After Zionism, one State for Israel and Palestine

SAQI Books – London 2012 – in English only.

After Zionism may be more than the title of a book: the whiff is in the air.
Jeff Halper

Part I

In this book, two journalists, Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor, have collected the contributions from fourteen different writers. Their fourteen contributions do not stand as a collective position in favour of the one state solution as, the authors who come from very different horizons do not all agree on this solution . But, they by and large share the opinion that every solution hitherto proposed has failed; each contribution presents its author's answer to the question: how is it possible to get out of the current impasse?

The two journalists explain their approach:

Ahmed [Moor] is a Palestinian American who grew up in Palestine and understands the disastrous effects of the Israeli occupation. Anthony [Loewenstein] is an Australian Jew who was brought up expecting to believe in Zionism and the Israeli state but by his late teens started to question its legitimacy. We come together on this book not because we agree on everything – we don’t – but because of a shared belief that Jews and Palestinians are destined to live and work together, whatever our differences in background, ideals and daily life. We are connected by a desire to see peace with justice for our peoples…We wanted diversity, not conformity. We don’t agree with everything that appears in the book but we believe in having the debate .

Those contributions shed light on a range of very diverse opinions. Giving a summary of each of them would be tedious and we have preferred to give a short presentation of some of the intersecting themes which are treated in those fourteen contributions

Negating the 1948 Naqba (catastrophe)

The State of Denial - the phrase is used by Israeli historian Ilan Pappe who presents contribution N° 2 – of the ethnic cleansing of the majority of the Palestinian population in 1948 is one of the constitutive acts of the State of Israel. This historian considers that negating the Naqba is an institutionalised lie which remains a key element of Israeli policies. Indeed, from that follows the negation of the very existence of the Palestinian people, the repeated refusal by every Israeli government, whatever their political hue, to mention the right to return of Palestinian refugees, and even less, to respect it. Negating Naqba also legitimises permanent and continued appropriation of Palestinian lands and destruction of Palestinian homes. As Pappe affirms: the Naqba did not end in 1948

In contribution N°5, Saree Makdisi, who teaches at UCLA Los Angeles, echoes this opinion: he writes that Naqba is going on today especially in the Negev desert  where Palestinian Bedouins have been subjected to a form of relentless victimisation that seems to recapitulate week after week and even day after day the experience of the Naqba .

Jeff Halper (contribution N° 7) is an Israeli anthropologist. He runs an Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Jeff Halper echoes Ilan Pappe's argument: The refugee issue must be addressed squarely. It is negotiable, but it requires two pre-conditions: acceptance of the refugees’ right to return, so that it is not merely a goodwill or humanitarian gesture on the part of Israel; and acknowledgement by Israel of its responsibility for driving out half of the Palestinian people in 1947-8, as well as for the expulsions of 1967. It is Israel’s steadfast refusal to accept the refugees’ rights and to make that symbolic yet crucial acknowledgement of responsibility that makes the resolution of this fundamental issue impossible .

Ahmed Moor (contribution N° 1) notes the rallying cry of the first Zionists: A land without a people for a people without a land . He also notes that, in 1970, Prime Minister Golda Meir reiterated the same idea: There is no such thing as a Palestinian people….It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They did not exist . In the same way, Ahmed Moor reports that in December 2011, Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House of Representatives again termed the Palestinians an invented people .

Sara Roy (contribution N° 3) is a researcher at Harvard University. She specialises in studying Hamas in the Gaza Strip. She quotes an American public figure: Like their Israeli counterparts, US policymakers fundamentally believe that the existence of the State of Israel is predicated on the denial of Palestinian nationhood. Palestinians are seen as intruders…as Barbarians coming over the border .

