If you haven’t already, take some time this weekend to read David Remnick’s article on Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, the shaky status of the two-state solution, and the resurgent chatter about an alternative. Remnick explores the history of the one-state idea and interviews a wide range of Israeli and Palestinian figures – from Sari Nusseibeh to Caroline Glick – on why it’s in the headlines again. No excerpt quite captures the substance of the piece in its entirety, but here’s the gist of it:
The one-state/two-state debate is highly fraught not least because of proximity. Too much history, too little land. This is not India and Pakistan; the map of Ireland is a veritable continent compared with Israel and the Palestinian territories. Gaza is about as close to Herzliya as Concord is to Hanover; the West Bank, as Israelis are quick to point out, is seven miles from Ben Gurion Airport. Any two-state solution with a chance of working would have to include federal arrangements not only about security but also about water, cell-phone coverage, sewage, and countless other details of a common infrastructure. Talk of a one-state solution, limited as it is, will never be serious if it is an attempt to mask annexation, expulsion, or population transfer, on one side, or the eradication of an existing nation, on the other. Israel exists; the Palestinian people exist. Neither is provisional. Within these territorial confines, two nationally distinct groups, who are divided by language, culture, and history, cannot live wholly apart or wholly together.
Meanwhile, escalating violence in Jerusalem and elsewhere – centered as usual on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif – has raised fears that a third Intifada may be afoot.
The situation in the city got precarious enough last week that Israel temporarily restricted access to the holy site, leading to widespread protests and prompting an emergency meeting of Netanyahu, John Kerry, and Jordan’s King Abdullah (the restrictions were lifted today):
Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel last Wednesday in protest at what it described as “the increasing and unprecedented Israeli escalation in the Noble Sanctuary and the repeated Israeli violations of Jerusalem,” the Jordanian state news agency reported. Netanyahu called Abdullah last Thursday, assuring him that Jordan’s special status regarding the Temple Mount and the Muslim holy places in Jerusalem, as specified in the peace agreement between the two countries, would be preserved.
Like many of Remnick’s sources, Daniel Gordis is bearish on prospects for peace at the moment, especially after the latest Gaza War:
There is simply no incentive for Israelis to compromise. What’s in it for them? they ask. Would a deal neutralize Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon? Would it stop Islamic State? Then why move the border closer to Israel’s capital and international airport? France may soon recognize a Palestinian state, as Sweden recently has, but none of that will change life for ordinary Palestinians. Israelis and Palestinians have lost all goodwill. The Israeli administration detests Obama and believes that a renewed poisonous attitude to Jews and Israel in Europe makes European capitals anything but fair arbiters. And with the Arab street ever more radicalized, the other side is no more inclined to be accommodating.
And Mazal Mualem wonders how long Netanyahu’s popularity can last, given the state of things:
The Protective Edge campaign that lasted 50 days and undermined the personal security of Israeli citizens from the Gaza envelope to the Tel Aviv area put the veteran prime minister in a new situation. He can no longer flatter himself that there was no war during his term of office, versus Olmert, who fought two. Netanyahu is now responsible for the longest round of fighting in Gaza, a campaign that brought no clear victory and did not tilt the balance.
Netanyahu faces what is emerging as a third intifada. Soldiers and young Israelis are being murdered in central Israeli cities in stabbing and vehicular terror attacks; Jerusalem is burning while concrete blocks and police are posted in bus and train stations. The atmosphere in Arab localities within the Green Line is tense, explosive. What will Netanyahu tell Israeli citizens in the coming election campaign that will probably take place in 2015? That he defeated Hamas? That he brought security? That he “forged a secure peace”?