.  So if the two state question is placed before me, I will start with the impact of Oslo’s failure.

Before Oslo, right and left wing in Israel were well defined. Arguments over ‘land for peace’. As Oslo began to implode, people stopped believing in the equation. This led to the collapse of the traditional Israeli peace block. What this means is that opposition to the two state solution is not necessarily embedded in the left /right political spectrum. This is an issue of believer and non-believer. Oslo becomes a faith.

This in turn has led to a massive misunderstanding and misrepresentation of Israel’s position. You can want to find peace, be prepared to give up land but simply not believe in the process itself. My position, like many Israelis today is that of a liberal, humanitarian non believer.

Oslo was a semi-negotiated process that ended in a deliberate outbreak of violence. Oslo attempted to unwrap a parcel from the inside out. It played a kick the can down the road approach with any issue considered problematic. It believed that by simply picking the low hanging fruit, everything else would sort itself out. The two state process was an exercise in naivety.

Historical setting

So now to how I see the underlying problem. By the late 1930’s the Arabs of the British mandate were internally leaderless and directed from the outside.  Between 1949 and 1967, power was consolidated in Arab capitals outside of both the west bank and Gaza.

Nationalism was fostered in the camps inside Syria and Lebanon.  It could not be done inside Gaza or the west bank, because they were mandate lands already in Arab hands.  An external nationalism that focuses on pre1967 Israel and considers the west bank and Gaza irrelevant.

Because this identity never had a natural leadership to define it, it took orders from wherever and whenever they came. From Assad in Syria, Saddam in Baghdad, Nasser in Cairo, Nasrallah in Beirut.

This creates a self-defeating absurdity. Where those outside decide what was best for those inside, and those inside always had to pay a price for these demands. In 1990, when Israel wanted to negotiate with the Arabs of Ramallah, the Arabs of Ramallah turned to Arafat in Tunis.

This is a nationalism that sees Gaza and the West Bank as pawns. So if you do anything to empower it, then it will use this power against you. If you bring Arafat from Tunis and suggest creating a peace process built on mutual recognition, you end up with bus bombs throughout Israel. If you dismantle settlements, pull out completely from Gaza you end up with rockets fired over all your major cities.

This poison has been drip feeding the conflict from the beginning.

External hatred

A couple of months ago I was talking to a student at SOAS, she was born in Britain. I asked about her parents, they were born in Pakistan.  This girl describes herself as a ‘Palestinian refugee’. I heard another student with a British passport call herself a ‘Palestinian refugee’ at an antizionist conference in Exeter late last year. Just a few weeks ago I was inside Birkbeck as someone described a dinner party she held. Around the table had sat 12 people, each with different passports. Some didn’t speak Arabic. Each one labelled a refugee.

Many of the refugees are Jordanian citizens. Many already live within PA areas. Children are being born today in Lebanon whose parents and grandparents were born in Lebanon. Others claiming to be Palestinian refugees or displaced people have passports that are Canadian, Australian, American; each reflecting the nationality of their parents.

Syria is a refugee crisis. The ‘Palestinian refugee’ was forged as a weapon. An artificial entity created inside a paradigm of no to normalisation that exists only to stop any settlement.  And as demographics in the west changed, this internationalised weapon took hold here too. Today it spearheads BDS. Yet another external movement that does not care about the wellbeing of the people inside Ramallah or Gaza.

So if not now when? You will never solve anything until you stop the dripping poison from entering the wound. First the refugees, then everything else. Unwrap this parcel from the outside – in.

The two stage solution

This is not a two state solution; it is a two stage solution. Tell the British born girl she is British. Tell those with Jordanian citizenship they are Jordanian. Scrap the working definition of a Palestinian refugee. Dismantle UNRWA and tell Lebanon that after 70 years it is about time they stop abusing the human rights of those within their borders.

Taking an addict and feeding both his addiction and his delusion simply because everyone is afraid to tell them the truth is abuse. Wanting to end the saga of refugees inside places like Lebanon, is a humanitarian cause. Kicking the can down the road only ensures the conflict continues and Israel remains trapped in a perpetual catch 22, with those on the outside working to permanently toxify the environment.

If you insist on permitting the artificially sustained and hate infested desires of those outside to dictate the basic terms of the discussion between the Jew from Jerusalem and the Arab from Ramallah, you will always exist in a deteriorating environment with little prospect for any type of lasting settlement.

So if the basic question over the issue of the two state solution, is to ask me if I believe in simply ‘kicking the can down the road’? Then my answer is also simple. No I do not.


(This was the basis of a speech written for a Campaign4Truth debate in London on 5/5/2016 on the Two State Solution. It is the subject for a book called ‘the Two Stage Solution’, focusing on my ongoing research, that hopefully is due to be published later in the year.)

De fundamentele fout van de tweestatenoplossing

vrijdag 29 april 2016 |  Tsvi Sadan

Het bestuur van de VN-organisatie voor Onderwijs, Wetenschap en Cultuur (UNESCO) heeft een documentgoedgekeurd betreffende ‘bezet Palestina’, waarin de Joodse historie van Jeruzalem onder het tapijt wordt geveegd. Het werd opgesteld door Algerije, Egypte, Libanon, Marokko, Oman, Qatar en Soedan.


De vooroordelen van de UNESCO tegen Israël zijn zo ernstig, dat Jeruzalem geen visum verleent aan vertegenwoordigers van deze organisatie. Het genoemde document laat weer zien dat daar een goede reden voor is, omdat het ‘ernstig betreurt’, ‘zeer bedroefd is over’ en ‘met klem veroordeelt’ dat de ‘bezettende mogendheid’ soevereiniteit uitoefent over de Tempelberg en de Oude Stad van Jeruzalem.

Om een dergelijke verkeerde benaming als Israëls ‘bezetting’ van de Tempelberg te rechtvaardigen, heeft de UNESCO het islamitische verhaal, dat systematisch ieder bewijsstuk uitwist waaruit de Joodse band met de Tempelberg en met het Land Israël, in zijn geheel aangenomen.

In feite is de ‘Tempelberg’ in het hele document niet één keer genoemd. Alsof de Joodse naam voor deze heilige plaats louter fictie zou zijn, verwijst het document er alleen naar als ‘Al-Aqsa moskee/Al-Haram al-Sharif.’ Zelfs de Westelijke Muur is het slachtoffer geworden van het revisionisme van de UNESCO en is alleen met de islamitische naam ‘Al-Buraq Plein’ vermeld

Het verhullen van het feit, dat de Joodse Tempel honderden jaren in Jeruzalem heeft bestaan, gaat veel verder dan de eis, een Palestijnse Staat op te richten in de ‘bezette gebieden’. Het spreekt immers vanzelf, dat wanneer de heiligste Joodse plaats onder ‘bezetting’ ligt, Israël niets anders is dan een koloniale macht, en niet alleen in Jeruzalem, maar in geheel het Heilige Land.

Als de Tempelberg geen Joodse heilige plaats is, hoe kun je dan zeggen dat Joden het recht hebben om in plaatsen zoals Tel Aviv te wonen, die slechts weinig, of helemaal geen, Joodse religieuze betekenis hebben? Hieruit volgt, dat als Israël de Tempelberg heeft bezet, heeft het ook Tel Aviv bezet.

De recente excuses van het Britse Labour parlementslid Maz Shah voor een tweet uit 2014, waarin hij voorstelde de Israëlische Joden naar Amerika over te brengen, is slechts het laatste voorbeeld van de manier, waarop deze redenering miljoenen mensen tot de conclusie leidt dat Israël in het beste geval een niet-duurzame westerse kolonie is.
Daarom zou een tweestatenoplossing slechts een ‘half huis’ kunnen zijn, een tijdelijke oplossing die leidt naar een eindoplossing waarin Israël ophoudt te bestaan.

Het gevaar van het geldig verklaren van het islamitische/Palestijnse verhaal is al duidelijk sinds Israël in 1967 de controle verkreeg over de Tempelberg.

Nathan Alterman, een van de meest gerespecteerde dichters en columnisten van Israël, bekritiseerde in 1970 fel leden van de Arbeiderspartij die begrip begonnen te tonen voor het idee van een ‘Palestijns volk.’
Alterman signaleerde fijntjes:
‘Door dit kunstmatige idee zijn porren we in een wespennest wat betreft ons bestaansrecht in dit land (…) Op het moment dat we met de nationale Palestijnse fictie instemmen, vanaf dat moment verandert het hele zionisme in een zaak van het roven van een land uit de handen van een bestaand volk. In de mate dat we dit idee helpen vaste voet te krijgen in de wereld en in ons eigen innerlijke bewustzijn, schudden we aan het historische en menselijke fundament van het zionisme, en brengen we het de doodsteek toe.’

