from some 70 countries will assemble in Paris on Sunday for another Mideast
conference, intended to preserve the two-state solution for Israelis and
Palestinians. The timing is not accidental: With five days to go in the Obama
administration, there are whispers that the conference may lead to another U.N.
Security Council resolution, this time setting out parameters for an eventual
question is: For what?
change aside, the cause of Palestinian statehood is the central obsession of
contemporary global politics. Itís also its least examined assumption.
a Palestinian state serve the cause of Mideast peace? This used to be
conventional wisdom, on the theory that a Palestinian state would lead to peace
between Israel and its Arab neighbors, easing the military burdens on the former
and encouraging the latter to address their internal discontents.
the proposition is ridiculous. No deal between Jerusalem and Ramallah is going
to lift the sights of those now fighting in Syria, Iraq or Yemen. Nor will a
deal reconcile Tehran and its terrorist proxies in Lebanon and Gaza to the
existence of a Jewish state. As for the rest of the neighborhood, Israel has
diplomatic relations with Turkey, Jordan and Egypt, and has reached pragmatic
accommodations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
about the interests of Palestinians? Arenít they entitled to a state?
But are they more entitled to one than the Assamese, Basques, Baloch, Corsicans,
Druze, Flemish, Kashmiris, Kurds, Moros, Native Hawaiians, Northern Cypriots,
Rohingya, Tibetans, Uyghurs or West Papuansóall of whom have distinct national
identities, legitimate historical grievances and plausible claims to statehood?
so, what gives Palestinians the preferential claim? Have they waited longer than
the Kurds? No: Kurdish national claims stretch for centuries, not decades. Have
they experienced greater violations to their culture than Tibetans? No: Beijing
has conducted a systematic policy of repression for 67 years, whereas
Palestinians are nothing if not vocal in mosques, universities and the media.
Have they been persecuted more harshly than the Rohingya? Not even close.
the comparisons aside. Would a Palestinian state be good for Palestinian people?
a more subjective judgment. But a telling figure came in a June 2015 poll
conducted by the Palestinian Center for Public Opinion, which found that a
majority of Arab residents in East Jerusalem would rather live as citizens with
equal rights in Israel than in a Palestinian state. No doubt part of this owes
to a desire to be connected to Israelís thriving economy.
itís also a function of politics. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas just
entered the 13th year of his four-year term. Fatah rules the West Bank through
corruption; Hamas rules Gaza through fear. Humanitarian aid is routinely
diverted for terrorist purposes: One terror tunnel stretching from Gaza to
Israel consumed an estimated 800 tons of concrete and cost $10 million to build.
Every three years or so, Hamas starts firing missiles at Israel, and hundreds of
Palestinian civilians get killed in the crossfire. How does any of this augur
well for what a future Palestinian state might bring?
isnít a Palestinian state a necessity for Israel? Can it maintain its Jewish
and democratic character without separating itself from the millions of
Palestinians living west of the Jordan River?
theory, Israel would be well-served living alongside a sovereign Palestinian
state that lived in peace with its neighbors, improved the welfare and respected
the rights of its people, rejected extremism and maintained a monopoly on the
use of force. In theory, Palestine could be the next Costa Rica: small but
Israelis donít live in theory. They live in a world where mistakes are mortal.
In 2000 and 2007 Israeli prime ministers made good-faith offers of Palestinian
statehood. They were met on both occasions with rejection, then violence. In
2005 Israel vacated the Gaza Strip. It became an enclave of terror. On Sunday,
four young Israelis were run over in yet another terror attack. The ideal of a
Jewish and faultlessly democratic state is a noble one. Not at the risk of the
existence of the state itself.
Paris conference takes place on the eve of a new administration thatís
indifferent to prevailing orthodoxies regarding the Palestinians. David
Friedman,Donald Trumpís nominee to be ambassador to Israel, is unequivocal in
his support for the Jewish state, determined to move the U.S. Embassy to
Jerusalem, unscandalized by settlements and unmoved by suggestions that
Israelís safety requires the empowerment of her enemies. These heresies alone
recommend him for the job.
anyone genuinely concerned with the future of the Palestinians might urge them
to elect better leaders, improve their institutions, and stop giving out sweets
to celebrate the murder of their neighbors.