Perspectives-Winter 2022-1

It isn’t every day that a past director of the C.I.A personally writes a letter to the President. In Joe Brennan’s recent article in The New York Times, he asks Joe Biden to help facilitate Israeli-Palestinian discussions for a two-state solution and make the quest for Palestinian statehood a national security concern. Brennan urges Biden to watch, “The Present,” a film by Palestinian filmmaker Farah Nabulsi. The film is about a father and daughter trying to pass two Israeli military checkpoints in the West Bank twice in one day. In the Oscar-nominated short, the father – who is just trying to deliver an anniversary gift to his wife – is locked in a holding pen while he waits to be searched. His daughter watches. Brennan describes his own experience visiting the West Bank in 1975, in the aftermath of the Six Day War in 1967 and 1973 Yom Kippur War. He argues that Israel had more pressing security concerns then. More than 50 years have passed, however, and there is a significant reduction of violence by Palestinians in the occupied territories and around them. Brennan argues that with the exception of Hamas in Gaza, Palestinian security and intelligence services have worked diligently with Israel for years to prevent attacks. So why hasn’t more IsraeliPalestinian conflict resolution been seen? REACHING A TWO-STATE SOLUTION Since being elected, Biden has authorized the release of $235 million for humanitarian and economic development programs in the West Bank and Gaza. In contrast, the Trump administration famously cut off funding to the Palestinian Authority. In his letter, Brennan discusses the failings of the Trump administration to recognize Palestinian interests by moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Brennan argues the ambition of Palestine to become a sovereign state is one that requires the attention of Biden’s national security team. But would a two-state solution be truly equal? According to the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, the two-state solution vision includes: • Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people • A demilitarized Palestinian state (the prohibition of importing missiles, maintaining an army, making pacts, and forming alliances) • Removal of refugees from outside Israel’s border • Limited use of airspace Is this two-state solution a truly independent Palestinian state or a “separate but unequal” solution more akin to South Africa’s “independent” bantustans? Would any solution that does not treat people equally or that does not allow refugees to return to their homes be a firm basis for long-term peace? OUR VALUES Hillel the Elder is quoted in the Talmud as saying, “That which is hateful to you, do not unto another. That is the whole Torah.” In his letter, Brennan describes the Palestinian main character’s daughter, in the movie “The Present,” watch her “father’s patience, dignity and humanity steadily erode” as he is held at an Israeli checkpoint. The quest for Palestinian statehood is a noble one. Brennan’s letter to Biden is important – discussions do need to be facilitated. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn’t going away. All the rest is commentary. Brennan Urges Biden to Pursue Two-State Solution WHAT DOES BRENNAN’S LETTER TO BIDEN MEAN FOR PALESTINIAN STATEHOOD? WINTER 2022 13

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