While Israeli and Palestinian interests are best served by a negotiated two-state state solution, the peace plan that Sam Bahour proposed in his February post disregards Israel’s demographic and security concerns and is tantamount to a Palestinian veto on a negotiated solution. His insistence on the right of return for Palestinian refugees and rejection of security limitations on Palestinian sovereignty in effect asks Israel to become a binational state while creating a militarized Palestinian state alongside it. Bahour rejects the notion of unilateral action, but his case only reinforces my belief that Israel may need to act independently to protect its interests.
The logic behind the Clinton parameters and President Obama’s peace plan was that in return for the creation of a Palestinian state, Palestinian refugees would relinquish their claim to Israel; the hope was that this would allow for the “two states for two peoples” to exist side-by-side. Yet Bahour rejects compromise on the refugee issue as the forfeiture of “basic components of statehood and basic principles of Israeli-Palestinian peace that are enshrined in international law.” Any peace agreement that both establishes a Palestinian state and recognizes the rights of millions of Palestinians to enter Israel would hasten the end of Israel’s Jewish identity.
Israel’s interest in the creation of a Palestinian state is also built upon the assumption that a sound agreement would improve its security rather than threaten it. To this end, Israel has called for a demilitarized Palestinian state, and this has been echoed by the United States, France, the Czech Republic, the European Union, and Australia’s Labor Party. Even Mahmoud Abbas accepted the premise of demilitarization, saying, “We don’t need planes or missiles. All we need is a strong police force.” Nevertheless, Bahour’s piece declares any limitations on the sovereignty of Palestine unacceptable. For Israel, a peace deal that grants one’s adversaries access to more deadly weaponry would be absurd.
Bahour argues that my strategies for reaching a two-state solution are doomed because they do not meet the “mutual interests” of the parties to the conflict, but his plan does not offer incentives for Israel to make peace.
Bahour argues that my strategies for reaching a two-state solution are doomed because they do not meet the “mutual interests” of the parties to the conflict, but his plan does not offer incentives for Israel to make peace. His proposal not only fails to improve Israel’s situation in any tangible sense, but further endangers it. Rejectionist Palestinian positions like Bahour’s (and Abbas’s recent dismissal of Biden’s initiative) would veto the two-state solution as a means to move towards a single binational state. That is precisely why Israel may need to act independently to keep a two-state solution viable.
At the end of the day, as we all know thorny national security issues don’t just involve the military; political-military considerations invariably bleed into them. If the senior military’s leadership views are going to be just constrained to military advice … who is thinking about issues from that broader perspective?