The "two-state" option is clearly the default option, for a variety of reasons: - The politicians have invested their efforts in promoting this solution for decades. - The power of the politicians on both sides of the conflict will be preserved only if there remain two separate countries. - There is no popular movement promoting a "one-State" solution. -Neither side seems to possess the necessary tolerance towards the other to make a "one-State" solution possible. I've read many articles and essays regarding a one-State solution for the Palestinian – Israeli conflict. They all seem to have one theme -by winning the battle for land the evil Zionists have reversed thevictory of the War of Independence. By making impossible there-partition of the country they have doomed the Jews of Israel tominority status in the re-born, unified State of Palestine.
I would like to present a somewhat different perspective on the matter.
Firstly, Ariel Sharon's "Disengagement" from the Gaza Strip has turnedthe tables on the opinion that the "settlers" cannot be removed fromthe West Bank. I can attest to the fact that the Settlers are beside themselves now that it is clear that the Likud party can no longer berelied upon to stand in the way of their expulsion. If 8500 settlerscan be expelled in a week chances are the 85 to 100 thousand who will not be annexed to Israel within the framework of the "Geneva Accords"can be expelled within the 30 months specified in the agreement.
Secondly, Yossi Beilin's "Geneva Accords" can easily follow theprecedent set by his "Oslo Accords" by being adopted by the Laborparty the moment they regain power. Thus the "Two State" solution isalive and well in my opinion.
In light of the fact that the options facing the residents of Israeland the Occupied Territories are becoming increasingly substantial andconcrete, the window of opportunity to choose between them is rapidly closing.
The "two-state" option is clearly the default option, for a variety of reasons:- The politicians have invested their efforts in promoting thissolution for decades.- The power of the politicians on both sides of the conflict will bepreserved only if there remain two separate countries.
- There is no popular movement promoting a "one-State" solution.
- Neither side seems to possess the necessary tolerance towards theother to make a "one-State" solution possible.
Though I expect a Labor government to adopt the Geneva Accords astheir policy, I doubt even they would accept it in its pure form. Iwould expect them to insist upon the following modifications:
1) Financial – the Geneva Accords in their present form wouldbankrupt Israel. Israel cannot agree to give a blank check to aninternational panel of "experts" to decide how many billions ofdollars Israel owes the Refugees in compensation. At best Israel wouldagree to finance the relocation of the Settlers (if the U.S. and/orother benefactors arrange long term loans to cover the cost). Assuggested in the Accords, the infrastructure Israel abandons in theterritories will have to serve as adequate compensation. After all, from Israel's point of view, had the UN partition plan been adopted bythe Arabs in 1948 no refugee problem would have arisen and the endresult would for the Palestinians would have been far superior to that which they would achieve with the acceptance of the "Geneva Accords" today.
2) Territorial – the principle presented in the Geneva Accords as tothe borders being the pre -1967 armistice lines, with a 1:1 land swapadjustment to accommodate the annexation of large numbers of settlers has merit. I suspect that Israel would find it in its interest thatareas in the Galilee adjacent to the border and populated largely by Israeli Arabs be included in the swap.
3) Refugees – Israel will undoubtedly reject the premise that it must accept refugees equal to the average accepted by third-party countries. At best Israel might agree to consider accepting a number of refugees on the basis of family reunification, where the refugees are relatives of Israeli Arabs.
4) Jerusalem – If Israel is to retain the Jewish Quarter of the Old City then it will prefer the Quarter to be isolated from the Arab Quarters and open to the Israeli sector outside the Old City, rather than open to the remainder of the Old City and isolated from the Israeli sector outside the Old City. This will also simplify security and sovereignty issues.
5) Security – Israel will continue to object to any foreign military presence in Palestine. Once Israel withdraws from the territories, an international military force can only provide the Palestinians with immunity from retaliation for attacks against Israel. Paradoxically, from Israel's perspective, their presence would encourage attacks against Israel rather than preventing them. I suspect that some of the security concessions Beilin negotiated into the Accords, such as the "Early Warning Stations", are superfluous and will be replaced by
airborne and satellite surveillance.
I doubt that even Labor will be able to conclude negotiations without most of these modifications being included in the final agreement. If accepted then the Palestinians will have achieved the following:
- End of the "occupation"
- Removal of all settlers and Israeli military forces from the occupied territories
- Creation of a sovereign Palestinian State, free of the corrupting influence of Zionist culture and society
- Initiation of the process of resettlement and compensation of the Refugees - Eventual construction of an express highway and probably rail line connecting the West Bank and Gaza Strip
- Opening of international airport and construction of commercial seaport
Israel will have its separation, even reducing the percentage of Arabs in its population. It will rely on the IDF to guarantee quiet from across the wall isolating it from the alien Arab society beyond.Politically and economically it should be significantly better off than it is today.
