From JIM HOULE
May 21, 2009 Ukiah, Mendocino County, North California
The semi-annual Israeli trek to the Oval Office took place this week and was a wonderful success – nothing changed, no one moved, and all is as deranged as ever. Bibi Netanyahu, with a most diverse Cabinet and an almost-fascist Foreign Minister, is said to have arrived hoping to get “fundamental redefinitions of the regional dynamic”, Stratfor 18 May – George Friedman, such as a re-examination of the ‘two-state solution’ and a “finite time frame for talks with Iran, after which unspecified but ominous-sounding actions are to be taken”.
With Obama up to his ears in torture, the AfPak War, and a broken economy, Netanyahu’s expectations seem quite demanding. Exactly why Obama agreed to the visit at this time is strange in itself, but Bibi is new at the job, and he needs to demonstrate his “special US relationship” in front of constituents. Israel has lost a lot of friends lately after their murderous treatment of the Gazans. Recent figures show emigration now outpacing immigration while between 700,000 and 1 million citizens live outside of Israel proper. A 2007 poll showed only 69% wanted to stay in the country and this included half of all young people. These figures are a bad omen for Israel” says John Mearsheimer in the American Conservative 5/15/09.
“Progress towards a two-state solution”, the assumed rationale for all talks between Palestinians and Israelis for years now, “is a total chimera” in the view of George Friedman in Stratfor 5/18/09. “It is a fiction that serves US purposes”: Geographically it is impossible to implement and control. Israel will never agree to return to the 1967 Truce Lines upon which the two-state plan is based. Furthermore, the major Arab powers are not supportive: The Jordanian royal family does not want to see Fatah in charge of a new Palestinian State on the West Bank, expecting that they would quickly overthrow the Hashemites that tried to annihilate them way back in Black September, 1970. President Mubarrak of Egypt views Hamas as a descendant of the damned Moslem Brotherhood that he has tried to eliminate for 20 years. Certainly the Saudis have no particular interest in according Palestinians any power or voice. So, the gentleman’s agreement has been to make comforting noises about Palestinian rights while being careful not to achieve anything much beyond food handouts and periodic payoffs to political leaders.
“The various Israeli-Palestinian peace processes have thus served US and Arab interests quite well: they provide the illusion of activity with high-level visits breathlessly reported in the media, succeeded by talks and concessions – - all followed by stalemate and new rounds of violence, thus beginning the cycle all over again”. George Friedman Stratfor 5/18/09.
The Israeli prime minister is now asking that the various Arab states become directly involved in a conference wherein they would be forced to reveal publicly their very different public and private positions on Palestinian statehood and their lack of any real interest in pressuring the US to demand a viable two-state arrangement with Israel and a return to the 1967 borders. The clever thing about this position is that Netanyahu not only knows his request will not become a reality, but he and almost all Israelis do not want it to become a reality. The continued political stability of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and even Syria is as much in Israel’s interest as it is America’s. “Israel is a conservative power, it does not want upheaval, and it is quite content with the current regimes in the Arab world. But if the Arab states were to roundly condemn Israel at a big international conference it would help justify tough Netanyahu’s policies domestically, showing once more how Israel is surrounded by hostile states lusting for its downfall. Obama would probably just as soon put off any demonstration of the hollowness of the two-state peace process as long as possible. He’s sent George Mitchell as his Middle East special envoy to deal with the issue and that’s quite enough attention to the problem.
Netanyahu, of course, knows all this. Part of his mission is simply convincing his ruling coalition, and particularly Israel’s most aggressive foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman, whom Netanyahu needs to survive, that he is committed to redefining the entire Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Once he has performed this Two-State Two-Step in the Oval Office, Netanyahu can move on to Iran where the US has made it very plain that Israel cannot mount an attack on their nuclear facilities without US approval to over-fly Iraq. Yet, Israeli writers continue to place scare articles in the American media, knowing full well that they are not a free agent when to comes to bombing the Persians. Netanyahu knows the limits of Israeli power in the region and is highly unlikely to put it to the test.
THE SAME OLD TWO STATE TWO STEP
So, given that Netanyahu does not expect nor actually really want the full-frontal Israeli-Washington embrace to change significantly, then what is all this talk about one-state and two state, and about the hard line opposition to a two state solutions by his hard-assed Foreign Minister Lieberman? Well – it is mostly thin smoke and foggy mirrors but should allow Bibi to return with an increase in his yearly allotments of economic and military aid.
Professor John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, who earned Israel’s eternal wrath in 2007 as co-author of ‘The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy’ explains the total impossibility of the Two-State Solution best:
- Netanyahu has been opposed for many years to a separate Palestinian state and will continue to build illegal settlements that ensure no Two-State solution can ever be reached;
- Obama is committed to the Two-State solution and to the elimination of any new settlements in the West Bank;
Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, built 30 new settlement, and built 250 miles of roads connecting them since the 1990s;
- Like Presidents before him, Obama is powerless to stop Israel’s colonization in the face of a hugely powerful lobby in the US Congress;
- Obama’s silence during the murder of over 1000 civilians in the Gaza War shows him to be no match for the Jewish lobby in America, despite poll results that indicate 60% of Americans favor withholding aid from Israel if they continue to block a separate Palestinian State;
- Without some movement, Palestinians will remain locked-up in a handful of impoverished enclaves in the West Bank and Gaza and periodic strong-armed suppression will continue.
THE CASE FOR A GREATER ISRAEL
If we are to rule out the Two-State Solution since withdrawal from the new settlements would be political suicide, and if we consider the impossibility of living within a chopped-up Bantustan-like Palestine intermingled with walls, checkpoints, uneasy Jewish settlers, and a myriad of commercial, legal and political complications, then we are left with three alternatives that can be grouped under the rubric “Greater Israel”. All three make Israel, Gaza and the West Bank into one country that could be called one of the following:
– Integrated Greater Israel – a secular society
– An Ethnic Cleansed Israel – all Palestinans clear out please
– An Apartheid Israel – the South Africaner Model
The0 Integrated Greater Israel would be a democratic bi-national state with Palestinians and Jews having equal political and civil rights but would mean the abandonment of the original Zionist vision of a Jewish homeland since the Palestinians would soon outnumber them. Israelis would never agree to such a thing.
Expelling all Palestinians from Greater Israel would be seen to outsiders as a crime against humanity. There are 5.5 million Palestinians between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean and they would put up a wicked fight! Yet there are many Israelis who no longer have any qualms about killing Palestinians.
The most likely alternative is an Apartheid State wherein the Palestinians would have limited autonomy and few political rights. Former Prime Minister Ohlmert has warned that this will become the solution unless there is a two-state solution. He feels that apartheid would be suicidal for Israel. Mearsheimer, 5/15/09.
While Netanyahu and Obama posture for the cameras, Israel is indeed in serious peril. The only practical solution may be the two-state solution even though 480,000 Jewish settlers now live illegally outside Israeli borders and only32% of Israelis support the plan. The best argument for it is the fear that arises when the alternatives are considered.