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Palestine's one-state solution
Thursday, 26 March 2015 12:08
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to the voters that he would not allow the establishment of a Palestinian state should he win the latest general election. He won, and by doing so he hammered the final nail in the coffin of the peace process and buried the option of the two-state solution, for which the now-failed negotiations began.
Netanyahu's statement was to be expected because the negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis have failed and have only been waiting for the coup de grâce to put them out of their misery. In fact, today's reality suggests that the negotiations exhausted themselves years ago and were doomed to fail as soon as Israel got what it wanted out of them. The ultimate goal as far as the Israelis were concerned was Palestinian recognition of their state and the end of what they believe are discriminatory labels attached to the Zionist movement in UN resolutions. Ever since they achieved this goal, they stopped caring about the future of the talks, even though the peace supposedly desired by both sides and the original purpose of negotiations more than 20 years ago is as elusive as ever.
The talks to-date have been little more than attempts by Israel to stall the process and buy itself more time to present the Palestinians with a fait accompli of settlement expansion, the consolidation of its new borders, the isolation of Palestinians within the isolated ghettos in Gaza and the West Bank, and an emphasis on the Jewish character of the state.
All that was produced by the long series of negotiations since the Oslo Accords was the growth of Israel across the occupied territories while the dream of a Palestinian state faded slowly. There is no doubt that today Israel is not concerned about formally declaring the negotiations to be a failure, and so we must not wait for such a declaration, unless it decides, as it did in Gaza, to withdraw from the West Bank unilaterally after finishing the construction of the Apartheid Wall. Hence, it is in the best interests of the Palestinians to start looking from now for an alternative before they find themselves, once again, facing a fait accompli that is difficult or impossible to change. They must find an alternative that leads to the national goals of freedom, independence, self-determination and the return of the refugees.
There are few options: they could return wholeheartedly to armed resistance, regardless of its risks and threats to the Palestinian cause and people; or they could return to complete chaos with its myriad of possibilities and results that are difficult to predict and control. We must not wait for the option to be determined by the Israelis, because the current situation is comfortable for Israel. As such, we must not expect the Israelis to abandon the negotiations because Israel, more than any other party, needs the talks to continue until it can guarantee that its "Jewish character" is strengthened within secure borders even as they expand day by day.
The ball is thus in the Palestinians' court because they are the losers if the unproductive negotiations are allowed to drag on aimlessly. It is in their best interests to declare, albeit unilaterally, the negotiations to have failed and wash their hands of them and all that they have produced. This includes the Palestinian Authority, which Israel only views as a vehicle for policing the ghettos in which the Palestinian people are blockaded and contained. When the Palestinians decide to ditch the PA, they will have imposed their own fait accompli on the situation. However, before doing so, they must decide that the only alternative option is to push for a one-state solution and work towards a democratic, secular and pluralistic state in which everyone has equal rights and freedoms.
This is the alternative that the two sides will reach eventually, even if it takes more decades of conflict and talking. This is the final option; one state with two nationalities. It will not be easy to convince Israelis without some very deep thought about how it should best be done. One way would be to develop movements supporting the one-state option first amongst the Palestinians, then in Israel, followed by the Arab world and world Jewry, and finally within international organisations.
We should not expect moves towards such a solution to come from the Israelis because the Jewish nature of Israel is a vital pillar of Zionist ideology. Nor should we expect it to be accepted automatically as soon as the Palestinians declare the negotiations to be dead in the water. Getting the one-state option to be accepted will take a lot of time due to the ideological convictions of Palestinians nationalist and Islamists, as well as the Arabs and Muslims who consider the Palestinian issue to be both nationalist and religious in essence.
Most Israelis are unlikely ever to think of this solution, especially with the rise of extreme religious right-wing influence on Israeli society. The Palestinians, therefore, need to keep this in mind of they are to overcome the inherent opposition that resides within Zionism. They need to remember that keeping the talks going only serves to grant some degree of legitimacy to the state of Israel in its current manifestation.
Israelis are aware and very scared of the so-called "demographic time-bomb" that is the Palestinian birth rate. Despite all of their efforts to persuade Jews from around the world to migrate to Israel over the past few decades, the state has been unable to tip the balance of population growth in its favour. That is one reason why Israel has sought to isolate the Gaza Strip to keep it out of the demographic equation, and it has succeeded. Now, by means of the Apartheid Wall, Israel seeks to execute the same plan in the West Bank. However, by doing so, Israel is contributing to the success of the one-state solution proposal because it is turning itself into an Apartheid state. The one-state solution will, in time, be impossible for Israelis to denounce and still claim to live in a democracy; the moral, legal and practical arguments will be too strong. Although that stage is probably still a long way off, it should not be dismissed out of hand.
Palestine's one-state solution