The Two State Dead End Con Trick

“Only through the establishment of a sovereign, independent, viable, and democratic Palestinian state on all of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, can a just peace be achieved. The Initiative calls for the implementation of relevant UN resolutions requiring the withdrawal of the Israeli army from the West Bank and Gaza and safeguarding the internationally-recognized right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland.”  Palestinian National Initiative

The Two State solution, to be serious, would create a viable contiguous Palestinian state, comprised of all of the West Bank and Gaza and with East Jerusalem as its capital. This state would have control of its own land, water, air space, sea and borders, and have the right to the means of self defence. Any final status agreement that bars return of exiles to any part of their homeland of original Palestine will be viewed as a betrayal. And even all of this leaves Arab Israelis facing a civil rights struggle.

Israel continues on its headlong path to one (undemocratic) state of Greater Israel, with new Military Orders which enable it to deport tens of thousands of Palestinians. This should have dug the Two State mantra into a bottomless hole: Palestinian public opinion, the Arab League and PNI leader Mustafa Barghouti have asked the Palestinian Authority to halt all coordination with the Israeli government, including security coordination, unless this order is rescinded.

Yet within days of the order coming into effect, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was sitting down in proximity talks with Israel with no preconditions or demands for the lifting of these Orders.

Instead, he emerged from the first round and “vowed that he would work against incitement of any sort” -  i.e. against the resistance movement. And the very next weekend the PA’s police came out to do the work of the IDF in blocking, carting away and arresting anti-wall demonstrators. Israel’s offer pledged to hold off building the Ramat Shlomo housing project in East Jerusalem, for a period of two years. Netanyahu’s office was quick to stress that this particular building project “was only in very initial stages” and not due to start construction for … at least two years.

This was a suitable start for what must be the last gasp of a process that’s been described by US commentator Henry Siegman as “The Greater Middle East Peace Process Scam”.

 By now, with some 480,000 Israelis living in around 250 settlements (some of them substantial towns), the tired reprise of the demand from the early ’90s of a “freeze” on new building serves as a distraction from Israel’s irreversible takeover of the West Bank.

The settlements have long been a government project. In conscious violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention which forbids settlement of occupied lands, Israel set out from 1967 to outnumber Palestinians on the West Bank. In the words of  top Zionist  official Mattityahu Drobles in 1979, settlements would be positioned in the areas between and around the centres occupied by Palestinians “to reduce to a minimum the danger of an additional Arab state being established in these territories.” Being cut off by Jewish settlements, they would “find it difficult to form a territorial and political continuity.”

Even at its best conceivable scenario, two separate states were never a good idea. The land, its resources, its water and its crucial sites never lent themselves to a clean separation. Given the history they would never be good neighbours, never interact beneficially as states. And the states themselves, like divorcees, would remain stamped with the legacy. Solomon in his wisdom taught us that lesson, surely.

In the past 15 years we have seen in operation the way this legacy works, and how it would probably continue if “upgraded” to a fully certified partition: one dominant neighbour in Tel Aviv, a submissive one in Ramallah, and a defiantly belligerant one in Gaza.

What they said

* Professor Richard Falk, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Palestine: George Mitchell continues to say that the objective of the talks is “an independent, viable state of Palestine living side by side with Israel”. The incoherence of such an objective should be palpable. How can one honestly talk about such an envisioned Palestinian state as “viable” when the American leadership agrees with Israel that “subsequent developments” (the code phrase for settlements, land seizures, wall, ethnic cleansing, annexation of Jerusalem) need to be embodied in the outcome of negotiations? … Who but a fool could think that a just peace could emerge from such a deformed pattern of geopolitical diplomacy?

* Israel Shamir: So how do we get to the Promised Land? We’re already there! Historical Palestine is unified, but apartheid is not dismantled yet. We already have one state, but we have no democracy. Stop the empty rhetoric of occupation and two states. We need no tricks, no ‘creative solutions’, just good old universal suffrage, the `One Man, One Vote’ principle. … It is the right time to pass this most basic of rights to the Palestinian natives of this land.

 *  Time Magazine: As long as the status quo remains more politically comfortable than the alternative, there’s no reason to expect any progress.

 * Mazin Qumsiyeh: The indirect negotiations between the most rightist fascist government in Israel’s history and the weakest, most divided and most unrepresentative Palestinian leadership in history have started. Their chance of ‘success’ is near zero.   …. Repackaging occupation and colonisation in the terminology of a ‘two state solution’ will be attempted once again. I believe it is not worth paying attention to political machinations and we should concentrate instead on intensifying our struggle.

* Marwan Barghouti, imprisoned Fatah leader: I  hope the Israelis have learned that the Palestinian people cannot be brought to yield with force. If the occupation does not end …  then there is only one solution: one state for two peoples.

* Ehud Olmert, March 2007: The return of even a single refugee is out of the question.

