1. The current debate on what is better: one State or two.
1. The current debate on what is better: one State or two.
The number of articles and statements about the solution to the Palestinian conflict has increased notably during 2008. The increase accompanies the 60th anniversary of the State of Israel, established on May 14th, 1948. Millions of Palestinians have suffered the consequences since then. Israel was established and exists at the expense of the Palestinian people.
All these years Israel has shown clearly that its existence is incompatible with the human and political rights of the Palestinians as human beings and as a people. It is well-known that Palestinians have to pay whatever price – no matter how high: death, exile, occupation - Israel considers appropriate in order to make the Zionist project in Palestine a success. This project turns on the acquisition of Palestinian and Arab lands for the exclusive benefit of the Jews from all over the world, together with the exclusion of their legitimate inhabitants.
Neither the numerous United Nations Resolutions devoted to the Palestinian conflict, nor the widespread and repeated criticism of Israel’s policies and acts, let alone Palestinian demands and resistance, have managed to stop the Zionist project.
Israel is a political anomaly defying both international law and moral principles. It is also a continuous source of political problems and personal grievances, running completely against common sense. Why should so many millions of human beings be made its victims when there is a solution to the conflict?
Nowadays, the debate focuses on the establishment of a Palestinian State side by side with Israel or one State incorporating both nations. This debate is as old as the conflict itself, although the two States proposal looks impracticable today, due to the map imposed upon Palestine by Israel.
2. What the two States solution has achieved.
The most damaging version of the two states solution is the one proposed by United States President George W. Bush in the White House on June 24th, 2002:
"And when the Palestinian people have new leaders, new institutions and new security arrangements with their neighbours, the United States of America will support the creation of a Palestinian state whose borders and certain aspects of its sovereignty will be provisional until resolved as part of a final settlement in the Middle East." http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/06/20020624-3.html
Six years later, there is no Palestinian state. Iraq and Afghanistan have almost disappeared. Lebanon is harassed and was attacked by Israel in the summer of 2006. Iran is under constant threat. Syria was bombed by Israeli war planes in September 2007. In the broader region, problems pile up, particularly in Somalia, Sudan and Pakistan.
Another version has been proposed by Uri Avneri, former Knesset member and internationally known for his criticism of Israeli policies against the Palestinian people. He advocates dialogue with the Palestinians over a Palestinian State along the 1967 border, with its capital in East Jerusalem. On the refugee issue, he favours recognizing the right of return while deferring its realization to conversations between the two States.
Avneri held a debate with professor Ilan Pappé in Tel Aviv in May 2007, organized by Gush Shalom -the Israeli political organization Peace Block. Pappé, who left Israel in 2007 to lecture in England, in order to avoid the pressure he endured at the University of Haifa and death threats by some Zionists, is in favor of "a solution which in the final account will enable everybody who lives here to feel that their historical rights are respected, and that their civil and human rights are respected, too." http://www.ilanpappe.org/Interviews/Two%20States%20or%20One%20State.html
Nobody can be fooled by the meaning of the two States solution: a 363 square kilometres strip, that is to say, Gaza, plus some Bantustans in the West Bank. Gaza is blockaded and isolated, the West Bank is cut up in unconnected portions of land, surrounded by illegal settlements and encircled by a 700 kilometres long wall. Jerusalem is a no-go city for Palestinians.
The Palestinians reject this solution, but they are unable to achieve what they want. Taking into account global politics and Israel’s military power, some Palestinians and their supporters have recently been proposing one State for all peoples living in Israel and the Occupied Territories.
One can understand that the weakest party is trying to survive the powerful one’s drive. However, this question remains unanswered: why are Zionists going to accept one State that includes the Palestinians, when they just want one State only for Jews? Zionism’s aims clearly exclude the Palestinians and have done so for the last 100 years.
Ehud Olmert, Israel’s current Prime Minister, is against one State: "If the day comes when the two-State solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished." (http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/929439.html)
Hamas is well aware of the injustices against the Palestinian people. Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of its founders and Foreign Affairs Minister of the Gaza government, declared that "our movement fights on because we cannot allow the foundational crime at the core of the Jewish state — the violent expulsion from our lands and villages that made us refugees — to slip out of world consciousness, forgotten or negotiated away." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/04/16/AR2008041602899.html?hpid=opinionsbox1
He is also aware of the limitations of Palestinian resistance and consequently he opts for negotiations: "A ‘peace process’ with Palestinians cannot take even its first tiny step until Israel first withdraws to the borders of 1967; dismantles all settlements; removes all soldiers from Gaza and the West Bank; repudiates its illegal annexation of Jerusalem; releases all prisoners; and ends its blockade of our international borders, our coastline and our airspace permanently. This would provide the starting point for just negotiations and would lay the groundwork for the return of millions of refugees."
3. Another proposal: a Palestinian state and nothing else.
It seems that the position held by Hamas is not very far from the one held by supporters of the one State solution. The 1948 crime does not disappear even if the aggressor accepts the list of demands from Hamas. For the resistance movement this would be a first step towards achieving justice, but everyone knows that Palestinians despite having right on their side are helpless.
Today, Hamas cannot answer the question: why is Israel going to accept the list of our demands under current circumstances? But Hamas is confident Israel will do so in the future: "Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun, and adversity has taught us patience. As for the Israeli state and its Spartan culture of permanent war, it is all too vulnerable to time, fatigue and demographics."
If the core of the Palestinian problem is the robbery of a people’s land, plus the expulsion of its owners, justice is not achieved by allowing the thief to keep half of it, as the two States solution implies. Much less is justice served by forcing the victims to share it with the thief, making them forget the past and abandon hope of a future free from oppression.
Achieving justice means a return to the status quo ante, to amend the damage done and to compensate the victims. Thus: Israel should apologise, end the blockade and the occupation at once and dissolve itself as soon as possible. This does not have to entail any loss of life and bring chaos if done in an appropriate way.
At the same time the Palestinian State would be established in the historical land of Palestine through suitable measures: the return of refugees, a constitution, drawing of borders, admission to United Nations bodies, democratic elections and so on.
The UN and the countries that have been involved in the Palestinian problem, mainly the United Kingdom, should compensate the Palestinians and pay to making their State a reality until it becomes self-sufficient.
How much can this enormous operation cost? Nothing those countries could not afford to achieve justice and avoid a new war in the Middle East and even beyond.
Israeli citizens with passports issued by other States should go to these countries with their families. Israelis descending from Jews living in Palestine before the Zionist immigrations could – by right – remain in Palestine.
The United States, the largest and most powerful ally of Israel for decades, could easily accept a substantial number of Israelis and grant them US citizenship.
How many millions of dollars would this process cost? Not as many as those spent by the US supporting Israel against the Palestinians.
How long could it take? Much less than the sixty years that Palestinian refugees have been languishing in despair in camps far from their homes.
After a reasonable time, the Palestinian State, just like any other country, could accept immigrants – Jewish amongst them - who could become full citizens according to the laws of the State.
Translation by the author with suggestions from toni solo.