|Rabbi Daniel Gordis|
Gaza War's Final Victim: Two-State Solution - Rabbi Daniel Gordis
The mood in Israel today is simply bleak. With acrimony over this summer’s Gaza War still consuming the security services, and Palestinian attacks on Israelis raising the specter of a Third Intifada, there is a feeling that things may go very wrong, very soon.
[T]he two-state solution, if not dead, is on life support.
There are many reasons for this. Although the Barack Obama administration insists on referring to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as a moderate, Israelis believe he is inciting his street and has no interest in a deal.
Critics of Israel’s policies point out that the Netanyahu government has long infuriated Palestinians in many ways, including the continued construction of settlements. This is true, to a degree.
Netanyahu would, indeed, have placated some of his critics had he pointed out that all the newly approved construction is in areas so heavily populated by Jews that there’s little chance they would be given to the Palestinians in any deal. And had he formally stated that he would not build in areas that are genuinely contested, he might have made matters somewhat better. But any such statement would have infuriated his right flank, and given that he, too, knows that the two-state solution is dead, he sees no reason to commit political suicide simply to provide better optics. Israelis and Palestinians are thus infuriating each other.
Naftali Bennett, head of the Jewish Home party and economy minister -- who when running for office posted a wildly popular video explaining why he was opposed to a Palestinian state -- is now so confident that the two-state solution is dead that he took his argument to the international community on the op-ed page of the New York Times, "For Israel, Two-State Is No Solution." When he was running for office, he said in a speech that “the Arab-Israeli conflict cannot be solved." Now, both many Israelis and Palestinians are convinced that he was sadly right.
There is simply no incentive for Israelis to compromise. What’s in it for them? they ask. Would a deal neutralize Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon? Would it stop Islamic State? Then why move the border closer to Israel’s capital and international airport?
And with the Arab street ever more radicalized, the other side is no more inclined to be accommodating.
Ironically, those who insist on pushing for a resumption of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are actually doing the Palestinians damage. The talks would fail, Palestinian frustration would boil over, violence would ensue and Israel, not in the mood for another four-year Intifada, would likely use overwhelming force much earlier than it did in 2000 to 2004.
Strange as it may sound, in today’s Middle East, those most anxious to see violence averted would be well-served to stop pressing for peace.
Fear and Loathing in Jerusalem - Jonathan Spyer
[A] familiar, stoic melancholy has returned.
The wave of shootings, automobile attacks and stabbings that hit the city this month has had a profound affect. The faces of the innocents murdered are all over the news. Talk of a Third Intifada is everywhere.
Yet atmospherics notwithstanding, in a number of substantive ways the current reality differs sharply from the time of the two intifadas (1987-92 and 2000-04).
The new violence, though indiscriminate, brutal and murderous, is more narrowly focused. It is limited, for now, to specific areas of the country and to specific parts of Jerusalem. But the West Bank, the cauldron of so much violence and hatred during the last two intifadas, has so far stayed largely quiet.
[W]hile Abbas spouts incendiary rhetoric, his security forces are continuing to cooperate with the Israelis in ensuring relative quiet on the West Bank. This reflects the general lack of Palestinian enthusiasm to provoke another mass confrontation with Israel.
While the attacks on Israeli civilians have been presented in some news reports as spontaneous acts of rage, an examination of the biographies of the perpetrators so far suggests something quite different. All of them are or were committed members of Hamas or Islamic Jihad, both groups that have been fanning the flames of anger over the trumped up threat to the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount.
Why now? Maybe Hamas and Islamic Jihad hope to launch themselves back to regional and global attention by trumping up an Israeli threat to a Muslim holy site.
The memories of the recent past have produced a mood of gloom in Jerusalem. This, amid the stories of the latest lives to be snuffed out, is entirely understandable. But as of now, the spark set by Hamas and the Jihad has yet to fully catch. Let us hope it never does.
[New York Daily News]