Thomas Friedman: Our Last Chance for a Middle East Solution is Close to Eluding Us

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We’re getting perilously close to closing the window on a two-state solution, because the two chief window-closers — Hamas in Gaza and the fanatical Jewish settlers in the West Bank — have been in the driver’s seats. Hamas is busy making a two-state solution inconceivable, while the settlers have steadily worked to make it impossible.

If Hamas continues to obtain and use longer- and longer-range rockets, there is no way any Israeli government can or will tolerate independent Palestinian control of the West Bank, because a rocket from there can easily close the Tel Aviv airport and shut down Israel’s economy.

And if the Jewish settlers continue with their “natural growth” to devour the West Bank, it will also be effectively off the table. No Israeli government has mustered the will to take down even the “illegal,” unauthorized settlements, despite promises to the U.S. to do so, so it’s getting hard to see how the “legal” settlements will ever be removed. What is needed from Israel’s Feb. 10 elections is a centrist, national unity government that can resist the blackmail of the settlers, and the rightist parties that protect them, to still implement a two-state solution.

Because without a stable two-state solution, what you will have is an Israel hiding behind a high wall, defending itself from a Hamas-run failed state in Gaza, a Hezbollah-run failed state in south Lebanon and a Fatah-run failed state in Ramallah. Have a nice day.

So if you believe in the necessity of a Palestinian state or you love Israel, you’d better start paying attention. This is not a test. We’re at a hinge of history.

Read it all.

Filed under: * International News & CommentaryMiddle EastThe Palestinian/Israeli StruggleWar in Gaza December 2008--

4 Comments
Posted January 27, 2009 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Byzantine wrote:

It’s the Brit’s mess; let them clean it up.  I’m tired of shelling out billions of dollars a year and sending young men to die because of their stupid decisions sixty years ago.

More to the point, it’s an Israeli-Palestinian problem, not an American one.  It is insane to involve ourselves in multi-lateral foreign conflicts while keeping our borders open to protagonists from all sides.  This will be our literal undoing.

January 27, 11:15 am | [comment link]
2. Harvey wrote:

It became an overall American problem Sept 11 when American Citizens were killed by Middle East extremists.  We are in this mess whether we like it or not.

January 27, 5:53 pm | [comment link]
3. Now Orthodox wrote:

#1 sounds a little “anti-semitic” to me.  Where in the world would you have had the jews go?  This was not an issue when the the place was a desert!  Now that the jews have turned it into an oasis, the displaced arabs from Egypt want it!  Send them packing back to Egypt or Syria.

January 27, 8:29 pm | [comment link]
4. Byzantine wrote:

It became an overall American problem Sept 11 when American Citizens were killed by Middle East extremists.  We are in this mess whether we like it or not.

This is the paradigm of government:  choose sides in an overseas conflict; keep the borders open to protagonists from both sides; expand the national security state when the entirely predictable happens.  Problem—> solution—> solution to problem caused by the solution.

We can either invade the world or we can invite the world.  We cannot do both without awful consequences.  Ask the British Empire how that’s all working out.

January 28, 12:45 pm | [comment link]
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