As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The End Of The Two-State Solution?

The Israeli elections turned out pretty much the way it looked early on. Tzipi Livni earned a narrow victory, but because there are 64 votes in the Knesset on the far right, Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud have a better chance of forming a government. Even if Livni can woo one of the far-right parties, they would represent a check on any move toward peace with Palestine, since they could react by collapsing the government. The result is that Avigdor Lieberman, who even Marty Peretz calls a neo-fascist and who thinks Arabs in Israel should offer loyalty oaths to the state, is arguably the most powerful figure in Israeli politics, and the two-state solution looks dead.

With Lieberman emerging as kingmaker in the new government, logically speaking, there are only three other plausible future relationships of Israel and the Palestinians:

1. Apartheid, with Israeli citizens dominating stateless Palestinians and controlling their borders, land, water and air. Apartheid would be accelerated under Lieberman's baleful influence. Over time, this outcome would break down, since it will be unacceptable to the rest of the world over the coming decades).

2. Expulsion. The Israelis could try to violently expel the Palestinians (and possibly Israeli-Palestinians as well), creating a massive new wave of refugees in Jordan or Egypt's Sinai. (This option would almost certainly end the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and might well push the Arab states into the arms of Iran, creating a powerful anti-Israel military coalition and a huge set of threats to the United States.)

3. One State. The Israelis could be forced over time, by economic and technological boycotts, to grant citizenship to the Palestinians of the occupied territories.

Since President Obama sent out George Mitchell to attempt to kickstart the peace process and get back on track to a two-state solution, both have now had the rug pulled out from under tham by an Israeli public moving to the far right.

The war in Gaza raised the profile and power of extremists on BOTH sides. Hamas is now more popular and Fatah viewed with more skepticism among the Palestinians, and the hardliners within Gaza have been strengthened.

If the Israelis offer Palestinians citizenship in a single state, they will quickly be overcome by demographics and lose the Jewish state. And if they try to deny citizenship to Palestinian refugees, they will be running a modern apartheid state and gradually lose all credibility. And yet they are determined to go on this suicide mission. Perhaps America would remain willingly blind to this injustice for a time, as Matt Yglesias suggests, but the rest of the world wouldn't, and that would increase global tensions, and at some point America will have to come to a reckoning if Israel refuses to do so.

This is why the two-state solution has such support in both parties, because then we wouldn't have to choose. But as Israel drifts right, that choice will have to be made eventually.

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