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Negotiation drags on as chance to form separate nations slips away.
But if there’s no two-state solution, things look very murky. In Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, Jews outnumber Arabs by a sliver — they’re 52 percent of the population. And by the end of this year, with Arab birthrates so much higher, for the first time Jews will find themselves outnumbered.
In other words, if there weren’t a two-state solution, there’d be more Arabs in the area than Jews and it would seem untenable for Israel to maintain its status as a Jewish state.
You’d think that would imbue the Israeli government with a sense of urgency to make a deal before the population numbers tilt toward the Palestinians — at which point one might expect the Palestinian leadership to give up on dividing the land and to push for a single state with guess-who winning the popular vote to lead the new country.
But Netanyahu has been drifting around the edges of the so-called proximity talks — talks mediated by U.S. diplomats that are intended to lay the groundwork for direct talks, when Palestinians and Israelis will face each other over the table.
He’s delaying because direct talks are a considerable risk for him, even though their intended result — a two-state solution — has the support of a majority of Israelis. Most Israelis feel they tried the face-to-face talks and made several offers of a final peace deal, all of which were rejected by the Palestinians. Instead of trying again, Israelis seem to prefer to ignore the issue.
“Within Israeli society, the apathy is just getting worse and worse,” said Levy. “Israeli society is in a state almost of coma.”
On the next bed to comatose Israel in the trauma ward, Palestinian society, by contrast, is twitching in pain as its politicians refuse to allow its two divided parts to be sewn together. Its quiet civil war continues.
Before the Obama-Netanyahu meeting, Abbas said he’d be willing to go for direct talks. After the meeting, he changed his mind. His office said he wanted to see more progress in the “proximity talks” before he’d allowed actual talks.
Abbas is in no hurry. On the one hand, he knows that if agreement were reached quickly, he’d be forced to admit that he doesn’t speak for Gaza, which is run by Hamas, and therefore couldn’t sign a comprehensive deal with any confidence. But it could also be that he’s been reading professor della Pergola’s statistics and knows that time is on the side of the Palestinians.