Israel annexing the West Bank in its entirety — it’s the kind of thing you’re not supposed to say out loud in polite company. And yet today we have two columnists saying that’s exactly what might happen. Let’s start with Seth Lipsky in today’s New York Post:
The collapse of a ceasefire plan for Israel and Hamas would be a moment to test the Jewish state’s super-weapon — Caroline Glick. Or, more precisely, her idea of a one-state plan for peace in the Middle East.
Glick laid out the plan in a book called “The Israeli Solution.” Her idea, which I wrote about in March, is to absorb into a single state — Israel — all of the West Bank and the Arab and Jewish populations who live there.
It’s as controversial as an idea can get. She leaves aside Gaza, where there is no Israeli presence and which is ruled by Hamas. Yet her plan for the West Bank fairly begs to be put on the table after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s press conference Friday.
And then at Tablet, we have fellow PJM columnist David “Spengler” Goldman:
A one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is upon us. It won’t arrive by Naftali Bennett’s proposal to annex the West Bank’s Area C, or through the efforts of BDS campaigners and Jewish Voice for Peace to alter the Jewish state. But it will happen, sooner rather than later, as the states on Israel’s borders disintegrate and other regional players annex whatever they can. As that happens, Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria is becoming inevitable.
The central premise of Western diplomacy in the region has been pulled inside-out, namely that a resolution of the Palestinian refugee issue was the key to long-term stability in the Middle East. Now the whole of the surrounding region has become one big refugee crisis. Yet the seemingly spontaneous emergence of irregular armies like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) now rampaging through northern Mesopotamia should be no surprise. The misnamed Arab Spring of 2011 began with an incipient food crisis in Egypt and a water crisis in Syria. Subsidies from the Gulf States keep Egypt on life support. In Syria and Iraq, though, displaced populations become foraging armies that loot available resources, particularly oil, and divert the proceeds into armaments that allow the irregulars to keep foraging. ISIS is selling $800 million a year of Syrian oil to Turkey, according to one estimate, as well as selling electricity from captured power plants back to the Assad government. On June 11 it seized the Bajii power plant oil refinery in northern Iraq, the country’s largest.
The region has seen nothing like it since the Mongol invasion of the 13th century.
Lipsky offers up Glick’s annexation proposal as an almost tidy solution to a decades-old problem, a way to fulfill the original promise of Zion as a place of “Arab and Jewish amity in a Jewish state with a Jewish majority.” Goldman’s vision is darker, bleak even — and is almost certainly closer to reality. He notes that “four Arab states—Libya, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq—have effectively ceased to exist.” The Levant has devolved (I’ve been using that word here to describe Araby since before the Iraq War) into a nearly-stateless landmass where competing tribes, ethnicities, and religious factions will grab what they can, when they can. The only hard currency is hate, traded for blood and oil.
Radicalized Islam is both sociopathic and nihilistic, killing because it can and destroying because it’s pleasurable. Given these pathologies, there will be ethnic and religious cleansing on a regional scale if anything like peace is to be achieved. The tragedy of these brutal population expulsions isn’t just that they happen, it’s that they work. Again, that’s an observation and not an endorsement.
If Goldman is right, there is no amity between Arab and Jew to be found on the West Bank. There is amity is Israel proper, but the PLO and its successor “governments” in the occupied territories have radicalized the Arabs there to an extent where Arab-Israeli amity is no longer possible. So just as a million or more Shi’ites have already fled or been forced out of northern Iraq by the Caliphate/IS, so the Arab population of the West Bank may flee or be forced out by the Israelis.
That’s a terrible solution to Israeli’s crisis, but by definition, existential crises have terrible solutions, no matter who comes out on top.
After the Mongol sack of Baghdad mentioned above by Goldman, the Arabs of Mesopotamia seemed to have lost the habit of governing themselves decently. Some outside force — the Persians, the Turks, the Europeans, the Americans — was required to establish a reasonable order. The Persians are ambitious but broke, the Europeans are exhausted, we Americans are feckless, and the Turks haven’t taken the bait. One hesitates to add the word “yet” concerning Ankara’s potential ambitions, but one doesn’t hesitate very much. So absent a strong foreign presence in Mesopotamia, the locals have succumbed, perhaps inevitably, to what Ralph Peters once shockingly (and accurately) described as “the holy and delectable mission of slaughtering each other over trivia.”
One of the aims of the Iraq War, too often unspoken, was to establish some decent kind of order in the Middle East. That cause might have been doomed from the start, given the current state of Arab Islam and America’s inadequate ruthlessness for the task. With their backs to the sea, I don’t doubt Israel’s ability and willingness to act — they might even be able to impose a decent kind of order on their tiny sliver of the Middle East. It won’t be pretty, and they’ll take hell for it from world leaders who should know better, but a ruthless “one-state solution” might be the least bad option in the world’s worst neighborhood.