* “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would never agree to withdraw from the Jordan Valley under any peace agreement signed with the Palestinians” [Haaretz 3 March 2010. This was not political posturing, but reported from a private government meeting.]

* MERIP 2004: the “two-state solution” to which Bush and Sharon refer is one to be imposed upon the Palestinians as a defeat. 

* Israel Shamir: It is useless to shout to the drowning moneylender “Give me your hand!” He does not know how to give. Instead, shout: “Take my hand!” and he will clutch at it. This was the advice of the Sufi sage, Haji Nasr ad-Din. We should say, ’Annex the territories, but give the Palestinians full equality’

* Haneen Zoubi, MK: People are disillusioned with a leadership that is simply trying to buy time and manage the conflict rather than solve it.

* Mohammed Zeidan, director of Arab Assn for Human Rights, based in Nazareth: The two-state solution is starting to look impractical and that has given a significant push to the idea that Palestinians inside Israel should be campaigning for a single state for both peoples.

* Jonathan Cook:  Lieberman is unequivocal  —  if Israel is separating from the Palestinians in parts of the occupied territories, why not also separate from the 1.2 million Palestinians who through oversight rather than design ended up as citizens of a Jewish state in 1948? If Israel is to be a Jewish fortress, then, he points out, it is illogical to leave Palestinians within its fortifications.”

* Richard Falk: Many in the Palestinian diaspora doubt whether a two-state solution is attainable or desirable. Instead they are calling for a single secular, bi-national democratic state that is co-terminus with the historic Palestinian mandate, and alone has the inherent capacity to reconcile contemporary ideas of democracy, human rights, and a belated realisation of Palestinian rights, including the long deferred claims of Palestinian refugees.

* Ali Abunimah:  “It is not credible that a society would invest billions of dollars in roads and housing that it truly intended to give up.” 

* Chomsky: Obama’s acceptance of existing settlements and infrastructure ensures that the phrase “Palestinian state” means “fried chicken”.

* Martin Woollacott (Guardian) reviewing Ghada Karmi: she “demonstrates with relentless lucidity how terribly exhausted the diplomatic and political pursuit of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become” and “exposes the hypocrisies, cruelties and inanities of what amounts to a systematic international attempt over the decades to deny the obvious and delay the inevitable … On the face of it, Israel could have gratefully embraced a deal that would legitimise their hold over the bulk of historic Palestine, regularise their relations with all the Arab states, and at least limit any future claims on them by Palestinians. But …  Karmi shows how they wanted both to have peace and to keep almost everything of what they have in terms of power, territory and dominance.”

* Virginia Tilley: At some point in the past decade, this foundational precept became an obfuscating fiction. … Given that the two-state solution promises only more trouble (and its failure will bring such dire consequences), the one-state solution is the only one that the international community can responsibly now entertain.

* Ali Abunimah: One can read the opinion polls showing growing Israeli support for expelling the Palestinians as a sign of implacable hatred, or one can interpret them as expressions of fear and desperation at the lack of any alternative to the failure thus far of the two-state solution.

* Ali Abunimah: In the face of Israel’s takeover of what is left of Palestinian land and the international refusal to confront it, partition is unachievable. …  [The proposed agreements] seek Palestinian endorsement of Israel’s annexation of territory and of its refusal to readmit Palestinian refugees to their country  [but] Zionism cannot bomb, kidnap, assassinate, expel, demolish, settle and lie its way to legitimacy and acceptance.

* Ali Abunimah: The leaders of the mainstream Israeli left came to embrace Palestinian statehood warmly in theory while undermining it in practice.  [This gave out the message that the left had offered Palestine a good deal that was rejected, hence Israel had no partner for peace and was justified in proceeding unilaterally with its walls and divisions]

 * Jerry Haber (The Magnes Zionist): I have lived in Israel for over thirty years, and to this day, I know of virtually no Israeli within the so-called national consensus who favours a genuine two-state solution. Don’t believe what Benny Morris, Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert, Tom Segev, Amos Oz, Shimon Peres, or any of the so-called Israeli “moderates” or “leftists” tell you. They are all in favor of a one-state/one-“state” solution, where the former is a powerful state with an independent economy, foreign affairs, and military, and the other is a “state-minus,” in which the Palestinians are allowed a certain degree of autonomy provided that they don’t pose a threat to the first state. Even the much-vaunted Geneva Initiative perpetuates inequities when it proposes that a Palestinian state be left without a modern Palestinian defence force, without making a similar demand of Israel – even though one hundred years of Zionism teaches us that the Palestinians have much more to fear from the Zionists than vice-versa. Only one side has ever actually wiped the other’s country off the map – and it wasn’t the Palestinian side.

