Patrick Seale writes: This past year has dealt a heavy blow — perhaps even a terminal one — to the project, long supported by the international community, of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of two states. When the United States itself proved unable to halt Israel’s relentless land grab, it seemed that nothing and nobody could rein in Israel’s iron-willed ambition to expand its borders towards a “Greater Israel.”
What will the immediate future bring? In the continued absence of firm international intervention, the likeliest scenario is that Israel will seek to consolidate its hold over 40 percent of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, either by settlement expansion or outright annexation. The main centres of Arab population, such as Nablus, Jericho and Ramallah, would be fenced off, although Israel might allow them corridors to Jordan. This first stage of the project would, of course, be portrayed by Israel as a painful concession.
If Israel managed to get away with it, the next stage could be a good deal more radical, and could possibly involve the expulsion of large numbers of Palestinians, probably under the cover of war as occurred in 1948 and 1967, so as to complete the creation of a Greater Israel between the sea and the river.
After the experience of the past two years, no one should have the slightest doubt that Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition is utterly determined to prevent the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank. Bantustans, for a while perhaps, but a Palestinian state, never! Netanyahu is known to be profoundly influenced by his father, the historian Benzion Natanyahu, now 101 years old, who was once the secretary of Ze’ev Jabotinsky – “the father of Revisionist Zionism” — and who remains a life-long passionate believer in a Greater Israel. He petitioned against the UN Partition Plan for Palestine of 29 November 1947 because he, and others like him, wanted the whole of Palestine for the Jews. That remains his dream.