The obstacles to a viable Palestine that can function as a good neighbor to a good neighbor Israel, are mostly gone.
In an article in today’s New York Times Magazine http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/13/magazine/13Israel-t.html?_r=1&ref=magazine, Bernard Avishai described that the differences between what Ehud Olmert (with support from Kadima leader Tzipi Livni) proposed and what the Palestinian Authority proposed were insignificant, that with skillful guidance and assurance by the United States, the differences could be bridged.
Specifically, both the PA and Israel proposed equal land to the 1967 “borders” (actually the 1949 armistice lines), with the PA proposing 1.9% of land swapped, and Olmert proposing 6.3%, to allow incorporation of large West Bank settlements in Israel, in exchange for other land in the Galilee and elsewhere to Palestine.
This touchable breach occurred even after the violence of Hamas’ post cease-fire rocket firings, and Israel’s excessive Operation Cast Lead in Gaza.
But since then, Olmert was removed in a corruption scandal, and although Kadima received the largest bloc of knesset seats in February 09 elections, they couldn’t construct a coalition government. Likud could and did, a right-wing government, expansionist in spite of the undeniable reality that Israel could not remain Zionist and democratic if it continued to annex/occupy the West Bank (and Gaza). Although Likud presents itself as Jewish and democratic (an #and# statement), it continues to promote settlement expansion that conflicts with the #and# democratic component. (I personally favor a mix of DEMOCRATIC #and# Jewish majority).
The left, Palestinian solidarity movement, and now Al Jazeera, declare the two-state approach as dead. With the release of wikileaks and the Palestinian Papers (similarly disclosing diplomatic correspondence), the PA is described as betraying the Palestinian people, in their obvious sincerity to compromise, to ACCOMPLISH a Palestinian state that is a good neighbor to a good neighbor Israel.
The completion of the circuit is palpable.
There are really only a couple alternatives to negotiated agreement based on the green line.
One is UN recognition of Palestine at the green line. (That will get close, but ultimately not happen.) If that resulted in Israel ceasing settlement expansion, and earnestly participating in negotiations, that would be wonderful outcome. But, that would take Netanyahu “throwing ahead of the receiver”. His stock in trade is caution, a conflict.
Another option is international public opinion and Palestinian civil uprising resulting in Israelis leaving the West Bank. That results in a militant Palestine, not a good neighbor to good neighbor relationship, and ultimately war in the future. If things turn for the worst with the recent uprising in Egypt, and change in government in Lebanon, then Israel will be surrounded, and get more “cautious” than trusting in all other relations.
The third option is advocacy of a single-state, or bi-national state (hard to know if that means a Vermont/New Hampshire relationship of two self-governing states in a federation or a single state comprised of two factions like Lebanon – Lebanon has more than two factions, not an exact parallel.) The single state means the end of Zionist Israel, and there is very very little support for that concept among Israelis. The international movement of BDS (boycott/divestment/sanctions) of Israel is often associated with the single state proposal.
The proponents of BDS range from articulate, politically and morally aware idealists, seeking human rights for Palestinians that does not imply the dissolution of Israel, to Palestinians and solidarity that regard the creation of Israel originally as an “original sin” that only return to Palestinian sovereignty and collective Palestinian title can remedy.
Those that regard democracy, consent of the governed, as a present phenomena reject the “original sin” thesis and implications. “Original sin” is state of walking apology, permanent subordination and moral debt.
The significance of completing the two-state negotiations NOW, and doing whatever it takes to get there, is that the “original sin” is closed. The rational argument that the “nakba continues” is put to rest. The nakba becomes an event that occurred 63 years ago, only, OVER.
I recommend that Israel accept the latest PA proposal. (The PA submitted a formal document proposing specific borders, and reported to propose a solution on Jerusalem, and limited right of return and funding of development for former Palestinian refugees.) Israeli diplomats did not even agree to receive the sealed proposal. In contrast, my view is that the PA has demonstrated SUCH good faith, that any proposal that would present at this point would be viable. It would not be the 11th hour cliffhanger negotiation for advantage and vanity that Netanyahu always does.
But, it would get the job done.
A proposal agreed to by the PA and Israel would still have to be ratified by the knesset (and by knesset legislation by a majority of Israeli citizens), and by the Palestinian legislature and citizenry (possibly including diaspora Palestinians). That is a big nut to crack.
But, to not forge a peace agreement while Abbas and Fayyad still have power, is to risk it ALL. The consequences of not accomplishing an agreement for Israel are permanent pariah status, likely at some point losing even the support of the United States, alone in a rationally angry world. For vanity, putting another 6 million Jewish civilians at risk (not that a genocide is anticipated, just a civil war with potentially WMD’s in play.)
All when a sure thing fifty fifty split is on the table.