The Myth of the Disappearing Two-State Solution

Sept. 19 2017

A frequent refrain among those who claim the need for an immediate peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians is that soon it will “too late” for compromise. According to this argument, the ongoing increase in the number of Jews living on the West Bank will soon lead to Palestinian and Israeli populations that are hopelessly entangled, rendering any division of territory impossible. But, writes Jackson Diehl, the facts tell a different story:

The annual UN General Assembly is under way this week in New York, so we can expect to hear, again, its most hackneyed rhetorical theme—the Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Speaker after speaker will declaim the urgency of settling the conflict once and for all; many will assert that the time for doing so has all but expired. . . . It consequently seems worthwhile to offer a couple of reality checks: no, this is not the time to fashion a Mideast peace deal; and, no, the time for one has not run out.

Of the some 600,000 [Jewish] settlers who live outside Israel’s internationally recognized borders, just 94,000 are outside the border-like barrier that Israel built through the West Bank a decade ago. Just 20,000 of those moved in since 2009, when Benjamin Netanyahu returned to office; in a sea of 2.9 million Palestinians, they are hardly overwhelming. Last year, 43 percent of the settler population growth was in just two towns that sit astride the Israeli border—and that Mahmoud Abbas himself has proposed for Israeli annexation.

If the Palestinians were today to accept the deal they were offered nine years ago by then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a state on 94.2 percent of the West Bank, only 20 percent of current settlers would find themselves on the wrong side of the border. . . . It follows that a wise U.S. policy would aim at preserving that option until Israeli and Palestinian leaders emerge who can act on it.

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More about: Israel & Zionism, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Settlements, Two-State Solution, United Nations

 

European Aid to the Middle East Is Shaped by a Political Agenda

Feb. 18 2019

The EU’s European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations Unit dispenses millions of dollars in economic and humanitarian assistance to dozens of countries every year. Although it claims to operate on principles of strict neutrality, independent of any political motivation and giving priority to the neediest cases, a look at its activities in the Middle East suggests an entirely different approach, as Hillel Frisch writes:

[T]he Middle East is the overwhelming beneficiary of EU humanitarian aid—nearly 1 billion of just over 1.4 billion euros. . . . The bulk of the funds goes toward meeting the costs of assistance to Syrian refugees, followed by smaller sums to Iraq, Yemen, “Palestine,” and North Africa. Sub-Saharan Africa, by contrast, receives less than one-third of that amount. The problem with such allocations is that the overwhelming majority of people living in dire poverty reside in sub-Saharan Africa, India, and Bangladesh. . . . The Palestinians, who are richer on average than those living in the poorest states of the world, . . . receive over six euros per capita, while the populations of the poorest states receive less than one-eighth of that amount. . . .

Even less defensible is the EU’s claim to political neutrality. Its favoritism toward the Palestinians on this score is visible as soon as one enters terms into the general search function on the European Commission’s website. Enter “Palestine” and you get 20,737 results. Enter “Ethiopia” and you get almost the same figure, despite massive differences in population size (Ethiopia’s 100 million versus fewer than 5 million Palestinians), geographic expanse (Ethiopia is 50 times the size of “Palestine”), and degree of sheer suffering. The Syrian crisis, which is said to have led to the loss of a half-million lives, merits not many more site results than “Palestine.”

One of the foci of the website’s reports [on the Palestinians] is the plight of 35,000 Bedouin whom the EU assists, often in clear violation of the law, in Area C—the part of the West Bank under exclusive Israeli control. The hundreds of thousands of Bedouin in Sinai, however, the plight of whom is readily acknowledged even by Egyptian officials, gets no mention, even though Egypt is a recipient of EU aid. . . .

Clearly, the EU’s approach to aid allocation has nothing to do with impartiality, true social-welfare needs, or humanitarian considerations. [Instead], it favors allocations to Syrian refugees above Yemeni refugees because of the higher probability that Syrian refugees will find their way to Europe. . . . The recipients of European largesse who are next in line [to Syrians], in relative terms, are the Palestinians. [This particular policy] can be attributed primarily to the EU’s hostility toward Israel, its rightful historical claims, and its security needs.

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More about: Europe and Israel, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinians