During the 10 years since Hamas’s election victory, unemployment in the Gaza Strip has reached 45%, and the number of residents relying on foreign aid has hit 80% – “Poverty grips the Gaza Strip and unemployment rates terrifying,” Asharq al-Awsat, January 19
To mark the 10th anniversary since Hamas’s victory, local activists launched the hashtag #ten_years_of_siege, with which they tell stories of loss of hope and professional horizons, and bask in one common dream: to leave Gaza for good – Ali Waked, “Ten Years After Hamas Takeover, Unemployment and Poverty in Gaza Reach New Heights,” Breitbart News Network, January 21
The economy is in decline and unemployment, especially among youth, is on the rise. The internal conflict between Gaza and the West Bank is not close to resolution. Gaza remains in ruins with nearly two million people living in total poverty. A majority of Gazans would leave if they had any place to go. – Gershon Baskin, The Jerusalem Post, March 2
Far less has been published by the critics of the land-for-peace doctrine, which spawned the two-state prescription, on the terrible toll the pursuit of this dangerous delusion has taken on the people it was purported to benefit most – the Palestinian-Arabs.
Perverse political paradox
One of the most perverse paradoxes in the political discourse on the Israel-Arab conflict is that the people who support the two-state principle should be its fiercest critics – at least if we are to judge by the “enlightened” moral values and progressive political pragmatism they invoke for endorsing it.
For even the most perfunctory analysis reveals the two-state endeavor to be not only an exercise in utter futility, which will not attain any of its intended aims, but one that is both self-obstructive and self-contradictory, which will bring about the exact opposite of those alleged aims.
As I wrote in last week’s column, from a partisan pro-Israel perspective, the two-state endeavor is at once immoral, irrational, and incompatible with Israel’s long-term existence as the Jewish nation-state.
It is immoral, because it will create realities that are the negation of the lofty values invoked for its implementation.
It is irrational, because it will produce precisely the perils it was designed to prevent.
It is incompatible with Israel’s long-term existence as the Jewish nation-state, because it will almost inevitably culminate in a mega-Gaza on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv, making the maintenance of any socioeconomic routine in the heavily populated Coastal Plain untenable.
But even if one relinquishes a partisan pro-Israel viewpoint, and views the rationale and the record of the two-state prescription from a purely Palestinian perspective, almost exactly the same condemnation can be directed at it.
For if the drive toward a two-state reality, initiated almost a quarter-century ago with the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords, was in any way intended to benefit the lot of the average Palestinian-Arab, it has of course been a colossal failure. Even more so than for Israel, it has wrought nothing but devastation and deprivation for the common man in the Palestinian street.
Sadly, in terms of sheer human cost, it is difficult to conceive of anyone that has inflicted greater harm on the Palestinian society than the avid two-staters, who with gay abandon submitted it to their ill-conceived venture, with scant regard for the ruinous results it would have on the Palestinian rank-and-file.
For by attempting to engage in “political alchemy,” by trying to create a “nation” where none existed, by disregarding reason and reality, by ignoring past precedents, prevailing processes and future propensities, they imposed a situation that made tragedy inevitable.
Predictable and predicted failure
For just as for Israel, so for the Palestinians the pursuit of the illusory two-state “solution” not only failed to achieve its alleged goal, but in fact produced precisely the outcomes that it was purported to prevent – making it no less immoral, irrational and incompatible with a secure future for the Palestinians than it was for Israel.
Instead of providing personal liberties and national sovereignty, it subjected them to oppressive authoritarianism and ravaging rounds of recurring warfare.
Instead of providing a future of peace and prosperity, it inflicted only pain and penury.
Instead of providing stability, safety and security, it has culminated in turmoil, peril and fear.
Instead of attenuating animosities, it only served to exacerbate them.
By trying to fulfill the fictitious fantasy of Palestinian nationhood, by pursuing the perilous pipe dream of Palestinian statehood, ardent two-staters delivered Palestinian society into the hands of vicious thugs whose only goals were to enrich and empower themselves and to foment further violence and hatred against the Jewish state – so as to allow them to continue to enrich and empower themselves.
Inevitably then, since stability and tranquility would fatally undermine the foundations of their wealth and power, these cruel corrupt and callous cliques who have controlled the lives of Palestinian-Arabs for decades, led them to bout after bout of disastrous violence, whenever spiraling assaults on Israeli civilians made a retaliatory response unavoidable: 2002’s Operation Defensive Shield; 2008’s Operation Cast Lead; 2012’s Operation Pillar of Defense; 2014’s Operation Protective Edge.
The current wave of individual attacks, induced and inspired by flagrant Judeocidal incitement from Palestinian officialdom, cannot but precipitate yet further harsh coercive reaction in the not-too-distant future, with the unavoidable cost these will inflict on Palestinian society as a whole, irrespective of who was actively involved in the attacks and who was not.
The crucial question
Against the backdrop of almost a quarter-century of catastrophic failure since the dizzy euphoria and dizzying fanfare that accompanied the signing of the Oslo Accords, the crucial question the proponents of the two-state prescription must be forced to confront, is: Why has a Palestinian state failed to materialize up to now? After all, it is difficult to identify any “national liberation movement” that has enjoyed circumstances more benign for their cause than that of the Palestinians-Arabs.
Since the early ’90s, the Palestinians have had:
• Virtually wall-to-wall international endorsement of their claims;
• Almost unanimously supportive coverage in the global mainstream media;
• Generous financial aid – reportedly the highest per capita in the world; and
• Successive willingly compliant Israeli administrations that not only accepted their claims, but built much of their political credo on that acceptance and gambled much of their political capital on it.
Yet despite these bountiful benefits, the Palestinian leadership have produced the most meager and miserable results.
Under Fatah in Judea-Samaria, they have spawned a corrupt kleptocracy.
Under Hamas in Gaza, they have imposed a tyrannical theocracy.
Under neither is there any horizon of hope for a better, more peaceful, more prosperous life for the general public, nor is there any prospect of such hope dawning in the foreseeable future.
The burden of proof
The two-state concept can no longer be considered the dominant paradigm, the default option requiring no proof of validity or feasibility before being designated as the “only viable alternative.” The burden of proof is no longer on the naysayers.
After all, experience has vividly vindicated their opposition to the two-state doctrine and resoundingly reinforced their reservations toward it. It is now incumbent on the proponents of two-state proposal to produce a plausible explanation for failures and a persuasive rationale for any likelihood of success.
The prospects certainly look bleak. After all, stark condemnatory evidence abounds, underscoring not only the futility of the endeavor for Palestinian statehood but the ravages that accompany it.
After two-and-half decades of massive investment of financial resources, political capital and personal prestige, Palestinian-Arabs have painfully little to show.
Sadly, all they have produced is an untenable, divided entity, crippled by corruption and cronyism, with a dysfunctional polity, unable, or unwilling, to conduct even the semblance of an election; an unelected prime minister appointed by an illegitimate president; a feeble economy, with its minuscule private sector and bloated public one, unsustainable without the (ill-advised) largesse of its alleged “oppressor.”
Sadly, there is little likelihood of any change for the better – and the outlook for most Palestinians continues to be grim.
‘Occupation’ as excuse
Of course the standard knee-jerk response – or rather excuse – of unrepentant two-staters, still unchastened by recalcitrant realities, identifies the source of all Palestinian woes as the “occupation.”
This of course is as flimsy as it is fallacious. After all, in Gaza there is no “occupation.” Indeed, over a decade ago, every vestige of Jewish presence there – both of the living and the dead; above ground and below it – was obliterated. But all to no avail. Without the “occupation” to intervene, control of the territory soon fell to the Islamist Hamas.
As for the realities that prevail today – sans-“occupation” – award winning journalist Khaled Abu Toameh elaborates: “… Hamas has few ambitions for those now clasped in its grip. Nearly a decade after its violent seizure of Gaza, the movement and its leaders have offered the 1.9 million Palestinians stranded there precious little but destruction and death.” (The Gatestone Institute, February 2, 2016) If in the Fatah-administered “West Bank” (Judea-Samaria) conditions are somewhat better, it is only because of the “occupation” that props up the precarious Abbas regime. Indeed, there is wide consensus that without the “occupation” (i.e. the presence of IDF troops) the Gaza precedent would rapidly repeat itself and power would soon be seized by Hamas-like elements, bringing with them the Hamas-like realities prevailing in Gaza.
Indeed, the “occupation” has proven the only barrier to the advent of turmoil and tyranny. Removing it would only imperil Palestinians even more – as it has in the past.
Disingenuous and dastardly
“Checkpoints, road blocks, barriers, sieges,” yet-unrelenting two-staters may protest, in a frantic quest to find some pretext on which to hang the blame for the failure of their two-state folly.
Such allegations are, at once, disingenuous and dastardly.
They are disingenuous, because it was precisely the endeavor to implement the two-state policy that created the necessity to implement these onerous measures, as the soaring post-Oslo terrorism brought carnage to Israel’s streets, buses and cafes.
They are dastardly, because they imply that Israel should desist from the use of these measures, and thus expose vulnerable Israelis to the perils of the very terrorism the imprudent two-state policy engendered, now free to operate with greater impunity.
After all, the coercive measures that Israel is often compelled to undertake are not the result of some vindictive Zionist caprice, but a proven security imperative, largely born of the realities created by the endeavor to implement the two-state formula. They are the results of Palestinian enmity, not the reason for it. They are the consequence of Judeocidal attacks, not the cause of them.
Demands to remove them are little less than calls for Jews to die meekly – lest they frustrate the dictates of political correctness. That perhaps is the epitome of racial prejudice.
Palestinians fail test of history
Over a considerable period, the Palestinians have proved themselves incapable of creating a system of effective self-government and/or sustainable economic activity, despite massive financial aid and overwhelming political endorsement of their cause.
In the past, national freedom movements, with far less funding, far less armaments and far less political support, have cast off mighty empires. By contrast, the Palestinians have failed to extricate themselves from the control of a tiny mini-state, beleaguered and berated by all – or at least, almost all.
By any conceivable criteria, they have “failed the test of history.”
It is time to end the cruel charade that Palestinians are a coherent and cohesive national body of any authenticity.
It is time to end the perverse pursuit – down to the last Palestinian – of the destructive delusion of two-states.
The most humane, honest and honorable thing two-staters can do is admit the terrible error of the their ways, plead in their defense that their intentions, however disproved, were good, and join the search for more appropriate and plausible solutions that will be more doable and durable.
Too many lives – of both Jews and Arabs – have already been lost as futile sacrificial offerings on the altar of the two-states-for-two-people “deity.”