First Sweden, now Great Britain. This week the British Parliament voted in favor of a nonbinding resolution that would recognize a Palestinian state. Like a similar announcement by the Swedes, the vote accompanies unilateral moves by Palestinians to secure a UN resolution calling for Israel’s withdrawal from the disputed territories by November 2016.
Israel was understandably outraged by the vote. “Premature international recognition sends a troubling message to the Palestinian leadership that they can evade the tough choices that both sides have to make,” Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The temptation for Israel’s supporters is to despair over the future of the two-state solution, under the understandable suspicion that Israel has no partner and the international community no longer has confidence in negotiations. Israel also fears that a sovereign Palestine could be taken over by Hamas and used as launching pad for more rockets aimed at Israel. According to Ron Ben-Yishai, a respected analyst for the Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s leaders are thus shifting away from the two-state solution toward a “conflict management” approach, in the belief that renewing negotiations “would lead to deadlock, frustration, and unrest on the Palestinian street.”
Meanwhile, David Horovitz of the centrist Times of Israel and Dan Margalit of the right-leaning Israel Hayom worry that Israel’s construction plans beyond the Green Line undermine its credible protests against unilateral pro-Palestinian political activity.
For some, the drift toward unilateralism — justified as it may be on Israel’s side — represents a clear and present danger. “It’s going to be difficult to continue defending Israel as a democratic Jewish state if Israel plans to maintain a population of three or four million non-Jewish non-citizens under open-ended military rule,” writes J.J. Goldberg in the Forward.
Agree? Disagree? Can Israel go it alone, or must it find its way back to a dialogue with the PA? This may be the most important Jewish debate of the years ahead.