For just about as long as there have been efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calls for a two-state solution have choked the global conversation. Many have come to believe that there’s no other way to achieve peace.
Suddenly, though, it seems those aren’t the only voices in the room.
First, Israelis heard Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vow days before a general election that Israel would be extending its sovereignty over all of Area C, which constitutes the bulk of Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”), and which would serve to hold those lands firmly under Israeli security control.
More surprising than Netanyahu’s remarks was the fact that the United States didn’t condemn them. While prior administrations made the two-state solution a staple of their Middle East policies, President Donald Trump, elected as a businessman to find new solutions to age-old problems, seems to have a different vision.
Asked whether Netanyahu’s pledge to annex Area C would interfere with the administration’s peace plan, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded with a simple “I don’t.”
Other administration officials have also chimed in with their own suggestions that America’s strategy in achieving regional peace is about to get a facelift. Addressing the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman urged Israelis to seize the chance to sign a deal under this administration, and not one that “may not understand the need for Israel to maintain overriding security control over Judea and Samaria and a permanent defense-position in the Jordan Valley.”
Then, just this past week, Trump’s Chief Middle-East negotiator, my friend Jason Greenblatt, noted that it was “unhelpful” to use the term “two-state solution” in peace-talks, since both sides understood the term so differently.
It may have been Pompeo himself who gave the greatest indicator when he told CNN that Trump’s peace plan would “put forward a vision that has ideas that are new, that are different, that are unique, that tries to reframe and reshape what’s been an intractable problem.”
The truth is it isn’t hard to understand why the Trump administration might depart from the traditional notion of peace-by-two-states; it’s simply a non-solution. They’re trying to achieve peace; yet, every step taken in the direction of a two-states has brought bloodshed and conflict, terror and war.
That last fact is also simply understood.
Think about it: every step taken toward the establishment of a state involves forking over massive amounts of land, money, resources, and legitimacy to whomever is going to be leading that state.
When the leader of such a state is a Mandela or a Gandhi, it usually isn’t a problem. Men of peace deserve all of these things. When, however, it’s a Mugabe, a Ghadaffi, or, an Arafat, the exchange is bound to tally itself in blood.
For the Palestinians, tragically, those with the highest political profile are usually those with the most Jewish lives notched on their surging resumes of terror. Men like these shouldn’t be trusted to roam the streets, let alone exercise the powerful reigns of a state.
Yasser Arafat — with whom Israel signed the Oslo accords in 1993, laying out the base-work for a Palestinian State — was not for a moment in his life concerned with achieving peace. He spent most of his first sixty-four years directing terrorist operations against Israeli civilians. By the time he joined a now infamous three-way handshake with President Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on the White House lawn, Arafat had personally ordered the murder of hundreds of innocent Jewish civilians in countless terrorist and rocket attacks.
Afterwards, Arafat continued to wreak violence upon his partners in “peace,” orchestrating the murder of nearly one thousand Israelis in the Second Intifada, even being caught red-handed importing Iranian weapons on a freight ship called Karina A. Amidst all that murder, he managed also to amass an investment empire estimated by Time magazine to have been worth three billion dollars.
Arafat may have died in 2004, but policies antithetical to peace have continued to thrive in the Palestinian Authority. They still teach hatred in their schools, name parks and competitions after the most horrendous terrorists, and pay out a large chunk of their annual budget to convicted terrorists and their families.
As for the alternative to Arafat’s hateful Fatah party, there’s only the even-more hateful and bloodthirsty Hamas. In the wake of the Oslo accords, Hamas responded to Israel’s overtures of peace with a years-long spree of suicide bombings. Somehow, even they got their hands on something of a state in the enclave of Gaza. As expected, they’ve been warring with Israel ever since, using the millions of Palestinian under their control as human shields over their command centers and missile-sites that betray a one-track-minded Jew-killing agenda.
The Middle East can hardly contend with another failed state. The Jewish people, finally safe in their own land, certainly shouldn’t be forced to.
Now, thanks to President Trump, it seems that the five decades-old peace process might be in for a change.
Such change, moreover, couldn’t have come at a more fitting time.
This week, Jews around the world celebrated the festival of Passover. Passover, boiled down, is a time of transitions. In Israel, it comes just at the start of spring: the weather warms, the rivers run full, and budding blossoms turn the landscape green.
It’s also a time we celebrate not only our current state of freedom, but more precisely, our exodus from a state of slavery. It’s a time of celebrate the flux inherent in maturation; a time of turning the page, of starting a new chapter.
For the Jews leaving Egypt, that new chapter marked the beginning of the gradual return to the land of their forefathers in Israel. For the Jews of Israel today, that’s a chapter already completed.
What lies ahead is the formulation of plan that allows Jews to remain in Israel, safely and in peace in our eternal and unquestionable Jewish homeland.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, “America’s Rabbi,” whom the Washington Post calls “the most famous Rabbi in America” is the international best-selling author of 32 books including his new book, Lust for Love, co-authored with Pamela Anderson. Follow him on Twitter @RabbiShmuley.