For years, and by years I mean decades, we have been hearing that the answer to the crisis in the Middle East is to create a two-state solution by dividing Israel into Jewish and Palestinian sovereign nations. While those words sound like a good idea to many, the practical matter is that it’s more fiction than ‘Die Hard 8’ might be.
First, it is important to recall history as that is the best indicator of the future. On August 15, 2005, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Israel’s plan of unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip and North Samaria was carried out. The plan aimed to improve Israel’s security and international status in the absence of peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Despite pleas to the contrary, Prime Minister Sharon felt that the Palestinians would have attempted to govern themselves in their own land.
Once the plan was finalized, Israel Defense Force installations and troops were removed, and more than 9,000 Israeli citizens living in 25 settlements were evicted. A month after it began, Israel’s withdrawal from the entire Gaza Strip to the 1967 Green Line, and the eviction of the four settlements in Samaria, was completed.
It took less than two years for the international terrorist organization. Hamas to overrun the Palestinians and take over the Gaza Strip from the ruling Palestinian Authority. Since then, terror in rockets, balloons, and other projectiles have been fired from the Gaza Strip onto southern Israeli towns and villages, terrorizing and destabilizing the lives of hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens. In addition, after destroying the once beautiful Gaza Strip and reducing it to rubble, Hamas began building tunnels into Israel in an attempt to kill Israelis. The Hamas Charter states that the only success is the destruction of the Jews.
For those who suggest that the current settlements are in the “occupied territories” (the land is not occupied – it is part of Israel and was captured in wars over the past 50 years when neighboring Arab nations attacked Israel). The facts of this story tell you otherwise. To better understand the situation in Israel between the Arabs and the Jews, it’s necessary to understand the history of this region. The mainstream media and social media will have you believe something false – but since the news isn’t interested in the truth, here is what actually happened.
Jews have lived continuously in Palestine (the original name of the land) for nearly 3,000 years. The Ottoman Empire controlled the geographical area for hundreds of years before the first World War. After the war, the British took control, and the area became known as Mandatory Palestine or the British Mandate.
In 1917, Lord Balfour, Britain’s foreign secretary, wrote a letter to the leader of Britain’s Jewish community. This letter, which became known as the Balfour Declaration of 1926, expressed Britain’s favorable view of the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people in Palestine. To be fair, the document did recognize the existence of non-Jews in Palestine, whose rights should not be excluded.
While Jews had been the original descendants of this region, they had been forced out and were scattered throughout the world and were without their homeland for centuries. Over the next half century, many thousands of Jews returned to their native land to escape persecution across the globe. Sadly, as we know, many remained in Eastern Europe, thinking this was a safe place to be. After the Second World War, the newly created United Nations adopted a resolution to make Palestine into two states: Jewish and Arab. To be clear, there were to be Palestinian Jews and Palestinian Arabs – the term Palestinians were never used and has only been recently created.
The Jews immediately and without any hesitation accepted the plan set forth by the United Nations, even though the land allocated to the new Jewish state had a plethora of security and other issues, was not contiguous, and, most importantly, did not include Jerusalem. But the Arabs rejected it.
When the State of Israel was established in 1948 and declared independence, armies from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria invaded. Israel’s war of independence ended not with a peace treaty but with armistice lines still incorrectly referred to as the 1967 borders. Since the Arabs rejected the proposal from the United Nations, there are no recognized borders. Judea and Samaria, the land now considered “occupied,” was originally occupied by Jordan. During the time Jordan, an Arab state, controlled this land, they made no effort to create an independent state for the Palestinian Arabs. What Jordan did accomplish was to change the name to the West Bank – an incorrect term.
In 1967, the Jews knew the Egyptian army was mobilizing in the Sinai, and Israel acted in the form of a preemptive strike against the Egyptian forces and defeated them in just six days, gaining control of both the Sinai and Gaza. Meanwhile, Egypt had induced both Syria and Jordan to attack Israel from the east. That resulted in Israel gaining control of the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria, and the Old City of Jerusalem, including the Kotel. Israel was once again united.
Had the Arabs agreed to the 1947 United Nations plan, then what’s called the West Bank wouldn’t be disputed at all – it would have been Arab land.
When Israel gave back the Sinai after it made peace with Egypt, as part of the deal, Israel abandoned Jewish communities established in the Sinai. And Israel abandoned the Jewish communities in Gaza when Israel left Gaza. Fortunately, peace with Egypt has remained, but the Arabs, now called Palestinians, cannot control Hamas. Therefore any future agreement for land in Judea and Samaria will likely fall back into the hands of terrorists and cause the demise of Israel.
There is only one Jewish state in the world. There are dozens of Arab nations. None of Israel’s neighbors had made any attempt to take in the Palestinians – not Egypt, Jordan, or Syria (when it was still a sovereign nation). All of these countries are larger and can handle the influx of more immigrants. Why is this? Because the idea of a two-state solution isn’t a real idea.
The Abraham Accords have proven that Jews and Arabs can and do not only get along but need each other for international trade and commerce, but for the good of what has been an unstable region. Seeing Israel work in partnership with countries like the U.A.E., Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan is something most thought impossible. The Saudis are next in line, and when that happens, it will be an incredible accomplishment. It’s time to stop talking about a two-state solution.
Settlements have never been an impediment to peace and are not an impediment now, even if one believes they are diplomatically not a good idea. There were no settlements between 1948 until 1967 when Jordan controlled Judea and Samaria.
The Arabs have had many opportunities to make peace with Israel and to have their own state. They refused in 1947 and on a number of occasions since then. Hamas and many Palestinian Arabs — probably a majority — don’t want a Jewish presence anywhere between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. That’s the impediment to peace.
Israel is no more a perfect country than any other. Its internal politics are as messy as ours. Israelis do not speak with one voice on the government’s policy concerning building homes over the Green Line. It is my opinion and many others that the so-called settlements are neither illegal nor an impediment to peace. Those who say otherwise are either ignorant of the facts or, worse, ignore them.
Steve Rosenberg is Principal of the Team GSD. He is the author of the book, Make Bold Things Happen: Inspirational Stories From Sports, Business and Life, available on Amazon and in local bookstores.