Posts Tagged ‘one-state solution’

Strenger: Israel should consider a one-state solution

June 21, 2010

Israel would do well to become a truly liberal, secular state without ethnic dominance in which subgroups no longer impose their way of life on each other.

By Carlo Strenger, Haaretz/Israel, June 18, 2010

In a recent op-ed, Moshe Arens suggested that Israel seriously consider the option of a single state west of the Jordan, in which Palestinians be granted full citizenship.

The one-state solution is advocated by a number of Palestinian intellectuals and is becoming rather popular within the European left. Their reason is generally that the one-state solution would give more justice to the Palestinians – this position is mostly seen as anti-Israeli. Israel’s extreme right favors holding onto the greater land of Israel, generally on theological grounds.

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Israeli Jews and the one-state solution

November 11, 2009

By Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, November 11, 2009

“Anyone who rejects the two-state solution, won’t bring a one-state solution. They will instead bring one war, not one state. A bloody war with no end.” — Israeli President Shimon Peres, 7 November 2009.

One of the most commonly voiced objections to a one-state solution for Palestine/Israel stems from the accurate observation that the vast majority of Israeli Jews reject it, and fear being “swamped” by a Palestinian majority. Across the political spectrum, Israeli Jews insist on maintaining a separate Jewish-majority state.

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Jimmy Carter: Palestinians ‘seriously considering’ one-state

September 7, 2009

Yahoo! News, Sep 6. 2009


AFP/File – Former US president Jimmy Carter stands in front of the controversial Israeli separation barrier during …

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Former US president Jimmy Carter said Sunday Palestinian leaders were “seriously considering” a one-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, following a visit to the Middle East.

“A majority of the Palestinian leaders with whom we met are seriously considering acceptance of one state, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea,” Carter wrote in an op-ed piece in The Washington Post.

“By renouncing the dream of an independent Palestine, they would become fellow citizens with their Jewish neighbors and then demand equal rights within a democracy,” he explained. “In this non-violent civil rights struggle, their examples would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela.”

Carter noted that in doing so, Palestinian leaders were taking into consideration current demographic trends.

He said non-Jews were already a slight majority of total citizens in this area, “and within a few years Arabs will constitute a clear majority.”

Carter added that a two-state solution for the conflict was “clearly preferable” and had been embraced at the grass root level but that a one-state solution was “a more likely alternative to the present debacle.”

The future is one nation

September 27, 2008

The two-state approach in the Middle East has failed. There is a fairer, more durable solution

Imagine the scene: the United Nations general assembly meets to discuss a resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Unlike previous resolutions, which have been based on a Jewish state in most of historic Palestine with Palestinians relegated to the remnants, this one calls for a new state, covering what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, whose present and former inhabitants are equal under the law. Such a resolution has, in fact, already been drafted and discussions have begun to place it on the agenda at the UN.

The one-state solution is now part of mainstream discourse. Increasingly, Palestinians – and some Israelis – support it as the only alternative to a Palestinian state subordinate to Israel. One-state groups have sprung up and conferences and studies are under way.

A UN resolution is the logical next step, underlining the issue’s global importance and exposing the inequity and dishonesty of the two-state solution, to replace it with something fairer and more durable. It would be encapsulated in the following clauses, part of the draft UN resolution for a one-state solution, which has been under discussion for six months. Its principal authors are my fellow Palestinian Karl Sabbagh and myself:

“The general assembly notes the failure of recent efforts made by regional and international parties to resolve the conflict through the creation of two states; Recalling the recent history of the former [Palestine] Mandate territory as a land where Arabs and Jews shared equal rights of habitation; Reviewing Israel’s non-compliance with UN Resolution 194, requiring Israel to repatriate the Palestinian refugees, and its illegal conduct in the occupied territories.

“Calls upon representatives of Israel and Palestine to agree on behalf of their peoples to share the land between the Mediterranean and the river Jordan … by setting up a state which is democratic and secular, in which the rights of all people living within its borders to freedom of worship, security, and equality under the law are enshrined in a new constitution, to replace the separate forms of government that apply currently in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza.”

The two-state adherents will not approve. David Miliband at the Labour party conference this week continued to argue for a two-state solution. Tomorrow in New York, Mahmoud Abbas will petition George Bush for the same thing. Both are on a hiding to nothing.

The pace of Israeli colonisation, unimpeded since 1967, redoubled after the Oslo accords, demonstrating Israel’s aversion to a two-state solution. By 2007, the West Bank Jewish settler population had reached 282,000. In East Jerusalem, it rose to 200,000, massively Judaising the city and precluding it as a Palestinian capital. Today the West Bank is a jigsaw of settlements, bypass roads and barriers, making an independent state impossible. Gaza is a besieged enclave. In 2006 the UN special rapporteur in the Palestinian territories concluded that “a two-state solution is unattainable”. Avraham Burg, former Knesset speaker, told the Israeli daily Haaretz in June that “time was running out for the two-state solution”.