‘(…) Als we inderdaad het bestaan van een Palestijns-Arabische natie erkennen, dan zijn niet alleen de ‘bezette gebieden’ Arabische gebieden, waarop we ons bloed vergieten tot de onvermijdelijke terugtrekking, maar dan is ook de Staat Israël Arabisch grondgebied (…) Als er een Arabische natie bestaat die voor zijn land strijdt, dan verliezen onze protesten hun betekenis. Het internationaal recht en de moraal beschouwen terreur als illegaal, zolang we zeggen dat het een tegen ons gericht instrument in de handen van de Arabische landen is. Maar vanaf het moment dat dit het wapen van het Palestijnse volk wordt (…) dat strijdt voor zijn nationale bestaan, zou geen van de afkeurende termen, waarin we hun bloedige acties beschrijven, ons helpen.’

Israël veroordeelt terecht de poging van de UNESCO om de Joodse (Bijbelse) geschiedenis van de Tempelberg uit te wissen. Dit protest klinkt echter hol als – in de naam van realpolitik, Israël zelf strenge beperkingen oplegt aan de Joodse aanwezigheid op de Tempelberg en zich openlijk engageert aan de tweestatenoplossing.

De bereidheid van Israël, om de Tempelberg over te dragen aan de Palestijnen, wordt door de wereld als bewijs gezien dat deze Staat geen waarde hecht aan zijn eigen historische erfgoed, en dus weinig bestaansrecht heeft.

Het is tijd, dat de Israëli’s gaan beseffen, dat zij door de Tempelberg te degraderen tot een stuk onroerend goed, de inspanningen van de UNESCO versterken om te bewijzen dat Israël een koloniale macht is die geen bestaansrecht heeft in het Beloofde Land.



The “Two State Solution”: Irony and Truth

by Louis René Beres
April 27, 2016 at 5:00 am

  • “The establishment of such a [Palestinian] state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into Judea and Samaria … In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence…” — Shimon Peres, Nobel Laureate and Former Prime Minister of Israel, in 1978.
  • The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964; three yearsbefore there were any “occupied territories.” Exactly what, then was the PLO planning to “liberate”?
  • Both Fatah and Hamas have always considered, and still consider, Israel as simply part of “Palestine.” On their current official maps, all of Israel is identified as “Occupied Palestine.”
  • “You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian state. … I have no use for Jews; they are and remain, Jews.” — PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, January 30, 1996 (2.5 years after signing the Oslo Peace Accords).
  • In view of these repeatedly intolerant Arab views on Israel’s existence, international law should not expect Palestinian compliance with any agreements, including those concerning use of armed force — even if these agreements were to include explicit U.S. security guarantees to Israel.

There is no lack of irony in the endless discussions of Israel and a Palestinian state.

One oddly neglected example is the complete turnaround of former Israeli prime minister Shimon Peres. Recognized today as perhaps the proudest Israeli champion of a “Two State Solution” — sometimes also referred to as a “Road Map to Peace in the Middle East” — Peres had originally considered Palestinian sovereignty to be an intolerable existential threat to Israel. More precisely, in his book, Tomorrow is Now (1978), Mr. Peres unambiguously warned:

“The establishment of such a (Palestinian) state means the inflow of combat-ready Palestinian forces into Judea and Samaria this force, together with the local youth, will double itself in a short time. It will not be short of weapons or other military equipment, and in a short space of time, an infrastructure for waging war will be set up in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. … In time of war, the frontiers of the Palestinian state will constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence…”

Now, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in apparent agreement with this original position of Peres on Palestine, is nonetheless willing to go along with some form or another of a Palestinian state, but only so long as its prospective leaders should first agree to “demilitarization.” Netanyahu, the “hawk,” is now in agreement with the early, original warning of Peres, the “dove.” Peres’s assessment has been Netanyahu’s firm quid pro quo.

For Israel, as Mr. Netanyahu understands, legal mistakes and misunderstandings could quickly give rise to potentially irreversible harms. With reference to the particular matter of “Palestine,” the underlying hazards are complex, longstanding, and possibly global. These hazards would also only be exacerbated by any newly mandated (by the U.S., Russia, and/or United Nations) Israeli return of the Golan Heights to Syria. Then, armed militants could once again start shooting down at the farmers below, laboring on the Israeli plain.

History can help us better to understand the real outcome of any “Two-State Solution.” From the beginnings of the state system, in 1648, following the Thirty Years’ War, and the Peace of Westphalia, states have routinely negotiated treaties to provide security. To the extent that they have been executed in good faith, these agreements are fashioned and tested according to international law. Often, of course, disputes arise when signatories have determined that continued compliance is no longer in their presumed national interest.

For Israel, its 1979 Peace Treaty with Egypt remains fundamental and important. Still, any oscillating regime change or Islamist ascendancy in Cairo could easily signal an abrogation of this agreement. These same risks of deliberate nullification could apply to an openly secular Egyptian government, should its leaders (today, this would mean President el-Sisi) decide, for absolutely any reason, that the historic treaty with Israel should now be terminated.

Any post-Sisi regime that would extend some governing authority to the Muslim Brotherhood, to its proxies, or to its jihadist successors (such as ISIS), could produce a sudden Egyptian abrogation. Although the cessation of treaty obligations by the Egyptian side would almost certainly represent a serious violation of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the governing “treaty on treaties,” there is little if anything that Israel or the so-called “international community” could do in response. In the still-insightful words of seventeenth-century English philosopher, Thomas Hobbes: “Covenants, without the sword, are but words….” (Leviathan).

Back to Palestine. As recently as last Friday, Palestinian Authority (PA) television, not Hamas,threatened the Jews, not just Israelis, with genocide:

PA TV Preacher: “Allah, punish Your enemies, the enemies of religion, count their numbers and kill them to the last one, and bring them a black day. Allah, punish the wicked Jews, and those among the atheists who help them. Allah, we ask that You bestow upon us respect and honor by enabling us to repel them, and we ask You to save us from their evil.” [Official PA TV, April 22, 2016]

That is just part of a wider security problem. Under law, Israel has a “peremptory” (irrefutable, not open to challenge or appeal) right to remain “alive.” It was, therefore, entirely proper for Mr. Netanyahu to have previously opposed a Palestinian state in any form. After all, both Fatah and Hamas have always considered, and still consider, Israel as simply part of “Palestine.” On their current official maps, all of Israel — not just West Bank, Judea and Samaria — is prominently identified as “Occupied Palestine.” As for Jerusalem, an April 15, 2016, UNESCO resolution was expressly dismissive of “so-called” Jewish sites, including the Western Wall.

Palestine, while not yet a fully sovereign state, is still a “nonmember observer state” of the United Nations. In that more limited capacity, “Palestine” had already been admitted into UNESCO, and, unsurprisingly, joined enthusiastically in the April 15, 2016 resolution calling into question all “Jewish sites.”

In the strict Islamic view, and not merely in narrowly jihadi or Islamist perspectives, Israel is described as the individual Jew writ large. The Jewish State, in this doctrinal view, must be despised and uprooted on account of the allegedly innate and irremediable “evil” that purportedly lurks within each and every individual Jew. This insidiously murderous viewpoint is a far cry from the more fashionable idea that Israel is somehow despised in the region “only” for legitimate political reasons, that it is supposedly an “occupier.” In reality, the Israeli is routinely despised in the Islamic world because its people do not submit to Islam. This alleged Jewish infirmity can never hope to be “healed.”

A current Egyptian textbook of “Arab Islamic History,” used widely in teacher training colleges, expresses these basic and crudely determinative sentiments:

“The Jews are always the same, every time and everywhere. They will not live save in darkness. They contrive their evils clandestinely. They fight only when they are hidden; because they are cowards. … The Prophet enlightened us about the right way to treat them, and succeeded finally in crushing the plots they had planned. We today must follow this way, and purify Palestine from their filth.”[1]

In an earlier article in Al-Ahram by Dr. Lutfi Abd al-Azim, the famous commentator urged, with complete seriousness:

“The first thing that we have to make clear is that no distinction must be made between the Jew and the Israeli….The Jew is a Jew, through the millennia … in spurning all moral values, devouring the living, and drinking his blood for the sake of a few coins. The Jew, the Merchant of Venice, does not differ from the killer of Deir Yasin or the killer of the camps. They are equal examples of human degradation. Let us therefore put aside such distinctions, and talk only about Jews.”[2]

Writing also on the “Zionist Problem,” Dr. Yaha al-Rakhawi remarked openly in AlAhram

“We are all once again face to face with the Jewish Problem, not just the Zionist Problem; and we must reassess all those studies which make a distinction between “The Jew” and “The Israeli.” And we must redefine the meaning of the word “Jew” so that we do not imagine that we are speaking of a divinely revealed religion, or a minority persecuted by mankind … we cannot help but see before us the figure of the great man Hitler, may God have mercy on him, who was the wisest of those who confronted this problem … and who out of compassion for humanity tried to exterminate every Jew, but despaired of curing this cancerous growth on the body of mankind.”[3]

Finally, consider what Israel’s original Oslo Accords “peace partner,” Yasser Arafat, said on January 30, 1996, while addressing forty Arab diplomats at the Grand Hotel in Stockholm. Speaking under the title, “The Impending Total Collapse of Israel,” Arafat remarked unapologetically, and without any hesitation:

“We Palestinians will take over everything; including all of Jerusalem. … All the rich Jews who will get compensation will travel to America. … We of the PLO will now concentrate all our efforts on splitting Israel psychologically into two camps. Within five years, we will have six to seven million Arabs living in the West Bank, and in Jerusalem. … You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian state. … I have no use for Jews; they are and remain, Jews.”