Ilan Pappe also mentions again the group of Israeli historians named new history , a group he contributed to structuring in the late '90s with the aim of challenging this State of denial , of the 1948 ethnic cleansing. The new history originated first in academic circles. The reception it was given ranged between indifference and total rejection . But Ilan Pappe immediately adds: However, from above, the establishment did everything it could to quash these early buds of Israeli self-awareness and recognition of Israel’s role in the Palestinian catastrophe, a recognition that would have helped Israelis to understand better the continued deadlock in the peace process . The outcome of this pressure was the 2009 law which withdraws public funding from associations which consider that the founding of the State of Israel is a day of mourning or which commemorate Naqba. The other consequence of this pressure from the State summits was that Benny Morris broke with the new history . According to Ilan Pappe, Morris has not changed his narrative: Israel was still in his eyes a state that was built with the help of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians. What he changed was his moral attitude towards that policy and crime. He justified it and did not even rule it out as a future policy. This justification appears also in his latest book on 1948, aptly called “1948 : every means is justified in a war against a Jihadi attempt to destroy the state of Israel.” As Ilan Pappe writes, this statement is just a variation on the one prevailing before the emergence of the new history : …the Palestinians in a way deserved what they got for refusing to accept the 1947 partition resolution .

Failure of the Oslo Accords and of the Peace process

Ahmed Moor observes that the activists, journalists, academics who promote the one state solution are increasingly numerous. This opinion is not new but Ahmed Moor affirms that it no longer is a marginal discussion: himself, in March 2012, organised a conference on the theme of the one state solution at Harvard University and he intends to give this opinion more visibility in the media. He thinks that the major media and the diplomatic offices of the major powers are wrong when they present the two-state solution , initiated in the wake of the Oslo Accords and supposed to set up a peace process as the only valid solution for the region.

On her part, Sara Roy reports favourably on the steps taken by Mahmud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, to have Palestine recognised as a member State wishing to promote the United Nations system in the continuity of the Oslo Accords. She regrets the lack of success of that approach and considers its springs from the American administration's lack of will and from the pro-Israel lobby in the United States.

John J. Mearsheimer (contribution N° 8) teaches at Chicago University. He too, refers to the power of the Pro-Israel lobby in the United States and quotes Alan Dershowitz, who teaches law at Harvard: My generation of Jews…became part of what is perhaps the most effective lobbying and fund-raising effort in the history of democracy . And John J. Mearsheimer adds: That lobby, of course, makes it impossible for any president to play hardball with Israel, especially on the issue of settlements. […]Perhaps the best evidence of America’s impotence is what happened in the 1990s during the Oslo peace process. Between 1993 and 2000, Israel confiscated 40,000 acres of Palestinian land, built 250 miles of connectors and bypass road, doubled the number of settlers, and established thirty new settlements. President Clinton did hardly anything to halt this expansion. Instead, the United States continued to give Israel billions of dollars in foreign aid each year and to protect it at every turn on the diplomatic front. John J. Mearsheimer also mentions the lobby of Christian Zionists who are, he says, a powerful political force in the United States, especially in Capitol Hill. They are adamantly opposed to a two-state solution because they want Israel to control every square millimetre of Palestine.

For John J. Mearsheimer, things have not changed much with President Obama: Since taking office, President Obama has clashed with Prime Minister Netanyahu four times: in each case Obama backed down and Netanyahu won the fight. ”. And he concludes by mentioning the powerful AIPAC – American Israel Public Affairs Committee: It is manifestly clear that President Obama is no match for the lobby.

In contribution N° 4 titled: Success in Oslo: The Bantustanisation of Palestinian Territories , Diana Buttu, a Palestinian-Canadian human rights lawyer, answers those arguments. Diana Buttu writes: (...) the aim of negotiations was not to achieve an agreement but to perpetuate Israeli control . She quotes former Israeli minister Nathan Sharansky The idea of Oslo was to find a strong dictator to… keep the Palestinians under control. Diana Buttu compares the outcome of the Oslo Accords to an Occupation by Remote Control by the Israelis.

On the opposite of Sara Roy who only analyses the public declarations of the Palestinian Authority's negotiators, Diana Buttu uses the classified documents of the negotiations which were made public as recently as January 2012 by Aljazeera website and British newspaper The Guardian. Diana Buttu denounced the double-talk constantly used by the diplomats during the so-called peace negotiations engaged in the wake of the Oslo Accords. Based on the scrutiny of those classified documents, she affirms: Although Palestinian negotiators publicly stated that they were insisting on Israel’s “full withdrawal from the entirety of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, behind closed doors they were willing to accommodate the presence of illegal Israeli settlements and settlers through land swaps  ”. She adds: While the negotiations were marked by “no progress or no-seriousness as noted, Palestinian negotiators presented to the public and the diplomatic community a very different picture. From my experience we are now in the core of the process Ahmed Qurei noted to the Americans in March 2008.”

Diana Buttu then asks: What, then, explains the continuous optimism on the part of the PLO negotiators? The answer lies in the fact that the PA and the PLO continued to benefit from continued negotiations. Provided that the facade of the “peace process continues, so too do financial transfers to the Palestinian Authority; in particular, financial transfers to bolster Palestinian security services.” And she quotes the figures: By 1999, the Palestinian Authority’s security services numbered 35,000, making the Palestinian people of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip among the highest policed people per capita in the world. In order to create such a bloated force, the Palestinian Authority co-opted many Fatah activists and turned them into security personnel with the promise of a salary and pension.

Saree Makdisi is still harsher with the Palestinian Authority: The unelected leadership in Ramallah – which, having been swept from office in popular elections in 2006, was brought back to power almost literally on the turret of an Israeli tank. His view is that the leadership is a full-blown collaborationist apparatus whose main function is to facilitate the ongoing occupation and colonisation of the West Bank. Jeff Halper thinks likewise when he writes: Besides acting as Israel’s policeman, the PA only perpetuates the occupation by keeping the illusion of negotiations and an ever-renewing “political process alive.”

Fighting for equal rights and against apartheid.

Several contributions affirm that fighting the discriminatory laws is a new element of the situation. For Ahmed Moor the change has been brought about by the boycott campaign, BDS (Boycott Disinvestment and Sanctions), launched in 2005, modelled on the South African call, which helped to bring about an end to Apartheid in that country." However, he owns that the BDS campaign “is not a panacea , and that it will not be likely a tool for economically undermining the occupation; moneyed interests run too deep.

Joseph Dana (Contribution N°6) is a journalist. He spends half his time in the Middle East and half in South Africa. His contribution is about what he calls the separation principle instituted between the Palestinians and the Israelis by Zionism.

First, Joseph Dana remarks and insists: the demand that the occupation of Palestinian territories be ended was totally absent from the big demonstrations of the 2012 Spring in Israeli cities (including in tent camps emulating the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States and the European Indignados): The result was a confirmation of the carefully created “separation principle that has typified Zionist thinking and practice since its inception”. He adds: However, the tent protests confirm that at the core of the conflict remains the Zionist dilemma, or the ability or need of the Jewish population of Israel to adhere to an exclusivist national ideology which, by definition, places Palestinians on the outside .

Joseph Dana however notes that there always existed a small but vocal portion of Israeli society which has voiced opposition to the state’s policies regarding Palestinians . But, he adds, the Israeli side of the movement is listless and directionless. For Joseph Dana, this absence is due to the failure of the Israeli Left. He quotes Avraham Burg, the former Speaker of the Knesset: In fact, the Israeli Left never recovered from Rabin’s assassination. Joseph Dana mentions the formation of small groups of Israelis hostile to the building of the Wall such as AATW (Anarchists Against the Wall) or Ta'ayush organisation, but notes that there is just a handful of them. He quotes Jonathan Pollak, a member of AATW, saying: But currently this is what we really are, a handful, and the real question, in my opinion, is, how come only so few do so? The sad answer is that most Israelis simply don’t care; to most Israelis, Palestinians simply don’t really exist.

