One-state solution in Israel
- An interesting piece appeared yesterday in the CS Monitor on the one-
state (secular) solution to the Palestine-Israel issue.
http://tinyurl.com/5u8u4n (for the plain text version, see below)
"A one-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis"
There has been much discussion of this issue (for predictable
reasons, extraordinarily heated) in academia. One famous paper on
the one-state solution was written by the late Edward Said for
the New York Times magazine in 1999:
but (for the same predictable reasons) the solution has rarely been
discussed (as in yesterday's CS Monitor article) in the mass press.
There is balanced overview of the polemical issues on both sides, with
a reasonable bibliography, in this Wikpedia article:
It is odd to me at least to think in the 21st century of religious states of
any sort -- Islamic or Hindu or Buddhist or Christian or Jewish --
especially states that are nuclear armed. But that's the world we have...
Plain text of the article below:
A one-state solution for Palestinians and Israelis
By Ghada Karmi
Fri May 30, 4:00 AM ET
London - In 2005, I was invited to do something most Palestinians can
only dream of: visit the house from which my family had been driven
in 1948. Of all people, a New York Times correspondent discovered
that his apartment was built over my old home.
When I met him there, the Jewish occupants who showed me around were
almost apologetic, perhaps aware how that incident encapsulated the
central story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the expulsion of
Palestinians and their replacement by Jews. Yet when I asked the
reporter how he could still write articles that betray this reality,
he was evasive.
His evasion is part of an industry of denial called the Middle East
"peace process." This industry feeds the current international
consensus on the two-state solution as the only "comprehensive"
settlement to the conflict. But there's a better solution, one that's
slowly picking up steam among Palestinians and Israelis: a one-state
The two-state approach is flawed on two major counts. First, Israel's
extensive colonization of the territories it seized in the 1967 war
has made the creation of a Palestinian state there impossible. Israel
was offering nothing more than "a mini-state of cantons," as
Palestinian Authority negotiators recently complained. This leaves
Israel in control of more than half of the West Bank and all of East
Jerusalem. With the Israeli position largely unchallenged by the
international community, the only route to a two-state settlement
will be through pressure on the weaker Palestinian side.
This leads to the second flaw: The two-state solution reflects only
Israeli interests. It proposes to partition historic Palestine – an
area that includes present-day Israel, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip,
and Jerusalem – massively and inequitably in favor of Israel as a
Jewish state. By definition, this rules out possibility of
Palestinian return except to the tiny, segmented West Bank territory
that Israeli colonization has created, and to an overcrowded Gaza,
which cannot accommodate the returnees. Thus the "peace process" is
really about making the Palestinians concede their basic rights to
accommodate Israel's demands.
It also panders to Israel's paranoia over "demography," an ambiguous
term that refers to the morally repugnant wish to preserve Israel's
Jewish ethnic purity.
But the two-state solution's biggest flaw is that it ignores the main
cause of the conflict: the Palestinian dispossession of 1948.
Today more than 5 million dispersed refugees and exiles long to
return. It is fashionable to ignore this, as if Palestinians have
less right to repatriation than the displaced Kosovars so ardently
championed by NATO in 1999. As recognized by the Western powers then,
the right to return was fundamental to peacemaking in the Bosnian
crisis. It should be no less so in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Yet the present peace process aims to preserve a colonialist Israel
and make Palestinian dispossession permanent. This is not only
illegal and unjust, it is also short-sighted. As the early Zionist
thinker Vladimir Jabotinsky warned in 1923, native resistance to
dispossession is irrepressible and Zionism would only survive with
constant force to quell it.
Israel has heeded the lesson well. With an oppressive military
occupation ruling over the West Bank and Gaza, it has herded
Palestinians into ghettoes and prisons, aiming to paralyze any
resistance. The response to this brutality is misery, expressed by
some in violence against Israelis, and continuing instability in the
region. American collusion with Israel has led to growing anti-
Americanism among Arabs and Muslims.
If the aim of the peace process is to resolve the conflict properly,
then we must tackle the root of the problem: the creation of an
exclusive state for one people in another people's territory. The
strife this caused will end only when the Palestinian rights to
repatriation and compensation are addressed. This cannot happen in a
situation of Israeli hegemony.
A different approach that puts the principles of equity and sharing
above dominance and oppression is needed: a one-state solution. In
such a state, no Jewish settler would have to move and no Palestinian
would be under occupation. Resources could be shared, rather than
hoarded by Israel. Jerusalem could be a city for both. Above all, the
dispossessed Palestinians could finally return home.
Indulging Israel is a dangerous folly that postpones solution. It
harms Palestinians, the region, and long-term Western interests. It
even harms Israelis, who are less secure in Israel than anywhere
else. Palestinian and Arab support for the two-state proposal only
reflects resignation to Israel's superior power and fear of US
reprisal, not conviction. The two-state proposal is unstable and
cannot replace a durable solution based on equity, justice, and dignity.
A decade ago, the unitary state idea was ridiculed. Today, as the two-
state solution recedes, a one-state solution is the stuff of
mainstream discussion. Now it must become mainstream policy, too.
- I think it is misleading to formulate the issue as there being people who
prefer a two state solution and others who prefer a one state solution.
Of course, if one were to decide between a one secular state versus
two states (in a vacuum), one would have to come out in favor of
a one state solution if one wishes to be on the right side of the moral
spectrum. But then again, if one is talking in a vacuum, I would
say that I want no states. I am a man of the left, and the only
solution that appeals to me is to have no states, no boundaries,
one world for everyone.
Coming back to the real and imperfect world, we have to look at the hard
facts. There is an international consensus around the two state solution
(along the pre-June 1967 borders) which has held firm for more
than forty years. Every year, there is a vote in the UN General Assembly
and every year the vote is Israel and the US on one side and everyone
else of the other. This two state consensus if of course downplayed
by both Israel and the US who have their own bantustanized version
of the two state solution, where Israel takes most of the land and
precious water resources and leaves Palestinians with crumbs
and besieged on all sides. Of course, this perverse version of a two
state solution, the Palestinians reject. In the strange world that we
live in, Palestinians are hence dubbed as rejectionist, whereas it
is the US and Israel who are the real rejectionist. Now I have
a question for one state solution proposers? Are they willing to give
up on this international consensus and the World Court advisory opinion
of 2004 (which was a watershed victory for the Palestinian cause, albeit
a paper one). Now the World Court Advisory opinion on the wall inherently
assumes the two state solution (for instance, it says clearly that Israel
has right to build a wall on ITS borders, but has no right to build it right in
the heart of the West Bank). Do one state solution proposers intend to throw
away these hard earned victories, although victories which have been
rendered impotent because the Palestinian authority has been so
monumentally corrupt and incompetent that they have not even
bothered to read the opinion. Contrast this to how the Zionists exploited
the UN partition plan and the Balfour declaration. Being good propagandists,
they used these documents to 'prove' to the world that their cause was just.
In sum, I would say that it is frivolous to propose exotic solutions which
have a zero chance of success and have zero support from the international
community, when people have not even tried hard enough to make sure that
a just two state solution which has the support of the international
community is implemented.