For several decades now, the Western Left has been devoted to an imaginary “two-state solution” to the problem that Muslim fanatics keep trying to kill the Jews. Somehow, the problem and the alleged solution don’t seem to match up. Nevertheless, liberals in both the U.S. and Western Europe have recently been returning to the two-state fantasy.
In Britain’s Telegraph, John Bolton argues: “The two-state solution is dead. Israel must achieve total victory.” Bolton reminds us of the origin of the demand that “Palestine” be recognized as a state:
The origins of the other-worldly notion of recognising a Palestinian state before there is one stem directly from none other than Yasser Arafat. Beginning in 1988-89 and continuing episodically thereafter, Arafat tried to have the Palestine Liberation Organisation admitted as a member of the United Nations and its specialised agencies. Because all UN agency charters limit membership to “states,” Arafat believed that admission would confer state status on the PLO, thus constructing not “facts on the ground” in the Middle East, but in the corridors of the UN.
In the U.S., the Palestinian statehood football has been kicked back and forth:
President George H. W. Bush strongly objected to this fantasy, threatening to withhold all American contributions to any UN component that admitted “Palestine,” a threat ultimately embodied in statutory law by overwhelming House and Senate votes.
This is of far more than just historical interest. The threat worked until American resolve collapsed under Obama, allowing the Palestinian Authority to gain admittance to Unesco (from which Ronald Reagan had earlier withdrawn, with George W. Bush later returning). Obama’s mistake led to President Trump’s decision to withdraw. Biden rejoined. Should Trump win in November, count on a third withdrawal in short order.
Obsessively imagining a Palestinian state has thus caused real damage to the United Nations, which doesn’t matter that much except to the very types of people in the Foreign Office and State Department who also advocate early recognition of Palestine.
Does recognizing “Palestine” make any sense?
Recognising “statehood” in international affairs is far more consequential than recognising a state of mind. In both treaties and customary international law, statehood has critically important characteristics, including having a defined territory and population, a capital city, and being able to implement normal governmental functions. There is no existing “Palestine” that meets any of these core criteria. Pretending that the Palestinian Authority (or Hamas for that matter) qualifies does not make it so. Indeed, wishing wistfully quite likely inhibits achieving the objectives statehood advocates supposedly want.
While diplomats, who we hope will remain irrelevant, muse wistfully on Palestinian statehood, Israel, unified after Gaza’s October 7 outrages, understands what is at stake:
Netanyahu made clear that Israel wants, as it should, “total victory” over Hamas. In World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt insisted that Germany and Japan agree to unconditional surrender. There is no reason Israel should not demand the same from Hamas.
When liberals demand a cease-fire from Israel, my answer is, “So, has Hamas surrendered then?” To be honest, though, even if Hamas should in the end try, desperately, to surrender, Israel should finish the job. And continue to ignore the idiocy that proceeds from western liberals.