The Palestinians, on the other hand, will be on their own to meet the challenge of building the society and environment they aspire to. Unfortunately, confidence in their ability to build a successful and flourishing country is low. Experience has shown that the Palestinians tend to blame their failures on others rather than expending the effort required to succeed. I would wish them all possible success, though I fear the Palestinian State will be plagued by violence, hunger, poverty, overcrowding, and rampant political corruption; in other words a continuation of the current situation in the Gaza Strip since the "disengagement".
The second option is not currently a practical reality; however it could become one with effort on the part of its proponents. The realistic one-State option which could come about would differ substantially from that described in the articles I've read promoting a one-State solution. Their authors seem to think Israelis will raise their hands and say "Zionism is dead; long live the secular State of Palestine". I don't think so. The politics of democracy don't work that way. The process of change in a democracy requires the accumulation of political power and involves forming alliances and finding common interests. This will not happen overnight and these newly elected Arab parliamentary representatives will have to contend with seasoned opponents.
A likely scenario would take the following form:
- Israel officially annexes the occupied territories.
- Institutions and functionaries of the PA are integrated into parallel institutions of the Israeli government.
- The vast majority of Palestinians are registered as Israeli citizens, equal in rights and responsibilities to the existing Israeli Arab population.
- Following parliamentary elections the proportional representation of Arabs in the Knesset increases substantially.
- Due to this increased parliamentary clout legislation is passed accommodating the needs and desires of the Israeli Arab community, without harming the interests of the Israeli Jewish community.
What would not occur, at least not within the first few decades following annexation, is the formation of an Arab dominated parliamentary coalition, which converts the Jewish State of Israel into the "bi-national" State of Palestine. Be assured that initially the Arab representation in the Knesset will be in the minority, and the Jewish majority will do all in its power to maintain their majority. To do this you can be certain that they will not allow the law-of-return for Jews to be repealed or for a similar law to be enacted for Arabs. If anything they will attempt to enact immigration laws which maintain a balance between Arab and Jewish immigration, in order to sustain the Jewish parliamentary majority in the Jewish State.
This may seem racist however I have yet to find an example where the politicians in a democracy commit political suicide by assisting a minority to overpower them politically. Short of achieving the power to dominate the Jewish population however, the Arab community will have sufficient political power to achieve social and economic parity with the Jews, making them the most prosperous Arabic community in the region.
In time the interaction between the two communities will have evolved into a relationship of mutual benefit and respect; where equal opportunities and prosperity will be combined with the ability to live according to the culture and lifestyle each individual desires.
These are the two options on the table as far as I can see, and one of the two will likely become a reality within the next few years. I can guarantee a tremendous number of Rightist Zionists who would prefer the one-State option over relinquishing their homes and communities in Judea and Samaria; as well as Orthodox Jews who consider Judea and Samaria the heartland of biblical Israel, and cynics who expect Katyusha rockets to rain upon Israel as soon as Palestine becomes a State. Perhaps there are those from the Peace movements who also believe that unification is morally superior to separation.
The key question however is, given a true understanding of their choices, are there any Palestinian Arabs who would prefer the one-State option? Only they can cause it to come about – either through substantial grass-roots support, or by allowing negotiations over the Geneva Accords to fail, thereby causing the Israeli Right to seize power and annex the territories unilaterally.
I've read over and over how Israeli Arabs are second class citizens.This has always seemed strange to me for several reasons. Firstly, every time I hear of a legal case where Arab Israelis sue for equal treatment the courts find in their favor. Secondly, far from the pitiful image second class status evokes, most Israeli Arab neighborhoods and villages I've seen have been filled with large, lavishly decorated homes. And lastly, I have been led to believe Israeli Arabs treasure their citizenship and would object strenuously to its revocation. If this is true perhaps it would be wise to ask them what they find so agreeable about being second class Israeli citizens. In fact it would be likely that Israeli Arabs faced with possible revocation of their Israeli citizenship as part of the Geneva deal would also support the one-State option (the Geneva Accords in its original form includes the revocation of the Israeli citizenship of Arabs living in East Jerusalem).
Personally, I've always been a proponent of co-existence. In my view the "leftists" who criticize settlers as undemocratic, are the ones who cannot abide the idea of living alongside Arabs. I harbor no hatred towards anyone. I do have difficulty showing tolerance toward those who have no tolerance towards me, whether these individuals are those Arabs who want to shoot me, blow me up or merely chase me away; or Jews who have difficulty with the fact that I am religious or that I see nothing wrong with a Jew living in an area which, 38 years ago, was occupied by Jordan for 19 years. Yet if the decision is made that I will have to abandon the home I spent the last 15 years building with my own hands, and the community I have become an integral member of, then I will adapt, with no regrets, to my new home. It's up to you now. Choose well, for both our sakes.
By C. Handler (Samaria)
handlevy [at] gmail.com