Fareed Zakaria argues that with Israel ascendant and largely unthreatened, it now has “an extraordinary strategic opportunity” to bring about a Palestinian state. Just how Israel would go about this — i.e., what concessions it should make — Zakaria doesn’t say.
Zakaria’s premise is that reality in the Middle East “has changed dramatically in Israel’s favor.” He cites “the disappearance of the Arab threat” (Iraq, Syria and Egypt are “in disarray”); the Syrian conflict, which will “drain Iran and Hezbollah for years;” and Israel’s powerful, surging economy.
Zakaria’s premise is debatable. Turmoil on one’s borders always represents a potential danger. And a nuclear Iran could pose a greater threat to Israel than the armies of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, and Hezbollah ever have. Zakaria counters that Israel’s nuclear arsenal provides a deterrent to Iran. But opinions vary as to the extent that Iran, giving its apocalyptic ideology, can be deterred.
However, the most obvious problem with Zakaria’s argument is that his conclusion — Israel should usher in a Palestinian state — doesn’t follow from his premise. If the status quo puts Israel in the catbird’s seat for the foreseeable future, why should it disturb the status quo?
More specifically, if Israel’s borders with neighboring states are secure, why should it permit the creation of a new neighboring state that, believing that the land constituting Israel belongs to its residents, would be especially hostile to the Jewish state? Absent a seismic shift in Palestinian sentiment and behavior, doing so makes no sense.
One suspects that if Israel faced a more immediate threat from Arab states, Zakaria would be arguing that Israel should concede a state to the Palestinians to mitigate that threat. He’s like the punch line in a job about psychiatry — everything reminds him that Israel should give land to its arch-enemies.