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A Palestinian state next to Israel would be unsustainable, dangerous
November 30th, 2001
Haifa — The identity of the two participants in the following imagined conversation has been deliberately left open. One could say they are representative of two schools of thought in Israel, with the weight given to the views held by the majority.
“Well, it looks like there is going to be a Palestine state after all. Maybe it’s for the best. Maybe it will mean an opportunity for two neighbors to make peace between them.”
“I’m not so sure. Remember that the Arab goal — and they make no secret of it — is to obliterate Israel completely. This would be but the first step.”
“But so long as Israel remains strong militarily, they won’t be able to achieve that goal. And eventually they will see that they have much to gain, economically, from friendly relations with the neighbor. They have suffered a great deal and have paid a great price up to now. Their own people have become tired of what seems like an endless struggle.”
“That sounds logical by western standards, but remember that the Arabs have a different set of standards. Don’t expect them to act like us.
“Once they have been given independence, free of any Israeli interference, there is nothing to prevent them from inviting other states to move their armed forces in and use Palestine as a convenient base of operations against Israel. Do you want Iraqi troops, with bacterial and possibly nuclear weapons, next door? Look at Syrian de facto control over Lebanon.”
“One can’t help but admire the tenacity with which the Palestinians are pursuing their aims.”
“Tenacity? The Palestinians have been the fathers of modern terrorism. The long list of their atrocities in Israel has taken a terrible toll of civilians, and has set the pattern which today shocks the world.
“And for this they should be rewarded with a state? What a terrible message to other would-be terrorists: The more horrible your terrorism, the greater your chances of being rewarded with fulfillment of your aims.”
“But they now realize that their own best interests dictate economic relations with Israel. One of their big problems today is the unemployment caused by the fact that tens of thousands of Palestinians who used to work in Israel have lost their jobs there.”
“There you go again, citing rational factors. Reason and logic have nothing to do with it. If they did, there would have been immediate peace when former Prime Minister Ehud Barak made his generous offer to them.”
“There will be peace, and even Israel should be interested in having a stable neighbor.”
“I can think of only one advantage for Israel in the establishment of such a state. The Arab residents of Israel will at last have a clear choice. They can either certify their loyalty to Israel, or elect, as Palestinians, to move over into their new homeland.
“But that really won’t help. With all the good will in the world, an independent state of Palestine is simply non-viable. It would be an artificial entity capable of existing only so long as it receives constant international philanthropic aid. The oil rich states have already shown how little they are interested in supporting it.”
“But there is a native population there. What is to become of them? Israel certainly does not want to absorb them, for with their high birth rate they would soon outnumber the Jews and democratically take over the state.”
“If they would be willing to accept a non-militarized neutral status as a little neighborhood, perhaps under United Nations jurisdiction, there might be something to talk about. But their delusions of grandeur apparently rule that out.
“Since an independent viable state there is impossible, let the 20 or more Muslim countries absorb some of these people in a humanitarian gesture. Similar problems on the international scene have been solved in this manner, though the word ‘transfer’ is unpopular.
“We don’t speak here of destroying an existing national entity. There never was a Palestinian state, and until recent years the population there even refused to identify themselves as Palestinians. They were part of the Arab people, and during World War II the Jewish units which volunteered to fight alongside the British against the Nazis, were known as the Palestinians.”
“Why do you keep saying that a Palestinian state would not be viable? What area are you speaking of? The border lines have not yet been drawn, and when they are, you will find that they will provide the Palestinians with ample territory to create a flourishing, independent state.”
“Don’t succumb to illusions. Israel is not going to yield up land which it requires for its own growth and development.
“Israel is not ‘occupying’ a foreign land. In addition to its historical rights to the area (which the Arabs vainly seek to deny), Israel filled a political vacuum which existed when the British mandate ended and over which no state exercised sovereignty.
“The Arabs had rejected a solution offered. Neighboring states, on three fronts, were on the verge of attacking us, but we defeated them and exercised our national rights.
“No, I must say that an independent state with expansionist ambitions, squeezed alongside Israel, is practically and theoretically unfeasible. Worse, it is dangerous.”
Former Bostonian Carl Alpert made aliyah in 1952 with his wife and three children. A former editor of the Jewish Advocate, he is a freelance writer and columnist.