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Domestic Politics at Play as US Insists on Two-State Solution

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visiting the West Bank city of Jenin. Photo: Reuters/Mohamad Torokman

JNS.orgThe Biden administration is insisting that the “day after” Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza see progress toward a two-state solution, ultimately resulting in a Palestinian state next to Israel.

“We have to work toward bringing Israel together in a way that provides for the beginning of option… an option of a two-state solution,” U.S. President Joe Biden said at a campaign reception on Dec. 12.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that Gaza must be handed over to the Palestinian Authority at the end of the war. The solution “must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the P.A.,” he said.

This stands in sharp contrast to the view expressed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has said he will “not allow the entry into Gaza of those who educate for terrorism, support terrorism and finance terrorism,” referring to the P.A.

“Gaza will be neither Hamastan nor Fatahstan,” he added.

During a press conference on Saturday night, Netanyahu said, “As of this moment, the Palestinian Authority senior leadership simply refuses to condemn the massacre, and some of them even praise it openly. They will control Gaza on ‘the day after’? Haven’t we learned anything? As the Prime Minister of Israel, I will not allow that to happen.”

A different era

According to Eytan Gilboa, an expert on U.S.-Israel relations at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan and a senior fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, Biden wants to return to the “two states for two peoples” paradigm because it would reduce hostility towards the United States in Arab countries as well as reduce opposition from the progressive ranks in his government.

For this reason, he said, the United States has an “obsession with the day after.”

“Biden wants Israel’s high-intensity warfare behind him to help his domestic political position,” Gilboa told JNS.

“There are also domestic politics in Israel,” he added. “Netanyahu also appears focused on domestic politics for the day after.”

“Both leaders are worried about their domestic political base,” he said.

He explained that in the past, when the United States went to war, “it was war, period—nothing else. Military activities were not mixed with politics.”

“We live in a different era,” he added.

The United States seems to agree the P.A. is not a good solution, but apparently believes it to be the best of the available options.

According to Gilboa, “Worried about the failures in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States is pushing for a settlement of the Palestinian issue. They want to integrate Gaza with the West Bank, they want the P.A. to take over Gaza and start negotiations over a peace settlement.”

Netanyahu is not the only source of resistance to this concept in Israel.

During an interview with Sky News on Wednesday, Israeli Ambassador to the U.K. Tzipi Hotovely also rejected the possibility, saying that the Palestinians only want one state “from the river to the sea.”

“I think it’s about time for the world to realize the Oslo paradigm failed on October 7 and we need to build a new one,” said Hotovely. When asked if a new paradigm would include a Palestinian state, she said “absolutely no.”

Israeli spokesmen have repeatedly emphasized that Israel would only allow a demilitarized Palestinian state, with all the tools to govern itself but none of the tools with which to threaten Israel.

Political performance

According to John Hannah, a Randi and Charles Wax Senior Fellow at the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) in Washington, the U.S. and Israeli positions are actually not as far apart as it would appear.

The idea of a two-state solution governed by the P.A. is “a joke, a distant aspiration, or a complete fantasy depending on your level of cynicism,” he said.

He told JNS that there is “a lot of political performance at play here” and that the Biden administration “knows full well that a Palestinian state is a complete non-starter for the foreseeable future.”

The P.A. in its current state is “ineffective, corrupt and completely illegitimate in the eyes of its own people,” he added. “It can’t even fight terrorism in Jenin. Why in the world would any Israeli agree to put it in charge of security in Gaza, especially after the existential horror of 10/7 that was celebrated by Palestinian society across the board—not only in Gaza but in the P.A. as well?”

Palestinians support Hamas

The American demand for a Palestinian state governed by the P.A. comes against the backdrop of a striking poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) last week which showed that support for Hamas has more than tripled in the West Bank since Oct. 7.

Even more disturbing, according to the PSR, nearly 75% of Palestinians (82% in the West Bank and 57% in the Gaza Strip) believe Hamas’s atrocities were justified.

This widespread Palestinian sentiment worries many Israelis and is likely to have an effect on their support for a Palestinian state next to Israel.

Shockingly, more than half of adults in the U.S. aged 18 to 24 believe that resolving the ongoing crisis in Gaza involves dismantling the State of Israel and transferring control to Hamas and the Palestinian people, according to a recent Harvard-Harris poll. The survey, conducted last week and released on Friday, indicates that 51% of young Americans advocate ending the Israeli state, while 32% support a two-state solution.

“Such a terror state would be a threat not only to Israel, but to Jordan and Egypt as well, and therefore a disaster for U.S. interests,” Hannah said.

What is clear is that Israel wants security control over Gaza, with a civil entity governing the civilians, minus the anti-Israel incitement and hatred that has existed there until today.

“The P.A. would not be able to control both the West Bank and Gaza,” said Gilboa. “The U.S. wants Israel to provide answers but they themselves have not provided sufficient answers.”

Lowest common denominator

According to Hannah, the two-state concept is “the only idea, the lowest common denominator, that the so-called international community can agree on to convince themselves that we’re not all condemned to a future of strife and conflict.”

Because of this, “The administration dutifully mouths the words to placate its friends and allies, and perhaps most importantly its progressive base in the Democratic Party, all the while knowing that it has no chance of being implemented in any timeframe relevant to the immediate ‘day after’ in Gaza,” he said.

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Amid Security Fears, Muslim Access to the Temple Mount During Ramadan Will Be Limited

Palestinians walk at the compound that houses Al-Aqsa Mosque, known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City May 21, 2021. Photo: REUTERS/Ammar Awad

i24 NewsAs the month of Ramadan approaches, concerns over security have prompted Israeli authorities to implement limitations on Muslim access to the Temple Mount site, and Al-Aqusa Mosque.

The decision, made in accordance with recommendations from the Minister of National Security Ben Gvir, comes amidst opposition from the Minister of Defense Gallant, Shin Bet, and the army.

The restrictions include a cap on the number of individuals permitted to enter the site, with additional sorting based on age. While the details regarding the authorization of Palestinians from East Jerusalem are pending, the implementation of security measures proposed by Itamar Ben Gvir, which would allow security forces to intervene in response to provocative behavior, was rejected.

Under the current plan, only Muslim pilgrims aged 60 or above with permits issued by the Shin Bet will be granted access to the Temple Mount. However, domestic intelligence agencies have expressed reservations, fearing that such restrictions could exacerbate tensions and fuel Hamas’s rhetoric about Israel’s intentions to seize the site and deny Muslims access.

This sentiment was echoed by Walid Al-Huashla, an Arab MP from the Ra’am party, who condemned the decision as dangerous and racist. Al-Huashla warned of the potential consequences of the measures, accusing Prime Minister Netanyahu of capitulating to provocateurs and exacerbating tensions in Jerusalem.

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Unopened Medicine Boxes Bearing Names of Israeli Hostages Found in Hospital Raid

Some of the drugs found at the hospital. Photo: IDF

i24 NewsThe Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Shin Bet forces executed a strategic mission at Nasser Hospital in Gaza, resulting in the arrest of hundreds of terrorists and the discovery of a cache of weapons hidden within the hospital premises.

Prior to entering the hospital complex, the forces engaged in intense battles, including face-to-face combat and repelling rocket fire from within the hospital compound.

The forces apprehended numerous terrorists and terror suspects who had sought refuge within the hospital including individuals linked to the October 7th massacre. These individuals were subsequently transferred to security forces for further investigation.

IDF releases footage of soldiers uncovering unopened boxes of medicine in Al-Nasser Hospital that were meant to be transferred to Israeli hostages – some of which should have been refrigerated but was found sitting out.

— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 18, 2024

During the operation, a substantial quantity of weapons was seized, with some weapons concealed in a vehicle believed to have been used in previous terrorist attacks. Additionally, a vehicle belonging to Kibbutz Nir Oz, which had apparently been stolen, was recovered from the hospital vicinity.

IDF forces also discovered un-opened boxes of medicine bearing the names of Israeli hostages. The packages were found sealed and undistributed, raising concerns about the previous breached agreement in which Qatar would distribute medicine for the chronically ill hostages.

The medical assistance includes essential treatments such as inhalers for asthma patients, medications for diabetics, insulin injections, glucometers, medications for heart disease and blood pressure, as well as treatments for intestinal infections and thyroid gland imbalances.

During talks, Qatar had committed to providing verifiable proof to Israel that the medications will indeed reach the hostages. However the IDF finding the France-sent boxes with medicine, indicates the never reached the hostages.

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The Myth of British Exceptionalism

Britain’s former Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reacts after the general election results of the Islington North constituency were announced at a counting center in Islington, London, Dec. 13, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Hannah McKay.

JNS.orgThat old image of the Jewish family with a packed suitcase at the ready in case they are compelled to suddenly leave their home has returned with a vengeance across Europe.

In France and Germany, home to sizable Jewish communities, the “Should we leave?” debate is raging in earnest. Both of these countries experienced record levels of antisemitic incidents in 2023, most of them occurring after the Hamas pogrom of Oct. 7 in southern Israel. Similar conversations are also being held in the Netherlands, Scandinavia, Belgium and Spain—countries with tiny Jewish communities that are nevertheless enduring a painful rise in antisemitism.

What about Britain, though? It’s a pertinent question insofar as there has always been a “British exceptionalism” with regard to the continent. During World War II, the Nazis failed in their quest to conquer the British Isles, in contrast to the rest of Europe. After the defeat of Hitler, the British supported efforts to transform Europe into an economic and political community that eventually became the European Union, even joining it. Yet Britain was never fully at peace with its identity as a European state, and as is well known, the “Brexit” referendum of 2016 resulted in the country’s full-fledged withdrawal from the European Union.

When it comes to antisemitism, however, Britain is very much part of the European rule, not the exception. Again, that’s important because while the British don’t deny that antisemitism is present in their politics and culture, they don’t believe that it’s as venomous as its German or French variations. “It is generally admitted that antisemitism is on the increase, that it has been greatly exacerbated by the war, and that humane and enlightened people are not immune to it. It does not take violent forms (English people are almost invariably gentle and law-abiding),” wrote George Orwell in an essay, “Antisemitism in Britain,” penned towards the war’s close in April 1945.

At the same time, Orwell conceded that British antisemitism was “ill-natured enough, and in favorable circumstances, it could have political results.” To illustrate this point, he offered a selection of the antisemitic barbs that he had encountered over the previous year. “No, I’ve got no matches for you. I should try the lady down the street. She’s always got matches. One of the Chosen Race, you see,” a grumpy tobacconist informed him. “Well, no one could call me antisemitic, but I do think the way these Jews behave is too absolutely stinking. The way they push their way to the head of queues, and so on. They’re so abominably selfish. I think they’re responsible for a lot of what happens to them,” a “middle-class” woman said. Another woman, described by Orwell as an “intellectual,” refused to look at a book detailing the persecution of Jews in Germany on the grounds that “it will only make me hate them even more,” while a young man—a “near-Communist” in Orwell’s description—confessed that he had never made a secret of his loathing of Jews. “Mind you, I’m not antisemitic, of course,” he added.

I’d wager that were Orwell to tackle the same subject today, he would write a similar essay. The rhetoric he quotes echoes eerily in what we are hearing almost 80 years later, particularly the denial that recycling antisemitic tropes makes one an antisemite, as well as the digs against chosenness—because antisemites have never understood (or don’t want to understand) that Jewish “chosenness” is not about racial or ethnic superiority, but a duty to carry out a specific set of Divine commandments.

Last week, the Community Security Trust (CST), a voluntary security organization serving British Jews, issued its annual report on the state of antisemitism in Britain. The CST has been faithfully issuing these reports since 1984, and over the last few years, it has regularly registered new records for the number of offenses reported. 2023 was the worst year of all; there were a stomach-churning 4,103 incidents reported—an increase of 81% on the previous annual record in 2021, when 2,261 incidents were reported (largely due to that year’s conflict between Israel and Hamas for 11 days in May).

Instructively, the worst month in 2023 was October, in the days immediately following the rapes and other atrocities committed by Hamas terrorists on that black day. Oct. 11 was, in fact, the worst day, with 80 incidents reported. As the CST pointed out, “[T]he speed at which antisemites mobilized in the U.K. on and immediately after Oct. 7 suggests that, initially at least, this increase in anti-Jewish hate was a celebration of the Hamas attack on Israel, rather than anger at Israel’s military response in Gaza.”

Of course, the present situation in the United Kingdom differs from Orwell’s time for two main reasons. Firstly, in 1945, there was no Jewish state, and antisemitism revolved around cruder tropes invoking supposed Jewish rudeness, clannishness, financial power and so forth. (Even so, Britain was also one of the first Western countries to experience antisemitic rioting linked to the Zionist movement and Israel; in 1947, after two British officers in Mandatory Palestine were executed by the Irgun, or “Etzel,” resistance organization, violence targeting Jewish communities broke out across the United Kingdom, thereby establishing the principle that all Jews, everywhere, are to blame for the alleged evils of Zionism.)

Secondly, in 1945 Britain was still largely a white, Christian society. In the interim, it has become far more diverse and is now home to nearly 4 million Muslims who constitute 6.5 percent of the population. Since the late 1980s—when the Iranian regime issued a fatwa calling for the death of the Anglo-Indian author Salman Rushdie, alleged to have slandered Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses—what was once a relatively docile population has become politically animated, with the Palestinian cause pushed front and center.

In the four months that have passed since the Hamas atrocities, with weekly demonstrations in support of Hamas in London and other cities, Muslim voices have been disproportionately loud in the opprobrium being piled not just on Israel, but on those Britons—the country’s Jewish community—most closely associated with the Jewish state. Of course, this doesn’t apply to every Muslim, and many of the worst offenders are non-Muslims on the left. Indeed, the Oct. 7 massacres have enabled the return to politics of a particularly odious individual whom I had forlornly believed had been banished to the garbage can of history; George Galloway, an ally of Hamas and one-time acolyte of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who is standing in the forthcoming parliamentary election in the northern English constituency of Rochdale for an outfit called the “Workers Party of Britain,” whose manifesto combines nationalism and socialism, but which would probably balk at the description “national socialist” in much the same way that some antisemites balk at the description “antisemitic.”

British Jews have weathered a great deal in recent years, especially the five years when the Labour Party, the main opposition, was led by the far-left Parliament member Jeremy Corbyn, who has since been turfed out of the party by his successor Sir Keir Starmer. Having survived that, the belief has spread that they can survive anything. But there’s another question to be asked: Is the effort worth it? Increasingly, and worryingly, growing numbers of British Jews are now answering “no.”

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