As it relates to the Palestinians, many Israelis are arguing, this period of instability and unpredictability is not the time to make concessions. As American Jewish Community Executive Director David Harris recently wrote, "Since the upheaval began in Tunisia, Israel's immediate security environment has become more, not less, challenging. The chances for peace, already remote, seem still more distant."
But during my current trip in Israel, I've been finding a positive take on the Arab Spring coming from an unexpected place: right-wing Israelis, particularly opponents of the two-state solution. From former security officials to West Bank settlers, I heard a surprisingly large number of Israelis arguing that the Arab Spring will actually solve their problems with the Palestinians.
The first step of their argument is that the Muslim Brotherhood is taking over Egypt, so soon enough they will be will be willing to annex Gaza (run by the Brotherhood-affiliated Hamas). The group is certainly not hampered by former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's fear that annexing Gaza would strengthen his domestic Islamist opponents. So Israel will no longer have to worry about that strip of land from which it unilaterally withdrew in 2005, but for which the international community still holds Israel responsible.
The next phase of the argument is that Jordan, though seemingly quiet, is actually brewing with discontent among its Palestinian population (which some estimates put at over 50 percent of the country), and a Palestinian overthrow of the Hashemite monarchy is inevitable, clearing the way for a Palestinian state in Jordan or the Jordanian annexation of the Palestinian cities in the West Bank. The "Jordan is Palestine" argument is a familiar trope on the Israeli right that reappears every few years, but the Arab Spring has, surprisingly, breathed new life into it.
Thus, in their minds, the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip is no longer an inevitability. There is no need for Israel to make painful concessions as part of a negotiations process. Settlement construction can continue apace since there will be no need to create a viable, contiguous Palestinian entity. In their minds, the Arab Spring, ironically, is killing the two-state solution.
Their analysis is naive on many levels. Most notably, the Palestinians would be unlikely to ever agree to any of this. And the analysis of their neighbors are also misguided.
They may be correct that Jordan's facade of stability is starting to show significant cracks, and that Jordan's Palestinian population is getting riled up by the neighboring revolutions. But as the International Crisis Group argues in their recent paper, the Hashemite regime will only fall if there is an alliance between the Palestinian population and native Jordanians -- often referred to as West Bankers and East Bankers. And while there are signs that this is happening more than ever before, it is hardly a solid alliance. And even if they manage to unite to overthrow the King, some power-sharing arrangement will be necessary -- and it is unlikely that East Bankers would ever agree to tip the demographic balance so dramatically by annexing the Palestinian territories of the West Bank.