Forget two states, find alternative

Time to think out of box

As two-state solution distances, we must find ways to end Palestinian inequality

By Dror Ze’evi, YNet News, April 13, 2009

The first step is to free ourselves of the two-state dogma and realize that the Oslo Accords have no meaning any more and that the entire area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea – Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Galilee, the Sharon region, the Coastal Plain, and the Negev – constitutes one state.

Editor’s Note: CN Publications has been saying this for years. See “Alternative Government.”

To my regret, Netanyahu is right: The two-state solution is irrelevant. Mahmoud Abbas still believes in it, but is unwilling to walk the path required in order to prompt even the Israeli Left to accept this proposal. Aside from him, there is almost no Palestinian who believes in this solution, and as odd as it may sound, there are not too many of them interested in it even if the most optimal pro-Palestinian terms prevail.

As opposed to the Jewish public, the notion of statehood was never important to most of the Palestinian public compared to issues like the right of return and “seeing justice prevail.” Just like many Arabs, the Palestinians are also not overly excited about the notion of distinctive independence, regardless of whether it is Palestinian, Jordanian, or Syrian. Few will admit publically that the two-state solution is the only game in town, and therefore the only means for pressing Israel.

Yet when they are required to make a decision, the heart goes against it. In other words, even under an unreasonable scenario whereby Abbas signs a two-state partition deal in a format that Israel is willing to accept, the Palestinian public will reject such agreement and terrorism will soon reemerge.

A state with its capital in Ramallah or even in Jerusalem’s outskirts isn’t the desire of any Palestinian I know. The possibility of bringing tens of thousands of refugees to Israel, which for us would be a particularly difficult concession to make, does not satisfy even the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Palestinian aspirations.

If we connect these powerful Palestinian sentiments to the fact that Netanyahu, Barak and Yisrael Beiteinu will be running Israel’s government in the coming decade in one formant or another, we’ll be reaching the conclusion that there’s no common denominator for two-state dialogue.

Dan Meridor and Ahmed Qureia may continue to sit at the table until dawn, and Netanyahu may be able to fool the world by claiming he aspires for an agreement, yet two states living peacefully alongside each other will not be the outcome here. To Netanyahu’s credit we must admit that even if Yossi Beilin was prime minister, it is doubtful whether we could get it done.

Therefore, the first step is to free ourselves of the two-state dogma and realize that the Oslo Accords have no meaning any more and that the entire area between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea – Judea, Samaria, Gaza, the Galilee, the Sharon region, the Coastal Plain, and the Negev – constitutes one state. Yes, Rafah and Khan Younis are also part of this state, and yes, this state features very serious and ugly discrimination against the Palestinians.

What about Jewish majority?

Netanyahu is right to say that the first important step is economic. We must do everything in our power in order to prompt international investment in Palestinian areas and develop the economy there.

Yet even if he is right in assessing that the two-state solution is unrealistic, Netanyahu’s vision is lacking in terms of an alternative. Is he willing to see Israel lose its Jewish majority in the future? Or alternately, does he expect to keep Arab residents without citizenship rights forever?

Precisely because the two-state solution is distancing, we must think about this country’s future character and the way we can ameliorate the discrimination against the Palestinians. Many amongst us believe that we can simply keep revoking their citizenship rights, yet even if fundamental questions of justice are of no interest to us, it is clear that within a few years we will turn, even in the view of our few friends, into a backward and oppressive regime that is worse than most Arab dictatorships.

There are quite a few ideas that would enable the coexistence of Palestinians and Israelis while granting them autonomy. Ireland and Iraq, for example, are developing such approaches, which would enable two ethnic groups to coexist under the same state umbrella. Switzerland upgraded the perception of ethnic cantons, and even in Kosovo we have seen the development of notions of shared sovereignty within the same territory. Some of these ideas may be applicable around here too. The time has come to think out of the box.

Prof. Dror Ze’evi, the Department for Middle Eastern Studies, Ben-Gurion University

Source: YNet News

This entry was posted in Middle East Report, Opinion, Recent Posts. Bookmark the permalink.