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Two-State Solution

February 13, 2008

Germany isn't helping Israel by turning a blind eye to its dealings with Palestine, wrote DW's Bettina Marx in response to the Israeli prime minister's visit to Berlin this week.


Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert should feel at home in Berlin. He's better received in Germany than anywhere else right now and no one shows as much understanding for Israel and its security needs than Berlin.

But Angela Merkel's demonstrative friendship, which differentiates her from her predecessor Gerhard Schröder, could harm Israel more than help it. She's supporting Israel in the wrong way -- a way that won't bring peace to the Jewish state.

"We advocate the two-state solution together with Israel," said Merkel before her meeting with Olmert. But, unfortunately, that's not exactly true. Israel talks about the two-state solution while at the same time doing everything to prevent it.

Palestinian territory minced, weakened

The area where the Palestinian state could be formed -- less than 25 percent of the Palestine that existed during the mandate period -- continues to shrink. The wall has already eaten into Palestinian land. It's robbing the cities and villages in the West Bank of their hinterland, water supply and resources. It's destroying the foundation of Palestinian society and the prerequisites for a viable Palestinian state.

Even worse, Israel's unrestricted settlement policy is chopping up the future Palestinian territory, breaking it into small cantons similar to the South African apartheid state.

Not only Gaza, with its 1.6 million residents, is completely cut off from the outside world. Even cities like Bethlehem have been walled in and surrounded by a ring of settlements. Nablus, Tulkarm, Jenin, Ramallah -- all these once economically significant Palestinian cities have degenerated into poor ghettos whose residents are totally deprived of freedom of movement.

The problem is particularly evident in Jerusalem, which the Israelis call their eternal and indivisible capital and which the Palestinians also claim as the capital of their future state.

The Israeli housing minister recently announced that hundreds of new apartments would be built in Palestinian east Jerusalem -- for Israelis, of course, not for the Palestinians living in east Jerusalem. They are increasingly pressed for space, were annexed against their will by Israel and are treated as second-class citizens at best in the undivided city.

Two-state solution in need of true supporters

What kind of two-state solution, then, does Israel support, together with Germany? Where should this Palestinian state be formed? And how should it become viable?

Anyone who cares about Israel's fate has to ask these questions. Those who feel as committed to the existence of the Jewish state as the German government does should do everything to stop the two-state solution from being undermined.

Bettina Marx is Deutsche Welle's Israel expert and formerly worked as a correspondent in Tel Aviv. (kjb)