Now, I don’t normally think of President Colonel Muammar Qaddafi as a thinker and a statesmen, but his recent NY editorial piece may well prove me wrong. The leader of Libya, a recent former state sponsor of terror, has thrown his hat in with a plan for peace in the Middle East. Unlike the mainstream plan of the punditocracy — a two-state solution based on Oslo, Colonel Qaddafi has offered an out-of-the-box solution, “Isratine.”
His rationale for this solution goes like this: the two state solution cannot work. Both the Israeli and Palestinian peoples deserve a homeland. However, Israel will never accept a two-state solution since it renders the state of Israel militarily indefensible, a country less than ten miles wide at it’s narrowest. And a two-state solution necessitates leaving tons of Palestinians either homeless or stuck in refugee camps — if they had a home in the West Bank or Gaza to return to, they would have already.
His solution is a single state, a home for both. Refugees can return to their homeland (or at least have their claims adjudicated by a impartial court for compensation) and both peoples in Isratine can live in peace. The Colonel looks to the Arab citizens of Israel as a model for this one-state solution.
Unfortunately, this involves a substantial compromise on both parts — deeper than any compromise over borders or land swaps can be. This compromise involves the complete abandonment of the concept of a Jewish or a Muslim state in Israel/Palestine. Isratine must be religiously and nationally neutral for the scheme to work. The Zionism that drove the early years of Israel, the nationalism that drove the PLO and the religious zealotry that drove Hamas must all be destroyed.
Sadly, I believe the Colonel’s proposal, while most sensible for the long-term economic growth of the holy land, is a solution better suited to angels than men. Both sides are still far to entrenched in their own manifest destiny to share a single country. For now, good fences may be the only thing that can make good neighbors.