Two-State Solution to Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Not Viable, Experts Say

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:18 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - The notion that there is a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- embraced by the current Israeli government and backed by the Bush administration -- is not a viable way to resolve the dispute, some analysts here are saying.

Reserve Maj.-Gen. Giora Eiland, a former head of Israel's National Security Council, said that even if one accepts the idea that P.A. Chairman Mahmoud Abbas wants such a solution and has sincere Palestinian backing, there are a number of insurmountable obstacles.

First, Hamas is militarily strong enough, even if it were not in control of the Gaza Strip and had not won Palestinian parliamentary elections last year, to undermine every possibility of political progress, Eiland told Cybercast News Service.

Moreover, the two sides have opposing stands.

Israel says it is ready to give up land and make concessions, even evacuate settlements, but the security situation must be dealt with first, Eiland said. But a Palestinian leader would want a clear timeline and benchmarks that Israel would have to meet before it would dismantle the terrorist infrastructure.

The gap between what an Israeli prime minister and a Palestinian leader could offer each other and still stay in power is wider than what is perceived, said Eiland.

According to Eiland, even if the leaders managed to overcome all these obstacles and reach an agreement, it would only launch another cycle of violence because there cannot be a viable Palestinian state in two locations -- the disconnected West Bank and Gaza Strip; and Israel's vulnerability after giving up more land would create temptations for regional elements to attack.

All this was known all along by both sides, said Eiland. The point is to try a different concept, he said.

Former Israeli army chief of staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Moshe Ya'alon said that Israeli-Palestinian peace-making has been based on faulty concepts for decades.

Hamas' takeover of the Gaza Strip and the creation of a jihadist entity bordering Israel was the last in a line of faulty concepts about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that have become of Israel and Western policy for years, Ya'alon was quoted as saying in Thursday's Jerusalem Post.

The faulty concepts include the idea that Palestinians want and are able to establish a state on the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip; that having two states would resolve the conflict; that Israel giving up land in exchange for peace would be the basis for a peace treaty; that peace would lead to security; and that resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict would bring stability to the Middle East, Ya'alon said during an address organized by the Shalem Center, a Jerusalem-based research institute.

In fact, Ya'alon said, any further Israeli land concessions would create a second "Hamastan" in the West Bank and pose a threat to both Israel and Jordan.

Palestinian human rights activist Bassam Eid, director of the Palestinians Human Rights Monitoring Group, admitted that the Palestinians had failed miserably when they were handed an opportunity in the Gaza Strip. He said Palestinians are no longer crying out for a state.

"I know that there is no Palestinian today that is demanding a state," Eid said in a separate address at the seminar.

It was former Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat who was always demanding a state, Eid noted.

Nowadays there are only three things that Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip want: education, health and work, he said.

Meanwhile, Israeli army chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi predicted this week that Abbas eventually would form an alliance with Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.

Deputy head of military intelligence Col. Ronen Cohen said that Israeli intelligence has not seen the P.A. taking any action against Hamas in the last few days, the Israeli daily Ha'aretz reported.

President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met in Washington last month and reiterated their support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In 2002, Bush became the first American President to publicly back the creation of a Palestinian state, calling on the Palestinians to elect a new leader not tainted by terror and to build a democracy based on tolerance and liberty.

But some Israelis believe that Abbas and the Fatah faction he heads are out to destroy Israel, just as Hamas is, because the destruction of Israel is in the Fatah charter.

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