NEWS & VIEWS & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Time running out for a two-state solution

Only Obama offers change for Israel

The Israelis are understandably nervous about the prospect of pressure from the US. But if the Obama administration does push Israel much harder to move towards a peace agreement with the Palestinians, it will in fact be doing the country a favour.

For the biggest existential threat to Israel is not Iran or Hamas – it is the prospect that Jews will eventually be outnumbered by Arabs in the combined territory of Israel and Palestine. The long-term existential choice is between three alternatives: two states; one state without a Jewish majority; or an undemocratic state, with Israel as a permanent occupying power over a voteless, violent and anarchic Palestine.

Israel’s election campaign suggests the country is not yet ready to face up to that choice. So it may need the Obama administration to frame the choice for it. [continued…]

Hamas leader ready for truce with Israel

In the first Hamas interview with the Western media since last month’s ceasefire in Gaza, its deputy leader Musa Abu Marzouk told The Daily Telegraph that the Palestinian group was ready for a period of “calm”.

A chandeliered room in the Syrian capital Damascus – where several Hamas leaders live in exile – is a long way from the ruins of the Gaza Strip but a weary frustration with the deprivations of war was pervasive.

“We need to rebuild the buildings destroyed in the aggression,” said Mr Marzouk. “We need to treat the wounded – more than 5,000 need serious treatment. We need to help all the families without food and shelter. We need the gates of Gaza to open to lift the siege.

“All this can only be dealt with by period of calm between the two sides.”

Hamas negotiators have been instructed to accept the terms of a ceasefire pact negotiated by Egyptian mediators in Cairo.

Hamas regards its offer as a Tahdia, an Arabic word indicating non-aggression in a stand-off, usually described as a “calm”. A longer-term Hudna, or ceasefire, would be withheld until a peace agreement that would see Israel withdraw from Palestinian territory.

“Israel owns the West Bank and Gaza Strip right now but if it withdrew from these and let the Palestinians have access to Jerusalem, we would turn our face to rebuild our lives and live alongside as in other parts of the world,” said Mr Marzouk. [continued…]

Editor’s Comment — When Shimon Peres feels compelled to pen an op-ed in the Washington Post arguing against the one-state solution, there are two obvious conclusions we can draw:

1. The viability of the two-state solution has become transparently flimsy.
2. Whereas the one-state solution has for a long time only garnered only marginal attention it is now not only being taken seriously but it increasingly is acquiring the appearance of being the unavoidable conclusion of a historical trend.

For those Israelis and Jews outside Israel who still cherish the concept of a Jewish state, here’s a message that may sound unbelievable yet needs to be considered carefully: the best hope for preserving the Jewish state is being offered by Hamas.

Hamas is not in the habit of crafting its statements merely to meet the expectations of others. So, when they say, end the occupation, allow Palestinians access to Jerusalem and then we can live side by side, this is not a statement that should casually be dismissed.

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