Nahum Barnea: Settlers Have Won, Two States are Dead
Nahum Barnea is Israel’s most respected daily columnist. He is something akin to Tom Friedman. Everyone reads him and his columns are a barometer of where centrist-mainstream political sentiment lies. He provokes both the right and the left with his coverage and always comes down somewhere in the center. I’d call him a realist or pragmatist.
That’s why his most recent column on the settlements is so important. In it, he visits some of the most controversial settlements in the news including Migron (which was cleared yesterday in the dead of night). His argument is that the war is over. The settlers have won. They are part of Israel. They cannot be uprooted or eradicated. The point at which Israel could and should have restrained the settler movement is long past. Best to acknowledge that fact and move on:
Oslo is dead. The Bar-Ilan speech is dead. The entire world realizes this. Now we can begin to invest in what is just.
If he left it there, his would be a straight far-right nationalist view in which Israel would annex the Territories and exclude Palestinians from citizenship. But Barnea isn’t there. Rather, he understands that the implications of his view and that if Israel is to remain a democracy it must concede rights to the Palestinians. The choices would be the creation of either a unitary state including both the settlers and all the Palestinians living in the Territories; or a bi-national state in which presumably both peoples would live side by side but have separate or parallel political institutions. Here is how he phrased his view (the Hebrew language video above contains this passage and more of his views):
“Everybody knows how this will end.” When asked what he means, he answers, “There will be a bi-national west of the Jordan… the two-state solution is no longer possible.”
As is typical with an Israeli centrist, they don’t spend much time thinking about Palestinians in any way that is intrinsic to Israel. So Barnea doesn’t lay out how this bi-national state would look or operate. He probably is too depressed to do so. But just in conceding the death of two-states and pointing Israelis to whatever the next stage will be, is a milestone.
Neither Barnea nor I for that matter rejoice in the death of two states. While I wasn’t an avid partisan of two states, it did seem a reasonable solution if certain conditions could’ve been met. Alas…they couldn’t. Both Barnea and I realize that with the rise of the permanent right-wing majority in Israeli politics, there isn’t a hope in Hell for two states. If you wish to preserve democracy there is only one battle left: what will the future state look like that will incorporate Jews and Palestinians?
This will also lay the ground for a massive battle with the Israeli far-right, which will increasingly demolish the vestiges of democracy leading to a Jewish supremacist state that either physically expels non-Jews or heavily limits their rights so that the exist in a sort of semi-stateless limbo. Barnea doesn’t mention this at all. Again, it’s probably too painful a prospect to approach for a good classical Zionist who believed Israel would be both Jewish and democratic.
There is what I call a soft-right solution advocated by Moshe Arens which calls for annexing the West Bank and offering citizenship to Palestinians. But this theory is based on a settler-conceived hocus-pocus theory by Yoram Ettinger that there are only 1.5 million Palestinians, when every credible demographer acknowledges 2.5-million in the West Bank alone. There are another 1.5 million in Gaza: I haven’t a clue what they propose to do with them other than perhaps encourage Egypt to annex the enclave and so get it off Israel’s hands.
Ettinger’s “limited” plan would maintain a Jewish majority in such a unitary state. He would remove 300,000 Palestinians who’ve lived abroad for over a year from being eligible (thus rendering them stateless). He claims East Jerusalem Palestinians are “double-counted” in the demographic census. I have no idea what this means, but the upshot would appear to exclude them from Israeli citizenship. Further hocus-pocus will define them as stateless people and they’ll be pressured to leave or told they can stay as barely tolerated non-citizens.
The “soft-right” plan appears to be a more deft, sophisticated version of population transfer. It concedes the necessity of absorbing some Palestinians into Greater Israel, but so restricts the number so that Israel would retain a permanent majority. Undoubtedly, if the Palestinian minority ever threatened to surpass the Jewish majority, further political manipulation by the majority would prevent this from happening.
So you can begin to see the battleground before you. One state of some sort seems almost inevitable. The question is whether this single state will be democratic, semi-democratic, or a virtual Jewish-dominated theocracy.
19 thoughts on “Nahum Barnea: Settlers Have Won, Two States are Dead – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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Yes, the Zionist project of dispossession and ethnic supremacy is falling apart at the seams, which is concerning because being inherently non-democratic and violent it will attempt either to suppress the existence of Palestinians or expel them as the obvious solution, democracy, is antithetical to its nature.
Richard, this is an very important column.
