Letters to the Editor

Lebanon points to flaw in one-state solution idea

The argument for a one-state solution where the West Bank, excluding Gaza, becomes part of Israel is no solution at all. In his opinion article in the AJP, Aug. 6, 2010 (“Is a one-state solution, without Gaza, an answer to Greater Israel dreams?”), Leslie Susser correctly notes the combined populations of the West Bank and Israel proper would have a population ratio of about 60 percent Jews and 40 percent others. Most of this 40 percent minority would be Muslim.

History teaches us that creating such a nation would lead to disaster. I call attention to the example of Lebanon. Created some 65 years ago by the League of Nations mandate, Lebanon was the product of a French attempt to carve out a Christian majority enclave from the overwhelmingly Muslim state of Syria, which had fallen under French control after World War I. The population ratio of the new country was 60 percent and 40 percent, with control to be shared by both religions.

By 1958, the country was on the verge of civil war, and only the prompt intervention of the United States under President Eisenhower averted an all-out conflagration. The problem has been that the Muslim minority gradually has become a majority, bent on complete domination of the country. The sad history of what has happened due to religious strife in Lebanon needs no further commentary.

The alternative argument for a two-state solution is even easier to discard for the simple reason that a completely independent (and irresponsible) Arab state in what is now Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and possibly Gaza, would be a knife poised at the very heart of Israel.

The best approach would be to create a quasi-commonwealth or cantonal status for each of the two areas. Starting first with the West Bank, this commonwealth, i.e. Palestine, would be free to conduct its affairs unhindered. Under international fiat, it would have its own police force, carry on trade, levy taxes, provide for essential services, finance debt, have independent education and public welfare institutions and govern through its own legislative, executive and judicial systems. In sum, it would control its own political, cultural and economic destiny.

What it would not have is its own armed forces capable of waging war, and it could not negotiate or conclude treaties with other countries concerning security matters, just as the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico or the cantons of Switzerland may not.

I believe a government constituted under such a framework would not only be acceptable to those living in those areas, but would also be acceptable to the other players in this volatile area because it would combine the elements of stability and self-determination. One thing is certain — for anyone to fantasize over a simple one-state or two-state solution is no solution at all.

—Gary Rosoff, Ph.D., attorney at law