With Friends Like These… #72,349 in a series of 5,675,826
On the same Israel Project press call where Rep. Brad Sherman proposed prosecuting U.S. citizens aboard the Free Gaza Flotilla, his bi-partisan counterpart, Republican Rep. Trent Franks of Arizona, disavowed the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But unlike some calls for a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, Franks wasn’t supporting the notion of a secular democratic state of all its citizens. A staunch advocate of the Jewish state’s right to remain that way, Franks implicitly endorsed the permanent occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.
“I no longer am someone that holds to a two-state solution because I simply believe that history has taught us that every time Israel gives up land or gives up territory to gain peace it only brings those that seek to destroy Israel closer to doing so,” Franks told reporters on the call. “It was something I always questioned and it was something that over time I began to conclude was no longer a workable solution,” he added later.
While the latest Likud Platform officially translated into English (1999) allows for Palestinian “self-rule,” it “flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.” However, facing pressure, current Likud Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu has made repeated — though often tepid or qualified — endorsements of a Palestinian state.
Furthermore, two former Prime Ministers of Israel, current Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, respectively from Labor and Kadima, have said that if a Palestinian state is not created Israel will face international condemnation similar to that which Apartheid South Africa suffered in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Olmert told Ha’aretz in 2007: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
Earlier this year, Barak told the Herzliya Conference, an Israeli strategic confab, that: “If, and as long as between the Jordan and the sea, there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic … If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a binational state, and if they don’t, it is an apartheid state.”
A co-founder of the Israel Allies Caucus in the House in 2006, Franks said he has been “someone that was willing, on behalf of voices in Israel, to say we need a two-state solution,” later adding that he has “tried to be careful not to say anything that would contradict an important Israeli policy.” But now he’s ready to renounce the two-state solution and has concluded that negotiations have only put Israel at greater risk from its enemies.
In the section on Israel in an old version of his campaign website, Franks, a Baptist Christian, stated that he “pray(s) for a day when a free and secure Israel can live in peace alongside a free and secure Palestinian state, where terrorists and terrorism exist only in the silent memory of God.”
However, his conversion to the one-state solution might not be so novel. The same old version of the site, which links to articles from 2007 and appears to be from the last election cycle, features a list of awards that includes the Friend of Israel Award, given out by the Christian’s Israel Public Action Campaign. CIPAC exclaims repeatedly throughout its website, and in bold, enlarged lettering on its homepage, that “if Israel is to survive, no new Palestinian state should be created.” The organization says it “represents Christians and Jews in the United States and worldwide who recognize the People and the State of Israel as the fulfillment of biblical prophecy,” and opposes all agreements, such as UN Resolutions 242 and 338, that call for two states.
In the Israel section of his current campaign website, Franks makes no mention of the two-state solution.
During the press call Franks did say that he supports “allowing Palestinians to live in peace in Israel,” insisting that “Israel does that all the time.” He cited religious freedom for Palestinians in Israel and insisted that “the only religious restrictions in Israel, or certainly in Jerusalem, is that Jews cannot pray on the Temple Mount.”
“So I just find it astonishing that we always say that the problem is that Israel is not willing to give up land or they’re not willing to compromise,” he added. “Israel has compromised so many times!”
The full transcript of the sometimes-rambling exchange, between Franks and Israel Project founder and president Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, on the two-state solution:
Mizrahi: [Inaudible] asks: How can there be a two-state solution so long as Hamas controls Gaza, a territory that will be part of such a two-state solution?
Franks: Well, y’know, over the years I have been someone that was willing, on behalf of voices in Israel, to say we need a two-state solution. But I’m coming to the conclusion that any sort of two-state solution that doesn’t fundamentally recognize Israel’s right to exist and doesn’t have safety measures put in place so that the territories that would be close to Israeli lines would be free of weapons capability to attack Israel, I think is just simply not going to work.
I no longer am someone that holds to a two-state solution because I simply believe that history has taught us that every time Israel gives up land or gives up territory to gain peace it only brings those that seek to destroy Israel closer to doing so.
Mizrahi: The way you put your comment was so interesting because there are many who believe that Israel does not support a two state solution. In your actions and interactions with the government of Israel, is it your sense that Israel supports a two-state solution?
Franks: Well, I mean, I think there have been some movements in the past. Some of the American administrations have advocated that and I think Israel tried to go along with it in order to try to demonstrate their commitment to peace.
It was something I always questioned and it was something that, over time, I began to conclude was no longer a workable solution, because of the things I’ve mentioned — that everytime Israel has tried to give up a buffer zone, land, whatever you might want to call it, to try to protect their country, it only allowed a relentless enemy that seeks to wipe them off the map to come closer and to have more capability to proceed. And so I’ve come to the conclusion where I no longer support the two-state solution.
I support allowing Palestinians to live in peace in Israel — Israel does that all the time. Ironically, Israel works very hard to make sure the Arab world has the right to religious freedom in their country. And yet the only religious restrictions in Israel, or certainly in Jerusalem, is that Jews cannot pray on the Temple Mount.
So I just find it astonishing that we always say that the problem is that Israel is not willing to give up land or they’re not willing to compromise. Israel has compromised so many times! In so many ways that sometimes I question why they continue to do it. I understand the challenging circumstances that they have and I have tried to be careful not to say anything that would contradict an important Israeli policy becaue I know that they have a very fine line to walk — it’s a very difficult thing for them to walk because, they’re, again, treated in a completely different way; it’s such a double standard that takes place.
But nevertheless, it’s my opinion that Israel continuing to give up land for peace is an equation that has not worked in the past and will not work in the future.