Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The two-state solution is nearly dead. But there's one last chance to save it

The arrival of a new Israeli leader must bode well for the peace process, right? Wrong, say veteran negotiators

Jonathan Freedland
The Guardian, Wednesday September 17 2008

".....If she now steps into the top job, that must bode well, bringing the long promised two-state solution within reach, right? Wrong. Conversations with those who have been involved on the diplomatic frontline for more than 15 years, those who have made the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel their life's work, suggest a new despair. With a heavy heart, they are concluding that the two-state solution is dead.

I sat down this week with Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel's former foreign minister and lead negotiator at the failed peace talks at Camp David in 2000. He would prefer Livni to Mofaz, but he's past believing it will make any great difference. No longer does he think that the effort to reach an agreement with the Palestinians - a project which has endured, on and off, since the Oslo accords of 1993 - depends on having this or that person in charge. The serial failures are not "technical", but structural, built into the conflict.....

The result is deep gloom among the peacemakers. They search now for a "new paradigm". Could that be a single, binational state? "A nightmare," says Ben-Ami, a South Africa situation with no hope of a South Africa solution, given the presence of two national groups equal in number. More unilateral Israeli withdrawals are similarly doomed: after what followed the Israeli pullout from Gaza in 2005 - a Hamas takeover - there would be little support for a similar move in the West Bank.

Instead, there is renewed interest in an old, and once discredited, idea: the Jordanian option. Advocates say Israel would surely feel happier conceding the West Bank to a stable state such as Jordan, than it would to a volatile and split Palestinian movement. Of course, many Palestinians would regard it as a betrayal after decades struggling for independence. But, say the idea's backers, what is more important to Palestinians: a state, or an end to living under occupation?....."

No comments: