The two-state solution is the minimum required

Sunday 26/02/2017

For US President Donald Trump, whether the Palestinians and the Israelis agree on a single state or two states or not is irrel­evant as long as they reach a solution. That is asking for the impossible considering a US absence from the process.

Trump was very clear about this during a news conference in Wash­ington with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who had gone to Washington with one ob­jective: Convince the United States to give up on a two-state solution.

So the US administration has abandoned the option of two inde­pendent states on Palestinian land. What next? The answer is simple. The only option left is that of a single state for both Israelis and Palestinians, meaning both Arabs and Jews.

What to do then with those Pal­estinians who had refused to leave their land following the creation of the state of Israel? Those Palestin­ians have become known as the “Arabs of 1948” and are Israeli na­tionals. They are by far the bravest of the Palestinian Arabs because they decided to hold onto their land come what may and refused to become refugees like some of their countrymen who had been taken in by Arab nation promises.

Let’s say the Arabs give in to Netanyahu’s insistence on the single-state solution so he can please the 500,000 Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank. What do you think will happen ten or even 20 years from now when Arab Palestinians likely become the majority population in this single state? The recent history of South Africa might give us a clue. The racist white minority in that country had, in the end, no choice but to recognise the black majority and help make Nelson Mandela’s the country’s leader. The rest is history.

What Trump’s news conference with Netanyahu revealed was both men’s flagrant lack of political vision, at least during the current stage of the Israeli-Palestinian con­flict. Both leaders face real prob­lems locally. Trump is busy fending off challenges to his decisions from the courts, the media and among representatives in Congress. Net­anyahu is a hostage of his political allies from the extreme right in Is­rael of the likes of the Jewish Home Party headed by Naftali Bennett, who hates the phrase “two-state option”. Netanyahu simply cannot ignore the settlers’ lobby.

Every president in the United States must deal with the power of the media. Richard Nixon was taken down by the media before Watergate finished him. Trump might have enough skeletons in his closet to make him vulnerable to scandals. The Michael Flynn affair is perhaps the initial drops of a looming storm in case the US presi­dent is unable to put an end to the confusion in his administration.

The Trump administration will seemingly need weeks to get its act together and start dealing with issues realistically, beginning with the topic of Islam and Muslims, then the issue of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and recognising the legitimate rights of the Palestin­ian people to a state of their own.

All this talk about a single-state solution is just a storm in an American teacup. Going with that option means that Israel is slowly inching its way to being a racist state and that the United States accepts that occupation triumphs over international legitimacy. UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967 clearly refuses military occupation.

With Trump, is the world enter­ing a new era where occupation and colonisation are valid op­tions? We must wait and see. The only light at the end of the grim tunnel resides in the fact that US governmental institutions are re­fusing to go along with such moral reversals. The political system in America is immune to major upheavals thanks to its checks and balances placing strict limits on the executive branch.

What we know for sure is that, in the long run, the United States cannot resign from the Middle East. Even now, the Trump ad­ministration seems to have a clear grasp of the threat represented by Iran’s expansionist project in the region. America’s policies in the region must show a minimum degree of fairness if the new ad­ministration wishes to achieve its objective of fighting terrorism by eliminating the Islamic State (ISIS) and the sectarian militias working for Iran.

It is clear that Trump is still searching for the right team for his administration. He has just appointed US Army Lieutenant- General H.R. McMaster to replace Flynn as national security adviser. With Vice-President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Till­erson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis at the centre of Trump’s foreign policy team, there will, hopefully, be a return to the basics, meaning more precisely returning to the two-state solution in the case of the Palestinian ter­ritories.

This option is the minimum required for stability in the region and stability is a prerequisite for winning the war on extremism and terrorism.