For Joseph Dana, however, a change has occurred since 2003 with the resistance movement to the erection of the Wall around Budrus village: While reserving the right to armed resistance, Palestinian civil society leaders in small villages directly affected by the creation of the separation barrier appealed to their people to adopt unarmed resistance. “We felt as though we had no other choice Ayed Morrar, a veteran leader from the village of Budrus, said. We wanted to change the way that Palestinians approached the conflict and unarmed protests were the way to do this. The Israeli activists only came later but I am happy that they came. Joseph Dana notes that it was the committee of leaders which was formed in Budrus village, which took the initiative of inviting Israeli activists alongside international activists to take part in the protest.

Jeff Halper, of the Israeli committee against the destruction of Palestinian homes, asks who leads this protest movement: “Who, exactly, is to achieve Palestinian rights? If the PA leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas does not have the authority to pursue an end to the conflict, and a reconstituted PLO pressing an agreed-upon solution is still in the indeterminate future, from whom are we to take our marching orders?

Joseph Dana brings some answers: Palestinians still debate the usefulness of cooperating with Israelis – some claim that even if the Israelis mean well, working with them ultimately legitimises Israel. […] But this debate does not spill over the villages where joint protests take place; the spirit of cooperation is evident. It is even common to see Palestinians hiding Israeli activists from soldiers in their houses during demonstrations. The reason for this partnership is simple in the eyes of Dianne Alzeer, a Palestinian activist from Ramallah. “The Israelis come in solidarity with our cause. They understand our struggle and do not try to dictate its terms. Unlike traditional Israeli peace rallies, the West Bank demonstrations are led by Palestinians. […]Although there is cooperation, it is the Palestinians who decide on the course of action and the level of confrontation with the army. The Israelis see themselves as guests.”

Sara Roy too notes a change on the Palestinian side: There is a growing consensus that as long as the Palestinians struggle for independence remains focused on land –which of course remains important- it cannot be won. […] According to this argument, Palestinians should not be fighting for a state per se but for human rights –human, political, economic, social and civil- within that future state; rights which others (Israelis and Americans among them) possess and which transcend borders.

Sara Roy evokes the fate of the Palestinians inside the State of Israel and adds: For many if not most Palestinians, the Right of Return does not amount to actual repatriation but a political acknowledgement of the crime committed in 1948; it is also about reparations and the “restoration of the freedom of movement inside the entire country, regardless of whether is called Israel or Palestine ”.

Saree Makdisi too refers to the discrimination victimising the Palestinians inside the State of Israel and explains: My position on the debate is that the Palestinians are one people, who share one cause, and the only path to a just peace is one that addresses the rights of all Palestinians, not just the minority who have suffered under occupation since 1967. He considers that the  one-state solution is all the easier to understand as it simply and neatly outlines and expresses a vision of rights – rights for all Palestinians; those inside Israel, those in exile, and those under occupation; while also embracing and encompassing the rights of Jewish Israelis.

Part 2

A binational state, two states or an apartheid state?

Jeff Halper (contribution N° 7) says he sides with the Israeli peace camp and with critical Left - but does not reveal the content of his criticism. In his contribution, he examines several hypothesis in the framework of the one sate solution and in the framework of two States .

Among those hypotheses he advocates a two-stage approach with, in a first stage, the creation of two semi-viable States, then, in a second phase, instituting an economic federation of the Middle East like the European Union – or even a looser confederation, as in the early days of the European Economic Community . Jeff Halper believes that the framework of this federation would make it possible to solve the question of the right to return of the refugees: The threat to Israeli sovereignty comes from the possibility of refugees claiming Israeli citizenship. By disconnecting the Right of Return from citizenship, the refugees would realize their political identity through citizenship in a Palestinian state while posing no challenge to Israeli sovereignty, thus enjoying substantive individual justice by living in any part of Israel/Palestine or the wider region they choose.