As you point out, there will be a single state; so, it must be that the form of that state, whether the ideal of a liberal democracy or a Jewish democracy with some non-democratic appendage or outright ethnic cleansing left for the Palestinians, will be totally a matter of the dynamic process as the 2ss mirage grinds into the actual 1ss. Then, the question is whether this dynamic might be controlled. In other words, is it already somehow preordained or can there be actions to shape the flow of events to a preferred endpoint — as either increasing violence eventually leads to an uncontrollable cycle of violence, confrontation, and some kind of ethnic cleansing or some kind of rapprochement between the settlers and the Palestinians. The reason why the former is by far more likely is obviously because it is the cake and eat it solution for the settlers and the settlers so far have a means to impose it, or at least seem to think they do.
So, in as much as the the big question is how the dynamic unfolds, it would seem that the only political solution that theoretically could embody some endpoint of bi-national or complete democracy would be by the PA ‘awarding’ citizenship to the settlers and the Palestinian citizens of Israel. Conceivably, then, both groups would have democratic incentives to deal in day to day matters of governance. This ‘dual citizenship’ solution simply follows Israel’s example of liberally awarding dual citizenship and thereby creating loyalties by political interests in Israel.
What about thinking “outside the box” and forgoing tired formulas that never worked and evidently have no chance to succeed. Consider the following:
(i) The recent calm in the West-Bank may be a sign that the Palestinians there value normalcy more that nationalistic slogans. There is a war fatigue there and little motivation for more Intifadas. The people there also clearly see what takes place in neighboring Arab countries and may consider themselves blessed by being under the auspices of a Western society rather than live through horror stories as in the Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Bahrain, even Egypt,… Arab Israelis, for instance, are already in a far better situation in almost all respects than their brethren around. In particular they generally enjoy Western standards of services and supplies – something others around can only dream of (or, need to emigrate to Western countries to have that and in Europe, for instance, that comes with huge integration problems and a great deal of discontent of both locals and immigrants).
(ii) Once people are satisfied with their normal life, especially if the economics is OK and if there are good personal relations, as is generally the case between Jews and Arabs in Israel proper, they are open to macro-political arrangements. Voting arrangements are possible, e.g., as suggested in the comment above (at least as an interim arrangement).
(iii) Gaza is gradually reverting to its Egyptian past status (Hamas is gradually replacing its affiliation with the failing Iranian axis with the Moslem-Brotherhood, its spiritual bedrock, that just came to power there). Egypt may actually pursue a calming strategy vis-à-vis Israel. It needs to build itself after this severe crisis and relies on US help. The recent cooperation in fighting lawlessness in the Sinai (which claimed Egyptian lives) attests to that.
(iv) The Arab Spring process is affecting Jordan too (there are daily demonstrations there). It is a possibility that it will become a Palestinian-Bedouin democratic-monarchy (2/3 of the population is Palestinian) with strong pro-Western ties and as such may opt for a confederation with Israel – offering an economically prosperous and democratic model for the region. The West-Bank would then be a jointly managed territory with Jews there voting in Israel and Arabs in the other country. The limited-space issue, which is the crucial one, gets out of the way (the area west of the Jordan river is too small for 2 countries and is a potential source of great friction so a receipt for violence not peace). That could be a real workable long-term arrangement.
(v) Saudi-Arabia (emirates included) has found itself in the same camp as Israel in regard to where its interests lie and who it considers as threats and friends (it`s identical to the Israeli configuration). That will have its general alleviating effect.
This is deftly written and conceived arrant nonsense. It presumes that all developments taking place in Palestine & neighboring frontline countries will tend toward quiescence & promoting Israel’s interests. If we’ve learned anything about such things it’s that events proceed toward maximum entropy & chaos, rather than neatly packaged narratives such as what you’ve spun.
You should be in the scriptwriting business rather than political analysis. You can’t control or dominate events merely by spinning wishful thinking or narratives. Real events have a way of turning ugly when you approach them with the arrogance & condescension you’ve exhibited toward your Arab neighbors.
Yours is a good reply, Richard. I read and reread Tibor’s post, and ended up thinking that, in his mind, totalitarian solutions will work over time. The Nazis and the Soviets had the same fantasy.
Castellio, you are right in some sense – all is “big-picture” now. We have truly become a global-village, which in particular means that “local conflicts” are not really so anymore – the “big guys” interests and global outlook matter far more. The direct participants don`t really “own” their conflict (as for instance is obvious in Syria now, given how many “big hands” stir the pot there) and in particular past narratives lost much of their importance. That is why a regional architecture (as I tried to depict) is not part of some totalitarian vision – it is simply the way things are now. Globalization is not a cliché – it is today`s world reality – and many people find it hard to realize how fundamentally it has changed things in such a short period.
