As the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine teeters on the brink, Israel’s announcement to assume “responsibility for security” in Gaza sparks concerns about the region’s future. With extremist Israelis eyeing a return of settlers to Gaza, historical conflicts and evolving tensions pose a threat. Comparisons to African and global conflicts shed light on the complexities of secession and statehood. Is the two-state model the answer, or is a unified, democratic state the way forward? International support and opposition add layers to this intricate geopolitical puzzle.
Sign up for your early morning brew of the BizNews Insider to keep you up to speed with the content that matters. The newsletter will land in your inbox at 5:30am weekdays. Register here.
Sounds like a 1-point-5-state Solution?
By Chuck Stephens
The prospects of a two-state solution seem to be fading. As leaders debate what will happen in the Gaza strip on “the day after”, Israel has declared that it will assume “responsibility for security” in that territory.
All bets are off about what may happen to the two-state solution. Extremist Israelis are already contemplating the return of settlers to the Gaza strip.
Historically, the state of Israel was established in 1948. It was attacked 19 years later by its Arab neighbours. During that Seven Days War in 1967, it conquered the Gaza strip – along with Sinai, the west bank and the Golan Heights. Six year later it was attacked again by Egypt, which took back Sinai. But Israel remains in undisputed possession of the Gaza strip and the west bank. These have been slowly evolving into a second state – called Palestine.
Public opinion seems to be driving these two states into a divorce. Certainly there do seem to be irreconcilable differences. But wait!
Just three years ago, war broke out in northern Ethiopia. Tigray wanted to secede, as Eritrea had already done previously, following a long and bloody war. But Ethiopia would not let it go. A two-year war was waged with a brief armistice in the middle. Then one year ago, the parties met in South Africa to negotiate peace. By then, between 365,000 and 600,000 people had been killed. Another 574,000 had been displaced. At the end of the day, there was not a two-state solution. No changes on the map.
Speaking of proportionality, one marvels at the noise over 12 000 deaths in the Battle of Gaza (so far) – compared to the Tigray War.
And one wonders about the logic of a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine – is it consistent?
Meanwhile another brutal war is raging in the Sudan. The rebels have recently taken over the capitals of North Darfour, West Darfour and South Darfour. As of last month, between 9,000 and 10,000 people had been killed and 6,000 to 12,000 others injured. Over 4.8 million were internally displaced and more than 1.3 million others had fled the country as refugees.
Again, one has to think about proportionality. Are African lives so worthless? No wonder General Romeo Dallaire could not get Kofi Annan at the U.N. to beef up his blue-helmet forces while 800,000 were slaughtered by Hutus in the Rwanda genocide.
Why do the rebels want Darfour? Because they ultimately want to defeat Khartoum. They know that if they only try to consolidate in Darfour, they will become a pariah among the nations. Like the failed Tigray attempt to secede.
Catalonia failed to secede from Spain. Scotland failed to secede from the UK. Quebec failed to secede from Canada.
However, Eritrea succeeded in splitting from Ethiopia. Bangladesh and Pakistan got a divorce. And the bets are on whether Ukrainia can ever win back Crimea or whether it remains with Russia. Or whether it will end in a stalemate like the the Sino-Indian War. The “battlefield borders” of that war in 1963 remain in place to this day.
What sets Gaza apart is a unilateral declaration of independence. However, not all nations have recognized Palestine as a state.
Speaking of which, a block of Arab and Muslim countries across North Africa, the Middle East and Indonesia, have not recognized that Israel exists – 75 years later. Surely this has the effect of strengthening Israel’s hand in the Battle of Gaza? Unless the Arabs are ready to go to war with Israel. But the refusal by Egypt and Jordan to take in Palestinian refugees indicates that they see this as an “internal” squabble. It seems doubtful that either Lebanon or Iran are in any condition to escalate the war.
Back to Africa. Critics have compared the status quo of Gaza as a “territory” to apartheid. They compare the Gaza strip to the bantustans of old. But wait!
Isn’t the notion of a two-state solution more like apartheid? Isn’t it better for the two parties to engage in a bona fide democratic state? Israel is a true democracy, but how many Arab countries are democratic?! Isn’t the model of our “rainbow nation” better than a two-state solution?
As of today, Israel is playing offense and commands a lot of support. Open support from America and Europe. Tacit support from Arab countries, in spite of all the “noise” they are able to generate – from a safe distance.
The two-state solution seems to be out of sync with internationally accepted norms. It seems inconsistent. Israel can and might re-occupy Gaza. Or let it have “self-rule” as an autonomous region, without giving up responsibility for its own overall security. Would you want to live next door to someone whose mission in life is to kill you?
- Chuck Stephens: Irreconcilable differences lead to divorce, not marriage
- Elisha’s wisdom and the rules of war – Chuck Stevens
- Understanding urban warfare: The truth behind what is happening in Gaza – Chuck Stephens