EVEN President George Bush played lip service to the idea of a ‘two State’ solution for Israel/Palestine. That, after all, is the default position of the international community. It is also the position of the Obama administration, which has nonetheless allowed the Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu to run rings around it.
So if the United States does believe in a two State solution, why will it veto a bid by the Palestinians for international statehood at the United Nations in a few days time? And more to the point, why is none of the media asking this fairly straightforward question? And while we are discussing the Western media, when is someone going to ask the Quartet’s representative to the Middle East, Tony Blair, what representations he is making to the US administration to halt their use of a veto? After all, Blair is supposed to be in favour of a two State solution as well.
To recognise a Palestinian state as a member of the United Nations is also to commit to the internationally recognised borders of the two States as the 1967 boundaries. To do anything else is to accept – as the American administration appears to – the ‘new realities’ of Israel’s various land grabs that have followed the erection of an illegal wall that now snakes across the West Bank.
It makes sense for the Palestinians to push for full membership rather than some form of glorified observer or partner status, because once again World attention will be focussed on what is left of the rapidly shrinking Palestinian domain. But it should also make the United States administration think much more carefully about its long term strategic interests in the Middle East, which are not best served by blindly supporting Israel at every turn. For while Israel can, at the moment, continue to force the Palestinians into shrinking enclaves, it cannot stave off the demographic time bomb that will sooner or later have the Palestinians far outnumbering Israelis. Nor can Israel pretend that the Arab Spring has not begun to shift the tectonic plates in the region. Egypt and Jordan will no longer be as docile, and Turkey is rapidly emerging as a real force in the region.
Sadly though, by the time that Messrs Obama, Clinton and Blair realise that they have missed the proverbial boat, the cry will have gone up for a ‘one state solution’. And frankly, the more I think of it, the more it potentially makes sense.
Why shouldn’t the new single state of Israel/Palestine not be a secular Republic, and a harmonious home to Muslims, Jews and Christians?
But in the meantime, as the US begins to look less relevants in the region, there is a glorious opportunity for a rejuvented United Nations to act as honest brokers.