Well, where history will lead us cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty and I only tried to depict a path forward whose benefits to all concerned seems to outweigh what`s “on the table” now. There is, I think, one fundamental difference between that and the way it appears you see things. It seems that you bought into the outlook that the Israeli – Arab/Palestinian situation is necessarily a “zero sum game”- namely what is good for Israel must be bad for Arabs. That is wrong on historical, moral and practical grounds. Regarding the former, Israel is trying to get out form a quagmire it has found itself in, in the aftermath of the establishment of the State of Israel (on the heels of the Holocaust – the culmination of a millennium long persecutions of Jews in Europe) so morally it behooves on all good people to be helpful and positive in this regard rather than just play on the “negatives” – the inevitable difficulties in bridging between two cultures and the missteps on the way. However, importantly, from a pragmatic point of view, given the upheaval in the Arab countries that surrounds Israel – a consequence of historical processes that have little to do with Israel – it is just possible that the “new guy in the neighborhood” in fact offers a way out. Instead of mistaking it for a foe, which was the case in the Arab world for decades now – with pains for Israel and for them – an opposite “win-win” approach can be adopted. Why not try that for a change? (In fact, I sense that this is already happening “on the ground” there – it only has not reached yet some quarters in Europe that seem unable to relinquish paradigms that they have been toying with for so long and became an integral part of their self-perception).
About Ettinger “he claims East Jerusalem Palestinians are double counted in the demographic census”.
In fact he’s right. Some weeks back when there was a debate here on demographics, and I took some time to look up the exact numbers and I realized that the around 200.000 Palestinians in East Jerusalem (in decline) ARE double counted. They are included (and it’s written explicitly) in Israel Central Bureau of Statistics’ numbers of 1.597.300 Israeli Palestinians (March 2012) (due to the annexation I guess, although by the end of 2005 only 5% were actually Israeli citizens), and they are counted in the Palestinian and the CIA Worldbook Facts’ demographics as being part of the population of the OPT too.
What I’m most worried about: will Israel manage to annex the West Bank leaving Gaza out ? That’s what the ‘disengagement’ in 2005 was all about.
RE: “Nahum Barnea is Israel’s most respected daily columnist . . . I’d call him a realist or pragmatist. That’s why his most recent column on the settlements is so important. In it, he visits some of the most controversial settlements in the news including Migron (which was cleared yesterday in the dead of night). His argument is that the war is over. The settlers have won. They are part of Israel. They cannot be uprooted or eradicated.” ~ R. Silverstein
MY COMMENT: Elliott Abrams convinced me several years that the two-state solution was completely dead!
FROM ELLIOTT ABRAMS, The Washington (Neocon) Post, 04/08/09:
SOURCE – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040703379.html
P.S. Elliott Abrams has totally convinced me by the sheer power of his “logic” (and his excellent math skills)!
Ergo, the ‘Abrams Principle’ stands for the proposition that more Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank will result in a larger area for the Palestinian state. That’s why I say: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” with the settlement actvity; so as to result in the largest Palestinian state possible (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River)! “Let Right Be Done.”
P.S. FROM HistoryCommons.org [Elliott Abrams]:
SOURCE – http://www.historycommons.org/context.jsp?item=a060101abramsnsc#a060101abramsnsc
P.S. ALSO SEE: “Once dazzled by Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan has new mentor… Elliott Abrams”, by Philip Weiss, Mondoweiss, 8/14/12
P.P.S THE CORRECT LINK TO PHILIP WEISS’ POST – http://mondoweiss.net/2012/08/once-dazzled-by-ayn-rand-paul-ryan-has-new-mentor-elliott-abrams.html
I’m not sure that the Israeli far right would EXPEL Palestinians. Previously-expelled Palestinians provided the manpower for the PLO.
Given the deliberate mental and moral hardening applied to Israeli army bulldozer operators in particular, I think they’ve got another Vukovar, or a Nanjing, planned.
There’s a cult of taking things to their ultimate (logical??) conclusion, which means they will go as far as they can, because to go as far as seems enough, might be to shortchange themselves when they could have gotten away with going further. There will be no death camps, nor gas chambers, because these are icons of their own victimhood. Less property-obsessed regimes than the Nazis managed without camps.