 * Meron Benvenisti, former Mayor of Jerusalem: The whole notion of a Palestinian state now, in 2010, is a sham …  The entire discourse is wrong. By continuing that discourse you perpetuate the status quo. The struggle for the two-state solution is obsolete.

     [ Israel's domination, he says, is now complete, while the Palestinians are fragmented into five enclaves – inside Israel, in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, and the diaspora. In this situation, the concept of two states is misleading.] What does it mean, a state? It’s a solution for less than one quarter of the Palestinian people on an area that is less than 10% of historic Palestine. [Palestinian leaders who are ready to accept this] “are a bunch of traitors to their own cause. … For the last 20 years I have questioned the feasibility of the partition of Palestine and now I am absolutely sure it is impossible … The entire paradigm is wrong. We are doing this because it is self-serving. It is convenient for us to stick to the old slogan of two states as if nothing has happened since we began advocating it in the 1980s.”  

   [And he sees signs that the Palestinians are beginning to adjust to the] total victory of the Jews and use the power of the weak: demanding votes and human rights may prove more effective than violence.

[Top UN official Robert Serry, was asked if the UN had a Plan B if Two States were to fade]: Well, in a nutshell, no. 

* Gary Sussman: Others simply doubt whether Israel is willing or able to extricate itself from the territories. … The former head of the army’s central command, Yitzhak Eitan, fears that dismantling settlements will trigger a civil war, making the evacuation near impossible.

* Ex-PM Ehud Olmert: More and more Palestinians … want to change the essence of the conflict…. From a struggle against ‘occupation,’ in their parlance, to a struggle for one man, one vote. That is, of course, a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle, and ultimately a much more powerful one. … 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.

* Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak: As long as between the Jordan and the sea there is only one political entity, named Israel, it will end up being either non-Jewish or non-democratic. … If the Palestinians vote in elections, it is a binational state, and if they don’t, it is an apartheid state.” (April 2010)

* Mustafa Barghouti: High-level American officials are now grappling with the reality that if the two-state solution fails to take root during Obama’s tenure then we will be left with apartheid. The burgeoning non-violent Palestinian struggle against the wall and occupation my colleagues and I are organizing might yet transform into a civil rights struggle capable of rivaling movements last seen in the Jim Crow South and apartheid South Africa. … Palestinian steadfastness and global solidarity are forcing Israel to choose: two states, apartheid, or democracy in one undivided state.
   Although I continue to back two states, I believe the vast majority of Palestinians would accept equal rights and one person, one vote in one state with alacrity. I certainly would were we to reach such a day. … While we pursue non-violent resistance to Israeli expansionism in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, American military aid to Israel destabilizes the region and endangers Palestinians daring to protest an occupation that attempts to reduce us to an inferior status. Much as in apartheid South Africa and the Jim Crow American South, such discrimination is increasingly rankling concerned people around the world. Problematically, these latest talks seem ill-equipped to address this central concern.

* Mustafa Barghouti, 7.5.2010:  the most important [facts] are the new geopolitical realities that make the whole idea of the peace based on a two state solution impossible.

* Prof. John Mearsheimer, 29 April 2010: [Quoting Larry Derfner, Jerusalem Post:] “Our prime minister [Netanyahu] is constitutionally incapable of leading the nation out of the Palestinians’ midst, of fighting the settlers and the Right in a virtual or literal civil war, of persuading Israelis to admit that on the crucial endeavor of their national life for the past 43 years, they were wrong and the world was right.”
   Even Yitzhak Rabin, who was determined to make the Oslo peace process work, never spoke about creating a Palestinian state.  He was merely interested in granting the Palestinians some form of limited autonomy, what he called “an entity which is less than a state.”  Plus, he insisted that Israel should maintain control over the Jordan River Valley and that a united Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel. 

   By the end of September 2009, Obama publicly conceded that Netanyahu had beaten him in their fight over the settlements.  The President falsely denied that freezing settlement construction had ever been a precondition for resuming the peace process, and instead he meekly asked Israel to please exercise restraint while it continued colonizing the West Bank.  Fully aware of his triumph, Netanyahu said on September 23, “I am pleased that President Obama has accepted my approach that there should be no preconditions.”

   [Mearsheimer quotes Gideon Samet, writing in Israeli paper Ma'ariv] It has become clear with what ease an Israeli prime minister can succeed in thwarting an American initiative.

   [This, says Mearsheimer, is the power of the lobby that has the support of the vast majority of US Jews], who think that the two-state solution is still a viable option and that Israel remains committed to allowing the Palestinians to have their own state. These false beliefs allow them to act as if there is little danger of Israel becoming South Africa..

* Ofra Yeshua-Lyth: Advocates of the “Two States Solution” ignore the fact that in this scenario the seriously faulty legal and ideological infrastructure of the present Jewish State will not be dealt with. As a result, the serious inner schisms that tear Israeli society apart will continue to put pressures on whatever political structures the “Two States” situation should materialize. Next to it, there is little chance for a non-nationalistic, non-religiously belligerent Palestinian State. The Two States Solution – which is non-viable anyway – is at most a program for the creation of two very unpleasant, mutually hostile, political entities. 

