Weekly Commentary: Wendy Sherman’s comment on Netanyahu's two-state solution
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 29 April 2015
Keep your eye on the phrase “commitment to a two-state solution” when you
read the next two paragraphs that are an excerpt from Under Secretary of
State Wendy Sherman’s remarks last Monday to the Religious Action Committee
of Reform Judaism:
“As we’ve said, it’s true that Prime Minister Netanyahu raised questions
about his government’s commitment to a two-state solution… in comments he
made right before and right after the Israeli election. Now he’s working to
form a government, as we speak, with a deadline approaching and I certainly
don’t and won’t want to get ahead of that process. We will be watching very
closely to see what happens after a new government is formed on this issue
of working towards two states living side by side in peace and security.
If the new Israeli government is seen as stepping back from its commitment
to a two-state solution, something that all of you and a vast majority of
American Jews supports, that makes our job in the international arena a lot
tougher. Because our ability to push back on efforts to internationalize
efforts to address Israeli-Palestinian issues has depended on our insistence
that the best course in achieving a two-[state] solution is through direct
negotiation between the parties.”
Now what did Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu ACTUALLY say?
He gave his honest assessment that for the short term and midterm - namely
the period of his next administration - that it will not be possible to
implement a “two-state solution”.
Again. Mr. Netanyahu didn’t say he OPPOSED “two states living side by side
in peace and security”. He just, given current conditions, does not believe
that such an arrangement could be achieved in the next four or so years.
And he is hardly alone in this assessment.
I daresay that the overwhelming majority of experts on Arab Israeli
affairs - regardless of their political leaning - share this assessment.
It comes down to this: how should a responsible leader of the Jewish State
plan for the next four years given that DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND ISRAEL’S
CONTROL “two states living side by side in peace and security” is not in the
Now I can appreciate that Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman would
prefer that PM Netanyahu keep this to himself and goes through the motions
as if “two states living side by side in peace and security” is just around
the corner. But there is also a cost to limiting ourselves to “going
through the motions”. We live here and the Palestinians live here and we
can't put our collective lives on hold.
Let’s step back for a moment and read Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman’s
words again, this time hoping that she has enough sense to realize that “two
states living side by side in peace and security” is NOT within the planning
“our ability to push back on efforts to internationalize efforts to address
Israeli-Palestinian issues has depended on our insistence that the best
course in achieving a two-[state] solution is through direct negotiation
between the parties”
A Security Council veto is an “ability” that the United State of America
As for”efforts to internationalize efforts to address Israeli-Palestinian
issues” outside the UNSC, I would like to suggest a simple revision: “the
best course in achieving solutions is through direct negotiation between the
We have problems every day and we do indeed typically solve them through
In point of fact, over the past months we have intensified our problem
“solving” efforts. With conditions and arrangements constantly improving.
Let’s put this all in context:
Our neighborhood is in terrific turmoil and our Sunni neighbors are
profoundly more interested in weathering all the existential challenges WITH
Israel than in giving any kind of priority to creating a sovereign
The rest of the world is also not in the best of shape such that a
Palestinian state - rhetoric notwithstanding - is not really at the top of
anyone’s “do list”.
So while it may not be as pleasant a task to back Israel as it would be (at
least in the short run) if we were suicidally blind to reality, it is hardly
a significantly taxing effort for the most powerful nation in the world.