We've all been subjected to an endless litany of how bad things are in Palestine. I won't dispute the veracity of these articles here. But, is it possible things are complex enough that two realities can exist - for different groups of people in different places at different times? Today, an article came out in the Wall Street Journal, and repeated with more extensive photos (22) that seems to show a thriving, even bustling, Palestinian territory, even in Gaza.
The Palestinian stock market (Yes, there is such a thing) was the second best performer after Shanghai's. There are Mercedes and other expensive cars on the streets, and even Israel is helping build a brand new city on the West Bank: Ruwabi.
What is one to make of this when compared to the utter devastation from the early 2009 Israeli attack on Gaza, the rebuilding of which has barely, if at all, even begun?
It is The Tale of Two Regions, of the Best of Times and the Worst of Times.
I've long held that a two-party state was a Straw Man, a useful fiction for both sides to mask their inability and unwillingness to make meaningful progress. I proposed a recognition of the de facto one-state solution here. I said:
Israel, whether it chooses to acknowledge it or not (or we do), is heading toward a one-state solution.
So, knowing that, and believing, as I do, in turning a problem into a solution, I propose the following:
Keep the settlements, but - after thorough screening and background checks - allow one third of the new apartments to go to Palestinian families (the apartments must be of equal quality). If the Palestinian families don't have the money, I think the U.S. or international community could be persuaded to cough it up in the interest of peace and interdependency. We've certainly subsidized lesser causes.
I think two-state proposals are disingenuous at best - from the Israeli side they are a delaying tactic, since the concessions necessary for co-existence, including disarmament, will never be met; from the Palestinian side they are a part of a strategy of slowly, inexorably, pushing Israel into the sea - I've never heard any credible proposal as to how a Palestinian state (let alone one as divided as Gaza and the West Bank are now) would be run.
If one had a magic box, and could place all hatred and feelings of vengeance inside it from both sides, there would still be enormous logistical challenges as to how to live in a parched, crowded, economically disparate region. The first thing a logical body politic would do is to tear down the wall, then they would improve the transportation and infrastructure. This is an interesting thought-experiment and one both sides should consider, if just to sober themselves up to the honest realities of the situation.
It is time for new solutions. The road map was a dead-end. The Two-State solution is a geopolitical impossibility. The annihilation of Israel is in no one's interest, not even the Arabs, who would then have to contend with thousands of suddenly unemployed terrorists (more likely, Europe would, as that would be their next logical stop to recreate their Caliphate - this has been spoken of by Muslim leaders many times). Obviously, the fourth-world existence of the Gazans and that of their slightly better-off but impatient third-world cousins in the West Bank cannot continue. Obama promised change, but lofty speeches have to be backed up by a concrete plan.
In the meantime, Israel and (some) Palestinian elements seem to be acknowledging the facts on the ground and are moving forward. Make no mistake, I am not saying there is peace in the Middle East, or that things couldn't slip backwards, yet again. However, I think the current process may be the best that can be hoped for. It is worth keeping in mind that no matter what happens, if both Israel and the Palestinian people are to coexist, they will have to interact, even become economically co-dependent. The article by Tom Gross seems to highlight a way forward.
You can read it in full here, even if you don't have a subscription to the Wall Street Journal: