S: We both know that today there can be no Palestinian state or peace solution based on a land-for-peace formula because the number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since talks started in Madrid nineteen years ago have quintupled. Right?So what Ms. Narwani is getting at is that because Israeli settlements in the West Bank have continued over the past nineteen years (implying that peace talks have been happening non-stop ever since) therefore the idea of "land for peace" is unattainable and therefore there cannot be a Palestinian state or a two-state solution. Of course this viewpoint is flawed for many reasons and here are some:
A: Yes, yes, right.
S: While Likud has been yelling about building settlements, Labor has stealthily built them - it has made no difference which Israeli political party is in power. There's no land-for-peace formula, yet still to this day, we're talking about King Abdullah's peace plan, the Arab League's Initiative. Why such hypocricy? Why did the Arab League waste so much time until this very minute defending these initiatives and pushing the Palestinians to sit at this table?
Ignores History of Peace Process: Like many anti-Zionists, Ms. Narwani is an expert in history until that history become inconvenient for making her case. Not only does she ignore the violence that the Palestinians have unleashed against Israel while those settlements were being built, but she also ignores the not one but three offers of statehood that Israel offered the Palestinians. All of which were rejected because "they weren't good enough," obviously. In fact according to her the only thing that has happened during the past nineteen years is that settlements have expanded. Then she wonders why "land for peace" doesn't seem to be working? There is no peace, why should Israel give up land?
Ignores Gaza Withdrawal. Ms. Narwani will find support among hardcore Zionists that "land for peace" doesn't work, but not in the way that she hoped to. Israel did withdraw the settlements and troops out of Gaza and now Gaza is more of a danger to Israel than ever before. In other words, Israel did give land to the Palestinians but there was no peace as a result of it. This would seem to indicate that "land for peace" is actually a myth, and that Israel shouldn't bother giving the Palestinians anything until a peace treaty is signed and sealed. But somehow I don't think that was what Ms. Narwani was going for when she said that.
Finally, Ignores Current Status of Settlements: According to Ms. Narwani, because there are a lot of settlers in the West Bank, there can't be a Palestinian state. It's not that I've never seen this viewpoint before, but every time I see it I am stunned that people who endorse this view can be so close-minded about solutions. There are many things that can be done with the settlers before giving up the idea of a two-state solution:
1) Give the 5% to Israel and expel the rest. It won't be easy but the Palestinians have shown their willingness to kill the settlers in the past so it will be easy to get recruits for that mission.
2) Make the settlers Palestinian citizens. If they don't want to be Palestinian citizens they can leave.
3) Offer the settlers incentives to move back home. That "incentive" can be their own life. I for one wouldn't mind.
The trouble, of course, is that all of these solutions involve the Palestinians giving something up for peace, whether it be 100% of the West Bank or a 100% Jew-free Palestine. And based on this interview, asking the Palestinians to make a sacrifice for peace is like a dirty word for Sharmine Narwani and her pals in the Arab League. But we'll discuss that more in the next post.