Jan. 5, 2016
And stop talking about settlements.
If the U.S. really wishes to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, argues Mario Loyola, it should begin by working to establish a situation in which Jerusalem can realistically consider ceding territory without risking national “suicide.” Doing so would involve a focus on containing Iran, defeating Islamic State and other Islamist groups, and forcing Palestinians leaders to end their incitement of terror. And that’s only the beginning:
There is only one reason the two-state solution is “in jeopardy” [to use John Kerry’s phrase], or more accurately dead, and that is Muslim terrorism against innocent Jews. There is only one reason for the harsh security measures imposed in the occupied territories, and that is Muslim terrorism against innocent Jews. There is only one reason for the continuing conflict between Israel and its neighbors, and that is Muslim terrorism against innocent Jews. A century of terrorism by Muslims against the Jews of Palestine—at first organic, then incited by the Soviets, and now propelled by political Islam—is the essence of this conflict and the only reason that it persists. Muslim extremism has now become a worldwide problem, claiming victims and threatening liberty on every continent except Antarctica. It is time to reshape U.S. policy on the whole Middle East . . . on the basis of a new principle, namely the decisive defeat of Muslim extremism. . . .
The world’s acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state, Palestinians’ demonstration that they can actually run a state, and the waning of extremism across the region are all things that have to happen before a two-state solution is even remotely feasible. End Israel’s isolation, and secure universal recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. . . . The U.S. should punish countries and organizations that boycott Israel, including those that boycott products produced in Israeli settlements. Beyond that, normalized relations with Israel should become a condition for fully normal ties with the United States.
[The U.S. should also] drop official opposition to Israeli settlements until the Arabs agree to a realistic transition plan. . . . Israel’s legal claim [to the West Bank] is for the moment better than anyone else’s. Meantime, since the Ottomans’ centuries-long rule over the entire territory ended at the close of World War I, the question of just whom the West Bank does or should belong to has never been settled. The claim of Palestinian Arabs to the land is no better than that of Palestinian Jews, i.e., Israelis. The competing claims can be settled only through negotiations, negotiations that the Palestinian Arabs have refused for years to engage in, despite multiple decisions by the Israelis to freeze their settlement activity.