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton, and PLO chairman Yasser Arafat at the Oslo Accords signing ceremony on September 13, 1993. In 1996, Arafat publicly stated: “We Palestinians will take over everything … You understand that we plan to eliminate the State of Israel, and establish a purely Palestinian state. … I have no use for Jews; they are and remain, Jews.” (Image source: Vince Musi / The White House)

In view of these repeatedly intolerant Arab views on Israel’s existence, international law should not expect Palestinian compliance with any pre-state agreements, including those concerning use of armed force. This is true even if these agreements were to include certain explicit U.S. security guarantees to Israel. Also, authentic treaties can be binding only upon states, therefore any inherently non-treaty agreement between a pre-state “Palestine” and Israel could quickly prove to be of little or no real standing or effectiveness.

What if the government of a new Palestinian state were somehow willing to consider itself bound by the pre-state, non-treaty agreement? Even in these very improbable circumstances, the functioning Palestinian government could still have ample pretext, and opportunity, tolawfully terminate the agreement. Palestine, for example, could withdraw from the “treaty” because of what it would regard as a “material breach” — a purported violation by Israel that had allegedly undermined the “object or purpose” of the agreement. It could also point toward what international law calls Rebus sic stantibus (“fundamental change of circumstances”).

Here, if Palestine might decide to declare itself vulnerable to previously unforeseen dangers — perhaps even not from Israel but from other Arab armies or their sub-state proxies — it couldlawfully end its previous commitment to remain demilitarized.

There is another factor that explains why Prime Minister Netanyahu’s conditioned hope for Palestinian demilitarization remains misconceived, and why Prime Minister Peres’s earlier pessimism remains well-founded. After declaring independence, a new Palestinian government, one possibly displaying the same openly genocidal sentiments, could point to particular pre-independence “errors of fact,” or “duress,” as appropriate grounds to terminate the agreement. Significantly, the usual grounds that may be invoked under domestic law to invalidate contracts can apply equally under international law, both to actual treaties, and to less authoritative agreements.

Any treaty or treaty-like agreement is void if, at the time of entry, it is in conflict with a “peremptory” rule of international law, a rule accepted by the community of states as one from which no deviation is permitted. Because the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces for self-defense is always such a rule, “Palestine” could be well within its lawful rights to abrogate any agreement that had, before its independence, compelled demilitarization.

In short, Benjamin Netanyahu should take no comfort from any legal promises of Palestinian demilitarization. Should the government of a future Palestinian state choose to invite foreign armies or terrorists on to its territory, possibly after the original government had been overthrown by more militantly jihadist or other Islamic forces, it could do so not only without practical difficulties, but also without necessarily violating pertinent international rules.

The core danger to Israel of any presumed Palestinian demilitarization is always far more practical than legal. The “Road Map” to “Palestine” still favored by U.S. President Barack Obama and most European leaders, stems from a persistent misunderstanding of Palestinian history, and, simultaneously, of the long legal history of Jewish life and title to disputed areas in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) and Jerusalem. At a minimum, President Obama and, even more importantly, his successor, should finally recognize that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964; three years before there were any “occupied territories.” Exactly what, then was the PLO planning to “liberate”? This is a primary question that still cries out for a reasonable response.

A Palestinian state, any Palestinian state, would represent a mortal danger to Israel. This danger could not be relieved, even by the stipulated requirements of Israel’s current prime minister, or by any pre-independence Palestinian commitments to “demilitarize.”

Ironically, if by chance, a new state of Palestine would actually choose to abide by such pre-state commitments, it could then become more susceptible to a takeover by a jihadist organization such as ISIS.

In a staggeringly complicated region, filled with ironies, there are legal truths that should assist Israeli leaders to choose a more promising remedy to war and terror than an illusory “Two-State Solution.” Shimon Peres’s early warnings about “Palestine” were on-the-mark and should be heeded today.

Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue University. He can be reached at:

[1] Bernard Lewis, Semites and Anti-Semites, W.W. Norton, 1999, pp. 218-19.

[2] “The Arabs and the Jews – Who Will Destroy Whom?”, Dr. Lutfi Abd al-Azim, Al-Ahram Iktisadi, September 27, 1982.

[3] Al-Ahram, Egypt, Liberal Party, July 19, 1982.