President George W. Bush’s “roadmap for peace” made the two-state solution America’s foreign policy. In 1999, Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu became Israel’s first conservative prime minister to endorse it. Since then, a majority of Palestinians and Israelis have put their support behind the idea of two states — one Jewish, one Palestinian — peacefully sharing the territory held by Israel after 1967.
If everyone agrees on the grand idea, they are at each others’ throats over the details. The two-state solution has so far been a complete failure. The current Israeli incursion into Gaza adds the exclamation point, and the expansion of war in the region is its funeral games.
There are not two states within Israel’s post 1967 borders. There is not one state and a proto-state. There is one state; what’s left is the remains of an abortion.
In the wake of the murders of the Israeli teens, Israeli forces arrested 900 members of Hamas and other terrorist groups on the West Bank. At the same time, Hamas, the de facto government in Gaza, had 44,000 government employees in Gaza that it couldn’t pay. Humiliated and broke, it launched rocket attacks on Israel, perhaps hoping for a new West Bank intifada like the one from which it was born in 1985.
Hamas acted from weakness. At the same time, the Palestinians are the least organized they’ve been in a generation. Israel’s retaliation against Hamas might yet create uprisings, but there has been no new intifada.
With growing war and refugee movements all around it, Israel can hardly afford a Palestinian state on its borders that is dominated by the culture created by Hamas. It is likely that a Palestinian state will be swept up in the same war that has engulfed Iraq and Syria. This is a war being promoted by Iran, not for territorial gain or resources, but simply to expand war and displace and disperse potential rival populations.
Iran is playing a long game. It will ally with one group here and fight it there, not because the Middle East is an insane region of shifting alliances and rivalries, but because this furthers its foreign policy: perpetual war in the Middle East.
If Israel is to have a Palestinian state on its borders, it must be a disarmed state that can be guided and protected by Israel. The alternative is the one-state solution: Israel rules “Samaria and Judea” (the West Bank), and perhaps enters into a federal union with Gaza. After decades of trying, there’s no Palestinian state anyway.
The one-state solution is fraught with hazards and may be worse than the two-state solution, but the two-state solution is mostly dead. If it can’t be revived, one state is all that’s left. But neither solution can succeed as long as Hamas exists.
Weak and damaged as it is, Hamas will destroy Israel as a Jewish state if it is allowed to survive. If it is incorporated into the one-state solution, that state will not be Jewish, and sooner rather than later. If it is left alive in a Palestinian state, that state will be a dagger for Iran to push into Israel’s heart.
If Israel is to survive, Hamas must be destroyed.