Jeff Halper gives no detail on the lives of those citizens in those semi-viable States, nor on what bases such economic federation could be formed nor even what interests it would have to defend.

Jeff Halper above all fears that the one state solution should be formed on the pattern of Algeria: once liberation takes place the colonial population simply leaves and the indigenous retake their country. This was the PLO’s position before it adopted the two-state solution in 1988 and it remains that of Hamas. Interestingly, just as Zionism is increasingly being characterized as a European settle colonial movement by the Palestinian Left and the Jewish national narrative is being entirely dismissed, many of our Palestinian partners are moving, albeit not in so many words, toward the Algerian model.

He explains: For the record, I do not consider Zionism a colonial movement…The initial impulse of Zionism was genuine: the notion of returning to one’s ancient homeland and reviving a national culture that could not be sustained in the Diaspora. As an anthropologist, I understand that the Zionist narrative was constructed and “invented ; but in that, Zionism was no different from any other national movement, including the Palestinians’. Self-determination means just that. »

John J. Mearsheimer (contribution N° 8) is the writer whose contribution is the most detailed in its analysis of Israel as an Apartheid State, which is unrelentingly structuring.

From the onset, he states that The two-state solution is the best of these alternative futures. By no means an ideal solution, it is nonetheless by far the best outcome for the Israelis and the Palestinians, as well as for the United States , immediately adding: Nevertheless, the Palestinians are not going to get their own state any time soon. They will instead end up living in an Apartheid state dominated by Israeli Jews.

John J. Mearsheimer has no illusion on the seriousness of the situation. He considers that the inevitable conclusion…will be the formation of a Greater Israel between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.   He adds: In fact, I would argue that de facto it already exists, as Israel effectively controls the Occupied Territories and rules over the Palestinians who live there. The West Bank and Gaza have not yet been incorporated de jure into Israel proper, but it will eventually happen – certainly in the case of the West Bank.

John J. Mearsheimer evokes a possible new ethnic cleansing targeting the Palestinians. He explains that we should not underestimate Israel’s willingness to employ such a horrific strategy if the opportunity presented itself. It is apparent from public opinion surveys and everyday discourse that many Israelis hold racist views of Palestinians, and the Gaza massacre in the winter 2008-9 makes clear that they have few qualms about killing Palestinian civilians. It is difficult to disagree with Jimmy Carter’s comment in June 2009 that “the citizens of Palestine are treated more like animals than like human beings . But John J. Mearsheimer adds: Still, I do not believe Israel will resort to this horrible course of action.  

For John J. Mearsheimer it is only the political conditions and not scruples that would prevent Israel from resorting to ethnic cleansing: But that murderous strategy seems unlikely, because it would do enormous damage to Israel’s moral fabric, its relationship with Jews in the Diaspora and to its international standing. […] No genuine friend of Israel could support this policy, which would clearly be a crime against humanity.

John J. Mearsheimer draws a conclusion: But if I am right, the occupation is not going to end and there will not be a two-state solution. That means Israel will complete its transformation into a full-blown Apartheid state over the next decade. In the long run, however, Israel will not be able to maintain itself as such. Like racist South Africa, it will eventually evolve into a democratic bi-national state whose politics will be dominated by the more numerous Palestinians. Of course, this means that Israel faces a bleak future as a Jewish state.

John J. Mearsheimer ends his contribution by closely analysing how the pro-Israel lobbies are getting ready to manage this inevitable shift of Israel towards more and more offensive apartheid: The main problem that Israel’s defenders face, however, is that it is impossible to defend Apartheid, because it is antithetical to core western values.

