The claim by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz earlier this week that the European Union (EU) is considering sanctions against Israel was subsequently denied by the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini. Following this official denial, Prof. Gerald Steinberg from Bar-Ilan University accused correspondents Barak Ravid ofHaaretz and Raphael Ahren of The Times of Israel of spin journalism. According to both journalists, an unpublished internal EU document calls for imposing sanctions on Israel for supposedly jeopardizing the “two-state solution.” Sanctions would include the recalling of European ambassadors and cutting ties with Israeli officials who oppose the “two-state solution.”
This goes to show that the “two-state solution” has become a religious dogma, because expressing a differing opinion is now punishable. Advocating the return of the West Bank to Jordan or its full annexation by Israel (with the granting of Israeli citizenship to all its residents), for example, does not constitute a legitimate opinion but a punishable offense. Incidentally, Israel’s president himself would be declared persona non grata for his endorsement of the “one-state solution.”
The “two-state solution” has become a theological dogma not only because differing opinions are now considered blasphemy, but also because facts are not allowed to get in the way. When Galileo Galilei uttered to the Inquisition “eppur si muove” (and yet, it moves) he meant that, notwithstanding the Catholic dogma, the Earth does revolve and facts cannot be denied. Today, the official European dogma is that Israel is responsible for the failure of the “two-state solution.” Yet facts cannot be denied – neither in astronomy nor in history.
The facts are that all the proposals meant to divide the former British Mandate between a Jewish state and an Arab state were accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs. Those proposals include the 1937 Peel Commission plan, the 1947 UN partition plan, the July 2000 Barak offer, the December 2000 Clinton Parameters, and the September 2008 Olmert offer. Arafat rejected the Clinton Parameters and Abbas rejected the Olmert offer because of the so-called right of return. The ultimate obstacle to the two-state solution is Palestinian refusal to compromise on the right of return.
Israeli settlements represent two percent of the West Bank territory. In both the Barak and Olmert proposals, most Israeli settlements would have been dismantled. Those settlements are neither the source of the conflict (the conflict existed before the settlements), nor an obstacle to its resolution. Israel proved twice in the past its readiness to uproot settlements: when it signed a peace agreement with Egypt in 1979, and when it pulled out from the Gaza strip in 2005. Besides, if there is a true peace agreement and a two-state solution, why can’t there be a Jewish minority in the Palestinian state, the same way that there is an Arab minority in Israel?
This also is part of the dogma. There are Hindus in Pakistan, Muslims in India, Greeks in northern Cyprus, Turks in Cyprus, Czechs in Slovakia and Slovaks in the Czech Republic, etc. In all cases of partition around the world, minorities have been allowed to stay on both sides of the divide. Only in the case of Israel and the Palestinians is it considered axiomatic that the Jewish state must tolerate an Arab minority, while the Arab state should not be expected to tolerate a Jewish minority.
If the EU is so concerned about the future of the “two-state solution,” why does it not also put pressure on the Palestinians to abandon the fantasy of the so-called right of return? Why does it not demand of the Palestinian Authority (PA) that it stop teaching its children that Jaffa and Haifa are occupied territories that must be liberated? Why does it not ask PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas why no Jew shall be allowed in the Palestinian state and why the mere presence of a Jew on the Temple Mount constitutes a “desecration?”
Preaching and meaningless threats are no substitute for Realpolitik, as Europe should have learned from the end of the Cold War. When a violent civil war erupted in Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, European leaders declared that they knew just how to handle the crisis. Yet they failed miserably, and only America’s military might put an end to Serbian expansionism. Europeans tend to forget that what kept them safe from Soviet aggression was US power. With Russia back in business, Europe is as powerless in the Ukraine today as it was in Yugoslavia two decades ago.
European preaching is inefficient vis-à-vis Russia. In the Middle-East, this preaching is harmful and counter-productive because it is based on dogma rather than on facts, and because it absolves those who have systematically prevented implementation of the “two-state solution” for the past seven decades.