Friday, October 1, 2010

Three State Solution V: Contiguity

I laid out my case for the need of a three-state solution (at least in the medium term) a while back. Yesterday I spotted this interview with Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren (who I strongly dislike, but who somehow comes off looking rational next to Avigdor Lieberman):
Q: Do you want that for the West Bank or for Gaza as well?

A: We are proceeding under the assumption that some day Gaza will be part of this deal. Right now, it’s not part of this deal because it’s under Hamas. So when President Obama talks about a contiguous Palestinian state, that has two meanings. One, it means there being no settlement blocks dividing the Palestinian state, but also that there be some kind of connection between West Bank and Gaza.
It seems to me that all three parties are subtly trending towards the three state solution, whether they want to be or not, because they're punting on exactly the sort of issues that would need to be conquered to have a Two State solution.

My original case for a three state was based around the first part of Oren's comment -- the fact that Hamas is not a good-faith player for peace, and good-faith players should not have to be held up by bad-faith players.

But the second part of the statement is also a highly insurmountable one. Discontinuity. There are very few nations anywhere that manage to be cleaved in two, let alone a nation that is cleaved in two by a historic enemy. Even if Israel creates some sort of a corridor, Israel is a police state. We all know that if a single rocket or bomb made Israel skittish, there goes that corridor. And, by the way, I'm not necessarily condemning them for that -- it's just a terrible security and foreign relations problem.

Having two discontinuous parts of a country in this region doesn't remind me of Alaska and Canada, it reminds me of Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh -- or as it was once known, East Pakistan. They also tried to have discontinuous governance, but the people grew apart too much and for whatever reasons -- including Indian interference -- they're now separate nations.

Even supposing one day we had a Gaza not administered by Hamas, or a Gaza administered by a Hamas who looks as innocuous as the Fatah does today, the issue of contiguousness is going to rear its ugly head. And I don't know if there's ever going to be a satisfactory solution to it.