Let the Two-State Solution Die a Natural Death

7 Jan

 

 

[Prefatory Note: This post is a modified version of an article published in Middle East Eye on Jan. 1, 2018. It contends that the proper priority for genuine advocates of peace between Israelis and Palestinians should be centered around apartheid rather than be devoted to reviving an Oslo style ‘peace process’ (always a sham) or proclaiming the goal of an independent and sovereign Palestine as attainable without first dismantling the apartheid structures that subjugate the Palestinian people as a whole so as to maintain the Zionist insistence on Israel as the state of the Jewish people (rather than providing a homeland within a normal and legitiamt state based on ethnic and religious equality, human rights, and secular principles.]

 

Let the Two-State Solution Die a Natural Death

 

Despite all appearances to the contrary, those in the West who do not want to join the premature and ill-considered Israeli victory party, are clinging firmly to the Two-State Solution amid calls to renew direct diplomatic negotiations between the parties so as to reach, in the extravagant language of Donald Trump, ‘the ultimate deal.’

 

Israel has increasingly indicated by deeds and words, including those of Netanyahu, an unconditional opposition to the establishment of a genuinely independent and sovereign Palestine. The settlement expansion project is accelerating with pledges made by a range of Israel political figures that no settler would ever be ejected from a settlement even if the unlawful dwelling units inhabited by Jews were not located in a settlement bloc that have been conceded as annexable by Israel in the event that agreement is reached on other issues. What is more Netanyahu, although sometimes talking to the West as if he favors a resumption of peace negotiations seems far more authentic when he demands the recognition of Israel as the state of the Jewish people as a precondition for any resumption of talks with the Palestinians or joins in welcoming American pro-Israeli zealots who insist that the conflict is over, and that Israel deserves to be anointed as victor. To top it all off, the Trump decision of December 6, 2017 to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and to follow this up by soon relocating the U.S. Embassy, effectively withdraws from future negotiations one of the most sensitive issues—the status and sharing of Jerusalem—despite the language accompanying Trump’s statement on recognition that purports to leave to the future, permanent Jerusalem borders and disposition of the city on a permanent basis that is misleadingly declared to remain open for an agreement between the parties to be achieved at a later date of their choosing.

 

All in all, it seems time to recognize three related conclusions:

         –first, the leadership of Israel has rejected the Two-State Solution as the path to conflict resolution;

         –secondly, Israel has created conditions, almost impossible to reverse, that make totally unrealistic to expect the establishment of an independent Palestinian state;

         –thirdly, Trump even more than prior presidents has weighted American diplomacy heavily and visibly in favor of whatever Israel’s leaders seek as the endgame for this struggle of decades between these two peoples.

 

Despite these obstacles, which seem conclusive, many people of good will who are dedicated to peace and political compromises, cling to the Two State Solution as the most realistic approach to peace. The words of Amos Oz, celebrated Israeli novelist, expressed recently this widely shared sentiment among liberal supporters of a Zionist Israel: “..despite the setbacks, we must continue to work for a two-state solution. It remains the only pragmatic, practical solution to our conflict that has brought so much bloodshed and heartbreak to this land.” It is also significant that Oz made this statement in the course of a yearend funding appeal on behalf of J-Street in 2017, the strongest voice of moderate Zionism in the United States.

 

What Oz says, and is widely believed, is that there is no solution available to Palestine unless there is a sovereign independent Jewish state along 1967 borders as the essential core of any credible diplomatic package. All alternatives would, in other words, not be ‘pragmatic, practical’ according to Oz and many others. Why this is so is rarely articulated, but appears to rest on the proposition that the Zionist movement, from its inception, sought a homeland for the Jewish people that could only be secured and properly proclaimed if under the protection of a Jewish state that was permanently, as a matter of constitutional framework, under Jewish control.

