One Democratic Secular State for all its citizens in Israel and Palestine


Posted September 12, 2013 at 3:13 pm

Q: What happens about the Settlements?

For the territorial, two state solution, settlements are THE obstacle: the West Bank, which would be the base of a Palestinian state, is riddled with a hornets’ nest of settlements housing over 700,000 colonists imported since 1967, many (though not all) of them possessive, greedy, armed and violent with lots of political clout and close friends in Israel’s armed forces.

In any two state ’solution’, those who refused to leave West Bank lands allocated to Palestine would EITHER have to be moved by force in a high profile operation with much weeping and wailing, OR be left in place as a permanent armed garrison and potential provocation within a demilitarised Palestinian territory.

But in a one-state ’solution’, the settlements’ location is neither strategic nor especially notable: this location signifies merely the latest phase in the Hebrew colonisation of Palestine that started back in 1882. And they would no longer be scapegoated as the roadblock to peace because they had been “built on land that the Palestinians want for their state”, as the press commonly sums up the settlements problem.

With full freedom of movement for all, many Palestinians from the dozens of refugee camps in Gaza and the West Bank, and the global diaspora exiles, would be heading towards the north and west of Palestine/Israel in a return to their original home regions. And the ideological, pioneering West Bank zealots might prefer to pack up and head back to Tel Aviv (or Milwaukee or Florida or wherever), once the holding of outposts and land had lost its main purpose and appeal of securing an extension of Israel.

For the remaining settlers, there would have to be changes: they would have to abide by one common law that applied to everyone. Their lands would have to be paid for and some might be returned to their owners. Residency would have to be open and not racially exclusive. They would not be literally swimming in water denied to their neighbours, and their custom-built sports, educational and leisure facilities, roads and infrastructure would have to be shared and extended to the populations around them. If they had caused damage to crops or injury to people they should offer attonement, and in any abandoned settlements, prior destruction of property would have to be paid for or repaired.

A very, very few settlements have made very, very small gestures along such lines. In the context of a transitional period towards a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic society, their example and experience could be a forerunner of serious and widespread re-structuring.


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