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The Two State solution is the only solution for peace between Israelis and Palestinians


About every other week, some "analyst" explains that the two-state solution for Palestine and Israel is just about dead because of Israeli construction in the West Bank or Palestinian demography or for some other "reason." The original author of this thesis was probably the late Edward Said.

Said briefly seemed to embrace the two state solution, but later rejected it:

The notion of separation, which is what the Labor Party had in mind when they did Oslo, was in effect to quarantine the Palestinians into townships or Bantustans or whatever you want to call them, which falsifies the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis, which is really a very close one. Israelis canít be understood without Palestinians, and visa versa. So the one-state solution is really the only alternative now. In other words, the Palestinians and Israelis are so mixed, especially in the West Bank and Gaza but also inside Palestine, that the only solution is a multi-confessional, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural state.

The latest resuscitiation of Said's ideas builds on the Israeli Maaleh Edumim - E-1 project, which proposes to create several thousand new housing units between Maaleh Edumim and Jerusalem. New settlement construction is forbidden by the roadmap agreement. Undoubtedly, the Israeli announcement showed little regard for the peace process or confidence building. It may have been needed to placate right-wing opposition to disengagement, but it doesn't make sense to announce that you are building lots more settlements in one place at the same time as you are evacuating settlements elswhere because they are obviously a dead end. That announcement was not the way to back moderate Palestinians and show that Israel means business about peace.

On the other hand, Maaleh Edumim is supposed to remain part of Israel under the Geneva Accord. Therefore it is hard to understand why people and organizations, including Brit Tzedek Veshalom and Americans for Peace Now, who suppport the Geneva Accord, are so extremely upset by this particular violation of the roadmap. Numerous "analysts" claim for example, that Maaleh Edumim will cut Palestine in two and make a two-state solution impossible. Daniel Siedemann, counsel for the Ir Amim group, is quoted as saying.

"E-1 is enormously problematic from an Israeli point of view..."
[It would create a situation in which]
"at best there would be a dismembered Palestinian state with no relation to Jerusalem. ... In the absence of a viable two state solution, the only default would be the end of the state of Israel as a Jewish democratic state."

Map of Maaleh Edumim and environs

We only need to look at a map to see that Maaleh Edumim does not cut Palestine in two. Maaleh Edumim is about 10 KM from Jerusalem, and perhaps 30 KM from the eastern border of a Palestinian state. At least some of the planned housing is well outside the area to be annexed under the Geneva accord, but it doesn't cut off access to Jerusalem from Ramallah or from Bethlehem to the southeast (not shown). Existing settlements that would have to be evacuated under the Geneva accord are much farther into Palestinian territory. Since the new housing in E-1 is closer to Jerusalem than Maaleh Edumim, it certainly will not cut Palestine in two, or cut Palestine off from Jerusalem. Palestinians could still access Jersusalem from north, south and east, with or without E-I. If Maaleh Edumim cuts Palestine in two, why did Palestinians who signed the Geneva Accord agree to leave it in place?

Self styled "peace activist" Jeff Halper wrote in Counterpunch:

Last week's announcement that Israel is constructing 3500 housing units in E-1, a corridor connecting Jerusalem to the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim, seals the fate of the Palestinian state.

Halper's rant might be credible if he had not been eulogizing the two-state solution for many, many years, each time insisting that the latest Israeli "facts on the ground" or proposal had killed the two state solution forever.
Here is Halper in 2003:

The Israeli settlement blocs are so extensive, their incorporation into Israel proper by a massive system of highways and "by-pass roads" so complete and the Separation Wall physically confining the Palestinians to tiny cantons so advanced as to render any genuine two-state solution impossible and ridiculous...

Only the road map, the last dying breath of the two-state solution, stands between the hope of Palestinian self-determination in their own viable and truly sovereign (if tiny) state and the de facto creation of one state controlled by Israel.

(Counterpunch, Sept 19, 2003)

If Halper believed a two state solution was impossible in 2003, then why should the E-1 project be killing it again? After all, even peace proposals can only die once.

Halper's presents his own "solution," which is like Edward Said's:

The stage is thus set for the next phase of the struggle for a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: an international campaign for a single state.

