I had expressed my opinion in a comment thread relating to the Israeli election that the prime ministers's alleged disavowal of the two-state solution was incorrect. I subsequently came across this editorial in today's New York Daily News supporting what I also believed and had perceived to be a lonely argument. In particular, the News demonstrates how Benjamin Netanyahu's alleged disavowal of his prior support for a two-state solution was taken out of context by both the MSM and the Administration. (See my comment in thread linked to above dated today (3/19) at 9:07 a.m.).
Among other things,I believe that (1) the Administration could have but intentionally chose not to allow for the possibility that the statement was not an unambiguous reversal of whatever support Netanyahu previously had given for a two-state solution; and (2) the Administration is using Bibi's statement as part of its strategy (as a pretext to effect that strategy) to garner support for changes in the Israel/US relationship that many in the left-of-center blogosphere have been debating for years, but which will be complicated by those in Congress who do not wish to buck the president but also do not wish to disappoint supporters (or donors as the president might call such supporters).
In particular, I and others have anticipated, well before Bibi's campaign statements, that the Administration was prepared to pivot from its position that only a negotiated settlement could create a lasting agreement, to a position or positions, more in line with much of the international community.
In any event, the editorial in this morning's News makes a compelling case that, if the U.S. is truly contemplating a change in its basic strategy (presumably through international agreed-upon terms for a final settlement between Israelis and Palestinians), then it should not simply rely on what the Administration has publicly concluded to be a disavowal of Netanyahu's prior endorsement of two-states. Here are some pertinent excerpts from the editorial (my bolds):
If the circumstances ever proved right, there is no doubt that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would negotiate a peace deal with the Palestinians. Reports that he ruled out a two-state solution are pure bunk.
On the eve of his stunning election victory, Netanyahu offered a reality-based assessment of the perils that he — or another Israeli leader — would face in working out terms for a Palestinian state under present conditions.
Here is what he said in an interview with an Israeli news site, his key word being today:
“I think that anyone who is going to establish a Palestinian state today and evacuate lands is giving attack grounds to the radical Islam against the state of Israel. There is a real threat here that a left-wing government will join the international community and follow its orders.”
. . .
Israel would necessarily have to surrender territory to the Palestinians under any two-state pact. Netanyahu’s indisputable point was that doing so, as the facts on the ground now exist, would better position hostile forces to launch assaults. He was sober in also concluding that those facts are unlikely to change while he is prime minister.
One can agree or disagree with the sincerity of Netanyahu's ultimate views on a two-state solution. But he has often stated and more recently so (and undoubtedly at least in part for political reasons), that the current conditions on the ground make the reality of establishing a Palestinian state logistically impossible. He sees a direct link between Hamas and other extremist Islamist groups like ISIS, about which he may or may not be correct. But it is equally correct that but for ongoing Palestinian/Israeli joint security cooperation in the West Bank, Hamas would be in control there as well.
There may or may not be merit to Netanyahu's position on the relationship between a chaotic Middle East and agreement on two-states. And, indeed, there could be legitimate reasons for the U.S. to join other nations, either at the UN and/or with the EU with or without the Arab League, in choosing to, for example, publicly endorse terms for a two-state solution. Indeed, many of you have argued that we (alone or collectively) should do just that and some of you may truly believe it to be the only way to get a deal. And you could be right, but hopefully you will come to that decision, just as the Administration should, based on something other than simplistic constructions of imprudent statements of policy made in the heat of a campaign.
I believe that the Administration knows how to be diplomatic. In this case, just as the General Secretary of the Arab League immediately dismissed Bibi's statement as campaign rhetoric, the Administration could have taken a similar approach in response to Bibi's provocative and ambiguous campaign statement. The Administration has made a deliberate choice, I submit, to elevate Bibi's alleged disavowal of two-states, to the point where it would be the basis for dramatic changes in American foreign policy.
Bruce S. Levine
New York, New York
You can join me at Twitter @levine_bruce for, among other things, lots of neat retweets relating to labor issues and foreign policy. Sometimes I become a bit nutty too, such as one can in 140 spaces or less. It could be entertaining. . .or not.