The full movie, “City of Life and Death” which, frankly, is far too harrowing to actually recommend, shows Japanese troops putting a very large city to the sword (literally in some cases) with an efficiency that the SS couldn’t possibly have matched. Nobody travels a yard further or lives a minute longer than the Japanese army can help, and nobody is killed with an ounce more effort than is actually required: those too exhausted or wounded to run are simply herded into a warehouse and burned (or buried alive), those just possibly capable of resistance are machine-gunned.
Cast Lead resembles a sort of working-up exercise towards this: not yet as relentless and brutal, but already breaking all the same laws, so the difference becomes one of scale and thoroughness.
The thing is, a Japanese-style genocide has considerable advantages of pace over the Nazi model, and could be accomplished faster than the UN (and American publication opinion) could react. And it can be made to look as if it’s something that just sort of happened, rather than something that was planned.
This is what they will do, because to simply drive the Palestinians out, raises the possibility that one day they will try and come back, as the Jews themselves did, after more than one forced exile. They cannot make it humane, because that, perversely, will look too much like the Nazis.
The thing it will resemble most, however, is probably the sacking of Jerusalem by the Romans. I don’t think anyone’s made a film of that, which is probably a mercy.
This link is to a .pdf pamphlet which explains why the Arabs are not going to recognize Israel as a Jewish state in the way that it demands, and would rather recognize Israel as a pluralistic democratic state, even if Judeasm were its official religion. Recognition of a Jewish State implies acceptance of the sort of extermination of non-Jews which the far right would probably see as their mission. In the theological context in which the demand is being made, it is asking the Palestinians to sign their own death warrants with counter-signatures from all neighbouring Arab states.
Cue Hasbara overload on your server, for which I apologize.
The pamphlet ends with the observation that if Israel were recognized on this basis, it would have to REMAIN a democracy: it doesn’t look as if the Israeli far right have that in mind, somehow.
The following might influence future developments as well
“Preparing For A Post Israel Middle East”
It’s a paper entitled “Preparing For A Post #Israel Middle East”, an 82-page analysis that concludes that the American national interest in fundamentally at odds with that of Zionist Israel. The authors conclude that Israel is currently the greatest threat to US national interests because its nature and actions prevent normal US relations with Arab and Muslim countries and, to a growing degree, the wider international community.
The study was commissioned by the US #Intelligence Community comprising 16 American intelligence #agencies with an annual budget in excess of $ 70 billion. The IC includes the Departments of the #Navy, #Army, #Air Force, #Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Defense Intelligence Agency, Departments of Energy, Homeland Security, State, Treasure, Drug Enforcement Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Security Agency, National Geospatial Intelligence Agency, National Reconnaissance Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency commissioned the study.
Israel, given its current brutal occupation and belligerence cannot be salvaged any more than #apartheid south Africa could be when as late as 1987 Israel was the only “Western” nation that upheld diplomatic ties with South Africa and was the last country to join the international boycott campaign before the regime collapsed;
The Israel leadership, with its increasing support of the 700,000 #settlers in #illegal #colonies in the #occupied #West #Bank is increasing out of touch with the political, military and economic realities of the #Middle #East;
The post Labor government #Likud coalition is deeply complicit with and influenced by the settlers’ political and financial power and will increasingly face domestic civil strife which the #US #government should not associate itself with or become involved with;
The #Arab Spring and #Islamic Awakening has to a major degree freed a large majority of the 1.2 billion Arab and Muslims to pursue what an overwhelming majority believe is the illegitimate, immoral and unsustainable #European occupation of #Palestine of the #indigenous population;
Simultaneous with, but predating, rapidly expanding Arab and Muslim power in the region as evidenced by the Arab spring, Islamic Awakening and the ascendancy of #Iran, as #American power and influence recedes, the US commitment to belligerent oppressive Israel is becoming impossible to defend or execute consistent given paramount #US #national interests which include normalizing relations with the 57 Islamic countries;
Gross Israeli interference in the internal affairs of the United States through spying and illegal US arms transfers. This includes supporting more than 60 ‘front organizations’ and approximately 7,500 US officials who do Israel’s bidding and seek to dominate and intimidate the media and agencies of the US government which should no longer be condoned;
That the United States government no longer has the financial resources, or public support to continue funding Israel. The #billions of dollars in direct and indirect aid from US taxpayers to Israel since 1967 is not affordable and is increasingly being objected to by US #taxpayers who oppose continuing American military involvement in the Middle East. US public opinion no longer supports funding and executing widely perceived illegal US wars on Israel’s behalf. This view is increasingly being shared by Europe, Asia and the International public;
Israel’s #segregationist #occupation infrastructure evidenced by legalized #discrimination and increasingly separate and #unequal #justice systems must no longer be directly or indirectly funded by the US taxpayers or ignored by the US government;
Israel has failed as a claimed #democratic #state and continued American financial and political cover will not change its continuing devolution as international pariah state;
Increasingly, rampant and #violent #racism exhibited among #Jewish settlers in the #West #Bank is being condoned by the Israeli government to a degree that the Israel government has become its protector and partner;
The expanding chasm among American Jews objecting to #Zionism and Israeli practices, including the #killing and #brutalizing of #Palestinians under Israeli occupation, are gross violations of American and International law and raise questions within the US Jewish community regarding the American responsibility to protect (R2P) innocent civilians under occupation;
The international opposition to the increasingly apartheid regime can no longer be synchronized with American claimed humanitarian values or US expectations in its bi-lateral relations with the 193 member United Nations;
The Draft ends with language about the need to avoid entangling alliances that alienate much of the World and condemn American citizens to endure the consequences.