 

For many years the internationally recognized Palestinian leadership has shared this view, and has given its formal blessings in its 1988 PNC/PLO declaration that looked toward the acceptance of Israel as a legitimate state, if the occupation were ended, Israeli forces withdrawn, and Palestinian sovereignty established within the 1967 borders. It is notable that this Palestinian conditional recognition of Israeli statehood accepted a territorial delimitation that was significantly larger than what the UN had proposed by way of partition in GA Resolution 181(that is, Israel would have 78% rather than 55% of the overall territory comprised by the British Mandate, leaving the Palestinian with the remaining 22% for their state). This type of outcome was also endorsed by the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and was confidently depicted as the solution during the Obama presidency, and even adapted to meet Israel’s security demands in ways designed to make such a solution appeal to Israel. Even Hamas endorsed the spirit of the two-state approach by proposing over the course of the last decade a long-term ceasefire, up to 50 years, if Israel were to end the occupation of the East Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza. If Israel were to agree, the resulting situation would materialize the Two-State Solution in the form of two de facto states: Israel and Palestine. It differs from the two-state approach only to the extent that it refuses to grant Israel de jure legitimacy or to renounce formally Palestinian claims to Palestine as a whole. Among the deficiencies of such territorially oriented approaches to peace is the marginalization of the grievances of up to seven million Palestinians living for generations as refugees or involuntary exiles.

 

There are at least four problems, conveniently swept under the nearest rug by two-state advocates, any one of which is sufficiently serious to raise severe doubts about the viability and desirability of the Two-State Solution: (1) Liberal Zionism expressed an outlook toward a diplomatic settlement that was not shared by the Likud-led rightest Israeli governments that have dominated Israeli politics throughout the 21st century; the Israeli goal involved territorial expansion, especially with respect to an enlarged and annexed Jerusalem, and by way of an extensive network of settlements and transport links in the West Bank, underpinned by the fundamental belief that Israel should not establish permanent borders until the whole of ‘the promised land’ as depicted in the Bible was deemed part of Israel. In effect, despite some coyness about engaging with a diplomatic process, Israel never credibly endorsed a commitment to a Palestinian state within 1967 borders that was based on the equality of the two peoples.

 

(2) Israel created extensive facts on the ground that have definitively contradicted its professes intention to seek a sustainable peace based on the Two-State Solution; these developments associated with the settlements, road network linking settlement blocs to Israel, references with Israel to the West Bank as ‘Judea and Samaria,’ that is, as belonging to biblical or historical Israel.

 

(3) The Two-State Solution as envisioned by its supporters effectively overlooked the plight of the Palestinian minority in Israel, which amounts to 20% of the population, or about 1.5 million persons. To expect such a large non-Jewish minority to accept the ethnic hegemony and discriminatory policies and practices of the Israeli state is unrealistic, as well as being contrary to international human rights standards. In this fundamental sense, an ethnic state that is exclusively associated with a particular people, is by its own proclamations and legal constructions, an ‘illegitimate state’ from the perspective of international law.

 

(4) Beyond this, to sustain Israel in relation to the dispossessed and oppressed Palestinian people has depended on establishing structures of ethnic domination over the Palestinian people as a whole that constitute the crime of apartheid. As in South Africa, there can be no peace with the Palestinians until these apartheid structures used to subjugate the Palestinian people are renounced and dismantled (including those imposed on Palestinian refugees and involuntary exiles); this will not happen until the Israeli leadership and public give up their insistence that Israel is exclusively the state of the Jewish people, with includes an unlimited and exclusive right of return for Jews and other privileges based on Jewish ethnic identity; in effect, the core of the struggle is about people rather than as in two-state thinking, about territory.

 

If we discard the Two-State Solution as unwanted by Israel, normatively unacceptable for the Palestinians, not diplomatically attainable, and inconsistent with modern international law, then what? It should be understood that even if a strong political will unexpectedly emerged that was genuinely dedicated to the balanced implementation of the Two-State Solution it would be highly unlikely to be achieveable. Against this critical background, we are obliged to do our best to answer this haunting question: ‘Is there a solution that is both desirable and attainable, even if not presently visible on the political horizon?’

 

Following the lines prefigured 20 years ago by Edward Said two overriding principles must be served if a sustainable and honorable peace is to be achieved: Israelis must be given a Jewish homeland within a reconfigured, and possibly neutrally renamed Palestine and the two people must allocate constitutional authority in ways that uphold the cardinal principles of collective equality and individual human dignity. Operationalizing such a vision would seem to necessitate the establishment of a secular unified state maybe with two flags and two names, which would have a certain resemblance to a bi-national state. There are many variations, provided there is strong existential respect for the equality of the two peoples in the constitutional and institutional structures of governance. Said also believed that there must be some kind of formal acknowledgement of Israel’s past crimes against the Palestinian people, possibly taking the form of a commission of peace and reconciliation with a mandate to review the entire history of the conflict.

 

If the liberal Zionist approach seems impractical and unacceptable, is not this conception prescribed as a preferred alternative ‘an irrelevant utopia’ that should be put aside because it would be a source of false hopes? If the Palestinians were to propose such a solution in the present political atmosphere, Israel would undoubtedly either ignore or react dismissively, and much of the rest of the international community would scoff, believing that the Palestinian are living in a dreamland of their own devising.

 

This seems like an accurate expectation, despite my insistence that what is being proposed here is a relevant utopia, the only realistic path to a sustainable and just peace. There is no doubt that the present constellation of forces is such that an initial dismissal is to be expected. Although if the Palestinian Authority were to put such a vision forward in the form of a carefully worked out proposal, it would constitute fresh ground for a debate more responsive to the actual circumstances faced by Israelis, as well as Palestinians. It would also be a step toward unity, overcoming the current political fragmentation that has weakened the Palestinians as a political force.

 

The primary political and ethical question is how to create political traction for a secular state shared equally by Israelis and Palestinians. It is my view that this can only happen in this context if the global solidarity movement presently supportive of the Palestinian national struggle mounts sufficient pressure on Israel so that the Israeli leadership recalculates its interests. The South African precedent, while differing in many aspects, is still instructive. Few imagined a peaceful transition from apartheid South Africa to a constitutional democracy based on racial equality to be remotely possible until after it happened.

 

I envisage a comparable potentiality with respect to Israel/Palestine, although undoubtedly there would also be present a series of factors that established the originality of this latter sequence of development. In politics, if political will and requisite capabilities are present and mobilized, the impossible can and does happen, as it did in South Africa and in struggles against the European colonial regimes in the latter half of the 20th century.

 

Further, without such a politics of impossibility there is no path to genuine peace and justice for both Palestinians and Israelis, massive suffering will persist, and the normalcy of an existential peace based on living together on the basis of mutual respect and under a mature, humane, and democratic version of the rule of law, underpinned by checks and balances, and upholding constitutionally anchored fundamental rights. Only then, could we as citizen pilgrims dedicated to the construction of human-centered world order give our blessings to a peace that is legitimate and existentially balanced as between ethical values and political realities.

 

Advertisements

16 Responses to “Let the Two-State Solution Die a Natural Death”

  1. sudhan January 7, 2018 at 2:56 pm #

    Didn’t it die peacefully without a whimper many years ago, despite what the Zionist rulers in Tel Aviv and Washington say, supported by their good friend ‘President’ Abbas?

  2. Paul Wapner January 7, 2018 at 6:26 pm #

    I don’t believe in the inevitability of liberal democracy (ala Fukuyama) but I have long preferred a single state because of the strong possibility that eventually genuine democratic conditions may take hold and abolish the concept of a Jewish state and allow people to chart their collective destiny by representation rather than force or bifurcated ethnic attachment. To be sure, this vision would be no picnic since, initially, there would be (is) a period of apartheid. However, like South Africa, it is hard to imagine apartheid in Palestine/Israel outlasting sustained moral pressure to stop subjugating one’s own people. (Perhaps) once Israelis see Palestinians as fellow citizens (sharing a single regime) and the rest of the world mobilizes against apartheid, the moral rot will become so apparent so as to be unlivable. In this view, perhaps the Palestinians should declare defeat, call on Israel formally to take over the whole of the West Bank and Gaza, and then fight for rights and representation from within. It strikes me as easier to demean the Other when they are not fellow citizens.

