Roger L. Simon

Obama, Netanyahu and the silly Two-State Two-Step

No doubt “inside” reports of what really went on behind closed doors between Israeli PM Netanyahu and President Obama will soon be emerging and we will have to decide what, if anything, to make of them. But judging from their public statements, their conclave was not nearly as dramatic as some had suggested or feared.

Of all the issues that may have been separating the two leaders, the whole “two-state debate” seems to me the most trivial (despite the media making big noise about it). Let’s look at reality here. If either side objects to the two-state solution, it has been the Palestinian. Hamas does this outright in its charter. Fatah does it in its behavior.

Arafat walked away from a Palestinian state in 2000 because it wasn’t sufficient. What would have been sufficient was never clear, probably because nothing would have been, at least for him. In the final analysis, if the Palestinians would publicly and believably acknowledge and recognize Israel as a Jewish state, they (the Paleos) could have a state of their own in about ten minutes. Everyone knows this, except, I guess, that weird reactionary John Mearsheimer. [Well, at least you’ve heard of him.-ed. Otherwise, he’d just be another anonymous academic. You’ve got a point there. Gets you attention. Kind of like a sports writer who predicts the Cincinnati Reds will win the pennant.]

So what Netanyahu says now about one, two or even fifteen state solutions is irrelevant. The Palestinian state has been accepted by Israel for decades. The real question is what that state will look like and to what extent it can be armed – and, more importantly, are there enough Palestinians who really want one? As of now, I’m dubious.