Get the full article http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2012/08/28/us-preparing-for-a-post-israel-middle-east/
Ta! Will read.
The recent trend of “centrists” like Barnea and Carlo Strenger announcing the death of the two-state solution is an interesting phenomenon, but I’m surprised to see Richard and so many others seeming to take these pronouncements at face value. What these guys are really announcing is the death of their illusions about a two-state solution. In reality, the two-state solution – in the sense of an independent political entity on anything close to the 1967 borders and with all or even most of the attributes of sovereignty that other states have in the modern world system – died long ago: it was stillborn at Oslo and has survived since then only as a fantasy for liberals on all sides.
What remains very much alive, though all these pundits ignore it, is the kind of two-state “solution” most of the Israeli elite has had in mind all along: Israel annexes most of the West Bank (roughly, Area C), leaving most of the Palestinian population in the fragments that make up Areas A and B, under the control of the PA or something with a new name but no real sovereignty. Call them bantustans or, on the US model, reservations.
This has been the Likud line for decades: way back in 1996, David Bar-Illan, then Netanyahu’s director of communications and policy planning, said, in reference to the notion of a Palestinian state, “Semantics don’t matter. If Palestinian sovereignty is limited enough so that we feel safe, call it fried chicken.” Just last year, when Moshe Ya’allon, Netanyahu’s vice premier and minister of strategic planning, was asked about a Palestinian state, he replied similarly: “Our intention is to leave the situation as it is: autonomous management of civil affairs, and if they want to call it a state, let them call it that. If they want to call it an empire, by all means. We intend to keep what exists now and let them call it whatever they want.” What evidence is there that the Likud leadership has abandoned that approach?
Of course, if there’s a full-scale regional war, they might try the “transfer” solution – pushing the West Bank population across the Jordan – and then annex the whole place. But short of that, why would they want to annex the Palestinian population centers and thus find themselves face to face with the infamous “demographic problem” in the form of a Palestinian campaign, undoubtedly with wide international support, for equal rights? Remember, the Zionist goal has always been to take over the maximum amount of land _with the minimum number of Palestinians (“Arabs”)_. The bantustan solution gives them most of the land and resources while leaving the Palestinian population small enough to be manageable, at least for a few more generations. And by letting the PA or whatever call their reservation a state, they’ll satisfy the Americans and the “international community.”
The 2 state end game died when Obama tried and failed on the settlements issue. Israelis and Zionists will rue the day of that Pyrrhic victory as the US progresses towards what the fools think they want, a one-state or greater Israel that Palestinians will ultimately inherit. There are some brutal phases that must come to pass, but Israelis will never be allowed to ethnic cleanse or commit genocide against the enemy within anymore than they are allowed to attack Iran. The idiots begged for it and its my suspicion Obama in a second term will forge US policies that will ultimately lead to it.
Some one said something to the extent of going as far as logic allows. What happens if by unfortunate event, the US has a president that is an isolationist…I think that can happen very soon if the Arab world keep going as it is and economy keep going as it is.
What then? If Israel loses US support (I think they already lost European sort sort of), then what?
I think it is very sad that Israel is the only country that is planning future of existence on pure force or manipulation.
If history teaches us anything, USSR, Prussia-Hungry, India all were tried to force people together as long as they did…and that failed eventually. So unless the Jews are planning of being expelled every few thousand years (though the way the world is going now, seems like every few years or decades at max)…then Israel is not planning to be there forever. It is too small of a land and people to survive democratically….and pure force will just isolate itself from its neighbors and allies.