The triumph and tragedy of Greater Israel

Henry Siegman writes: The Middle East peace process is dead. More precisely, the two-state solution is dead; the peace process may well go on indefinitely if this Israeli government has its way.

The two-state solution did not die a natural death. It was strangulated as Jewish settlements in the West Bank were expanded and deepened by successive Israeli governments in order to prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. The settlement project has achieved its intended irreversibility, not only because of its breadth and depth but also because of the political clout of the settlers and their supporters within Israel who have both ideological and economic stakes in the settlements’ permanence.

The question can no longer be whether the current impasse may lead to a one-state outcome; it has already done so. There is also no longer any question whether this government’s policies will lead to what can legitimately be called apartheid, as former prime minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli leaders predicted they would. Palestinians live in a one-state reality, deprived of all rights, and enclosed in enclaves surrounded by military checkpoints, separation walls, roadblocks, barbed-wire barriers and a network of “for-Jews-only” highways.

Until now, Israel’s colonial project has been successfully disguised by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s pretense that he is pursuing a resumption of talks for a two-state solution with President Mahmoud Abbas. It has also been strengthened by the pretense of President Obama and EU leaders that they believe a resumed peace process can still produce a Palestinian state. But these pretenses cannot be sustained for long, if only because of the inability of settlers to restrain triumphalist pronouncements of their achievement of Greater Israel and their defeat of the Palestinians’ hopes for statehood—as Dani Dayan did recently in the op-ed pages of the New York Times and Haaretz, in which he proclaimed that because of the settlements’ irreversibility there will be only one sovereignty west of the Jordan River.

But paradoxically, the triumph of the settlement project contains the seeds of its own reversal—or of the demise of the Zionist project. [Continue reading…]

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