Reconsidering a Three State Solution
With so much attention these days being directed toward the struggle between the Israelis and Hamas in Gaza, too little attention has been turned toward what is happening in the West Bank. And for once, we can say what is happening there is good!
Recently, Tom Friedman wrote quite a revealing column (“The Ballgame and the Sideshow”, New York Times, June 4, 2010). In it, he contrasts the two different approaches of Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, under President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad. While Hamas continues to operate under the ideology of “Judge me on how I resist Israel or America,” Abbas and Fayyad have assumed the approach of “judge me by how I perform – how I generate investment and employment, deliver services and pick up the garbage.”
Friedman goes on to point out how very successful has been the Abbas – Fayyad approach. Since 2007, he informs us, the Palestinian Authority has partnered with Jordan and the U.S. in the training of the new Palestinian National Security Force, and that the Israelis have been so impressed with the results that they have turned over to them the task of maintaining law and order in all of the major West Bank towns. This, in turn, has triggered “an explosion of Palestinian building, investment, and commerce in those areas.” Most telling of all, Prime Minister Netanayahu has reduced the number of manned check points in the West Bank from 42 to 12! Why do we never hear about that in the world press?
It has become typical of the world’s perspective on Israel that while they are all to ready to condemn her for the Gaza blockade, no one gives even the slightest notice to all this progress in the West Bank, and particularly to Israel’s response to the Palestinian Authority’s peaceful endeavors by actually turning over law enforcement responsibilities to the Palestinian Security Force and so significantly reducing the number of check points. There is a pitiful irony as we watch everyone anguish over the suffering of the people of Gaza, yet turn a blind eye to the progress in the West Bank; progress which so obviously stands as a model of all the good that could be brought about should Hamas ever choose to change its tune; should Hamas ever decide to place the well being of the people of Gaza above their desire to destroy Israel.
This leaves us with a difficult question. Is the Two State Solution still a viable option in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? While the Palestinians of Gaza continue to suffer because of the actions of Hamas, should the Palestinians of the West Bank be forced to continue to suffer for them as well?
The time is fast approaching when we must seriously consider another approach – a Three State Solution, with two potential Palestinian states, one on the West Bank and the other in Gaza. In the past, this idea has been floated and quickly rejected. The claim has been that the Palestinians are one people and deserve one united state. Admittedly, that would be the ideal. But in this world, sometimes we have to settle for that which is less than the ideal.
Why a Three State Solution at this time?
First and foremost because it appears that the Palestinians on the West Bank are seriously moving in a responsible fashion toward the point where they will be ready to have their own state. To keep them from that cherished goal because of the intransigence of Hamas seems unfair and unjust. When the time comes that they have accomplished the task of creating those infrastructures which will have earned them the right to be considered a full partner in the community of nations, and a good neighbor to Israel, then they deserve to be rewarded for their efforts.
It would appear that while Palestinian unity is still a desired goal on the part of the Palestinian people, yet with every passing day, the ideological distance between the West Bank and Gaza grows greater. Indeed, it would seem that their issues with Israel are but a sideshow compared to the differences between these two Palestinian entities. As much as one could argue for the necessity of an international peacemaking initiative in order to resolve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, one could equally argue the need for such an initiative to resolve the conflict between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.
Therefore it would seem that the best – though not ideal – solution would be to look to the eventual establishment of two Palestinian states along side of Israel; one in the West Bank and the other in Gaza. If matters keep progressing, it would appear that the West Bank Palestinian state could be established in the not too distant future. As for the Gaza Palestinian state…
Yet there is always hope. Perhaps the day will arrive when there will be a change of heart – if not of leadership – in Gaza. Perhaps the people of Gaza will build and earn their own state, much as the people of the West Bank appear to be doing now. And who knows? Perhaps the time will come when the people of Gaza can be reunited with the people of the West Bank, and a three state solution will not be necessary, for a two state solution will become viable. But until that time arrives, we must do all we can to encourage the people of the West Bank and the Palestinian Authority to continue in their state building efforts, and in their pursuit of a peaceful resolution of their conflict with Israel.
This entry was posted on June 19, 2010 at 10:47 am and is filed under Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinians, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Salam Fayyad, Three State Solution, West Bank. You can subscribe via RSS 2.0 feed to this post's comments.comment below, or link to this permanent URL from your own site.