Ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s meeting next week with President Obama, the calls for Netanyahu to formally accept a two-state solution have increased. In a surprise visit to Jordan this week, Netanyahu received pressure from King Abdullah. He said no. The pope made the same call when he was in Israel this week. President Obama and other American leaders, as well as European and UN officials have repeated the mantra that Netanyahu accept the two-state solution.
Is the pressure on the wrong party?
Let’s say that Netanyahu agrees to the demand and says he supports two states. What does that accomplish? Will peace descend upon the region?
No. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has called off unity talks with Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. There are two very different Palestinian governments operating currently. And now it seems that the Abbas’ West Bank government is on the verge of tearing itself apart. The Jerusalem Post reported today that Abbas has delayed forming a new government because of threats from his own Fatah party. Senior members are upset that they are being left out of the government and are threatening an intifada against Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayed, a member of an independent third party.
So if Netanyahu agrees to the magic phrase, what then? To say that there is no negotiating partner is an understatement. Israel rightfully will not deal with Hamas, yet Fatah has no control of Gaza and cannot implement any peace deal there. Now it seems that Abbas cannot even keep his West Bank government together. This is hardly conducive to a two-state solution. The question then becomes why are all these international leaders not applying equal – if not more – pressure on the Palestinians to get their act together?
My theory? Because they expect the behavior coming from the Palestinians. They know that the Hamas and Fatah are unlikely to change and will continue their self-destructive ways. Israel, on the other hand, they expect to tow the line of the international community – the two-state solution – and when it doesn’t, the puppeteer strings are frayed.