Caroline Glick Interview: The Two-State Model Is 'a Recipe for Disaster'
"The two-state solution isn’t inevitable. It is impossible. It will never happen--and the quicker we realize this, the better for all concerned.”
So says prominent Israeli journalist Caroline Glick, the senior contributing editor at the Jerusalem Post, and the most-read Israeli columnist worldwide.
Glick is in the U.S. to launch her new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East. In it, she explains how and why the two-state solution embraced by both the U.S. and Israeli governments has failed continuously for the past ninety years, and is doomed to failure today as well. She then argues that the policy should be abandoned and replaced with one based on the application of Israeli law to Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).
Breitbart News spoke with Glick last week, shortly aftershe arrived in the U.S.
Breitbart News: In your book, The Israeli Solution, you advocate for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. That's been a model used by anti-Israel activists for a long time, who have rejected the peace process and the two-state solution and want one Palestinian state, with an Arab majority, instead. Are you worried that by embracing a version of the one-state solution, you might be playing into their hands?
Glick: No, I don't think that it's going to play into their hands. And I think they agree, because you see on Daily Kos and other radical sites that leftists are apoplectic because I'm taking away their central fallacy, which is that Israel needs a Palestinian state more than the Palestinians do lest Israel be overrun by a majority Arab population west of the Jordan River.
As I show, that claim, which is central to the left’s one-state paradigm is based on a fraudulent demographic data base. They use these phony statistics to try to extort crazy concessions from Israel. But the theory isn't true.
I don't see how my pointing out the truth about the demographics is going to play into their hands. By giving the true demographic picture, I show that far from being an existential threat to Israel, demographics are one of Israel’s strongest advantages.
Breitbart News: One of the stronger arguments against a one-state solution is the challenge of integrating Palestinians into Israeli society, when there is a recent and ongoing history of violent conflict, and where the Palestinians have been indoctrinated against Jews and Israel. How does your plan manage that problem?
Glick: The main problem for Israel, from a security perspective, is that since 1994 we've had an adversarial security organization that has grown in professionalism and size, operating in the same track of territory as the IDF [Israel Defense Force]. I think that is the main problem. In areas under PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] control, the Palestinian security forces give protection to terrorists who are striking out at Israel, or planning or organizing attacks. In fact, they often direct those attacks and participate in them.
At the beginning of the Palestinian terror war in 2000, polls were taken of Israeli Arab citizens and Palestinians. It worked out that the groups had nearly identical levels of hatred for Israel and support for terrorism. Yet for every Israeli Arab who participated in terror, you had ten Palestinians who did so. The reason for the disparity is that Israel is the sole sovereign authority in Israel. Israeli security authorities have the capacity to break up Israeli Arab terror cells before they even get off the ground. But in 2000, the PLO had sole security control over Palestinian Arab society, so Israel was powerless to act as those areas become the largest terror base in the world.
In my book, I point out that the PLO only started paying attention to Judea and Samaria during the Palestinian uprising in 1988. Until then, you had true peaceful coexistence between Israel and the Palestinians. More than 100,000 Palestinians worked in Israel. Commerce was a two-way street. Palestinians worked in Israel. Israelis went to Palestinian dental clinics because it was cheaper. Israelis went to Ramallah to buy Pampers diapers because Johnson & Johnson was part of the Arab boycott. You had full economic and rising social integration.
But from 1988 on, as PLO terror rose and social control efforts became more widespread and exacting, it became more and more difficult for Palestinians to coexist with Israel. The PLO killed the peace through terror. They accused Palestinians who worked with Israelis, and of course, those who supported Israel’s counter-terror efforts, of being collaborators, turncoats. By the end of the Palestinian uprising, the PLO had killed more Palestinians than Israeli security forces had.
The situation only got worse after the so-called peace process began in 1993 and the PLO established its autonomous regime in the areas in 1994. Any attempt by Palestinians to peacefully coexist with Israel is attacked by their PLO overlords.
As I discuss in the book, just last summer, the PLO called for a boycott of Palestinian businessmen who participated in a meeting with Haifa’s chamber of commerce. They accused these men treason just because they want to do business with Israeli partners. And this sort of thing happens every day.
In other words, far from being the key to peace, the PLO--and of course Hamas--have been the main obstacles to peace. So on the one hand, in the absence of adversarial Palestinian security forces, Israeli security services will be much better equipped to prevent terrorism. And on the other hand, by liberating the Palestinians from the PLO jackboot, Israel will free them to live at peace with the Jewish state for the first time in a generation.
Breitbart News: I've written about the false demographic argument before--I first saw it debunked in Azure in 2006.
Glick: In my book I devote a chapter to the issue. In 1997, the Palestinians published the results of a census of the Palestinian population west of the Jordan River. Their census purported to show that within a decade and a half, Arabs would outnumber Jews. They claimed that the Palestinians have the highest birthrates in the world. They assumed massive immigration to the Palestinian Authority on a year by year basis.
As it turned out, their entire study was a lie. They inflated their base population by 50 percent. And all of their forecasting claims were based on a completely phony numbers. Yet rather than question the findings, the U.S. and the Israeli Left embraced them as further proof that the two-state solution is the only game in town. It took until 2004 for an independent group of Israeli and American researchers to do what government officials should have been done immediately. They started going through the Palestinian data--and, in short order, made mincemeat of it. They first published their findings in January 2005.
Since then, the demographic situation has only gotten better for Israel. The Jewish birthrate is now higher than the Palestinian birthrate in Judea and Samaria. Jewish immigration is up and rising. They [the Palestinians] are hemorrhaging emigration.
Notably, the politicians most invested in the two-state formula--people like Israeli Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni, who now serves as the head of Israel’s negotiating team with the PLO, and former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have refused to be briefed on demographics. They don't want to know, because the minute they know, their whole rationale [for pushing Israel to make concessions] is destroyed.
Breitbart News: Israel's former ambassador to the U.S., Dr. Michael Oren, seems to agree with you that the peace process is not working. But he has a different solution: unilateral withdrawal by Israel.
Glick: It’s important to put Michael Oren into the proper contexts. First, he is coming from four years of having to handle the Obama administration. He knows what the U.S. wants, and that affects his perception of what is possible.
But beyond that, the only thing new about Oren’s position is that he is now saying it as the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. rather than as a public intellectual. This has been Oren’s position for years. And it makes as little sense now as it did eight years ago when he began voicing it. Oren was a huge supporter of the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza in which Israel expelled 8,000 Israelis from their homes in twenty-four communities in Gaza, withdrew all of its military personnel from the area and transferred it lock, stock and barrel to Palestinian terrorists. Within a month of Israel’s withdrawal the Palestinians had smuggled more weapons into Gaza than they had in the previous thirty-seven years of Israeli military control combined.
By late 2008, when Israel was forced to send its forces into Gaza to undo some of the damage caused by the withdrawal, Gaza was under full Hamas control. Hamas had transformed it into a hub of the global jihad, and had made what was never more than a tactical nuisance for Israel into a strategic threat with Tel Aviv within range of its rockets and missiles.
By the time Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in December 2008, the Palestinians had launched over 8,000 rockets, missiles and mortars at Israel. And yet, facing this reality, Oren called for repeating this exercise in Judea and Samaria.
Breitbart News: Why do you think that in stating this widely discredited position today Oren is thinking about the Obama administration?
Glick: Look, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry know that the PLO isn’t going to agree to a peace deal with Israel. The PLO tells them this every single day. Since Obama took office, the PLO has made good its threat to leave the talks and go the UN for recognition, and it has even had limited success in this venture which they hope would lead to the establishment of a PLO state at war rather than at peace with Israel. Since they know that aren’t going to get a peace deal, because the PLO won’t agree to one, what is the administration really trying to accomplish by criticizing Israel and pressuring Israel and condemning Israel all the time? The only reasonable answer is that they apparently they want to force Israel to unilaterally surrender the areas to the PLO or at least renounce its sovereign rights to them.
Breitbart News: You point out some of the problems with the Gaza withdrawal in your book, but you also cut Gaza out of the expanded Israeli state, which allows you to claim Jews will be a two-thirds majority even including Judea and Samaria. So isn't that a benefit of the Gaza withdrawal, for all the costs?
Glick: The Israeli Solution makes lemonade out of the lemons of Gaza. The unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was a cautionary note for Israelis. It convinced the vast majority of Israelis that unilateral withdrawal, and indeed the whole two-state model, is a recipe for disaster. These lessons in turn fomented the discussion of a one-state plan in Israel. Today various forms of the plan are supported by most Israelis. Most members of the Likud’s parliamentary faction support it. And all members of the Jewish Home Party, a major partner in the governing coalition support different versions of it.
By leaving Gaza, Israel arguably renounced its legal claim to sovereignty over the area. Certainly it ended any residual legal responsibility it may have had to the local population. It is wrong to say Israel couldn’t have applied its laws to Judea and Samaria even if it maintained its military control over Gaza. But certainly, the political space for enacting such a move was widened by Israel’s withdrawal.
Breitbart News: You note in The Israeli Solution that Israel effectively annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. Why don't you call for the "annexation" of Judea and Samaria, but just extending Israeli law?
