A recent Israeli seminar focused on presenting an alternative to the two-state solution that would create a Palestinian state alongside Israel, instead proposing a solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict in which Israel maintains control over Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank. One of the panel members was Ambassador (Ret.) Yoram Ettinger, a former consul-general of the Israeli Consulate in Houston in the US and now the CEO of Second Thought: A US-Israel Initiative. Speaking with Bridges for Peace in an interview, Ettinger slammed the land-for-peace concept as unworkable in view of the outrageously-failed track record of the Oslo Process since 1993 (unprecedented Palestinian hate-education, terrorism and non-compliance), and given the current seismic changed circumstances in all Arab countries.
Instead, he proposed granting democratic rights to Palestinians in the West Bank while pursuing the only peace possible in the Middle East – a deterrence-driven peace.
“A two-state solution is a concept detached completely from Middle Eastern reality,” said Ettinger.
“Anybody who is familiar with the topography, geography and the political reality in the wide context of the Middle East knows that there’s no room for two states—especially two potentially actively rivaling states between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean…When it comes to the only viable solution consistent with the existence of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, that solution requires a full control by the Jewish State of the entire area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean.”
According to Ettinger, the two state solution on one hand and the survival of the Jewish State on the other hand, constitutes an oxymoron.
He described a one-state solution plan in which Israel would maintain its Jewish character, while also maintaining democratic rights given to its Arab minority. The plan would eventually involve Israel formally annexing Judea and Samaria as Israeli territory, having first bringing Palestinian terrorism to submission in a drastic manner.
At that point, Arabs who are not connected, directly or indirectly, to terrorism would be granted Israeli citizenship, which would accord them full human rights not enjoyed in any Arab country —rights that are today enjoyed by Israeli Arabs and include the right for each person to vote and the right to criticize the government.
Ettinger said that those who are under Israeli sovereignty now—Arabs in east Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs in other areas of the country—don’t want to leave Israel and become part of a Palestinian state. He cited a recent poll of Jerusalem Arabs by a center in Bir Zeit, under the control of the Palestinian Authority [PA], in which “a plurality of Jerusalem Arabs stated that they do not want to be relocated to an area under Palestinian control; they wish to remain under Israeli control, and a very tiny minority stated their preference to reside under Palestinian control.” In addition, he noted that Arab Israeli citizens are opposed to being part of a hypothetical “land swap” between Israel and a Palestinian state, preferring to remain under Israeli control.
As for the benefits to Israel of such a one-state solution, they would be able to retain what Ettinger called the core of Israel’s cradle of history, which is in Judea and Samaria (and not in Tel Aviv, Haifa or any area on the coastal plain), which includes such notable locations as Nablus, Dothan, Shilo, Beitar and Hebron. It would also provide Israel with secure borders they could realistically defend. Secure borders do not consist of “Settlements Blocs.” Secure borders consist of the mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria which stretch from north to south, dominating the Jordan Valley on the east and overtowring pre-1967 Israel on the west. The mountain ridges of Judea & Samaria constitute “the Golan Heights” of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ben Gurion Airport and 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructures.
He believes that based on history and current circumstances, retreat and withdrawal from Judea and Samaria would actually fuel Arab expectations and terrorism with “no chance for peace.” He said that the only peace that can work in a region filled with inter-Arab conflict for centuries is a “deterrence-driven peace.” He also pointed to the layout and topography of Judea and Samaria as the prerequisite to Israel’s defense and survival in an region which has not experience intra-Arab peace during the last 1,400 years..
Ettinger dismissed the demographic concerns that a one-state solution would eventually be overrun by Arabs and Palestinians, with Israel losing its Jewish national character. According to Ettinger, the Palestinian numbers have been “dramatically and artificially inflated.”
According to Ettinger, counting the Arabs in Judea and Samaria and Arabs in the rest of Israel combined, Jews would count for 66% of the total population. He said even adding Gaza to the mix still leaves Jews with a clear 57% edge. Moreover, Ettinger points to the surge in Jewish fertility and dropping Arab fertility (resulting from successful integration into Israel’s infrastructures of modernity), as well as Jewish immigration into Israel, as evidences of the demographic tailwind enjoyed by the Jewish State.
Ettinger argued that the two-state solution actually runs counter to American and Free World interests in the Middle East, noting as an example that the Palestinian Authority “caused the flight” of Christians away from Bethlehem. He added that the proposed Palestinian state would cause the demise of the pro-US Hashemite regime in Jordan, would provide a tailwind to pro-Saddam terrorists in Iraq, would accord a foothold to Russia, China and No. Korea – and probably to Iran – in the eastern flank of the Meditteranean, would add another terror regime to the seismic Middle East and would add an anti-US vote at the UN.
And even if the international community did not initially accept Israel’s annexing the West Bank, Ettinger believes Israel would earn respect by standing up for themselves, even if they don’t win “popularity contests.” He said that Israel was under much more intense pressure not to declare independence in 1948, not to reunite Jerusalem in 1967 and not to bomb Iraq’s nuclear reactor in 1981, but prevailed with less resources economically, militarily, demographically and diplomatically.
As for Israel, Ettinger said that most Jews are center and right-of-center. He is confident that with the “proper educational strategy effort,” the majority of Israelis will support the only solution, which is consistent with the existence of a Jewish State: the one-state solution concept.
(Interview conducted by Joshua Spurlock, BFP Israel Mosaic Radio, June 30, 2011)