Scores of others have articulated the same view. The peace process predicated on the two-state solution is stagnant, and a momentum has started towards the obvious alternative, a unitary state. This month a new forum, encompassing Palestinian personalities from the occupied territories and outside, has published a petition in the Arabic daily Al-Hayat to halt negotiations, annex the territories to Israel and demand equal rights in one state. This echoes many recent Palestinian demands to dissolve the Palestinian Authority and start an anti-apartheid campaign for equal rights.

The UN high commissioner for human rights has referred us to Robert Serry, the UN official responsible for the peace process, who stated that UN policy must conform to the Palestinian formal position, the two-state solution. A change in that position is not unthinkable. For our resolution to be discussed at the UN, a member state would have to present it, and several are privately known to support our aims.

A unitary state is inevitable. Establishing an exclusive state defined along ethnic-religious lines and excluding its previous inhabitants was unjust and ultimately unsustainable. No political acrobatics will alter this. The sooner the UN, which unwisely created Israel in the first place, takes charge of the consequences, the better it will be for Palestinians, for Israelis and for the region as a whole.

· Ghada Karmi is research fellow at the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Exeter University

One state with equal rights

August 8, 2008

The Oslo Accords of August 1993 were supposed to lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state, in exchange for Palestinian recognition of Israel. Fifteen years later, after a vast increase in Israeli settlements on the West Bank, the ongoing erection of an apartheid wall and the barbaric siege of Gaza, increasing numbers of Palestinians and their supporters regard a two-state solution as unworkable. Snehal Shingavi looks at the debate.

Demonstration for Palestinian rights in ChicagoDemonstration for Palestinian rights in Chicago

IN THE 1970s, the dominant Fatah group within the Palestine Liberation Organization dropped its demand for a unified state governing all of Palestine with equal rights for all citizens and began the process of promoting a “two-state solution.”

In the aftermath, a consensus grew among the Palestinian left that a Palestinian mini-state was the only viable solution for Palestinians. According to this argument, the best Palestinians could achieve was a state established on the territories occupied by Israel after the 1967 Six Day War–land that amounted to less than 30 percent of historic Palestine.

The conclusion that a two-state solution was the only viable alternative reflected several political realities. The first was the belief that Israel had become a dominant power in the region, with the backing of the United States and Europe. Israel’s victory in the 1967 Six Day War–and the unwillingness and inability of any other states to deliver a decisive military blow against it–confirmed this conclusion.

The second factor was a shift in the thinking of the mainstream Palestinian liberation movement, toward trilateral negotiations (between the PLO, Israel and the U.S.) and away from armed struggle and a broader engagement of regional issues related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

While armed struggle, in itself, held no hope of winning Palestinian statehood, the trilateral negotiations among unequal powers meant that the PLO had little with which to bargain and much to lose. Once the PLO accepted peace talks and the nebulous “two-state” framework that came with them, a series of political debacles took place under the auspices of the Oslo Accords. Yet the “peace process” reinforced the idea that Palestinian statehood would happen only at Israel’s behest.

The other factor in the debate was a decline in the Palestinian secular left, the long-time proponent of the idea of a single, democratic, secular state in Palestine.

The political weaknesses of the Palestinian left–its traditions of Stalinism and its unwillingness to oppose the Arab ruling classes of other countries in the region–left it unable to meet the challenges it faced. Thus, when the armed struggle posed the possibility of regional revolutions in the 1970s and Arab governments, particularly in Jordan and Lebanon, cracked down savagely on the Palestinian resistance, the left was paralyzed.

With the demise of the secular left, the possibility of a one-state solution seemed to die as well. As a further consequence, Palestinians lost a single banner for a unified movement that represented their concerns as an oppressed nation. Since the 1948 creation of Israel on much of the land of historic Palestine, Palestinians have always been divided between those who live within Israel’s borders, those in the Occupied Territories and those in the diaspora. Abandoning a one-state solution meant accepting those divisions as permanent.

The result was that the Palestinian nationalist struggle gave rise to rival movements and rival local leaders. Israel has been able to play on those divisions and the relative weakness of the Palestinian resistance to tighten the screws on the Palestinian population to unbearable levels.

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BUT ISRAELI policies over the past 15 years, under the auspices of the Oslo Accords, have convinced increasing numbers of Palestinians that the idea of a mini-state, or a two-state solution, isn’t viable.

Rather, it leaves unresolved all the decisive issues that resulted from the creation of the state of Israel in the first place–not the least of which are the rights of the large refugee population.

Continued . . .

End of the two-state solution

July 29, 2008

A multicultural state can offer Jewish Israelis and Muslim and Christian Palestinians a future free of discrimination, occupation, fear and violence

By Saree Makdisi |, Monday July 28 2008

In order to try to create an exclusively Jewish state in what had been the culturally diverse land of Palestine, Israel’s founders expelled or drove into flight half of Palestine’s Muslim and Christian population and seized their land, their houses, and their property (furniture, clothing, books, personal effects, family heirlooms), in what Palestinians call the nakba, or catastrophe, of 1948.

