John Bolton proposes in today's Washington Post giving up on Palestinian governance and a two-state solution, instead opting for a "three-state approach" in which "Gaza is returned to Egyptian control and the West Bank in some configuration reverts to Jordanian sovereignty."
If a zombie can be defined as a "reanimated corpse," then Bolton's proposal certainly fits the bill. This concept reappears like clockwork whenever there's an Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Some see it as a magic bullet to negate Palestinian nationalism or at least redirect Palestinian ire towards their new/old Arab rulers. Others just can't imagine the emergence of any Palestinian leadership they find acceptable (probably a safe bet) and prefer the predictable dictatorships to the East and South. Most recently, in October, Israeli Maj. Gen. (Ret.) Giora Eiland's Washington Institute for Near East Policy paper proposed a "trilateral" solution (more discussion here).
Variants on this idea pop up so routinely, in fact, that it might be more concerning if the dog didn't bark. So thanks to Bolton for that. But it's still a terrible idea. Leaving aside all the practical impediments, who wants it (other than Bolton and his pals)?
Bolton acknowledges that neither the Egyptians nor Jordanians are interested, but the opposition of foreigners has rarely been a problem for Bolton (or for neo-conservatives in general, whose misreading of the importance of foreign public opinion has always been one of the more deadly of their numerous Achilles heels). Bolton dismissively suggests that Egypt and Jordan can be persuaded with the offer of "financial and political support from the Arab League and the West." That rather understates the intense regime survival fears in both countries... and resonates rather too well with the popular Arab complaint that their governments prostitute themselves to the West.
Watching the walking dead can be fun in George Romero movies or in the Marvel Zombies comic books, but it's less amusing in the midst of a major regional crisis.. especially if it offers any kind of guide to the thinking of the Israeli leadership, the Likud opposition, or to the remnants of the Bush administration. The Jordan option, the Egypt-Gaza option, the "three-state solution" -- these are fantasies which have little to do with the real problems on the ground or feasible solutions to this intractable conflict. Can we just let this idea finally rest in its grave so that more serious options can be considered instead.. and perhaps even liberate some valuable Washington Post op-ed page real-estate?
Marc Lynch is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University.