Secretary of State Tony Blinken recently reasserted to Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi the Biden Administration’s support for the “Two-State Solution.” The report on the phone call is here.
It would be helpful if Israeli leaders pointed out to their American counterparts that the only sure keeper of the peace between Arabs and Israelis, the IDF, and that the retention of certain territories – including the Jordan Valley and the Golan – is essential to blocking traditional invasion routes from the north and from the east. If Blinken or Biden raise objections to this reliance on deterrence, and urge the Israelis to put their trust in treaties, they should be informed about the Treaty of Hudaibiyya and its continuing significance. I am certain that neither they, nor any of their peace-processing advisers, know of this treaty, just as they very likely have never read, or studied, either the Mandate for Palestine and the maps accompanying it, or U.N. Resolution 242, together with Lord Caradon’s gloss on what that Resolution meant, with its key phrase about Israel being allowed to keep territory it needed to obtain “secure [i.e., defensible] and recognized boundaries.”
Here’s what Gabi Ashkenazi might have said to Tony Blinken:
Yes, I quite agree, Mr. Secretary. Two states might work, but of course there are hundreds of possible versions of what some call a “two-state solution.” We Israelis do not believe there is a “problem” that admits of a “solution” but, rather, that it is a “situation” that can be “managed.” And that means several things. First, we will need to hold onto the Jordan Valley, the five largest settlement blocs in the West Bank that help to protect Jerusalem, and the Golan, all for defensive purposes. We cannot possibly lose control of any of those territories. Nor will we uproot half a million Israelis who now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. The last time we uprooted Israelis – 8,000 in 2005 from settlements in Gaza – it was a national trauma. You can just imagine the nightmare if we were to try to uproot half a million Israelis from the West Bank. And let’s not forget, Mr. Secretary, that those Israelis in the West Bank have a perfect right to be living there, as I’m sure you know from reading the Palestine Mandate, and especially Article 6.
Two other matters concern us. You have seen how many terror attacks we still endure, launched mainly from Gaza, but also from the PA territories in the West Bank. If there is ever to be a Palestinian state, it must be demilitarized. We have had to fight three wars for our national existence, in 1948, 1967, and 1973, and smaller campaigns against three terror groups, the PLO, Hezbollah, and Hamas. In giving up part of our ancestral homeland in the West Bank, territory that had been set aside for the Jewish state in the Mandate for Palestine, we have earned a right to such demilitarization.
The second requirement is for the Palestinians to give up the so-called “right of return.” Because of the unique treatment of the Palestinian refugees, who have been allowed to pass on their status to their progeny, making it an inheritable trait – a privilege no other group of refugees enjoys – there are now millions of those “refugees.” Were they to be allowed to exercise that factitious “right of return” to what is now Israel, they would demographically overwhelm the Jewish state. We are not about to commit politicide.
We think that the carefully-crafted plan of the previous administration should not be ignored. It addresses both our needs, and those of the Palestinians, who will receive territory in the Negev to compensate for the 30% of the West Bank that will remain in Israeli hands. And let’s not forget the $50 billion in aid the Palestinians were to receive from foreign donors as part of this plan– that would be the largest aid package in history for a single recipient. The Marshall Plan amounted to $60 billion, but that aid was divided among 16 recipients.
So with those caveats, of course we are ready to engage in discussions with you. I look forward to welcoming you to Israel, Mr. Secretary, and to meeting with you In Washington.
For Tony Blinken, food for thought. Why has he never heard of the Treaty of Hudaibiyya? And can someone please get him copies of both the Mandate for Palestine and U.N. Resolution 242, in triplicate, for him, for National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and for President Biden? Clearly, in Washington, it’s time to burn the midnight oil.
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