Even while demanding – rightly – that no one should forget the Jewish people’s history of suffering, and above all the Holocaust, Israel has insisted ever since 1948 not merely that the Palestinians must forget their own history, but that what it calls peace must be premised on that forgetting, and hence on the Palestinians’ renunciation of their rights. As Israel’s foreign minister has said, if the Palestinians want peace, they must learn to strike the word “nakba” from their lexicon.

Some must never forget, while others, clearly, must not be allowed to remember. Far from mere hypocrisy, this attitude perfectly expresses the Israeli people’s mistaken belief that they can find the security they need at the expense of the Palestinians, or that one people’s right can be secured at the cost of another’s.

Little wonder such an approach has not delivered peace. The only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is to end the denial of rights that fuels it, and to ensure that both peoples’ rights are equally protected.

For some years it was thought that peace could be obtained by sidestepping the central fact of the nakba, and creating a Palestinian statelet in what remained of Palestine after 1948, namely, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967.

But such a two-state solution is no longer possible. The inescapable fact is that one state controls all of the land, and it has done so for over 40 years, affirming one people’s right to live, marry, work and settle by negating another people’s right to do the same, on land that two peoples – not just one – call home.

The only question now is how much longer this negation can go on, and how long it will be before a state premised on it is superseded by its opposite, an affirmative, genuinely democratic, secular and multi-cultural state, the only kind that can offer Jewish Israelis and Muslim and Christian Palestinians alike a future free of discrimination, occupation, fear and violence.

The question, in other words, is not whether there will be a one-state solution, but when; and how much needless suffering there will be in the meantime, until those who are committed to the project of creating and maintaining a religiously exclusivist state in what was historically a culturally and religiously heterogeneous land finally relent and accept the inevitable: that they have failed.

This last point is especially important, because the conflict between Zionism and the Palestinians is – and has always been –– driven by the notion that hundreds of years of cultural heterogeneity and plurality could be negated overnight by the creation of a state with a single cultural and religious identity.

It hardly matters that that identity was never as homogeneous as Zionists like to claim: witness Israel’s methodical de-Arabisation of its Mizrahi (Arab-Jewish) population in the 1950s and 1960s, or the perennial debate over “who is a Jew” – an unseemly question that in Israel is not merely a matter of arcane theological exegesis but tied directly to matters of citizenship, nationality, and law.

Israel’s claim to an exclusive Jewish identity – as symbolised by its flag – has been sustained ever since 1948 by denying the moral and legal right of return of those Palestinians expelled during the nakba, by forms of legalised discrimination inside the state, and by the maintenance of a much more violent system of apartheid in the territories Israel has militarily occupied since 1967.

Palestinian citizens of Israel – officially referred to by the state as deracinated “Arabs” because it cannot bring itself to acknowledge the fact that they are Palestinian – face institutionalised forms of discrimination far worse than those once encountered by African Americans. For example, while Jewish Israelis who marry non-citizens (or residents of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories) are entitled to have their spouses come live with them, Israeli law explicitly denies that right to Palestinian citizens who marry Palestinians from the occupied territories. Palestinian citizens are also denied various other privileges, including access to state lands, reserved exclusively for Jews.

Meanwhile, Israel maintains two separate infrastructures in the occupied territories, and it subjects the two populations there to two distinct legal and administrative systems. Indigenous Palestinians are subject to a harsh form of military rule, whereas Jewish settlers enjoy the protections of Israeli civil law, even though they have been transplanted -– in violation of international law – beyond the borders of their state.

Indeed, Israel’s intensive settlement of the occupied territories is the primary reason for the demise of the two-state solution. Not only is the settler population increasing at a rate three times greater than that of Israel itself, but, according to a UN report published last summer, almost 40% of the West Bank is now taken up with Israeli infrastructure to which Palestinians are denied access. The remainder of the territory has been broken up into an archipelago, each little “island” of territory in effect a small-scale Gaza, cut off from the outside and completely vulnerable to Israel’s whims. Under such circumstances, an independent Palestinian state is inconceivable.

Even if it were conceivable, the creation of a Palestinian statelet in the occupied territories would do nothing to safeguard the rights of the 20% of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian; on the contrary, its existence would further empower the likes of former deputy prime minister Avigdor Lieberman, who wants all Palestinians removed to make room for Jewish immigrants (like himself). Nor would it address the right of return of the Palestinians who were deliberately expelled to make room for a Jewish state in 1948, who have been kept out and living in limbo – or in the prison that is Gaza – solely in order to preserve Israel’s tenuous claim to Jewishness.

Negation, denial and imprisonment have run their course. The future should be built on affirmation, cooperation, and the constitution of a democratic and secular state that guarantees the rights of Israelis and Palestinians, of Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike.

• Saree Makdisi is Professor of English Literature at the University of California, and the author of Palestine Inside Out: An Everyday Occupation, published by WW Norton.

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