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From time to time, we hear about final settlement plans for Israel and the Palestinians that do not involve a two state solution. These plans are not new. The same plans have been around at least since 1948, and the same types of people are championing them, though they often pretend that their "solution" is suggested by the difficulties of the peace process or demographic considerations or considerations of justice.
In the last few weeks, we were offered three such solutions. One solution, by the Iranian Foreign minister Kamal Kharazzi, called for a single democratic state in all of Palestine. Another, proposal by the Israeli settlers' Yesha council, also called for a single democratic state. Tony Judt, a New York history professor, calls for a binational state. So after all, there is no problem, and it is not clear why there is fighting here. Everyone wants a nice democratic state it seems, so let's see if we can solve the problem that way.
Can Jews and Palestinians agree on a single democratic state? The devil is in the details. Will the Jews agree to give up the Law of Return, that gives Jews everywhere the right to emmigrate to Israel? I doubt it. Will the Palestinians agree to this Law of Return? I doubt it. Will the Palestinians give up the idea of basing their laws on Islamic law? I doubt it. Over 50% of Palestinians want an Islamic government of some sort. Who would serve in the army of this one state? Who would decide if Israel goes to war? Who would decide immigration policies? Will the Palestinians agree to a Jewish star in their flag or will the Jews agree to a green and black and red flag? How long will it be before one side or the other tries to get more power for itself, and shut out the other side? Or, more probably, won't the existence of any such state that is founded on mutual loathing be a perpetual power struggle between sides that are perpetually trying to get the best of each other?
The two state solution is difficult to implement, but the one-state solution is impossible in principle to implement and is inherently unjust. The conflict is about two peoples who both want and deserve the right to self determination, and no plan that ignores the main problem can be called a peace plan.
The settlers' "democracy" would clearly be an apartheid state in which Palestinians were supposed to be doomed to minority representation. A paradise for the settlers. But it is a fool's paradise of course. As history showed us in Lebanon, when demographic facts no longer fit the constitution, the constitution will be changed. The constitution of Lebanon was supposed to grant Christians control of Lebanon, but in fact they no longer control it. Actually, the Syrians control Lebanon, and there is nothing to say that they would not, in the fullness of time, come to control an Israel wracked by civil strife. The Kharazzi 'democracy,' like the secular democratic state advocated by the PLO in seventies, and the single state solution advocated by the Grand Mufti, Haj amin El-Husseini before 1948, would in fact be a travesty that violates the rights of the Jews of Israel. A one state solution is inherently undemocratic, because it must deny either to the Jews, or to the Palestinian Arabs, or to both, the fundamental right of self-determination.
In May of 1947, Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko observed in the UN General Assembly that the best solution for Palestine was a single democratic state, but if the sides could not be reconciled, then only a two-state partition solution would be possible. As history has shown, the sides could not be reconciled.
There is no logic to the proposition that if the sides cannot agree to a two state solution, they must have a one-state solution. If the sides do not agree, then a one state solution will turn into a nightmare of repression and perhaps genocide.
Jews came to Israel to build a homeland for our people. The fathers of Zionism foresaw that in a world of nation-states, a people without a home at best, would live a threatened existence in which it could never develop its own national life, and at worst was doomed to disaster. Zionism did not arise because of the Holocaust. Israel was not created because of the Holocaust, but in spite of the Holocaust, for the Holocaust robbed us of most of the European Jews that Herzl and others thought would constitute the major populace of our state. The Holocaust however, vindicated in a most tragic way the vision of the founders of Zionism. Without a national home, the Jews of Europe found that the gates of the world, including the USA, were closed to them. They were trapped in a death camp. The Jewish Yishuv (community) in this country could do nothing to help them, for the British held the keys to our country, and the British had locked the doors. The supposedly all-powerful American Jewish community could do nothing at all as well. The doors of the USA were locked as well; immigration visas were refused and boatloads of expelled Jews were turned back to Europe. Now we have established a homeland where we hold the keys to our own national shelter and our own destiny. Does anyone believe we will give it up? Does anyone believe that Jews will want to live in this country under majority Arab rule? Equally, having learned the lessons of the Holocaust, how can we deny to another people the same right to self-determination?
Each side continues to offer one state "democratic" plans or federal solutions that would not be democratic, because they would deny or abridge the rights of either the Jews or the Arabs. To Israeli Jews, it is obvious that the "single democratic state" solution of Kharrazi is not democratic and is not a solution. To Palestinians, it is obvious that the settlers' plan is not democratic and is not a solution. But in reality, if we abandon the two state solution, then we will eventually implement either the settlers' plan or Kharrazi's plan or Judt's binational plan. The states would not be democratic and they would not be workable, for the legislators would refuse to sit together, as happened under the British mandate, and young men of different communities would refuse to fight in the same army to defend their "homeland." The same people who could readily see that the settlers' solution is racist, because it denies self-determination to the Palestinians, are often ready to offer us an equally racist "democratic state" that denies self-determination to the Jews.
Those who insist that Israeli development and settlement in the West Bank are creating irreversible facts on the ground are creating difficulties where none exist. Two hundred thousand settlers should not stand in the way of peace even if every one of them has to be moved. The creation of Israel was attended by the flight of many more refugees, and the creation of India and Pakistan necessitated population exchanges of millions of people. The Geneva Accord solution and others show that in fact, it is possible to reach a solution without transferring all those settlers.
Those who insist that a two state solution is not possible because of the limited resources of the land, forget that the land will not be larger or richer if there is a single state. Economic cooperation between the two countries can overcome many of the difficulties. If no such cooperation is possible, then a single state or a binational state will certainly not work. It will not work politically or economically or socially. It will degenerate into the chaos and horror of civil war that fell upon Lebanon, Yugoslavia and Cyprus.
Those people who insist that we are running out of water or land should be reminded that in 1931 the experts of the British government declared that the land would possibly support an additional 20,000 families, but not more, with further development, while in 1945 the British and American experts believed it might be possible to settle another million people in Palestine. Since then, the population between the river and the sea has grown from less than two million to about ten million.
Peace between Israelis and Palestinians does not require more maps and cannot be realized by any trick "democracies" that rob people of their rights. Peace requires a resolution of both peoples to make peace, and to each respect the rights of the other. Without that one ingredient no peace is possible, and any constitution will be wrecked by those who feel that they are disenfranchised and those who insist that the entire land belongs only to them. With the resolution for peace comes the desire to provide a solution that realizes the desires of each people to determine its own future, to be " free peoples in our own lands." If you will, it is no legend.
Who's in favor of annihilating Israel?
By Yoel Esteron
The most venomous and dangerous attack on the State
Sixty years after the attempt to wipe out the
Can an idea be ludicrous and dangerous at the
And yet the idea is also a dangerous one,
Of course, not everyone is in awe of this
The idea of a binational state is not new, of
There is no need for surveys to know that the
At the moment, it is thriving not because of
The Israeli right and its government, along with
It is easy to say to Judt and his ilk that they
Kharrazi says formation of democratic state in Palestine only way
towards peace in Middle East
Rightists preparing plan to counter road map, peace bids
By Haaretz Service
The settlement movement's Yesha Council said
The council has announced a
Israel Radio reported Tuesday that Likud
Sharon came under heavy fire at a Likud faction
Several faction members harshly criticized
Yesha Council officials said that they would
"We are very worried by the statements
"If he does not intend to carry out the
"Even worse, if he does intend to take this
The Yesha anti-evacuation campaign will center
The council said that the same day that a
Yesha spokesman Yehoshua Mor-Yossef said Tuesday
"There has always been one settlement that the
Israel Radio said the heart of the rightists'
The proposed program opposes any establishment
Based to some degree on the American Electoral
According to the plan, only Jews could serve as
The radio said that the proposal has been being
But Yesha Council leader Adi Mintz, refraining
Mintz said that the program would include, in
Which kind of binational state?