* Jeff Halper: When the two-state solution collapses, Israel must choose between apartheid and democracy

* Gary Sussman: There are, of course, other alternatives to a two-state outcome. These include an entity in which Jews rule over a Palestinian majority, through various schemes of coercion. The Israeli right has variously proposed canton schemes which will allow a Jewish minority to rule over a Palestinian majority through gerrymandering.

* Gary Sussman: Others fear that … the Israeli right wish to create a set of disconnected cantons that would bear the name of  Palestinian state. Such a bantustan model would maximize Israeli control of territory, while minimizing the number of Palestinians living in the Israeli state.

* Ilan Pappe: With the help of the slogan ‘Two States for Two Peoples’ it is possible to start talking of a transfer of population, it is possible to talk of reducing the Palestinian territory, it is possible to cleanse the Israeli territory of Palestinians. ‘We are here and they are there’ said Ehud Barak. They can also cleanse the Palestinian minority in Israel, in the name of the sublime idea of Two States.

* Mustafa Barghouti: Western lethargy means the clock may run out on the two-state solution. … The demise of the two-state solution will only lead to a new struggle for equal rights, within one state. Israel, which tragically favors supremacy rather than integration with its Palestinian neighbours, will have brought the new struggle on itself by relentlessly pushing the settlement enterprise. No one can say it was not warned. Eventually, we will be free in our own country, either within the two-state solution or in a new integrated state.

* Israel Shamir: Let us face the hard facts on the ground: the idea of two states in Palestine is, and has always been, a bluff. The endless negotiations have been a sideshow designed to mollify the public. …
  Thirty years ago, the Israeli singer Arik Einstein was assuring us that “The talks will be resumed soon”. They are still singing the same old song. … Behind the smoke screen of ‘temporary military occupation’, … a succession of leftist and rightist Israeli regimes perpetuated this legal fiction in order to deny the civic rights of the conquered population. It was a brilliant idea: to carry on negotiations forever while giving lip service to the idea of two states. …
  There have always been only two paths for the Palestinians to emerge from serfdom. One is to beat Israel; the second is to join it. The third option, of a new partition, is just an illusion: a juicy but unreachable carrot dangled for the donkey….
   By calling some lands `occupied territories’ they have exempted themselves from the need to battle against the exclusion of Palestinians from the country’s political life. Behind the smoke of racist realities and illusions we already live in a united Palestine. The Green line exists only in our minds, while the sea of apartheid splashes on both sides of it. It is in our common interest to abolish the fiction completely and establish equality before the law for everybody in all of Palestine (Israel), from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Then we can enjoy one law for both the native son of the land and the newcomer, as the Bible commands us. (Jan 2001)

* Tariq Ali: I don’t’ think that Israel, as it exists at the moment, is viable. I think the only viable solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a single state in which all Jews, Christians, Muslims, Druze and Druids and whatsoever have the same rights. It’s what we fought for in South Africa, And it’s what will have to be fought for in Israel. And people will jump up and scream: ‘no, we will never live with each other’. But living with each other is what has to be argued for. I think, it’s the only serious alternative.
   I am for a single State-solution. I think the Israelis have made any other alternative impossible. So in my opinion, that is what the Palestinians in Palestine and their movements outside (of Palestine) should do: they should fight for a single State and they should transform the PLO and Hamas into a giant civil rights and liberation movement, on the model of many movements in history.
   I think, we will have to take the initiative and say: end all this farce of negotiations and this farce of Mahmoud Abbas going to the Israelis to talk like a servant, trying to force Hamas to do the same. It doesn’t serve anybody’s interest. It completely debases the Palestinian cause”. (Interviewed by The Arab Monitor, 2007)

* Sir Jeremy Greenstock (the thinking person’s British establishment pundit):  The negotiations in their present form are “a cul-de-sac”.

* Judah Magnes (Founder of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem) c. 1945: If we cannot find ways of peace and understanding, if the only way of establishing the Jewish National Home is upon the bayonets of some Empire, our whole enterprise is not worthwhile, and it is better that the Eternal People that has outlived many a mighty empire should possess its soul in patience… It is one of the great civilizing tasks before the Jewish people to enter the promised land, not in the Joshua way, but bringing peace and culture, hard work and sacrifice and love, and a determination to do nothing that cannot be justified before the conscience of the world.

* Nahum Pachnik: The hatred and the alienation are not a consequence of the occupation. If this state had not been founded by Ben-Gurion and the Ashkenazim, but by the Sephardim, with their mentality after having lived in Muslim countries, there could have been a wonderful binational state here and we would be managing to live with them in peace.

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