What happens next?
On Israeli TV news an unidentified senior member of the Likud Party was quoted as saying: “The danger of peace has receded.”
With the knockout blow to the Kerry Talks on 1st April, the so-called Peace Process appears to be over. Now the undead Two State solution is somewhere in the spirit world: an object that doesn’t and cannot exist outside of the séance, but which people on the margins of rationality will continue to believe in.
Unfortunately, these people appear to include the entire Palestinian “negotiating” team, the UN and the world’s top diplomats, still steering by the two state star, their journey leading to nowhere.
ICAHD founder Jeff Halper, in an Open Letter to American Jewish peace group J-Street, says: “you cannot simply assert a political position. You cannot promote “solutions” like that of two-states merely because you cannot entertain anything else. If there is no more connection between your political stands and the political facts on the ground, your stands have to change whether or not you want to “go there.”
All that said, the fact remains that on this matter, the margins of rationality do seem to be amazingly wide. These last talks revealed more clearly than ever that Israel had no intention of conceding anything remotely resembling Palestinian statehood. But as the Two State mirage has survived so many “rounds of talks”, the expectation is still for it to survive again. And again…
To truly shift the two state mentality, we will need to see major upheavals on the ground, which lead in turn to a change in PLO policy. Both of these are now a great deal more probable.
Columnist JJ Goldberg in America’s Jewish Daily Forward envisaged the fallout from the talks including “a spike in violence; escalating pressure from the U.N. and Europe; and conceivably a collapse of the Palestinian Authority, which would put Israel back in the expensive and dangerous business of running the West Bank’s schools, post office, social welfare agencies and policing”.
Almost certainly there will be an irresistable push from Netanyahu’s coalition partners for the formal annexation of Area C which is about half the West Bank. And Netanyahu’s deputy Avigdor Lieberman may try out his pet scheme of redrawing the borders so as to render stateless and voteless some of Israel’s Palestinian citizens.
Gathering momentum, meanwhile, would be what Kerry colourfully termed “BDS on Speed”: only the advertised prospect of an imminent deal, and the receding notion that “both sides” are to blame, is holding back that tide.
Jeff Halper: “We finally see reality: naked, raw occupation and apartheid with no pretense of two equal “sides” or genuine negotiations.” It’s time to “acknowledge what was apparent to everyone on April 1, 2014: Israel itself and no one else turned Israel/Palestine into one indivisible state.”
Turning the old issues upside down
In the Two State paradigm, the “Greater Israel” Zionists win by spreading the settlements all over the West Bank, ensuring there is just one country. The only way to trump that is to demand equal rights in that one country: rights to freedom of movement, democracy, equality under the law, an end of segregation and ethnic cleansing, and equal rights for all to build and to settle — including those in the West Bank and Gaza (at the least) whose original homes lie to the west of the 1948-67 Green Line border.
This is increasingly clear to many younger Palestinians, and also to many intellectuals. 108 leading academics sent an Open Letter to Abbas, requesting a new dialogue among the Palestinian people about the future and aims of the Palestinian struggle, and the appropriate means to secure the rights of all Palestinians. This may result in new policy that would finally remove Two States from the agenda.
Meanwhile, with life getting very dramatically worse, The Palestinian movement will face hard choices:
* Will it be able to hold to the “beautiful resistance” of the recent years given huge new provocations? Can the international solidarity movement gear-up in time to assist it by a massive increase in BDS and other actions to hold Israel to account? And can this solidarity movement cope if there was an upsurge of armed resistance?
* Will the Palestine liberation movement be able to democratise and renew its leadership to re-fit it for a new phase of struggle for freedom, justice and equal rights for all Palestinians, wherever they are?
* Will it be able to engage in a genuine dialogue about alternative means to achieve Palestinians’ inalienable rights under international law, such as shared and equal sovereignty in one country based on universal values and equal respect, democracy, right of return and an end to military rule?
* Can it augment and complement BDS with international legal rulings, and push for material consequences, expulsion, isolation, sanctions and deligitimising of Israel: by binding the PA to desist from such actions, Israel showed its vulnerability and fear of them.
Jobs for the One State movement
The One State movement now faces a huge opportunity and urgent challenges. It has long anticipated this juncture, and posed the need to turn the demands for a truncated statehood into demands for full civil rights in one undivided country.
But though Israel will be, more clearly than ever, the sole authority from the river to the sea, it will still be able to confuse and divide. The removal of the Two States delusion will leave a vacuum which could quickly suck in a whole variety of other notions as well, ideas that may be doomed to failure however radical or militant they might appear, but that could push the One State vision further away rather than closer.
These are some tasks for the Palestinian and international One State movement:
* Lead the call to renew the PLO and re-discuss goals
* Come out in the open and show the strength of the existing movement. It can no longer lead from behind: it’s time to come out of the closet, to stand up and be counted and be out in front, leading and urgent.
* Take its message into all the grassroots and civil society organisations, working up pressure from the ranks for the PLO to adopt and endorse the general aims. Stand for leading positions, and if appropriate, propose that Palestinian organisations affiliate to the one state movement.
* Switch the emphasis from territory and Occupation to apartheid, from a state of Palestine to full and equal civil rights. Demand one-person, one vote throughout historic Palestine: it’s as good a vantage point as any to start out on a democratic re-furbishment of Israel/Palestine, and a good baseline for any variants that can enfranchise not only individuals but communities and interest groups.
* Another shift is from separation to integration. Every action that disproves the notion that “hatred is inherent in the relationship of Hebrew and Arab peoples” is valuable, even if it’s just about making social connections.
* In this context, look again at the boundary between normalisation and co-resistance. As the One State movement grows on both sides and a transitional phase may be in sight, personal and group contact and discussion about how to make a future together will be a vital part of the process of change, not an endorsement of the racist status quo.
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