John V. Whitbeck
Naftali Bennett, Israel’s Minister of the Economy and leader of the Jewish Home Party, a major component of the current Israeli government, is widely seen as the politician on the rise in Israel and a potential successor to Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister after the next Israeli elections.
On Nov. 6, he published a highly significant opinion article, entitled “For Israel, two-state is no solution,” in the International New York Times. In this article, Bennett argues that “for its security, Israel cannot withdraw from more territory and cannot allow for the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank” and then proceeds to propose his own “four-step plan” for peace.
His “peace plan” notably includes Israel’s unilateral annexation of Area C, approximately 61 percent of the West Bank, so as to “reduce the scope of the territory in dispute, making it easier to reach a long-term agreement in the future.” In his vision of peace, any “Palestinian entity” on residual ink spots of Areas A and B of the West Bank “will be short of a state. It will not control its own borders and will not be allowed to have an army.” As for Gaza, “it cannot be a party to any agreement.”
Bennett concludes: “I am aware that the world will not immediately accept this proposal. It seems to go against everything Israel, the Palestinians and the international community have worked toward over the last 20 years. But I will work to make this plan government policy because there is a new realty in the Middle East, which has brought an end to the viability of the Oslo peace process.”
One may hope that Bennett’s blast of honesty will blow away any residual illusions within those Western governments which have for decades been blocking the realization of a Palestinian state on the ground by arguing that a Palestinian state can only exist, even on a purely legal level, as a result of negotiations with Israel — i.e., after almost half a century of belligerent occupation, with the prior consent of the occupying power.