Abu Mazen, the Arab League and the Erosion of the 'Two State Solution'

The Palestinians and the Arab states are preparing the ground for an alternative strategy, in case the political process fails. Therefore, Israel also needs to consolidate a safety net.

Chairman of the PLO and President of the Palestinian Authority Abu Mazen, said last week that "[a]t this present juncture, I am opposed to armed struggle because we cannot succeed in it, but maybe in the future things will be different." (Jerusalem Post, 2/28/08)

Additionally, Muhammad Sobeih, Assistant Secretary General of the Arab League in charge of the Palestinian issue stated that "there will be a message to Israel emphasizing the need to respond to the initiative; otherwise, Arab states will reassess the previous stage of peace." (New York Times, 2/22/2008)

These statements came against the backdrop of lack of progress in the political process and in light of the security situation in Gaza.

Although these statements could be intended to exert pressure on Israel in the negotiations, it seems as though the Palestinians and the Arab states are preparing the ground for an alternative strategy, in case the political process fails.

In this context, the principal strategy will be to abandon the 'Two State Solution' paradigm, and demand the establishment of one bi-national state on the entire territory of mandatory Palestine instead.

The failure of the political process could deal a fatal blow to the Two State principle. The combination between the collapse of the political process and the abandonment of the Arab League initiative could precipitate an inversion of positions among leading states and institutions in the international community towards the conflict: from supporting the principle of 'Two States for Two Peoples' to supporting the 'One State Solution' based on the principle of 'one man, one vote.'

Therefore, Israel needs to consolidate a safety net, in case the political process fails:

  • A mechanism for moving to an alternative agenda - Instead of focusing on a comprehensive agreement with the Palestinians, Israel should consider promoting an alternative agenda which focuses on a more limited solution, such as a Palestinian State in Provisional Borders (PSPB).

    Despite the Palestinians' current objection to a PSPB, Israel should aim at establishing a mechanism that is accepted by the Quartet and the international community, as well as by the Palestinians (as much as possible). This may allow Israel to guide the negotiations towards a more restricted agenda in a situation in which negotiations fail.
  • Strengthening the PA - Strengthening and upgrading the PA now might prevent its dismantlement in case the political process fails.

Sources

Jerusalem Post, 2/28/08

Roee Nahmias, Ynet, 2/28/08 (in Hebrew)

Michael Slackman, New York Times, 2/22/08