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Israel-Palestine: The Jewish one-state solution- Are they serious?


The one-state "solution" for Jews and Arabs is always with us. See for example, Book Review: Benny Morris, One State, Two States, Palestine & Israel: One state and bi-national state 'solutions' are frauds, One state for Israelis and Palestinians is 'utopian', Protocols of the Elders of Anti-Zion: The Palestinian 'one state' threat is back.

Now our old nemesis is back again, or maybe it never left. It is being repackaged as a Jewish one-state "solution" proposal, initiated by leaders of the Israeli right. It was discussed recently in a Haaretz article.It sounds really attractive at first:

It's an idea for solving the conflict that sounds like a vision of the end of days: Grant Israeli citizenship and equal rights to all the Palestinians in the West Bank. And who is proposing the one-state solution? Right-wingers and settlers.

It seems however, that the citizenship won't be citizenship and the rights won't be rights exactly and the one state will not be one state. Uri Elitzur, former chairman of the Yesha Council of Settlements, told Haaretz: "I want us to look for the solutions on the other side of the scale, which lies between the existing situation and the annexation and naturalization of all the Palestinians." Not exactly one state, not exactly citizens. Haaretz adds regarding the group proposing this idea:

They talk about a process that will take between a decade and a generation to complete, at the end of which the Palestinians will enjoy full personal rights, but in a country whose symbols and spirit will remain Jewish.

Not exactly "full personal rights." "A process that will take between a decade and a generation to complete" means "never." It is like the man who claimed he could teach the Sultan's donkey to speak in 10 years, provided he lived in luxury, otherwise he agreed to forfeit his life.

"Are you crazy? The Sultan will surely kill you when you fail!"

"In ten years, either the donkey will die, or the Sultan will die."

Being an Arab citizen in a country in which the symbols and spirit will remain Jewish means there will not be "full personal rights." Some people will be more equal than others. "Full personal rights" means everyone's vote is equal. If a majority vote to put a green crescent on the flag and change the national anthem to "Biladi, Biladi" then that will become law. If a majority that Islam will be the official religion, that will become law. "Full personal rights" means that if Mahmoud from Rantiss or Fathi from Nazareth marries Saida from Damascus, Syria, Saida can become a citizen of Israel. There are a lot of Saidas and Fatimas in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. There will be a lot of relatively prosperous Mahmouds in Israel. Inevitably, most of the newlyweds will make their home in Israel. The Arab population will grow and one day they will be a majority. That is clearly not what Reuven Rivlin or Tzipi Hotoveli or Uri Elitzur have in mind.

Enthusiasts of the one Jewish state scheme argue that Jewish birthrate is now higher than that of the Arabs in the West Bank, according to their own special right wing demographic figures (see here for example). That may be true right now. But the solution is supposed to be permanent. Once the Arabs of the West Bank are citizens, they cannot be deprived of citizenship en masse. Can the one-staters really predict the demography trends 50 or 100 years from now? Are they certain there will not be an Arab majority? There are many of ultraorthodox (Haredi) Jews right now, and they have children in large numbers. But history shows that the children of Haredim are usually no longer Haredim. If they remain Haredim then Israel will eventually consist only of Arabs and Haredim in any case, and would not be viable as a Zionist Jewish state.

The economy of the West Bank is not doing well. The Arab birthrate in the West Bank may increase if prosperity returns. The same demographers claim that the Palestinian population figures are swollen by false reporting and by counting Palestinians who live abroad. That may be so, but if Israel gives Palestinians citizenship rights, those Palestinians living abroad may return. The demographic calculations may no longer hold true.

A constitution cannot be based on temporary demographic trends or the current proportion of various groups. That Even if the Arab population of Israel is "only" 30 to 40% of the total, it is difficult to imagine that such a large minority would acquiesce in a Jewish state that allows only immigration of Jews and does not taken account of Palestinian Arab national aspirations at all.

The unequal but "equal" Palestinian Arab citizens of the new state will flock to live in green line Israel, to live where their memories are and to be in the more prosperous areas of the country. They will come to the cities, to Haifa and Beisan and Majdal and Isdood and Birsaba and of course to Jaffa and Al Quds to reclaim their lost homes and lands.

The one-state idyll cannot banish the history of internal Arab-Jewish violence in Israel and Palestine. That history goes back to the Ottoman Turkish mandate, before there was Israel, before there was a political entity called "Palestine." It is no secret that Israeli Arabs and Jews do not dwell together in peace and harmony. There are not many integrated schools in Israel.. In the Galilee and elsewhere, Bedouin and other Arabs are reportedly encroaching on Jewish land and stealing farm equipment and animals. That activity is bound to intensify in the Jewish one-state "solution. The unequal "equality" in that state will certainly provide a good excuse.

Two years ago there were riots in Acco on Yom Kippur. Three years ago there were Druze riots in Peki'in. The history of violence in Palestine during mandatory times and Ottoman times is well known( see for example: Safed plunder of 1834,Arab uprising. Everyone in Israel is aware of these unpleasant facts. Even the right-wing politicians like Tzipy Hotoveli and Reuven Rivlin certainly know about them. How will the one-state "solution" produce an idyll of peaceful coexistence? They claim that the process will be slow, and that Israeli Arabs must be integrated first. But the Arabs of Israel were not integrated in 62 years, and the situation is getting worse, not better. It is unlikely that they will be integrated in 10 more years or 10 decades.

The proponents of the one-state "solution" also forgot about Gaza. Gaza will not go away. It is impossible to imagine that one million or 1.5 million Arabs will stay pent up in a kind of limbo territory, and that their friends and relatives, free citizens of Israel, will show no interest in helping them join their prosperous state, where the per-capita GDP is perhaps 30 times larger than that of Gaza.

The Jewish one-state "solution," like the Arab one-state "solution," is a fraud. These people are either fooling themselves or trying to fool us and everyone else. One state solutions are always going to cheat some people of their rights. They must either end in an Arab one-state "solution," such as the one advocated by the Hamas groupies of the MSU in Irvine and San-Diego, California, or in a real apartheid state dominated by the Jews.

Admittedly, the two-state solution is hard to achieve. But that is because peace and reconciliation are hard to achieve. If we cannot achieve real reconciliation, then no solution will be possible, and a one-state "solution" will be worse than a two-state solution. The problem precisely is how to give everyone their just rights to the extent possible, including the right of self determination. The one-state "solution" does not solve that problem. One group is always left without rights in either the Jewish or Arab versions of the one-state "solution." In the really "Utopian" one-state vision of internationalists, both the Jewish people and the Arab Palestinian people lose their rights to self-determination, both people will lose their rights to self-determination. Their unique cultures and identities will vanish in a new national identity. That sort of national cultural suicide is not demanded by anyone of any other people. If the internationalists are serious, let them start, for example, with a United States of North America. Canadians and "USAns" are all Americans, speak a similar language and have relatively similar cultures and backgrounds. They aren't at each others' throats. That state would have a good chance of working. The various states of Europe are likewise now bound together by a European Union. Will the distinct cultures of each country be merged into a "super-nation" speaking Gerfrenglish? Not yet it won't, not for a long time

If the Jewish one-state promoters are serious, let them indeed implement the solution gradually. But let's not set the cart before the horse. Rights and reconciliation must come before annexation and one-state "solutions" We shall then see if the donkey dies first or the Sultan dies first, or perhaps the teacher himself will die first. Let the proponents of the one-state "solution" first solve all the problems, and then annex the land.

First integrate Israeli Arabs. When we are all living in peace and harmony within green-line Israel, when Arab lands in the West Bank are no longer confiscated arbitrarily and settlers and Palestinians are no longer shooting at each other, when Arabs can live in settlements and Jews can live peacefully in Arab towns in the West Bank, when we have achieved the beginnings of true reconciliation, then the Palestinian Arabs can be invited to claim citizenship. The same is true for promoters of the Arab one-state "solution." Unlike the one-state solution, the two state solution is easily reversible. When all will serve in the army, when there will be no income gap between Jews and Arabs, when Arabs and Jews live in harmony and can travel freely between the West Bank and Israel, when sanity has returned to Gaza, then it would be up to the citizens of Israel and of Palestine if there is a Palestinian state - all of them, to decide the fate of Israel, the West Bank and of Gaza.

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/00000783.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: 9 comments

"The Jewish one-state 'solution', like the Arab one-state 'solution', is a fraud. These people are either fooling themselves or trying to fool us and everyone else.

I agree. On the Zionist side, there is no agreement made today that cannot be undone in the future in the name of either religion or security. Between now and that future date, the 'one state' proposal buys time, and time is always on the side of Israel's pro-settler nationalist movement. With more time, one side could economically defeat the other side by buying up the land. This is already happening in the occupied West Bank, as economically impoverished Palestinians are forced to sell land to wealthy or well-funded pro-settlement organizations. Of course, this is the big reason Israel maintains the occupation: starve out the Palestinians, then take the land without obvious military force.

My opinion is a two-state solution will have to be imposed on the two sides. Israel cannot bring itself to willingly relinquish it's grasp on the West Bank. To attempt such a thing would invite collapse of the government and potentially civil war. There have already been reports of subversive groups populating IDF ranks with religious zealots who would refuse any government order that they believe violates God's law. There is a history of the Israeli government refusing to implement certain court rulings that are contrary to the nationalist agenda while at the same time taking actions that violate international law. One example is the refusal to evacuate and seal the Pollard House, which an Israeli court has determined was built illegally by pro-settlement activists.

So there is no guarantee of the rule of secular Israeli law, there is evidence that the military has to some degree been subverted. It is well known that many Settlers would violently resist their own government rather than evacuate. There is historical evidence that certain Israelis are willing to assassinate their leaders for religious reasons. Therefore, without a clearly defined threat from outside forces that constitutes a clear and present danger, the coalition government of Israel could easily destroy itself. Any attempt by Netanyahu to finalize a "land-for-peace" deal could easily precipitate some or all of the above. The pragmatic solution is to impose a settlement.

Likewise, the necessary concessions to complete a peace deal would most likely have to be imposed on the Palestinian side as well. This (political) force should most appropriately fall under the auspices of the Arab League.

Regardless of how the resolution of this conflict comes about, the end result should be a border based on 1967 foundations that is as short, straight, and as defendable as possible, with appropriate deviations in the area of East Jerusalem to accommodate Israeli access to some religious sites, including the Wailing Wall. Abbas has offered to have a third party provide military defense of the border and of the Jordan Valley. This is a reasonable compromise. He only needs Israel to offer an opening negotiating position for direct talks that he knows is acceptable. Thus far Israel has refused.

Without such an offer, Abbas knows Netanyahu could make no real concessions at all, then publicly claim he had engaged in direct negotiations (a US demand) and the Palestinians had refused his land offer. It would be Camp David redux. That would serve the Israeli nationalist agenda by allowing Netanyahu to claim there was no partner for peace.

Of course, it would be far better to have the negotiations in public with full disclosure upfront. No more secret offers and no more back-room deals.


Posted by Kiev500 @ 07/20/2010 08:55 AM CST

It sounds like there is no hope... :(

Posted by me @ 08/04/2010 01:51 AM CST

Palasteine & Israel should make a fare dicussion in the presence UN

Posted by Jen @ 08/04/2010 08:09 PM CST

With folks like Kiev, there won't be any peace in the Middle East. Seriously, why stop at 1967 when you can go back to 1947. And if you go back to 1947, you might as well go back to 1917, which means taking into account as to what defined Palestine during the Ottoman reign and into British rule. Remember, Jordan was created as Jew-free Palestine for Arabs who chose to live under an Arab dictatorship rather than Jewish law. There have been lines drawn in the past that were redrawn for political purposes that apparently nobody gives a gosh darn about anymore. But, yeah Kiev, the only real peace is the 1967 "peace" when 5 Arab armies had their butts handed back to them in less than a week.

The real issue is Israel's legitimacy, which is sad because we're 63 years after the UN mandated its initial creation. Of course, we live in a country that is still arguing over Roe v. Wade. Nothing like a big distraction to keep you wondering why the rich are as powerful as they are. Some say AIPAC, but I say OPEC.

Posted by ABG @ 08/06/2010 11:32 PM CST

Notice that while I suggested the imposition of a resolution, I did not say that in such a scenario Israel should get nothing. I do think Israel should retain land and some Settlement blocs. However this needs to be done in a manner that maximizes ligitimacy of the peace deal through recognition of -and adherence to- international law. "Basing" a potential resolution on the 1967 borders (and you may use that term loosely) would lend ligitimacy because that was the last legally recognized border.

Something similar to the Geneva initiative should be workable, although I tend to believe that "Jewish islands" or Settlement blocs that look vaguely like kidneys inside the West Bank, -are likely to remain centers of social unrest and incitement due to their geographic shapes and strategic vulnerability. An equivalent amount of land could be retained by Israel without necessitating access to remote enclaves by narrow corridors. In general, history does not indicate such cartographic arrangements to last. Successful borders typically are as short and straight as possible.

As for ligitimacy of the state of Israel, it can attain full recognition easily if and when it decides to fully abide international law, the Geneva Conventions, and prior agreements like the Road Map.

Posted by Kiev500 @ 08/11/2010 12:56 PM CST

As always Ami fears the one state solution. He can't fathom the thought of a non-Jewish supremacist state.

Posted by Peter @ 09/28/2010 03:43 PM CST


Posted by red @ 04/05/2011 06:12 PM CST

There can't be one state with Arabs and Jews. It has to be two state. The earlier Jewish people and government understand this the better it is for all of them.

Posted by mercardo forex @ 05/01/2011 04:58 PM CST

I just discovered your site recently and wanted to say that your commentary so far seems very even and without political aim which in this day and age is refreshing.

In regards to this particular article I agree that the likelihood of any kind of state that includes Palestinians and Israelis in close proximity to each other currently has no chance of succeeding. You examples of North America hits close to home (I'm Canadian) and I believe that most Canadians would prefer to fight rather than merge with the US. And we can see that the EU is already on the verge of collapse.

I'd be curious to hear your opinion of the repercussions of the UN recognizing a Palestinian state this year, with East Jerusalem as it capital? From what I understand the PA will request the UN to do so in September and its likely to be passed and not likely that the US will veto the resolution.

Posted by itmgisd1 @ 05/13/2011 06:24 PM CST

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