By Stephen M. Flatow
The status quo is not the ideal solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it’s better than any of the alternatives. And sometimes that’s the best that can be done in an imperfect world.
Secretary of State John Kerry argued in his recent speech that Israel can be either democratic or Jewish, but not both. What he meant was that the only two plausible solutions to the conflict are for Israel to either (1) be “democratic,” by annexing the territories and giving the Palestinians citizenship—in which case, they would vote the Jewish State out of existence; or (2) be “Jewish,” by withdrawing from the territories, so that what remains of Israel would have a Jewish majority.
Neither of these solutions makes sense.
Adding millions of Palestinians to Israel’s voter rolls would be national suicide. So, that one is out.
But Kerry’s other option would also gravely endanger Israel. It would leave Israel just nine miles wide in its middle. I suppose if Israel’s next door neighbor was going to be Luxembourg or Switzerland, it might be an acceptable risk. But can anybody plausibly claim the Palestinian leadership can be trusted to live in peace with a Jewish state? That’s what they told us when the Oslo accords were signed, yet eight years later, the Palestinian leaders were caught trying to bring in a ship with 50 tons of weapons. Are we supposed to simply ignore the game-changing significance of the Karine A weapons ship?
A Palestinian state along the pre-1967 lines would mean that a Palestinian terrorist with a shoulder-fired missile, standing inside the sovereign borders of “Palestine,” would be able to shoot down a plane landing or taking off from Ben-Gurion Airport. No sane country would accept such a nightmare existence.
So if those two options—citizenship and statehood—are unsafe for Israel, why not leave things the way they are right now—the status quo? Kerry’s arguments were based on his premise that the status quo is not “sustainable.” He offered two reasons. Neither of them is persuasive…
The Palestinians do not have 100% of what they want. But then again, neither do the Israelis. The status quo does, however, give both sides much of what they want—which is better than what the alternatives offer. That’s why the status quo has lasted more than twenty years already. It’s not ideal and it doesn’t solve every problem, but it’s the best and most realistic choice in a difficult situation.
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