Halper did not begin his campaign in 2003 either. In 1997 he wrote:

Netanyahu might be right that a two-state solution, supported by both the PLO and segments of the left in Israel, is untenable.... the two peoples and the lands they live on have simply become too intertwined to ever disengage
Palestine-Israel Journal, Vol. 4, No. 1, 1997 (pp. 65-72)

Halper and Said, of course, are not the only advocates of a one-state "solution." The Yesha Council of the settlers, and right-wing activist Moshe Feiglin, offer their own one-state "solutions." Of course, their "solutions" would have only one Jewish state. The Yesha council might allow autonomous cantons for the Palestinians, while Feiglin's plan would simply drive them into the desert.

With "peace" activists like Halper, Said, the Yesha council and Feiglin, who needs warmongers?

What Halper and Said forgot to say is that the 1948 war decided forever the fate of the one-state solution they advocate. For a very long time, it looked like it also decided the fate of the two-state solution or any peaceful solution, but that has gradually changed in recent years. What Halper and Said and others forgot to mention is that the "Jews Only" "Apartheid" roads to settlements that they decry were only created after it became apparent that Palestinian terrorists made the regular roads unsafe for Jews, and the "Apartheid Wall" was built with the greatest reluctance when it became apparent that there was no other way to protect Israel against suicide bombers. The suicide bombers, like "peace" advocate Halper, want a one-state solution, and might keep coming even if there was a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

Halper probably never believed in a two-state solution and never wanted it, and neither do any other advocates of a single state "solution." The are practicing a slick deception by using the word "solution," which falsely implies that they are offering a plan for peace that could resolve the issues in a way that is satisfactory to both sides.

What we have right now is a "single state solution." It is not satisfactory, because it denies the Palestinians the right to self-determination. It is plainly not a "solution." Feiglin and friends want to formalize the current status quo and deprive Palestinians of their rights forever. Halper and friends want to replace it with a "solution" that denies the Jews the right to self-determination, which would be at the very least equally unsatisfactory. Arabs can and do live in Israel, and Palestinian Arabs continue to live in the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli occupation. However, Israeli Jews were never able to live in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza between 1948 and 1967, when these areas were under Jordanian and Egyptian rule. Nobody imagines that after Israel withdraws from Gaza, Jews will be able to live there or buy land there. Advocates of a one-state solution insist that the first law to be repealed will be the "law of return," which guarantees any Jew the right to live in Israel. This suggests that a one state "solution" might well make it impossible for Jews to live in this land, as well putting an end to Jewish self-determination. The one state "solution" is no solution at all. It is just victory for one side, and total denial of the national rights of the other side. It is not "justice" and it is not "peace."

What Feiglin and the Yesha council don't say is that there is no way to justify self-determination for the Jews unless we accept self-determination for the Palestinians, and that there is no chance that the Palestinians or the Arab world will ever acquiesce in their one state "solution."

However, those of us who really do hope for peace need not despair. The two state solution, that is, peace, is not dying or dead. It has never seemed more possible or closer at hand. Consider the following timeline:

1947 - UN proposes two state solution for Palestine, which is rejected by the Arabs, who insist on a one-state "solution." Chances of a peaceful two-state solution are 0, leading to war.

1967 - Arab states reject two state solution at Khartoum, calling for eradication of Israel and one-state "solution."

1968- PLO charter calls for one state "solution" and eradication of Israel. Still no chance of a two-state solution, and therefore no chance of peace.

1970 - Golda Meir says "There are no Palestinians."

1974 - Yasser Arafat speaks at the UN and calls for one-state "solution." He claims there is no "Jewish people." The PNC meeting that year calls for a Palestinian state in any parts of Palestine that are "liberated," as a stepping stone to eradication of Israel - the one-state "solution."

1975- US Assistant Secretary of State Harold Saunders tells a house subcommittee that he sees the solution to the Palestinian problem in a federation with Jordan, rather than a separate state. Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin insists that there cannot be a third state between the Jordan and the sea, a stand repeated by Israeli leaders until 1993. Still no chance of a two state solution.

1988 - Yasser Arafat announces that the PLO accepts UN Security Council Resolution 242 which recognizes Israel's right to exist. Arafat does not say that he recognizes Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. Palestinians insist on "Right of Return" for Palestinian refugees, which would put an end to the Jewish national home in Israel. Still, chances for a two-state solution look much better than they did before, maybe as high as 4 on a scale of 0 to 10.

1993 - PLO and Israel sign the Oslo declaration of principles, which recognizes the right of Israel to exist and recognizes unspecified Palestinian rights. In 1995, Shimon Peres was still saying that the Oslo agreements did not necessarily have to lead to a Palestinian state. On a scale of 0 to 10, peace and the two state solution might get a 7.

1999 - Ehud Barak announces he is going to negotiate a final settlement with the Palestinians that includes a Palestinian state. An offer is made in Taba in 2000, but the Palestinians reject it, insisting on return of refugees. Violence breaks out. The two state solution might get 4 out of 10 at this time.

2002 - Ariel Sharon, head of the right-wing Likud party says in a Herzliya conference speech that he is willing to accept a Palestinian state. The Palestinian state that Ariel Sharon wants might be as small as the Jewish state that Edward Said would have allowed, but at least he has recognized the principle. Arab states present a peace proposal that might allow the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, despite ambiguous wording about return of refugees. The two state solution might get 6 out of ten.

2003 - Palestinian and Israeli politicians representing sizeable constituencies sign the Geneva Accord, a "draft peace plan" that envisions two states. The Israeli government and the Palestinians agree to the roadmap plan for peace, supported by the US, the EU and the UN, which will result in a two state solution. UN resolution 1397 calls for a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Virtually the entire world now advocates a two state solution. Jeff Halper, the Hamas and friends are bitterly opposed to the roadmap and the two-state solution (peace). Give the two-state solution 8.5 out of 10 despite Halper and friends. Peace has a chance at last.

2005- Mahmud Abbas becomes President of Palestine, and the two-state solution becomes Palestinian policy in fact as well as in name. Even some elements of the Hamas accept the possibility of a long term "hudna" with a Jewish state, though, like Halper, Said, Feiglin and the Yesha Council, they haven't given up on the one state "solution." Jewish groups in the USA and the Palestinian group, American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP) have adopted the two state solution. Give the two-state solution and peace 8.5 on a scale of 10.

The "one state solution" of one kind or another, has been implemented in practice since 1949, and for most of that period, the only alternative on offer was a different "one-state solution." The one state solution proved conclusively that it is a formula for war and misery, not peace.

Numerous obstacles to peace remain. Not least among these obstacles are Jeff Halper, Edward Said and their sympathizers, as well as Feiglin and the Yesha Council and their sympathizers. Nonetheless, the two state solution, the peace solution, has made slow and erratic progress. We can make it happen, if only we remember that there is no other solution. Let's give peace a chance, because it is the only chance for both Israelis and Palestinians.

Ami Isseroff

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Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000347.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

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Replies: 25 comments

I find it odd that people would hate the one state solution so much. You can't demand democracy from Lebenon or celebrate democracy in Iraq when in reality your goal is to insure that a state ethnically runned. By celebrating Iraqi democracy which is effectively controlled by the shiahs of Iraq and denouncing such equal representation for Arabs and Jews in Israel on the basis Arabs will evantually run the country shows that you seem to like democracy only when it benefits you. It's not Said and Halper may have hated the two state solution is that maybe they don't see it viable anymore. Maybe the settlement of Maaleh Edumim doesn't cut off the West Bank into but does cut off major roads between Palestian cities. In order to travel from one place to another the Palestinians might have to take longer routes which might trade in any future Palestinian state.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 04/04/2005 06:03 PM CST

Hi Butros,
You can't understand because from your point of view, there is nothing wrong with denying Jewish self determination. Of course, if there were 20 million Jews and perhaps five million Arab Palestinians, you would readily understand why you hate the one state solution. That might have been the case if, for example, there had been no Holocaust, and if Arabs had not forced the British to stop Jewish immigration in Palestine. As there are no Jews living in Jordan, and precious few living in Jordan or Egypt, and as most Palestinians want their state to be based on Islamic Sharia law, there is very little chance that a one state solution would be democratic.

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 04/04/2005 09:00 PM CST

Also Jeff Halper did not say he opposed a two state solution. He also points out ideas that would make a Palestinian state viable. He says that by building the Maaleh Edumim settlement that would affect 40% of the Palestinian economy. That economic effect in itself would hurt the chances of a viable Palestinian state. People are starting to lose faith in the two state solution not that they don't want it.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 04/04/2005 09:14 PM CST

All this might be true but if the former President of South Africa De clarke was willing to end apartheid relizing that blacks would assume rule in a South African democracy. When Sunnis are asked to vote in Iraq when it is certain that Shias will still take control. Both the whites in actually doing and the Sunnis in being encouraged to do where eventually going to get them the short end of the stick. Many don't realize it but this is how nasty democracy can be. I think that it is a great problem within democracy when a minority becomes a majority or comes into power democratically. I didn't say I wouldn't want a two state solution but many Palestinians might be tired of trying to acheive it. I actually support the Geneva Accords and think they help solve certain issues that should have been solved earlier, but if the Palestinians feel that with settlement buildings won't give them an economically viable Palestinian state they might alternatives.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 04/04/2005 09:26 PM CST

I think the point being missed is that there is a rhetorical element to many of these "death of the two-state solution" pronouncements.

People who are serious about two states are obviously very dismayed about the continued settlement building and other Israeli activity which is both illegal under international law and designed to ensure that any eventual Palestinian state is as circumscribed and powerless as possible. They are trying to issue a wake-up call to the majority of Israelis who DO support 2-states that they need to put a stop to this activity. And certainly, unless many West Bank settlements are dismantled there cannot be a viable Palestinian state. Quibbling about the geographical location of this or that settlement is missing the wider point.

I think that's different from Said's position which was simply that two states is not realistic given the de facto economic and geographical intertwining of the two peoples. But as Said is no longer with us his opinion is of rather less relevance than those of the people who actually have to negotiate something.

Posted by Chris @ 04/05/2005 05:49 PM CST

Chris wrote:
"I think that's different from Said's position which was simply that two states is not realistic given the de facto economic and geographical intertwining of the two peoples. But as Said is no longer with us his opinion is of rather less relevance than those of the people who actually have to negotiate something. "
Both Said and Halper maintained in some places that two states were "no longer" practical. They were "no longer" practical for Said at a very early stage, and each time there was a bit more news about Israeli settlement, again and again Said said that two states were no longer practical. Since Said insisted on right of return for Palestinian refugees, he in fact never wanted a real two state solution. He wanted a Palestinian Arab state and a second state called "Israel" but with an Arab majority.

Butros wrote:
"Also Jeff Halper did not say he opposed a two state solution. "
Well yes, he did say that, and he has said it repeatedly since 1997 at least. He says Israel is an Apartheid state. He wrote an article at "one-state.org" in 2002 maintaining that a two state solution should be a stage in a "one state solution" - in other words, Halper has adopted the "staged destruction of Israel" plan that right-wing Zionists claimed was the aim of Yasser Arafat.

Butros wrote:
"He says that by building the Maaleh Edumim settlement that would affect 40% of the Palestinian economy. "
Butros, why would it affect 40% (and not 10% or 20% or 50%) of the Palestinian economy? HOW would it really affect it? What major Palestinian industries are there in the E-1 area? It is the same sort of prevarication and empty demagoguery as saying that Maaleh Edumim cuts Palestine in two. Look at the map. It is simply not true.

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 04/05/2005 07:26 PM CST

Be that as it may, Ami, if the Israeli government wants to defuse the situation and build a relationship of trust with the Palestinians, why build ANY new settlements? Even if as you say Maaleh Edumim does not cut the West Bank in half, construction work there is not going to make Mohammed Abbas' task any easier. Why not postpone any further building until a final status agreement is reached?

What people with power do is rather more important that what people without power say, in my view.

Posted by Chris @ 04/06/2005 04:57 PM CST

Chris wrote:
"Be that as it may, Ami, if the Israeli government wants to defuse the situation and build a relationship of trust with the Palestinians, why build ANY new settlements?"
Good question, but not relevant to the two-state solution. If peace groups favor the Geneva Accord, why are they against building in Ma'aleh edumim? If Abbas wants peace, why do official news outlets of the PNA falsely accuse Israel of irradiating Palestinians? All good questions, but not related to the real issue that the one-state people have been trying to push for 55 years.


Posted by Moderator @ 04/07/2005 03:28 PM CST

Ami, I completely agree with you except in two points. 1)you keep blaming palestinians for the failure of Taba and as I told you many times Clinton ignorance, Barak afraid of his domestic position and Sharon claims of not respecting if elected, help very much to the failure 2)the settlers are living ilegally in West Bank so giving them back to their own country (Israel) is the legitimate way of protect them. To build roads for their convenience destroying in the process civil palestinian goods and blocking palestinian civil movements is to deepen the vulneration of the Geneve Convention and it is not justified.

I've never seen the one multiethnic state as posible so an imposible thing cannot be a "solution". Only extremely romantic or extremely cynic people can see this as feasible.

Posted by Aleph @ 04/07/2005 08:13 PM CST

Frankly the assertion that a one state solution is the only option due to territorial & economic intertwining is absurd. All states share to some degree or another geographical boundaries with each other, and their economies are linked due to import and export activity. The single state solution is not an option as Israel and Palestine are so socially, legally and culurally misaligned that the merger of the two entities into a single state is unrealistic. How would the Israeli and Palestinian consistituions be merged into a coherent form? How would the IDF and the various Palestinian Forces be merged into a coherent form? How would the Israeli and Palestinian judiciaries be merged? It is these very real structural issues that determine whether a single state is practicable.
If a single state was forced upon the Israelis and Palestinians I believe that it would rapidly descend into full blown civil war. The net outcome of which would be the destruction of the entire Palestinian nation as they do not hold the means to direct or prosecute full-blown war. Ask yourself simply this - how long would it take the Israeli airforce to reduce Gaza to a burning mound of rubble with the use of incendiary and HE bombs?
Edward Said believed that world opinion would compel the Jews to behave in a way that would allow Palestinians to dominate a single state. He believed that the birthrate disparity would ensure a Muslim majority. He failed to recognise that the Israelis who are prepared to fight very fiercely for their state, would be equally willing to ensure that there were sufficient casualties amongst Palestinians to prevent them ever obtaining majority status. IMO he forgot that one of the aims of Zionism was to make Jews exactly the same as people from other nations, and that includes being willing to carry out attrocities on a very large scale.
There needs to be a final agreement about the boudaries between Israel & Palestine. However so long as a significant proportion of Palestinians still believe that Israel has no legitimacy as a state, then it is equally acceptable for Israelis to hold the same views about a potential Palestinian state.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 04/07/2005 10:28 PM CST

Dear Aleph,
Wonder who you are (I have my ideas...) You can write me if you do not want to give your email here.

The bypass roads - The only thing that Israel has to give for peace are the settlements. If we return all the settlemetns without peace, there certainly will not be peace after that. At best, we will return to the situation of 1967. If you give the kidnapper the ransom and then start negotiating he might not want to return the victim and vv. The Palestinians agreed to the Oslo process, in which there was to be no violence. Immediately however, there was violence. The Palestinians wanted to "negotiate" using force. That is when the bypass roads started.

Barak's offer - The map is at http://www.mideastweb.org/lastmaps.htm and it speaks for itself. It was not a perfect offer, but it was a very good offer -not Bantustans - and it was a basis for negotiations. There were no differences there that were matters of principle. The Palestinians would get another percentage of land somewhere or the Israelis would give up a percent of land. The main sticking point, of which Miftah is very proud, was that the Palestinians refused to give up right of return of refugees. Not just the right, but the literal implementation. The Palestinian proposal in that regard was unequivocal - see http://www.mideastweb.org/taba.htm. None of this can be changed by the learned and lengthy treatises of the Agha and Malleys and others who want to revise history by badmouthing Barak. Barak did enough damage to himself with his racist interview in the N.Y. Review of books. It was self-destruction of a bitter guy, like the "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore" speech. Barak's offer at Taba as shown in that map was OK. Whether or not he could have gotten it past the Israeli public is another matter, and whether or not that map was really approved by Barak is another matter, and whether or not he should have made the offer earlier, when he still had the power to implement it, is yet another matter. But if the Palestinians had said "We'll take it" even at that hour, 5 minutes past midnight, Sharon would have been in a bind. He could not stop negotiating and he could not renege on Barak's offer very easily. The Palestinians did not miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity once again. Very much later, Arafat was to claim that he had accetped Clinton's earlier offer. Manifestly it is not true, since the Palestinians have never given up ROR.

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 04/08/2005 01:18 AM CST

The Two State solution is the only solution for peace between Israelis and Palestinians? Why am not convinced?


Posted by alin sebastian @ 04/09/2005 01:11 AM CST

To alin:
Those have been saying the two state solution have very little to fall back on. This peace process has yet to end and it's hard to be convinced after fourteen that the two state solution is possible. Edward Said it wasn't possible or at least didn't feel it was a just peace. So far I have yet to see a solution being formed.Those who talking about the two state solution have yet to show for it besides a peace process.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 04/13/2005 06:10 AM CST

Butros: The entirity of the peace process and all relevant UN resolutions are based upon a two state solution. To my knowledge no one has presented a meaningful proposal of how a single state solution could be created, never mind canvassing Israeli and Palestinian communities to see if they would support it.
Whilst in 1948 it might have been possible to establish a single state if both sides had been willing to compromise their national objectives. Since then Israel has developed exponentially in comparison with it's neighbours and especially the Palestinians. The social, economic, political, military and infrastructural gap between present day Israel and the nascent Palestine are unbridgeable unless both sides agree to a compromise of historic proportions and one that has no precedent in history.
If you or anyone else has a realistic plan for the creation of a viable, peaceful and stable single state, I think you should share it with us all.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 04/13/2005 03:15 PM CST

Butros Dahu wrote:
"Those who talking about the two state solution have yet to show for it besides a peace process. "
Dear Butros,
Self-determination is the legitimate right of every people.

What you advocate is denying us our rights by force. It has been tried since 1948. You have nothing to show for it but the Nakba.

Indeed, the one state solution has many proponents in Israel, especially among the settlers. They say that the two state solution has produced only terror in Israeli cities. If we will have a one state "solution," it is the one state solution that exists now, perhaps with the addition that there will be another war (or two, or three) and Palestinians will be expelled from the territories. It is not what I want, and it is not what most Israeli Jews want, but the one-state solution people on the other side threaten to leave us with no other choice. If it is a choice between the right to self-determination of the Palestinians, and the right to self-determination of the Jews, then whom must I chose, and who, based on history, do you think will win?

Another Nakba and a Jews-only state is the REAL alternative you offer Palestinians, bcause Israeli Jews will never accept your one state solution. We have been saying the same thing since 1948: Either the Palestinians will let us live here in peace, or else we will defend our legitimate national rights by force, and we will win. Since 1948, people like you did not believe us, and tried to impose a "one state solution." which means the destruction of the Jews of Palestine/Israel and denial of the right of self-determination to the Jews. This has brought a great tragedy on the Palestinian people. So I think you may want to reconsider your position. If there is only one state between the river and the sea, it will continue to be a Jewish and Zionist state. Unfortunately if the conflict continues for a long time, it may be a very militaristic state as well. It is hard to convince people not to hate others who insist on denying them their rights. That cuts both ways.

Ami Isseroff

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 04/15/2005 02:31 PM CST

To Ami:

How do you figure all this? When South Africa ended apartheid and allow blacks to be represented did that mean the whites rights were abolished? Or when the Sunnis in Irag are supposed to live under a democratic rule runned by the Shias does that mean their rights are gone? What makes them so less special that they can't have a state of their own? What about Lebenon and Northern Ireland who are willing to under multiethnic one state solutions? Why can they be able to achieve such unity and for us it would be impossible? When Israel chose democracy it in effect chose to destroy the Jewish state. The Palestinians did not choose a democracy for the state of Israel and though Israel chose to be a Jewish state it chose a government that in effect conflicts with the Jewish state. If anything Democracy is what is destroying the Jewish state and not the Palestinians. Lebenon and Northern Ireland though with their flaws shows that people can live as one state despite being multiethnic. Instead of praising Iraq democracy you should condem for denying Sunnis self determination for de facto Shia rule under a democratic government.

Posted by Butros Dahu @ 04/18/2005 06:08 PM CST

The parallels that are frequently drawn between the Israel / Palestine conflict and S. Africa and N. Ireland are deeply misleading and erroneous. Despite what various pundits asserts, Israel is not like apartheid S.A.. In S.A. ethnic groups were categorised and awarded verying degrees of rights accordingly. In Israel in theory at least any ethnic / sectarian group can obtain full Israeli citizenship and all citizens have the vote. There are non-Jews in the Knesset - there were NO non-whites in the apartheid S.A. government. The use of the apartheid terms to describe Israel are part of political propoganda to garner support for the Palestinians, but has no validity in truth. The ending of apartheid changed the balance of power in S.A., but required only minor changes in the constitution. For the most part the non-white remain as poor as they always were. Neither was there any major inward migration of people into S.A.. A merger of Israel & Palestine would require massive restructuring just to achieve a merged constitution. Then the refugees would need to be housed and fed by an economy which at present is extremely weak.
In respect of N.I. although things appear quiet at the moment the IRA and the various Loyalist forces remain armed and ready. Most of their activity is directed towards intimidating their own communities and engaging in bank robbery, murder, punishment beatings, drug dealing etc. Currently the NI parliament is closed as the Nationalists cannot deliver peace and the Loyalists refuse to share power so long as the IRA retains its weapons.
Merging Israel and the nascent Palestine into a single entity would be a highly complex action. Many pundits have argued for it, but none that I am aware of have a realistic plan to achieve it with both national groups' interests being cared for. Since 1947 all attempts to achieve a single state have been predicated upon violence. Being a democracy Israeli politicians would need to massively incentivise merger to persuade the electorate - this incentive would have to be provided by the PNA and the Palestinians. To be blunt the Palestinians have nothing which would induce the Israeli electorate to vote for merger - they barely have anything meaningful even to incentivise Israreli participation in peace talks for a two state solution.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 04/19/2005 10:27 AM CST

I think you misunderstand the South Africa parallel. Israel is not being compared with South Africa. Israel plus the West Bank and Gaza Strip is. People who live in the West Bank and Gaza do not have votes in the Knesset elections. These areas (at last as conceived by Sharon) correspond to the "Bantustans" the South Africans set up so they could claim SA was a democratic country. The idea was that people from the bantustans would have citizenship there and not of SA 'proper'. So SA would be a white county surrounded by poor black ones without any effective power, whose citizens were economically obliged to go to SA as "guest workers" in order to survive. They would not have any "right of return" to white SA. That seems a little more familiar, no?

Of course the situation is different, partly because Israel was never a colony in the same way as South Africa started out, but was conceived as a land-grab on the American or Australian model. Added to which the Palestinans themselves do not generally favour a one-state solution. But there are sufficient similarities to give the parallel some validity.

To return to my earlier argument, there are broadly two sets of people pushing a "one state solution" - those who oppose the Jewish state on principle and those who think that if the Likudniks make a viable Palestinian state impossible, a one-state solution will be the only option left. It's important to distinguish between the two.

Posted by Chris @ 04/23/2005 07:26 PM CST

Ami, the Geneva Accords are not an agreement between the Israeli and Palestinian authorities. They are a propaganda initiative designed to show that a final status agreement is possible. You cannot use them as a guideline for what it acceptable for either side to do at present. You seem to regard them as something the Palestinians should be bound by but which the Israelis are free to ignore when they choose (the wall) and use in justication when it suits them (Maaleh Edumim).

In fact both sides need to refrain from doing anything which puts peace further away. That would certainly include the PA not publishing false news reports (although I have no idea if the particular reports you refer to are true or false) but above all it means not building any new settlements at all anywhere in the West Bank. While people who say Ma'aleh Edumim renders 2-states impossible may well be exaggerating, the general principle of no new settlements needs to be maintained if Israel is even to look serious about peace.

Posted by Chris @ 04/23/2005 07:41 PM CST

It amazes me how this problem is still festering. Palestine and Israel need each other. Israel has far more to loose at this point. There is a Redneck President in the White House who has a fair understanding of right and wrong. Regardless of the past, when this situation boils over onto American soil, the problem will be fixed, by force if necessary. Political pressure will remain high but in private for the most part until the Lebanon,Syria,Iran problem facing the US is settled. At that point, Israel will be forced to accept the 2 country solution as agreed. It appears the Israeli's are trying to surround Jerusalem with settlements so that the City will be permanently cut off from the Palestinians. I personally have a problem with that but if that is the only political solution then we all should accept it. The US can then cut some financial aid to Israel and give it to the Palestinians since the threat of military action against Israel will no longer be a major problem. Maybe then cooler heads will prevail and the people of the Middle-East will be more concerned with improving living conditions for it's population and give the ideology arguments a rest.

Posted by Bryan Kerwick @ 04/24/2005 12:08 AM CST

Chris; I disagree with you re: the comparison with South Africa. The apartheid govt sought to "outplace" it's majority population and create the illusion of self-determination for the Black Africans and the denial of rights of citizenship of SA. However, Israel is by international law (if you recognise Israel and the 1949 cease-fire line as the de facto international boundary) in legal occupation of territory as the military occupier. As the military occupier it should not carry out actions which change the status of the area of occupation. Therefore had Israel awarded the Palestinians defacto citizenship of Israel by enfranchising them, then it would have breach int'l law.
I have always understood the bantustan allusion was used to object to Israel's settlements which allegedly divided the West Bank into minor cantonments, which contained the Palestinians - economically, socially & politically and denied them the opportunity to create a viable nation state.
I cannot see the parallels you mention with colonialism in either Australia or America (USA?). IMO Zionist activity is entirely distinctive and has no other parallel I can easily think of. Further the nature of the colonisations of Australia & America (USA) are fundamentally different to each other, thus undermining any comparison.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 04/26/2005 10:08 PM CST

I believe the best possible solution(s) have not yet been determined, that it/they could be one or more of a variety of possible Two-State Solutions &/or One-State Solutions, &/or something(s) else- including one of a variety of Bi-National approaches &/or a Confederation with Jordan &/or other areas in the Region.

I would like to see developed a compendium of alternative approaches to Palestinian/Israeli co-existence, to be a back-up to the present process, & to be "at hand" & ready, should the present process falter &/or become inoperative.

I would welcome communications from persons/institutions that have thoughts about this &/or might have the capacities &/or contacts toward accomplishing this goal.

Will I need to periodically go to this website, to see further entries, &/or is/are there some other procedure(s) by which I can/will be updated?

Posted by Howard Cort @ 05/05/2005 02:59 PM CST

It occurs to me that if the "blue sky" objective were to be the creation of a single entity then the following would need to be aligned. The sequence must be followed if it is to have any chance of success.
1. Culture - The Political Economic Social Technological Environmental Legal & Opportunity values would need to be common across the territorial entity. This would mean common societal objectives. The EU & USA for instance share these cultural commonalities and thus ensure coherence.
2. Strategy - Once the Culture issues were aligned, then the entity would need to determine its strategic objectives, which would be shaped by the Culture
3. Policy - Out of the strategy would come policies - the actions necessary to establish & maintain the entity.
IMO the primary stumbling block is Culture. The Israelis, Jordanians and Palestinian simply do not share a common societal culture. At present their cultures are centred entirely upon themselves as individual groups and are significantly disparate. Israel is primary a multi-party multi-ethnic democracy with a regionally distinctive judiaciary and public administration. Palestine is at present a haphazard amalgamation of semi-feudal structures, semi-Islamic concepts and corruption. Jordan is primarily a monarchy which has some democtratic elements but that are not entirely concretised into to cultural fabric of society.
At the most basic level to initiate the development of common cultural values, there would need to be an explicit acceptance by the majorities within these national entities of the fundamental rights of the others to exist and articulate their basic human rights. There would need to be a single common version of history, which at present does not exist.
At best what might occur in the short (ish) term would be the creation of a Customs Union where free trade in materials, labour and ideas exists. But to achieve even this sucessfully, there would need to be agreement on common laws relating to cross-border trade.
Your project is tremendously interesting and it would be useful if those who actively support a single state contributed with some outline action plans. To date, as I have said elsewhere, there is a lot of vague and faintly idealistic talk but little concrete.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 05/06/2005 04:10 PM CST

The single state solution is nothing more but a creative way to extermination of Jews in the Middle East. The is not a single Arab state that can be sample of contry where sizeble majority with different etnic, cultural and religies differences can live in peace and dignity.
And Jews in the Land of Israel undestand it very well, particular because half of them were other refugee-Jews refugees that were through away from Arab countries.
There is no force in the world will force them to exept this solution, because this question is life or death issue.
Now, about demografic problem.
I will be not suprised if in the few years Israel will accept one more million of refugees from West Europe. The level of Anti-semitism in W. Europe is become stronger and stronger and very soon Jews of W. Europe will need one more time to run for their life.

Posted by Sol Schwartz @ 05/07/2005 08:03 AM CST

Although anti-semitism has increased recently in W. Europe, its level is not likely to result in any major exodus of Jews. The current level of anti-semitism is certainly nowhere near what it has been in the not too distant past. Also the Jewish communities are too integrated into mainstream society.
I think that a significant element in the heighten reports of anti-semitism reflects the heightened awareness amongst public servants of the need to validate & record incidents of hate-crime that were previously ignored, and a heightened awareness amongst the Jewish community & other minority groups of their rights.

Posted by Rod Davies @ 05/09/2005 12:57 PM CST

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