Israel Must Confront the Future of Palestine
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Let’s stop talking about a two-state solution if we aren’t willing to do what it takes to create a separate, viable, self-governing state for the Palestinians. Before we waste a lot of time discussing a two-state solution again, we should determine if Israel would give up most or all of the West Bank and East Jerusalem to establish a Palestinian state.

A Palestinian state in the West Bank cannot be made up of patches of land surrounded by territory controlled by Israel. If land now occupied by Israeli settlers has to be part of Israel, a separate Palestinian state would not be viable.

From Israel’s point of view, an independent Palestinian state could be an unacceptable security risk.  There is some merit to this. But the alternatives probably involve greater risks.

What’s the alternative? A one-state solution would result in Jews eventually becoming a minority and Israel would no longer be a Jewish state. The Palestinians would not get a state of their own.

Today’s option, trying to maintain the present situation by force, will not lead to a sustainable peace.

There have been big mistakes and violent actions taken by all sides. A stable and lasting solution requires a reconciliation. Arguments based on history and past actions have to be set aside.

 A possibility is that there is no long-term peaceful solution no matter what we do today.

Like it or not, the U.S. is complicit in Israel’s actions. This seriously erodes our global credibility and reputation. The U.S. has been Israel’s only dependable ally since the country was founded in 1948. The U.S. is supporting Israel’s military invasion and bombing campaign in Gaza. Much of the equipment and ammunition being used is supplied by or paid for by the U.S. Israel has consistently been the country receiving the most foreign aid from the U.S. until Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Most of the aid to Israel is military assistance.

Since the Oslo Accords in 1993, the U.S. may have complained but has done nothing effective to constrain Israel’s actions against Palestinians. This includes turning a blind eye as Israel expands illegal settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These settlements were deliberate actions by Israel that are preventing a two-state solution. When the Oslo Accords were signed about 30 years ago, there was an estimated 250,000 Israeli settlers illegally living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Today, there are over 700,000 settlers living there.

Unquestioning bipartisan support for Israel by the U.S. is no longer assured. Too many in the U.S. are upset with Israel’s current and past treatment of the Palestinians and no longer support our government’s position. This has the potential to become a major domestic political issue. This is not all antisemitism. One should be able to criticize Israel’s actions and intentions without being accused of attacking Jews or their religion.

Today, Israel is engaged in a full-scale military invasion of Gaza with a bombing campaign targeting one of the world’s most densely populated regions, home to 2.2 million Palestinians. Most are now refugees without adequate food, water, shelter, electricity or health care. An estimated 18,000 Palestinians have been killed and 49,000 wounded, most are women and children. There will be many more deaths to come before this military action ends. So far, Israel has killed an estimated 7,000 Hamas fighters out of about 30,000 to 40,000. There are about 10 Palestinians killed or wounded for every Hamas fighter who is killed.

How does it end? What happens to all these displaced people? Who will pay for rebuilding Gaza? Who will organize and pay for the humanitarian aid needed to support the displaced and wounded people who have nowhere to go? It can be assumed that Israel will not take on this task or the costs involved. Will the U.S. volunteer for this rebuilding effort given our support that contributed to this situation? 

What else could Israel have done?  The horrible October 7 attack by Hamas was an avoidable intelligence and defense failure by Israel. Following this attack, perhaps Israel should have secured the border with Gaza, negotiated the return of all the hostages and pursued a longer-term targeted approach to killing Hamas fighters, focusing on their leadership. In addition, Israel could have accepted the fact that their military strength is not all that is needed to guarantee their security. Israel could have decided that a viable two-state solution is the best alternative for a lasting peace in spite of the risks, sacrifices and problems that would be involved.

Is it now too late for a non-violent solution?

William Fletcher, now retired, was a senior vice president at Rockwell International. He served as an officer and engineer in the Navy working on the design and operation of nuclear-powered ships, and as an engineer involved with the design and construction of commercial nuclear power plants. Later, he focused on industrial development and automation. For much of his career, he was involved in international operations with assignments in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. With coauthor Craig Smith PhD his book THE GLOBAL CLIMATE CRISIS: What To Do About It will be published by Elsevier in early 2024.