He thinks a widening crack is opening among those Americans who support Israel: if a minority of righteous Jews will never condone an apartheid State, others on the opposite will become what he coins as new Afrikaners : Some righteous Jews, however, favour a democratic bi-national state over the two-state solution. On the other side, we have the new Afrikaners, who will support Israel even if it is an Apartheid state. […] The new Afrikaners will of course try to come up with clever arguments to convince themselves and others that Israel is really not an Apartheid state, and those who say it is are anti-Semites. We are all familiar with this strategy.

A democratic, secular State in historical Palestine

Contribution N° 12 is has been written by Omar Barghouti. It is the most complete regarding the one state solution . He bases his demonstration on the international right of oppressed peoples to self-determination which he envisages as ethical decolonisation . For him, resistance and solidarity against Zionist racism should be anchored in the law.

He writes: Decolonisation should not be understood as a blunt and absolute reversal of colonisation, taking us back to pre-colonial conditions and undoing whatever rights had been acquires to date. Instead, it can be regarded as a negation of the aspects of colonisation that themselves deny the rights of the colonized indigenous population and, as a by-product, dehumanise the colonisers themselves.   He adds : This essay argues that a secular, democratic unitary state in historic Palestine (in its British Mandate borders) is the most just and morally coherent solution to this century-old colonial conflict, primarily because it offers the greatest hope for reconciling the ostensibly irreconcilable – the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinian people, particularly the right to self-determination, and the acquired rights of the colonial settlers to live in peace and security, individually and collectively, after ridding them of their colonial privileges.

Omar Barghouti explains what he coins as the Ethical De-Zionisation . He considers that Zionism is founded on the idea that there is a Jewish nation. He remarks that when Zionism began, liberal Zionist intellectuals conceived a Jewish national law in Palestine, harmonised with the national right of the predominantly Arab native population. Omar Barghouti rejects the idea of a bi-national State: A bi-national state solution, of course, cannot accommodate the Right of Return as stipulated in UN General Assembly resolution 194. Furthermore, by definition it infringes the inalienable rights of the indigenous Palestinians to part of their homeland, particularly the right to self-determination. Recognising the “national rights of Jewish settlers in Palestine or any part of it cannot but imply acceptance of the colonists’ right to self-determination.” A bi-national State which would recognise the right to the settlers' self-determination would loom as a permanent threat of secession by the minority of settlers and this would undermine the Palestinians' self-determination. This argument therefore contradicts the argument of Jeff Halper who, in contribution N° 7, defines Zionism as a national movement and not as a colonial drive.

He therefore logically asks: are the Israeli Jews a nation? He answers that they are not and reminds us that if the Israeli Minister of the Interior does not recognise Israeli nationality, it is because Zionism is founded on the idea of a Jewish nation contradicting international laws: Furthermore, as early as 1970, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that there was no such thing as Israeli nationality. […] Jewish “nationality , as embodied in the Israeli Law of Return, is an extra-territorial construct that includes the entire population of Jews around the world, something that does not accord with international public law norms pertaining to nationality.” He considers that this Zionist law on return is explicitly racist as it grants citizenship according to a person's ethnic origin and also bans the return of Palestinians on the basis of ethnic criteria.

Omar Barghouti's analysis is grounded on the equal rights of citizens in a democratic State. : Accepting modern-day Jewish Israelis as equal citizens and full partners in building and developing a new shared society, free from all colonial subjugation and discrimination, as called for in the democratic state model, is the most magnanimous offer any oppressed indigenous population can present to its oppressors. Only by shedding their colonial privileges, dismantling their structures of oppression, and accepting the restoration of the rights of the indigenous people of the land –especially the right of Palestinian refugees to return and to reparations, and the right of all Palestinians to unmitigated equality- can settlers be indigenised and integrated into the emerging nation and therefore become entitled to participating in determining the future of the common state.

