Thursday, January 10, 2008

Lame Ducking It


The Two-State Solution (Image by Makaristos)

In the wake of Annapolis, we heard mostly skepticism and derision about the latest US-backed drive for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement. The naysayers would do well, however, to take note of the statements by President George Bush on his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Authority this week. This lame duck president does not have anything to lose on the domestic scene. In fact, he is better off immersing himself in the kinds of foreign policy ventures that will not entangle him with Congress. The announcement by national security adviser Stephen Hadley, following a speech by the president today, that Bush would be returning to the region before the end of his term is a definite signal that he means business.

The vision of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement that Bush endorsed adheres to the historic American line, as well as that of most of the international community. It is the vision of two nation-states, living side-by-side, with monetary compensation for the Palestinian refugees and their descendants. It runs decidedly counter to the dreams of a "one-state solution," which seek to turn Israel-Palestine into a staging ground for utopian experiments.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does Bush's statement last week that the Palestine needs a state with "contiguous" boundaries show "he means business"? Has the guy ever looked at a map?
Peggy

Amos said...

I'm not sure I understand your rhetorical question, Peggy. Bush certainly wasn't the first one to speak about a "contiguous" Palestinian state. Condoleezza Rice has been using it in public forums for quite some time now. In any case, the phrase has long been used by people in the pro-Palestinian camp actually.

Canadian Analyst said...

The "contiguity school" argues that the presence of Israeli settlements has already made a two-state solution impossible because any future Palestinian state will not be viable because it is not territorially contiguous. I think it's time we begin to question this piece of received wisdom. There are a number of states that practically lack functional contiguity - Norway is one very prominent example, Australia is another. We're in the 21st century. Physical contiguity is not the problem. The problem is access and open trade routes. Under conditions of peace, Palestinians will be able to trade and move within a future Palestinian state, even if they have to transit through Israeli controlled areas.

Danny said...

Hi Amos, I think Peggy is pointing out that a state with the West bank and Gaza cannot have contiguous boundaries - in this respect it will rather like the original two-state solution the Yishuv accepted in December 1947....

Hi Canadian Analyst, before we attack the "received wisdom" we could start by pointing out that, like so many "received wisdoms" on the Middle East, it is in fact a lie. Whilst keeping Ma'ale Adumim et al will mean a narrow waist for "Palestine", it is no narrower than the waist near Netanya for Israel.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Danny! That's exactly what I meant. Does Bush mean to join Gaza with the West bank? How? If not, how will a Palestinian state be "contiguous"? Either the map or the dictionary must be in error. Or Bush.
Between the three, I prefer to put my trust in the map and the dictionary.
Peggy

Amos said...

Peggy and Danny - I understood that this what Peggy's original comment was saying. But I was trying to point out that it was not Bush who coined this phrase. In any case, the term "contiguous" or "continuous" in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process has usually been invoked to argue for the removal of settlements. As Canadian Analyst's comment suggests, those arguing for "contiguity" have tended to come from the opposite side of the political spectrum as Bush. I don't think they were necessarily confused about the map.