Israeli Economic Minister Naftali Bennett (above) on the two-state solution: “Never in the annals of Israel have so many people expended so much energy on something so futile.” (Photo: Reuters)
This post is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
Yesterday Haaretz reported on the end of the Two State solution to the Israel/Palestine crisis – again.
Today it’s the New York Times.
It’s become a media mantra: Is the Two State solution dead? Is the Two State solution dead?
Breathe in. Breathe out. We might be in for a decade or two of this.
The problem is that the media – and politicians like the Secretary of Pandering, John Kerry – are afraid of the next line. If the Two State solution is over, what’s next?
Actually the Secretary of Pandering is quite specific about what happens next, albeit in coded language. Decoded: “Without a Two State solution, Israel will be swamped by them. Believe me, none of us want that.”
This time out Haaretz cites three principles, Israeli Economic Minister, Naftali Bennett, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian negotiator. Of the three involved, who is telling the truth?
The idea of establishing a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel has reached a “dead end,” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said on Monday, as the double-talk from the government regarding the conflict with the Palestinians continued.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu distanced himself from the comments, but the Palestinian chief negotiator said they were “part of Israel’s plan to destroy any possibility for a Palestinian state.”
Bennett is expansive and expresses himself with bravado. Haaretz quotes Bennett:
We need to move on from trying to persuade that a Palestinian state isn’t appropriate to behaving like this idea is behind us. Everyone who wanders around Judea and Samaria knows that what they say in the corridors of Annapolis and Oslo is detached from reality. Today there are 400,000 Israeli residents of Judea and Samaria and another 250,000 in eastern Jerusalem.
Do you remember when the Israeli settler population passed the 100,000 mark? 200,000? Now confirmed by a government minister the number has passed 650,000.
This brings me back to the good old days – 25 years ago and counting – when Progressive Jews told those to the left of them not to exaggerate, the occupation would end soon and the settlers, all of whom were religious fanatics, would be brought to heel by the Israeli government: So why are you spreading (self-hating/anti-Semitic) lies that the occupation is permanent?
Or the good old days – a decade ago and counting – when Israeli Consulate officials told us privately and lectured us publically that the Wall wasn’t permanent: So why are you spreading (self-hating/anti-Semitic) lies that the Wall is another form of Israeli expansion and a further ghettoization of Palestinians?
Listen once more to Bennett. Emphasizing that the establishment of a Palestinian state is a waste of time and stating that the Palestinians right to self-determination or a state of their own between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea is spurious, Bennett exclaims: “Never in the annals of Israel have so many people expended so much energy on something so futile.”
So futile. So much energy expended. Is Bennett telling the truth?
After all, if Bennett is telling the truth, not only about what he wants, but the reality of the situation, that there is never going to be a Palestinian state – and if we realize at the same time that there is never going to be one state for Jews and Palestinians as equal citizens but there is already the one state Bennett enunciates – Israel controlling from Tel Aviv to the Jordan River – then the futility is obvious.
Here’s Netanyahu “contradicting” Bennett: “Foreign policy is shaped by the prime minister and my view is clear. I will seek a negotiated settlement where you’d have a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”
Saeb Erekat cites this as “double talk.” According to Erekat it’s “part of Israel’s plan to destroy any possibility for a Palestinian state.”
I return to Bennett’s comment: “Never in the annals of Israel have so many people expended so much energy on something so futile.”
An intriguing statement. Is futility the truth?
Initially, I wondered if when Bennett speaks of the “annals of Israel,” he’s talking about Israel’s double talk or those in Israel who want a Two State solution. Either way it’s a relatively small short span of history. Or is his reference to the “annals of Israel” the people Israel. That’s a much longer a span of history and quite a different perspective.
Bennett seems to be talking about both: “It must be said that this land has been ours for 3,000 years. There was never a Palestinian state here and we were never occupiers. The house is ours and we are residents here, not the occupiers.”
Bennett has Palestinians coming and going. He also has Jews of Conscience coming and going. Or does he?
There’s always a prophetic wild card in the Jewish deck Bennett is – truthfully – dealing from.
When it turns up, what will it mean?
It has to be beyond the Two State solution which is long gone. It has to be beyond the One State solution Israel has imposed. And since we never been further from the one state that Kerry worries about and many Jews of Conscience want, we are left with the obvious question: Where does the prophetic wild card lead?
If futility isn’t the truth.