Israel Shouldn’t Embrace a One-State Solution—Yet

November 21, 2016 | Evelyn Gordon
About the author: Evelyn Gordon is a commentator and former legal-affairs reporter who immigrated to Israel in 1987. In addition to Mosaic, she has published in the Jerusalem Post, Azure, Commentary, and elsewhere. She blogs at Evelyn Gordon.

On Wednesday, the so-called legalization bill passed its preliminary reading in the Knesset. Supported by most of the governing coalition, but opposed by the prime minister, the bill would legalize many outposts built on privately owned Palestinian land and provide compensation for the land’s original owners. While the bill is very unlikely to pass, writes Evelyn Gordon, advancing it now, with a lame-duck president in the White House, is “asinine.” Furthermore, Gordon argues, the law would be detrimental to Israel on its own merits:

Most Israeli ministers—albeit not Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—appear to support a one-state solution, and ever since Donald Trump won [the American presidential election], they have been demanding major steps toward its implementation: unrestricted building in the settlements, legalizing illegal settlement outposts, and annexing roughly 60 percent of the West Bank [the portion of that territory known as Area C]. . . .

[E]ven in a fantasy world where nobody in Washington objected to Israel’s building anywhere in the West Bank, moving full tilt toward a one-state agenda right now would be irresponsible, because should the world become convinced that Israel is abandoning or precluding a two-state solution, pressure for an immediate one-state solution, with Palestinians given full voting rights, is liable to escalate rapidly. And Israel simply isn’t ready for a one-state solution right now.

First, even assuming the world would let Israel ignore Gaza and annex the West Bank only, Jews account for just 66 percent of all residents of Israel and the West Bank according to even the most optimistic calculations. Given how controversial those calculations are, betting the Jewish state’s future on their accuracy would be foolish. But even if they are accurate, that would still leave Israel with a 34-percent Arab minority. Combined with support from Israeli leftists, that’s enough to erase every vestige of Israel’s Jewish character through democratic means. . . .

[Another] final problem is diplomatic. I doubt Republicans would abandon Israel over this issue, but there’s every reason to think Democrats would, and power in Washington changes hands on a fairly regular basis. Thus, unless Israel finds a substitute for America’s diplomatic backing—and I don’t see any on the horizon right now—it can’t afford to alienate Democrats completely.

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