Israel/Palestine: The Politics of a Two-State Solution

  • Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution
  • When Peace Fails: Lessons from Belfast for the Middle East

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon Reveals the Truth

This week Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon told the Times of Israel that the ruling coalition was opposed to the two-state solution and would vote against it if it ever came up as a government proposal. This is important because in June 2009 in a speech at Bar Ilan University, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Likud leader to officially embrace the two-state solution. He made it conditional, however, upon the Palestinians officially recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, which Danon said Netanyahu knew they would never do. If they did accept this he would come up with a new condition.  Here is a Jerusalem Post editorial on the confusion.

I cover all of this in my new book, Israel/Palestine and the Politics of a Two-State Solution, which has just been published by McFarland Publishing. In 1993 Netanyahu published a book entitled Israel Among the Nations in which he argued that Israel needed control of the West Bank--particularly the range of mountains that runs through its center--as strategic terrain for defensive purposes. He later reissued the book in 2000 under the title A Durable Peace with a few updates to discuss the Oslo Process of the 1990s. But the central arguments did not change. It was in the words of Israel Peleg, "Revisionist Zionism for the 1990s." He has never repudiated that book. His father Ben Zion, who died last year after over a century of life, told friends that he was saying he accepted the two-state solution just to keep the Americans happy. All of Netanyahu's ideological mentors: Vladimir Jabotinsky, the creator of Revisionist Zionism; Menahem Begin, the founder of the Herut Party; his father Ben Zion Netanyahu, who was a personal secretary to Jabotinsky in 1940; and Moshe Arens, a former Israeli defense and foreign minister; all supported the annexation of the West Bank.  The third chapter of my book covers ninety years of Revisionist Zionist ideology and history from Jabotinsky to Netanyahu.

The Palestinians have similar ideological problems with the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority still embracing a Palestinian right of return to Israel for Palestinian refugees from 1948 and their descendants. In 2008 they rejected a peace offer by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert without formally responding to it. 

In the book I discuss how the Israeli-Palestinian conflict compares with two similar conflicts, the Northern Ireland Troubles, and South Africa. Because a solution depends on Israel's willingness to give up the West Bank and Gaza and Palestinian willingness to give up its irredentist claims to Israel, I look at South Africa's decision to leave Namibia in 1989, a territory it captured in a defensive war (WWI) and held for more than eighty years, and Ireland's decision to renounce its constitutional claim to the territory of Northern Ireland as part of the Northern Ireland peace process.  I explain at length why these two cases are comparable to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the conclusion I explain how Palestinian politics, Israeli politics and American politics all affect the chances of negotiating a two-state solution. I also explain how the lessons of the case studies can be interpreted. 

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