    • Richard Falk January 8, 2018 at 4:36 pm #

      Paul:

      What you propose does offer a way forward, but in addition to expecting the Palestinians to trust
      such a process, there are a variety of other reasons to question its viability or desirability:
      the Israelis do not feel pressure of the sort that would vest rights in the Palestinians now living
      as rightness persons under occupation, and feel threatened by they call ‘the demographic bomb,’ losing
      control; this kind of solution does not address the tragedy of the long ordeal of 7 million Palestinians
      living as refugees or involuntary exiles; and finally, the treatment of the Palestinian minority within
      Israel does not give us any reason to believe that such an approach would lead to the equality of the two
      peoples, the only basis for a sustainable and fair peace. Warmest best, Richard

  3. Jon Ellis January 8, 2018 at 12:09 am #

    I agree with this article. PSC in Britain needs to move towards ‘one secular state’ as presented here.

  4. Fred Skolnik January 8, 2018 at 12:19 am #

    I have addressed the apartheid fiction at length and you and your readers are welcome to comment on each of the points I make, or ignore them and continue to pretend that the apartheid fiction is an established fact:

    http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/20666

    As for the rest, leaving aside the fact that such an outcome (a binational or multiethnic state) is never going to occur, it is also a surefire way to turn the State of Israel into another Syria. That too is never going to happen. When one proposes to turn other people’s lives upside down, with the most violent and deadly consequences imaginable, one would do well to consider how quick one would be to make such irresponsible proposals if one’s own family was involved.

    Israel is a Jewish national state in the same way that France, Spain, Italy and Turkey are French, Spanish, Italian and Turkish national states and the Arabs living in the State of Israel are a national minority in the same way that the Kurds living in Turkey are a national minority. Using the word “ethnic” does not disguise this fact. If the Palestinians want a sovereign state, they are going to have to negotiate one with Israel. Murdering a few Jews occasionally and then sitting back and waiting for the BDS movement to do the rest is not going to get them anywhere.

    • Mike 71 January 16, 2018 at 10:48 am #

      Fred,

      Although some of the less intelligent commenters on this blog claim that I am your alter-ego, despite the fact I am not, I still frequently find myself in agreement with most of your comments. One issue, which you did not address is the hypocrisy of Falk’s position in seeking to impose a 20% Arab Supremacist Palestinian minority “Apartheid Regime” on a 80% majority Jewish majority nation. In what his critics term “an Orwellian Inversion (War is Peace, Ignorance is Strength, etc.),” he projects the Imperial ambitions of the Palestinians to eradicate Israel in favor of a single Palestinian state upon the Jews. How this differs from the former “Apartheid South Africa,” which had a 10% White Supremacist minority Apartheid Regime ruling a 90% non-white majority nation, Falk does not explain. Apparently, while “Apartheid” is unacceptable for South Africans, it is perfectly acceptable for Palestinians! But of course, Falk will never acknowledge the practice of “Apartheid” against Palestinians by Arab regimes. See: http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11620/arab-apartheid-iraq-palestinians/ in which the Iraqi government, which had previously provided citizenship rights to Palestinian refugees, revoked those rights, in effect reducing them second-class (non) citizens. Iraq is hardly unique in this situation, as Lebanon, Syria and other Arab nations impose similar “Apartheid” type restrictions on Palestinians in their countries, denying them equal opportunities for employment, economic opportunity, or the rights of citizens of those nations. What is sauce for the goose, is definitely not sauce for the gander, as Palestinians are a Supremacist Class, deserving of rights not made available to others, regardless of whether Arab, Christian, or Jew!

  5. Gene Schulman January 8, 2018 at 10:40 am #

    The analogy that Israel is Jewish state like France is a French state, or Spain and Italy are states of the Spanish and Italians is completely false. Israel is a Zionist political state with Jews living in it along with Arabs and other ethnicities.

    There is no solution to the One State, Two State dichotomy. Israel is already one state. It is just a question of how long the Jews can maintain their power over the other ethnicities living with in its borders, including the illegally occupied territories. As long as Israel maintains its racist monopoly of power there will be no peace.

    • Fred Skolnik January 8, 2018 at 10:39 pm #

      Sorry, Gene, the ploy of trying to diminish and delegitimize the Jewish people by arbitrarily labeling them an “ethnicity” won’t work. They have always considered themselves a people or nation (“am yisrael”) as have their neighbors, from the Ancient Egyptians and Romans on. We don’t need you to tell us who we are. There is absolutely no difference between Spain and Turkey as Turkish and Spanish and Israel as Jewish.

      For the sake of clarity, an ethnic minority is one that has adopted the nationality of the host country, like Italian and Irish Americans. A national minority is one whose national identity is other than that of the country in which it lives, as in the case of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel and the Kurds in Turkey, Iraq and Iran.

    • Laurie Knightly January 16, 2018 at 12:32 pm #

      Gene et al: Part of the problem is the fluidity within the definition of the word ‘nation’. What is a nation? Is it an aggregate of people linked by custom, origin, history, culture, language etc? Jus soli or jus sanguinis or both/none? Thus we have such groupings as First Nation, Aryan Nation, Nation of Islam and Nation’s Giant Hamburgers. The conflict regarding national claims has not ended but rights of ownership from political/religious/cultural individuals who have been geographically absent from a tiny conquered city state for 3,000 years, or thereabouts, should be rather difficult/absurd to demand/prove as one’s due.

      Another criticism has been extended to Richard’s specific language use and this does pose limitations. He speaks with the faculty of advanced erudition, reason, civility, ethical judgment, and moral decency using the English language.This imposes very difficult limitations for those who cannot convincingly support their positions and feel compelled to smear one’s person. It’s not apparent to me why they are granted clearance to
      do so. We either have a protocol or we do not.

      • Richard Falk January 18, 2018 at 10:17 am #

        Laurie:

        I appreciate your supportive comments, and continually equivocate as between
        an open forum and constructive ambiance for real dialogue. The Zionist zealots
        who send their comments have no interest in the latter, but I am always reluctant
        to exclude voices that are critical of what I believe and express. Cure me, if you
        can, of my ambivalence!

        with grateful wishes,

        Richard

      • Fred Skolnik January 18, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

        It really isn’t clear to me how incessantly attacking Israel from every conceivable angle constitues a “dialogue” or what constructive purpose it serves. Maybe you would like to explain that. As for dissent, “zealous” or not, when objectionable or factually inaccurate remarks are made in a public forum, they are going to be challenged.

      • Richard Falk January 20, 2018 at 10:31 am #

        You have no understanding of dialogue or conversation. You just denounce,
        insult, and put forward questionable opinions as if authoritative facts. If
        your opinions are ignored because they seem so divergent from what is observed,
        you pretend that your targeted person is afraid or intimidated rather than just
        frustrated by your style of self-righteous arrogance.

  6. QCPal January 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm #

    Reblogged this on QCpal.

  7. Laurie Knightly January 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm #

    Would emphasize, once more, that the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 was enacted by Congress, with overwhelming support, long before Trump. The funding to make the recognition/move is included in Section 4 of the Act. He deferred action after his first 6 months in office which was a clause in the law. When the decision again was due in June of 1917, the Senate voted 90 to 0 that the act was to be implemented now. What would you expect Trump to do in this instance? It behooves anyone speaking on this issue to read the relevant documents and report accordingly.

    Another misnomer is ‘anti-immigrant’. People who think immigrants should come into the US legally are not racist, but are more ethical than their opponents who exempt millions of Latinos and ignore the plight of Americans in extreme distress, and much of the world engaged in civil/religious wars – except to drop bombs in the midst of the latter.

    One state appears to be a more realistic assessment of what exists and was planned since 1948 – and earlier. Whether two states or one, however, the Palestinians will be clustered in holding pens and kept in subservience to their overlords. The Zionists hope this will inspire more Palestinians to depart. The US will declare that ‘unhelpful’ and fund the project generously as usual.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Let the Two-State Solution Die a Natural Death « Middle Eastern Eye - January 7, 2018

    […] Source: Let the Two-State Solution Die a Natural Death […]

  2. Let the Two-State Solution Die a Natural Death – The Transnational - January 8, 2018

    […] Originally published on the “Global Justice in the 21st Century” blog […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: