If there are no peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians for an independent Palestinian state, war next year is inevitable.
So King Abdullah II of Jordan has told the London Times: "If we delay our peace negotiations, then there is going to be another conflict between Arabs or Muslims and Israel in the next 12 to 18 months."
Whether the king’s timetable is correct, endless cold war, erupting into hot wars, seems the fate of Israel if "Bibi" Netanyahu holds to his pledge never to allow a Palestinian state on the West Bank.
For, as John Mearsheimer, author of "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," writes in the May 18 American Conservative, if there is no Palestinian state, there are only three possible alternatives.
All involve "creating a ‘greater Israel’ … that effectively controls the West Bank and Gaza, or all of what was once called Mandatory Palestine."
What are Bibi’s three remaining options?
The first is annexation of the West Bank. But this would bring 2.4 million Palestinians into Israel, giving her a population 40 percent Arab. With a higher birth rate, Palestinians would soon outnumber Jews and vote to abolish the Jewish state, thus creating a bi-national state.
That would mean the end of the Zionist dream.
The second option is the Meir Kahane solution. The late rabbi urged the expulsion of the Palestinians from the occupied territories. But the ethnic cleansing of hundreds of thousands or millions of Palestinians would mean innumerable casualties, a severing of all ties to the Arab world, the moral isolation of Israel and a break with the United States. America could not stand by and let such a human rights atrocity take place.
The third option is the Netanyahu option: no annexation, no ethnic cleaning, no Palestinian state — but permanent control of the West Bank to assure the "Hamastan" in Gaza is never replicated on the West Bank.
What is wrong with the Bibi option?
It requires permanent control of Gaza, with Israel holding its 1.5 million people in what amounts to a vast penal colony with no access to the outer world by land, sea or air, except by permission of the Israeli military.
On the West Bank, this means permanent control of the 2.4 million Arabs through confinement in enclaves bordered on the west by the Israeli wall, on the east by the Jordan, bisected by roads set aside for the exclusive use of Israelis and dotted with checkpoints. Travel inside and outside the West Bank would be by sufferance of the Israeli military.
It is this prospect that caused Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to blurt, "If the two-state solution collapses," Israel will "face a South African-style struggle." It is this prospect that caused President Carter to warn of Israel’s becoming an "apartheid" state.
For what other comparison comes to mind if the 4 million Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza are to be confined to such Bantustans, with no country to call their own, their economy and movement subject to Israeli authorities and the Israeli military?
There is another and fatal flaw in the Bibi option.
According to the U.N. Population Division, the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem) will be home to 4.4 million Palestinians in 2010, but 10 million by the centennial of the Jewish state in 2048. Palestinians in the occupied territories alone will equal the population of Israel, and Israel’s population of 10 million will itself be about 30 percent Arab. By mid-century, Palestinians west of the Jordan will outnumber Israeli Jews two to one. And there will be 6 million more Palestinians in Jordan.
Moreover, according to Mearsheimer, since 2007, more Jews have left Israel than have come in. Some 700,000 to 1 million Israeli Jews live abroad, and a 2007 poll reportedly found that nearly one-half of all young people are considering leaving.
Yet Netanyahu’s case is not uncompelling. We left Gaza and got Hamas. Never again! And as Hamas is committed to the destruction of the Jewish state, we will never negotiate with Hamas.
Which means no negotiations and no peace. For, in any free election, Hamas will win 35 percent to 65 percent and control or be part of any government coalition. And there will always be the possibility that Hamas will be voted into power in a new Palestinian state.
Netanyahu wants Obama to commit to go to war if necessary to denuclearize Iran, but he cannot force Obama to fight a war he cannot want. Obama wants Netanyahu to accept a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, but lacks the clout in his own country and Congress to force Netanyahu to comply.
Where there is no solution, there is no problem.
In the short run, we shall find out if the King of Jordan is right.
In the long run, demography is destiny.