Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Another Argument Against the Two State Solution

When Palestinians have grievances against Israel, they basically have four ways to try and solve them: a) seek redress through international forums (never works); b) stage protests (almost never works); c) blow up Jews (works occasionally, but is a tricky strategy); d) grovel before the master (works occasionally).

When Israelis have grievances against Palestinians, they have quite a few methods at their disposal, ranging from mild to severe economic and military pressure.

Today Haaretz reported here that Israel once again held up the transfer of PA tax funds. Those are funds collected by Israel for the PA from Palestinians. They don't do this out of the goodness of their heart; they do this because the Palestinians are not allowed the structures to do so themselves under the (defunct) Oslo agreements. Israel actually enjoys this privilege. For if the PA wants their tax money, they have to make sure not to offend their Israeli masters.

Why did the Israelis hold up the tax funds this time? Well, one would suspect that it was because of widespread Palestinian protests and work-stoppages, right? No, that wouldn't work, would it, since Israel could care less about Palestinian protests. Oh, well, perhaps it was a response to all the terror emanating from the West Bank? No, that can't be it, since there is virtually no terror coming from the West Bank. It can't be because of Gaza, since Gaza is under siege.

No, the real reason was that the Palestinian prime minister got uppity. I mean, he had the chutzpah to call on the European Union not to upgrade its relations with Israel. And why not? Because of the human rights violations on the West Bank and the ongoing expansion of settlements. And doggone it, that OFFENDED the Israeli authorities who decided to teach Fayid a lesson.

I am not making this next quote up. An Israeli official said.

"We're not an unfeeling ATM," one official told him. "We too are permitted to get angry when such scummy things are done to us."

Oh, the humanity of that official! He is not an unfeeling ATM machine. Can you imagine if Israel actually had ATM machines with feelings like that of the official? Like Seinfeld's Soup Nazi they would shout, "Hey, you didn't punch my numbers the right way; no money for you!"

If Israel was so upset by what Fayyad did, wouldn't it be more appropriate for them to communicate their displeasure to him, instead of depriving the PA employees the salaries paid by their own tax money?

So why is this an argument against the two-state solution? Simple. Whatever state the Palestinians have, they will be under the thumb of Israel. Sure, Israel may not have all the cards they have now, but they will have most. And you can bet your sweet bippie that the PA will never have the sort of power over Israeli civil service that Israel has had for years over the PA's civil service.

Mind you, this is how the government acts when it is miffed by a Palestinian minister, one, I may mention, who has been universally praised for his honesty and ability. I shudder to think what it would do against a country that had economic and military control over it....

Maybe lob mortar shells?


Anonymous said...

Ilan Pappe and Uri Avnery had a debate a few months ago about this very issue, Pappe wanting the so-called "one-state solution" and Avnery the proposed "two-state" one. Interestingly enough, Pappe had the same idea as you, with one state everything would be peachy keen, a democracy and everyone would get along famously. But then Avnery put a monkey-wrench into the works and said that since the Jew are so smart, they would end up dominating this unitary state and continue to oppress and exploit the Palestinians, whom he presumably feels can't take care of themselves.
Now, if you hold like many of your fellow progressives MJ Rosenberg Phil Weiss, and Richard Silverstein (among others), saying that the Jews today control the United States (Tom Friedman also stated this a few years ago), where the Jews are less than 3% of the population, then how hard would it be for the Jews to control the unitary Palestinian state?

Jerry Haber said...

Ah, but I didn't say either that I was for the one state solution (I am not), or that the same argument couldn't be made against the one state solution (it can, and you did)

In fact, bk132, we are in total agreement on this one. One of the reasons I am for the two state solution is because Palestinians would be dominated by the Jews in one state. Why should Palestinians, who deserve of a state of their own, have to power share with millions of Jews? Even if there is parity de jure, it is hard to imagine that there will be de facto.

In fact, any solution will probably have this problem. A federation of several states, including Jordan and maybe Lebanon and Syria, could be the answer. But that requires more thought.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the idea that "2-statism" will save the Palestinians from being oppressed and exploited by the Jews is that their state will be completely unviable economically, regardless of what borders it will have (i.e. even if they get everything up to the Green Line). The Palestinians will still be dependent on Israel, just as the 'proud, independent' Gazans are under HAMAS rule. Sure, they can try to build a totally independent economic infrastructure, but this will prove to be prohibitively expensive, i.e. building separate ports, electricity generation, water works, etc.
One of the main points that Amira Hass made against the Oslo Agreements is that they were simply a way for Israel to continue the occupation on the cheap. Free crossing the border with Israel was given to special VIP's who had the right connections, you probably heard about Arafat's Israeli advisor Yossi Ginnosar whom they called "Mr Five Percent" who got huge payoffs for Israeli goods that went into the Palestinian territories .

I am reading Benny Morris' book "1948" about the War of Independence, and he points that the Palestinians made no move to set up an autonomous self-governmental authority during the Mandate period EVEN THOUGH THE BRITISH ENCOURAGED THEM TO DO SO. The Jews did do it, being government through the Jewish Agency Executive which also had power to tax the Jewish population. The Arabs never wanted to fund their own services from self-taxation, their primitive (as compared to the Jews) administration was financed by British handouts. The situation today is no different, the Palestinian Authority gets the majority of the money for their budget comes from handouts from the EU and USA (not their Arab brethren, interestingly enough). So you see, there never will be a really economically independent Palestinian government, and so Israel will always have a tremendous amount of power over them, whether they are nominally "independent" or not.

Anonymous said...

Singapore and Malaysia have an unequal and messy two state solution. The difference in government transparency and prosperity is astonishing and effectively based on the ethnic differences between overseas Chinese and Malays.
Yet it works, with neither being a democracy as we understand the word, one being a secular state whose god is capitalism and the other a state whose official religion is Islam and whose Chinese settlers are dhimmi.
Let Ramalah be Kuala Lumpur,and Tel Aviv be Singapore.