Palestinians Must Earn a Two State Solution
Trump raised eyebrows when he mentioned the possibility of a one state solution.
The context was ambiguous and no one can know for sure what message he was
intending to convey. One possibility is that he was telling the Palestinian
leadership that if they want a two state solution, they have to do something.
They have to come to the negotiating table with the Israelis and make the kinds
of painful sacrifices that will be required from both sides for a peaceful
resolution to be achieved. Put most directly, the Palestinians must earn the
right to a state. They are not simply entitled to statehood, especially since
their leaders missed so many opportunities over the years to secure a state. As
Abba Eben once put it: "The Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss
began back in the 1930s, when Great Britain established the Peale Commission
which was tasked to recommend a solution to the conflict between Arabs and Jews
in mandatory Palestine. It recommended a two state solution with a tiny
noncontiguous Jewish state alongside a large Arab state. The Jewish leadership
reluctantly accepted this sliver of a state; the Palestinian leadership rejected
the deal, saying they wanted there to be no Jewish state more than they wanted a
state of their own.
1947, the United Nations partitioned mandatory Palestine into two areas: one for
a Jewish state; the other for an Arab state. The Jews declared statehood on
1948; all the surrounding Arab countries joined the local Arab population in
attacking the new state of Israel and killing one percent of its citizens, but
1967, Egypt and Syria were planning to attack and destroy Israel, but Israel
preempted and won a decisive victory, capturing the West Bank, Gaza Strip and
Sinai. Israel offered to return captured areas in exchange for peace, but the
Arabs met with Palestinian leaders in Khartoum and issued their three infamous
"no's": no peace, no recognition, and no negotiation.
2000-2001 and again in 2008, Israel made generous peace offers that would have
established a demilitarized Palestinian state, but these offers were not
accepted. And for the past several years, the current Israeli government has
offered to sit down and negotiate a two state solution with no pre-conditions--
not even advanced recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish
people. The Palestinian leadership has refused to negotiate.
Trump may be telling them that if they want a state they have to show up at the
negotiating table and bargain for it. No one is going to hand it to them on a
silver platter in the way that former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon handed
over the Gaza strip in 2005, only to see it turned into a launching pad for
terror rockets and terror tunnels. Israel must get something in return: namely
real peace and a permanent end to the conflict.
Palestinian leadership's unwillingness to come to the negotiating table reminds
me of my mother's favorite Jewish joke about Sam, a 79 year old man who prayed
every day for God to let him win the New York lottery before he turns 80. On the
eve of his 80th birthday, he rails against God:
these years I've prayed to you every day asking to win the lottery. You couldn't
give me that one little thing!" God responded: "Sam, you have to help
me out here-- buy a ticket!!"
Palestinians haven't bought a ticket. They haven't negotiated in good faith.
They haven't accepted generous offers. They haven't made realistic counter
proposals. They haven't offered sacrifices to match those offered by the
President Trump is telling them that they have to "buy a ticket." They
are not going to get a state by going to the United Nations, the European Union
or the international criminal court. They aren't going to get a state as a
result of the BDS or other anti-Israel movements. They will only get a state if
they sit down and negotiate in good faith with the Israelis.
Obama Administration applied pressures only to the Israeli side, not to the
Palestinians. The time has come – indeed it is long past – for the United
States to tell the Palestinians in no uncertain terms that they must negotiate
with Israel if they want a Palestinian state, and they must agree to end the
conflict, permanently and unequivocally. Otherwise, the status quo will
continue, and there will be only one state, and that state will be Israel.
Palestinians are not going to win the lottery without buying a ticket.