The media around the world today are full of the news about Bush’s call for Israelis to withdraw from the West Bank. The story is surrounded with other stories; like Bush asking that Israelis keep Olmert in power and that the Palestinian state shouldn’t end up looking like ‘Swiss cheese’, a reference to the pockets of Israeli settlements that are inside the West Bank.
Problem is; Bush’s statements seem to be full of contradictions. On the one hand he’s saying that the settlements should be withdrawn from the occupied territories and on the other he’s saying that he appreciates that Israel shouldn’t be asked to hand back all of the lands it conquered in the 1967 invasions. Neither of these two statements is going to impress both sides at the same time. Israeli Zionists are not going to be leaving their settlements in the West Bank and the Palestinian people are not going to be signing up to any agreement that allows Israelis to stay on pre-1967 Palestinian territories. The reality is that Olmert is only just clinging to power as it is what with the Winograd Report about to be released, and he will be facing an uphill battle with the Israeli right-wing, including the all-powerful Likud Party under Netanyahu and their allies, if he even hints at dismantling the settlements in the West Bank or allocating bits of Jerusalem to the Palestinians.
It’s time for a reality check. Bush is on a crusade that is doomed to failure. Olmert too will be unlikely to survive the impact of the Winograd report even if he defied Bush’s demands for a Palestinian state by the end of the year. And, on the other side of the fence, or, perhaps one should say; the other side of the wall, Abbas does not have either the support or the mandate of the Palestinian people – not in the West Bank or the Gaza – to negotiate away one inch of Palestinian dirt to the Israelis.
The world knows that this ‘effort’ for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians is as much a waste of time and effort as all the others have been over the last sixty years. The only real answer has to be a state where Jew and Arab live together under one secular democratic government in a nation that has no walls or restrictions as to where its citizens can or cannot live and the job that any citizen has is not dependent on that citizens religion, culture, blood or biology.
There are no other options. Bush’s way will never happen. Or Israel could crush the Palestinians and send them on their war to Jordan but will spend the rest of time looking over their shoulders waiting for the day that the Palestinians strike back. Or the Palestinians could launch attacks against the Israelis in a doomed attempt to drive them into the sea and which would end in disaster for all.
The one-state solution is the only solution. Enough time has been wasted already. Far too many have died. How many more need to die before the world realises that there is only one answer.