Over the last four months in Israel, Islamic terrorists have committed 100 stabbings, 38 shootings, and 22 vehicular attacks targeting Jewish Israelis. In these attacks, 28 people have died and 230 have been wounded.
In the wake of these attacks, pro-Palestine organizations in the United States have renewed their calls for the Jewish State to engage Palestinians in negotiations to find a two-state solution, wherein two independent governments — one run by Palestinian and the other by Israeli authorities — divide the Holy Land and rule it as separate states.
However well-intentioned these calls for a two-state solution may be, they display a complete misunderstanding of the facts on the ground. The State of Israel is not ready for a two-state solution, and the it should avoid negotiations with Palestinian groups for three reasons.
First, radicalism is on the rise in Palestinian territories. Hamas, an Islamist group dedicated to the destruction of Israel, seized control of the Gaza Strip in 2006. Since then, they have consolidated power through political terrorism. The United States, Russia, the European Union, and even several Middle Eastern states recognize Hamas as a terrorist group. Expecting the Jewish people to negotiate with terrorists is irrational.
The West Bank is more complicated. Fatah, a secular Arab party led by Mahmoud Abbas, currently heads the Palestinian Authority. In 2006, it lost parliamentary elections to Hamas, but refused to surrender actual authority to the extremist group. Abbas is currently serving the eleventh year of what was originally a four-year term.
Even if Abbas were inclined to negotiate, he does not have popular support for lasting peace with Israel. If Abbas gives an inch to Israel, his people will likely rise up, overthrow Fatah, and replace it with Hamas or a similar extremist group.
Second, the preconditions that Palestinians have put forward for negotiations are unreasonable. Fatah insists that Israel must withdraw Jewish citizens from their settlements in the West Bank for the Palestinian Authority to even consider negotiations. In addition, Abbas has convinced the United States that a return to Israel’s pre-1967 borders should be the basis for future negotiations.
If enacted, these measures would endanger Israel. From settlements in the West Bank, the Israel Defense Force is able to monitor entry and stop potential terrorists from entering Israel. The other precondition, a return to pre-1967 borders, presents even greater problems. Surrendering land would adversely affect Israel’s strategic interests.
For instance, during the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel captured the strategically important Golan Heights. From this elevated region, the IDF can monitor threats from Hezbollah in Lebanon and the warring extremist groups in Syria with ease. The Golan Heights also serve as a buffer region between these hostile groups and Israel’s more populated areas. A return to the pre-1967 borders would force Israel to surrender the region.
Finally, if the Palestinians achieve independence, what is to prevent the new State of Palestine from becoming a failed state, such as Libya or Syria?
The political authorities in both the West Bank and Gaza have shown an utter lack of interest in modernization or providing even the most basic services for their citizens. With Hamas’ ideological priorities and the corruption and impotency of Fatah, neither appear to have the inclination or ability to create a stable nation-state.
There will be no safety net should the Palestinian political establishment fail. Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia are disinterested in helping their Palestinian brethren, and show no signs of reversing policy should the politics change. Iran’s Shiite regime is only interested in the Palestine controversy insofar as it enables them to attack Israel and take pot shots at the “Great Satan” — the United States.
If the West Bank disintegrates, any number of extremist groups — al Qaida, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, or others — will likely move in to take over. The West Bank would become another launch zone for rockets, missiles, or worse.
Israel cannot afford a two-state solution. Perhaps someday in the future the region will be ready for substantial negotiations, but that day is not today. For now, Israel and her Western allies ought to preserve the status quo.