Glick: Under international law, Judea and Samaria are already part of Israel. The last ruling on the matter was in 1922, by the League of Nations, in approving the British Mandate for Palestine. All of these areas were allocated to the Jewish people. That's not the case in terms of the Golan. The Golan Heights were allocated to Syria-Lebanon, which is why when we applied Israeli law to the Golan it was a de facto annexation. We can't "annex" Judea and Samaria because they are already part of Israeli territory. It's a distinction that's important not in terms of the daily life of the people, but in terms of destroying the anti-Israel claim that these are “occupied” territories. They are not occupied by Israel. They are Israeli territories that Israel has chosen--after they were illegally occupied by the Jordanian military in 1949--to administer under different laws.
Breitbart News: Doesn't the fact that "Palestine" was recently made a non-member observer state of the UN make it more difficult to extend Israeli law across Judea and Samaria, and scrap the Palestinian state project?
Glick: No. The Palestinians' status at the UN doesn't change the international legal determination of sovereignty over the areas. That was a political act, not a legal one.
Breitbart News: One of the more interesting arguments you make in The Israeli Solution is that the Bush administration was no better, in terms of the substance of its policy, than the Obama administration. I disagree with that. For example, as Elliott Abrams notes, Bush provided written guarantees to Israel that Israel would not be expected to return to the 1967 lines. The Obama administration has torn up those guarantees.
Glick: Obama is certainly more hostile to Israel. Israeli policymakers who have dealt with the Obama administration say that support for Israel does not come naturally to him. His default position is to oppose Israel. He is more hostile than Bush or any U.S. administration we've had in recent times. But be that as it may, I disagree with you and Abrams about the letter to Sharon. In 2004, [Secretary of State] Colin Powell disavowed Bush's letter to Sharon the day that it came out. Powell said that it had no impact whatsoever on U.S. policy. And if you read the letter as a lawyer would, there are so many escape clauses. If the Bush letter served any useful purpose, it was that it made U.S. policy a bit less cut and dry than it had previously been. That is, it left room for an administration to recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s claims to sovereignty over Judea and Samaria and Jerusalem. But it didn’t adopt the position.
There are two notable aspects of Obama’s disavowal of the Bush letter. First, it showed that Obama so opposes Israel that he isn’t willing to even adopt a position that doesn’t assume--wrongly--that the PLO is more legitimate than Israel. That is, he insists on embracing the lie that Israel is culpable for the absence of peace. The second important take-home lesson from Obama’s move is that American security guarantees for Israel have no credibility. Now, [Secretary of State] John Kerry is telling Israel we can surrender the Jordan Valley to the PLO and so render ourselves incapable of preventing terrorists and standing armies from penetrating our territory from the east, because the US will deploy its military along the border. Obviously this promise is empty. Obviously it would be crazy for Israel to trust Kerry when Obama already reneged on Bush’s promise. And who knows who will come after Obama?
Breitbart News: Are you worried about being demonized, once this book comes out, as an extremist?
Glick: Not really. I'm not somebody who is easy to marginalize. I wrote my book like I have written my columns for the past 14 years. What I write is based on facts--verifiable facts. I don't make stuff up. If you want to demonize me, or discredit me, the only way you can do so is by ignoring what I write and who I am. And that can happen. It has happened. People pretend that I'm somebody who's overemotional or hysterical, or whatever they say about women, but I'm not any of those things. I look at the situation as it is.
Then there is my record. I was a member of Israel’s negotiating team for 3 years at the height of the peace process in the mid-1990s. I am a former IDF captain. I served in the IDF for five and-a-half years. When I left the service I worked in government as Netanyahu’s assistant foreign policy advisor. And I was still in my twenties. I was a combat reporter embedded with the Third Infantry Division during the invasion of Iraq. And my columns are read by millions of people worldwide. What have my detractors done?
More importantly than what people will say about me, I am not worried about them attacking my policy recommendation. I'm not worried that tomorrow, because I'm not listened to that the two-state solution will go forward. It can’t go forward, because it is based on premises that have no basis in reality. Israel is not the cause of instability and violence in the Middle East. The absence of a Palestinian state is not the cause of the violence and extremism. The pathological nature of Arab and Islamic politics are the causes. And the Palestinians do not want a state. They want the Jewish state to be destroyed. The Jews will not agree to commit suicide.
So eventually, my policy will be adopted. I just believe that for the benefit of all parties, we should adopt it as quickly as possible. The longer we empower Palestinian terrorists, the more powerful they become and the more at risk Israel is. That is why I wrote this book.
Breitbart News: Your book will launch during the AIPAC Policy Conference. Given all of its struggles recently, when it has backed away from its crucial policy goal of sanctions on Iran, does it still have a purpose.
Glick: Sure. It has a purpose. Is it living up to it? Not really, no. AIPAC’s purpose is to strengthen US national security by strengthening the US alliance with Israel--America’s most important ally in the Middle East. As I show in my book, the stronger Israel is, the stronger the US is because both countries have the same enemies who hate them both for the same reasons.
But on the ground, we see AIPAC failing. This is an organization that is getting tens of millions of dollars in donations. It has a big endowment. It has thousands of employees and activists. It seems to me that for a group as large and powerful as AIPAC, there was no reason to back down on popular legislation that would have flown through a Democrat-controlled Senate. It should have been a piece of cake. And yet they failed.
So clearly there is a big problem with AIPAC. It isn’t doing its job for which it is so well-financed by the American Jewish community which is deeply committed to its goal.
Now, I don't like piling on AIPAC right now. Today AIPAC is the focus of a growing antisemitic campaign in the US launched by the far Left to discredit Jewish power and deny American Jews the right to speak out on behalf of their interests and concerns in relation to the US and the Middle East. But I have to say, that it is due to this onslaught that AIPAC’s behavior is mystifying to me. When the very notion that American Jews have the same rights as the rest of Americans is coming under increased attack, it seems to me that AIPAC should go on offense, not back down. I don't know why AIPAC doesn't just stand up and say ‘We have the right to defend our interests and we have the duty, as patriotic Americans, to strengthen the U.S.-Israel alliance and take every possible lawful action to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons--yes, in opposition to the administration’s policy.’ I don't understand why they haven't done that.
Maybe their problem is that AIPAC’s leaders think that access to policymakers is more important than influencing policy. That has certainly been a problem that has plagued the organization in the past. But if this is the case, then given the Obama administration’s clear animus towards Israel and the US-Israel alliance, maybe AIPAC can’t execute its mission any longer. That would be a tragedy. But I suppose it is something we need to consider.
Breitbart News: What do you expect from Obama's meeting with Netanyahu this week?
Glick: Obama will push Netanyahu to make more concessions through a "framework" deal that places all the blame for everything bad in the Middle East on Israel. Netanyahu will try to resist Obama’s pressure. Obama will pressure Netanyahu to join him in pretending that his deal with Iran will do something other than enable Iran to produce nuclear weapons at will. Obama will threaten Netanyahu that he will undertake various anti-Israel actions in retaliation for an Israeli refusal to toe his line. And Netanyahu will try to resist his pressure.
Breitbart News: Has Netanyahu succeeded in standing up to Obama?
Glick: He's done a pretty good job. His strategy out of the starting gate, since Obama took office has been to wait him out, to stall, to give Obama as little as he could. That made sense in the first term. I'm more concerned in the second term. We are seeing on issues from Iran to the Palestinians to Syria to Russia that Obama is moving forward with his anti-Israel, and frankly anti-American, policies unrestrained by the need to seek re-election. We see his impact on the Democratic Party. We see the contempt in which he holds U.S. allies throughout the world.
I don't envy Netanyahu's position. But then he wanted to be Prime Minister. And I expect him to defend his country.
Breitbart News: Finally, you have a lot to say in your book about how American misconceptions of the two-state solution have had a negative effect on American foreign policy in other places.
Glick: I was an embedded journalist with the first U.S. battalion in Iraq to be hit by terrorist attacks. Right after a roadside bombing just a few days after the initial invasion, Palestinians named a square in Ramallah after the terrorist who killed four soldiers in the U.S. battalion I was embedded with.
The soldiers and officers I was with were pretty surprised. The U.S. military wasn’t organized to protect itself from these sorts of attacks. But I wasn’t surprised. And in general, no one in Israel was surprised by what happened in Iraq. We understood from the outset what awaited the U.S. in Iraq because we went through the same thing in Lebanon for 18 years. Israel’s war in Lebanon was the most important case study the U.S. needed to understand as it prepared to invade Iraq. But the Americans never even considered it. They couldn’t. Because as far as they were concerned, Israel’s experience was irrelevant. Israel wasn’t seen as an ally. It was synonymous with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
If they hadn’t been blinded by the two-state narrative, they would have understood what they were about to do, and they would have realized that the only relevant experience for them to learn from was Israel’s experience. For the Arabs Israel isn’t the peace process. Israel is the United States.
As I show in my book, America’s adoption of the two-state formula has blinded it to the realities of the Arab and Islamic world. The two-state formula places all the blame for everything bad that happens in the Middle East on Israel. For policymakers it is an attractive policy because it frees them from thinking about anything. As far as they are concerned, to transform the Middle East into a pro-American utopia, all America needs to do is come down hard on Israel. It is insane. But it is deeply seductive, and horribly destructive.
My book is directed towards the U.S. audience because that is the audience that needs this book the most. By and large, the Israelis have already embraced reality. We have moved on. We will do what we have to do to survive. Now it’s America that is at stake. The longer America remains in the intellectual fantasyland of the two-state solution, the longer it will turn a blind eye to some of the most dangerous actors and developments in the world. The Israeli Solution explains the dangers of the current course and offers a viable, better alternative that can free American leaders from the two-state model. I just hope my message is heard.