Friday, January 09, 2009

Is Support For The Two State Solution Dying?

According to this article in the Christian Science Monitor, Europe may finally--slowly--be seeing things from Israel's perspective.
...Europe's traditional position on the Arab dispute has been quietly changing: It is gravitating closer to a US-Israeli framing of a war on terror, a "clash of civilizations," with a subtext of concern about the rise of Islam – and away from an emphasis on core grievances of Palestinians, like the ongoing Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and "occupation."

Causes for the shift are complex and manifold, and in no small way associated with the rise of Muslim populations in Europe.

It's good to know that Europe is seeing things more clearly.
Now if someone could just do something about the UN.

This turnabout in attitude towards the Middle East in general also manifests itself towards what many claim is the central conflict there: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its resolution with a two-state solution.

During a conference call, MK Effie Eitam suggested that the two-state solution was not going to happen. At least not for now. MK Eitam said:
The Peace Process goal of 2 states for 2 nations is not something that can actually be implemented. Instead, the West Bank realizes that there is not going to be a separate state but rather only real option is for Israel to continue to be a shield. The Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria are comfortable with this. If new ideas/leadership comes—then maybe can we can talk. Till then in Judea and Samaria – Israel is the defense shield, but not occupying. [from notes; hear audio]

Of course, it is not exactly news for a right-wing Israeli MK and Brigadier General to say something like this. But he is not alone. There are some in Europe who are saying the same thing. For instance, there is Karim Bitar, of the International Institute of Strategic Relations in Paris.

A Euro-American convergence leaves European Union diplomats supporting Palestinians on "shallower emotional and humanitarian grounds," says Mr. Bitar [the International Institute of Strategic Relations in Paris], "helping people survive, hoping economic improvement is enough, and forgetting the old issues of substance, and Israeli occupation. The two-state solution is nearly dead." [emphasis added]

Aude Signoles, an expert on Palestinian movements at the University of La Réunion in Madagascar, points out that the US and Europe still do not see eye-to-eye on Israel and the Middle East, but as Europe comes closer to a US-Israeli framing of a war on terror
the main effect of a Europe that adopts an American position is that the core Palestinian issues regarding the cessation of settlements, a shared capital of Jerusalem, and the right of return "may not be emphasized as before.… [T]he Israel-Palestine issue is an asymmetric problem, and if the international community does not raise it and balance it, there is little chance that the rights of the smaller player will be raised."
That may be hard to believe, and Israel is aware that the Palestinian Arabs cannot be ignored. If the immediate imposition of an artificial two-state solution can be avoided for now, maybe there is hope after all.

Of course, that is contingent on Europe adopting an approach similar to the US.
What if the US decides to gravitate towards the European framework instead:

According to The Guardian:
The Guardian has spoken to three people with knowledge of the discussions in the Obama camp.

There is no talk of Obama approving direct diplomatic negotiations with Hamas early on in his administration, but he is being urged by advisers to initiate low-level or clandestine approaches, and there is growing recognition in Washington that the policy of ostracising Hamas is counter-productive.

Now if Israel can destroy Hamas in the next 11 days...

Check out Memeorandum for more on Obama's apparent change of heart on Hamas

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