By Meron Benvenisti
In the rush of refreshing statements heard lately, the warnings have come
The vast majority of public opinion rejects that option and the academic
The connection between losing the Jewish demographic majority and the fear
That's the kind of regime that replaced the apartheid government in South
However, it is difficult to assume that such a situation would evolve in
The fear of the loss of the majority has already yielded plans for
One such alternative is a system that recognizes collective
Why did arrangements based on one state for two peoples work in various
The option of power sharing and division into federated cantons is closer
Those who don't recognize and accept intercommunal equality propose a
And there's a fourth model, which can be called "undeclared
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Replies: 4 comments
There Is No Two-state Solution - Just A Dangerous Illusion
The choice between One-state and Two-states "solutions" is imaginary. Both options are not open in the present reality.
Does this imply that we should now unify the populations and declare the one-state Israel-Palestine? Of course not! And Ami Issaroff gave many good arguments against this. I am willing to endorse his words in previous correspondence: "Until there is peace in the hearts of both sides, there can be no solution, and once there is peace, then it will not matter so much what is the solution". Indeed, many people gave up on reconciliation, because the previous lame attempts by unworthy politicians brought us to the present situation.
Posted by Asher Shla'in @ 12/02/2003 02:04 AM CST
What about a Holy Land Confederation? One Confederation with 2 component States.
A Citizen of one component State will have the right to live and work and own property in any part of the Confederation. There will be no travel restrictions. There will be no security wall.
A Citizen of Israel will be subject to Israeli laws and Confederation laws, while a Citizen of Palestine would be subjection to Palestinian laws and Confederation laws.
The problem is deciding which territory within the Confederation would be Israeli and which would be Palestinian. This can only be resolved through negotiation.
There will be national elections for each State. There will be an Assembly for the Confederation. There could also be a Court for the Confederation to reconcile laws of the Confederation and laws of the component states.
There could also be a President for the Confederation: For 2 years it could be an Israeli and for 2 years it could be a Palestian. When there is an Israeli as Confederation President, the Vice-President for the Confederation has to be Palestian, and vice versa.
Importantly, there should be only one confederation army. There would be no 'Israeli' nor a 'Palestian' army.
There should also be a Confederation police force, but no 'national' police force: only cantonal or municipal police.
There will be a tri-lingual education policy where students throughout the Confederation must learn Arabic, Hebrew and English.
There could be an Israeli flag, a Palestinian flag and a Holy Land Confederation flag.
Posted by Lim @ 12/02/2003 04:22 PM CST
Some further suggestions to the Holy Land Confederation idea. Jerusalem can be the capital of the Confederation, but the capital of Isreal should be Tel Aviv and the capital of Palestine should be Ramallah.
Foreign countries should send their ambassadors to the Confederation rather than to Israel or Palestine.
There will be no Israel nor Palestiniam Embassies and Tourism Offices in other countries - only Embassies and Tourism Offices of the Holy Land Confederation.
There would be a Confederation dollar to replace the current Isreali currency and plans for a Palestinian currency.
However each component State can determine their own immigration policy, meaning that Israel could still have its Law of Return and Palestine could welcome any refugee it wishes to admit.
Importantly, there should be no expulsion of Palestians from Isreal to Palestine, nor eviction of Israeli settlers out of Palestine.
It would be ideal if there would be no internal border within the Confederation, but that's not possible, so there will still have to be a distinction between Israeli territory and Palestian territory within the Confederation.
Due to the lack of ports and airports and roads in Palestian, Israel should give Ramallah's Transport Ministry appropriate access to ports and airports and road, so that Ramallah need not incur the cost in developing these.
Posted by LIM @ 12/03/2003 02:33 AM CST
There has been a comment 'This is not the time to talk about a single (federal) state'. I would think that with 2 states and no confederation, the 2 states will constantly be at odds with each other. Particularly so since they are so tied to each other, e.g. Palestinians working in Israel, Israelis living in Palestine.
So Confederation should be seen as a solution and the forum to work out differences. It could also provide the legal framework for a more equal relationship between Israelis and Palestians in daily life.
Posted by LIM @ 12/03/2003 02:44 AM CST
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