Just as other contributions, Omar Barghouti's evokes the process of the abolition of apartheid in South Africa. However, he is the only one who highlights the major obstacle of economic apartheid: …the key obstacle delaying or obstructing this process is the prevalence of “economic apartheid , or structural economic privileges disproportionately enjoyed by the white minority at the expense of social and economic empowerment programmes for the black majority.” Still, he reckons that despite its aforementioned flaws in the field of establishing socio-economic justice , the South African experience can be a major source of inspiration.

In what measure can the one State solution be feasible?

Saree Makdishi (contribution N°5) ponders on the alleged realism of the two-state solution: The worst habit of the advocates of a two-state solution is that they never stop congratulating themselves on how pragmatic and realistic they are, as opposed to those supposedly dreamy and unrealistic, if not downright romantic, one-staters. […] One reason they congratulate themselves is that they say a two-state solution is more realistic because the Israelis will never accept a one-state solution. He considers that such attitude relates to subjection to the oppressors' good-will: Is it “realistic or pragmatic to expect Palestinians determine their rights and articulate their aspirations on the basis of what Israelis deem to be acceptable?”  He refers to the lessons of history: …no privileged group in the history of the world has ever voluntarily renounced its privileges: not King Charles I of England, who was executed by his people in 1679 ; […] not the slave-owning classes of the American south; not the white elites of the United States in the civil rights era of the 1960s; and not the white beneficiaries of Apartheid in Soth Africa in the 1970s and 1980s.

Ghada Karmi (contribution N° 13) teaches at the University of Exeter. She directly asks whether the one-state solution is feasible and recalls Omar Barghouti's arguments: At the beginning, one-state solution adherents tended to take that position on grounds of principle, international law and elemental justice. Then she adds: However, in more recent times, it has been the apparent impossibility of a two-state outcome that has swelled the ranks of the one-staters. A glance at the map of the West Bank’s Israeli settlements doted all over the landscape, with Israeli “security areas , bypass roads and  closed military zones , should convince even the most ardent supporter of the two-state solution of its impossibility.” Then she adds a very compelling argument: The fact that something is right and sensible, however, says nothing about its factual feasibility on the ground. And in this case there are formidable obstacles to its realisation. She lists the obstacles standing in the way of the one State solution. First, the lack of consensus among the Palestinians on the one State solution which stumbles on the current formal political position of both Israel and the PLO (such as it is), not to speak of the Palestinian Authority. She also notes that the Hamas too has – for the time being – accepted the two-state solution.

But, she brings attention to the proposal imagined by Israeli author, Yoram Avnak in an article published in February 2010 in Haaretz newspaper: an Israel/Palestine secular State with total separation between the church and the State, totally banning religious parties and with strictly secular education. Religious education would be funded by parents, parliamentary seats would be equally distributed between the two communities and the Old City of Jerusalem would be under the authority of the United Nations Organisation. She notes that the author of this proposal provides no strategy to get there.

Ghada Karmi sketches a strategy and promotes the idea of a voluntary annexation of the Occupied Territories to Israel, thus transforming the struggle against occupation into one for equal civil rights within an expanded Israeli state. This is based on recognition that Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories form one unit, and in effect make up what is one state. However, the difference between such a state and the one-state solution as advocated is that the former deals unfairly with its Palestinian members and subjects them to an Apartheid regime. The Palestinian demand should therefore be for equal status with Israeli citizens, since they are in effect disenfranchised citizens of the same state.

Ghada Karmi recalls the proposal which Marwan Barghouti, the Fatah leader, made in 2004 when in prison: she proposes the dissolution of the Palestinian Authority and launching a campaign for equal rights in a Greater Israel State: That entails recognition of the current reality, that Israel is in fact one state, but one containing an oppressed Palestinian minority. The struggle must be to change that into a situation of equality.

She remarks that the strategy will not be a smooth path but concludes on these words which aptly summarise the issues raised in this series of contributions:

Yet what is the alternative? The two-state solution is defunct and the status quo is not sustainable .


From DIALOGUE REVIEW ( www.dialogue-review.com )