The Three-State Option could solve Gaza conflict

January 6, 2009

War in the Gaza Strip has continued now over week, diplomats and demonstrations are demanding  ceasefire immediately – war news and high-flown statements are following each other like they have done last decades.   In this never ending story it was very refreshing to read an article of John R. Bolton published in Washington post 5th Jan. 2009. This former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations 2005-2006  has quite unusual idea to solve the Gaza conflict. Instead of empty statements and dead road maps he is proposing “The Three-State Option”.  Again his thoughts are not pleasant or polite to highly idealistic diplomatic elite but maybe therefore his idea could work on the ground.

The original article can be found from here but I quote some highlights:

We should ask why we still advocate the “two-state solution,” with Israel and “Palestine” living side by side in peace, as the mantra goes. We are obviously not progressing, and are probably going backward. We continue poring over the Middle East “road map” because that is all we have, faute de mieux, as they say in Foggy Bottom. The logic to this position is long past its expiration date. Unfortunately, it is hard to imagine a new approach that the key players would receive enthusiastically. If the way out were obvious, after all, it would already have been suggested.

Mr Bolton asks us to consider the following, unpopular and difficult to implement though it may be:

  • we should look to a “three-state” approach, where Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty.
  • Having the two Arab states re-extend their prior political authority is an authentic way to extend the zone of peace and, more important, build on governments that are providing peace and stability in their own countries. “International observers” or the like cannot come close to what is necessary; we need real states with real security forces.
  • Without a larger Egyptian role, Gaza will not, and perhaps cannot, achieve the minimal stability necessary for economic development. Moreover, connecting Gaza to a real economy, rather than a fictional “Palestinian economy,” is the quickest concrete way to improve the lives of Gaza’s ordinary citizens.
  • For Palestinians, admitting the obvious failure of the PA (Palestinian Authority), and the consequences of their selection of Hamas, means accepting reality, however unpleasant. But it is precisely Palestinians who would most benefit from stability. The PA — weakened, corrupt and discredited — is not a state by any realistic assessment, nor will it become one accepted by Israel as long as Hamas or terrorism generally remains a major political force among Palestinians.
  • Objections to this idea will be manifold, and implementation difficult. One place to avoid problems is dispensing with intricate discussions over the exact legal status of Gaza and the West Bank. These territories contain more legal theories than land.

I agree with Mr. Bolton about three-state solution. However it could be a bit further developed by making a buffer zone between Israel and hardliners in Gaza. From my point of view the best way to do this is to relocate population from Gaza some 50-100 km SW to Sinai. There is possible to build new infrastructure instead again repairing existing one. With good planning and implementing econo-social programmes backed with sufficient international Aid money  it is possible also to create more sustainable economy than today’s Gaza.

Few days ago I wrote an articleGaza War – Could Balkan history show way out? which highlights population movements as pragmatic solution in cases when ethnic tensions are too deep to cure without generations long “brainwashing”.  Combined to Mr. Bolton’s proposal I think that a sustainable solution could be found.