J Street is asking its supporters to sign yet another petition, this time urging President Obama “to take the next step toward realizing the goal (of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict) by focusing on ‘Borders and Security First’.”
Unlike J Street, which operates out of Washington DC, I live with my family just four miles from the Palestinian town of Qualqilia, and, so, it goes without saying that I have as much of a vested interest as anyone in hoping that the vision of a two state solution can be realised.
That having been said, J Street’s petition is simplistic, reflects muddled thinking and seems more intent upon supporting President Obama than in addressing the real issues.
It calls upon the President “to take the next step toward realizing the goal” of a two-state solution. However, having already failed to persuade Saudi Arabia to take any confidence building measures and having been unsuccessful in persuading the Palestinians to enter into direct negotiations with Israel, it is not clear how the U.S. Administration is in any position to take a “next step”.
Indeed, all that has happened is that, as a result of having demanded a moratorium on construction, President Obama has simply played into the hands of the Palestinians and provided them with yet a further reason for staying away from the negotiating table.
However, the problems with the J Street petition go deeper than that. How can one talk of borders and security with the Palestinians when there are clearly two separate and conflicting political entities on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip? The petition chooses to ignore the facts on the ground and reflects a fantasy world of wishful thinking. Is there really any likelihood that Mahmoud Abbas would do a deal with Israel while leaving the one and a half million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip out in the cold? Given Hamas’ charter calling for the destruction of Israel, this is clearly a non-starter.
When the petition talks about “Palestinians”, does it really mean just the Palestinian Authority? If so, why doesn’t it say so? Incidentally, it is that same Palestinian Authority that claimed earlier this month that the Western Wall was, in fact, part of the Al-Aksa Mosque and that “no Muslim or Arab or Palestinian had the right to give up one stone” of the “Al Buraq Wall”.
And if that were not sufficient cause for concern, then one might also wish to consider the Israel Project poll published earlier this month, which showed that only 23 per cent of Palestinians believe that “Israel has a permanent right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people.” As opposed to that finding, some 60 per cent favoured the continuation of the armed struggle and expressed the view that “the real goal should be to start with two states but then move it to all being one Palestinian state.”
As opposed to that view, one might want to take into account today’s WikiLeaks’ exposure that “Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there.”
The J Street petition affirms that its supporters have been inspired by President Obama’s commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. However, the question is not whether J Street has been inspired but rather whether the Palestinians share the same aspirations. And that is an entirely different matter.