Breaking out of the Two State impasse
1. A Serious One Year Plan
The Palestinian National Initiative and Fatah asked the Socialist International to resolve on a Palestinian state in one year. The best way to give this some teeth is for the authors of the resolution to announce that if Israel does not comply, then they will adopt the alternative demand for civil rights in one democratic state. And maybe next year’s Socialist International conference will support that too.
And it would not be before time. We fear that if the Palestinian struggle has only one road to justice it is very vulnerable.
If Palestine has an alternative route, it will be stronger and better able to reject unacceptable terms cooked up for it by the PA “leaders” who supported Israel against the Goldstone report, tried to persuade Turkey to back off its quest to find the truth of the Mavi Marmara outrage, and who are awaiting a nice big shipment of personnel carriers from Russia for their police force.
There is also a danger that Israel will, as soon as it has everything in place, unilaterally re-draw borders, withdraw some of its troops, permanently impose a modified or proxy occupation and claim that this is justice and independence. And they would get away with it.
If the dream of an independent state is a trap, it will need a realistic and inspiring way out and a far-sighted leadership to change course before the trap is closed. Any party or alliance that adopted the One State option beforehand would be in pole position to give the movement a decisive lead at such a time.
The effects of such a change of course could throw Israel’s strategists into confusion and make all their schemes and arguments irrelevant. It could realign their politics and transform the whole balance of forces in ways that are hard to foresee.
And in the event that the PA ever got around to holding its postponed elections, a party or alliance with a clear One State vision could make some very big waves with such a platform, whether it decided to contest or to boycott the elections.
2. The Mickey Mouse one-year plans
Any talk of a time limit without consequences attached is not substantially different from the various Mickey Mouse announcements that have come from the (now unelected) PA, echoed by the Arab League.
First, “Prime Minister” Fayyad said that the PA would unilaterally “create a Palestinian state”, get it recognised by the UN, and then ask for UN backing to expel the Israeli occupation which would be in breach of their sovereignty.
When Israel’s chief bruiser and Foreign Secretary Avigdor Lieberman threatened to retaliate in kind, Fayyad quickly retreated and said he had never meant to say that, and he was simply talking about creating the infrastructure of a state: which indeed the PA has been doing, if posh UN-funded buildings, rat-runs around Israel’s apartheid roads, armoured carriers for its police and no doubt a healthy supply of prisons, count as a Palestinian state.
Then Egypt and the Arab League had a go. Citing the UN Security Council’s support for Two States, they announced that they would propose that the Security Council (that’s the body with the US veto, don’t forget) should “declare a Palestinian state if proximity talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials fail to achieve progress by September”. And Arab League chief Amr Moussa said an emergency summit would be held in October to develop a mechanism for joint Arab activities, calling on Arab countries to organize the home front in order to face the political, security, and economic challenges related to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
But none of this bluff and posturing changes the facts on the ground, best summed up by Palestinian grassroots leader Mustafa Barghouti: “The (Israeli) government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set impossible conditions on all issues, including Jerusalem, borders, settlements, water and the Jordan Valley. The answer to these policies lies in the expansion of the popular non-violent resistance, the restoration of national unity and abandoning any illusion that the current negotiations will give positive results. We cannot wait for Israel to take serious and positive action, as it will never happen”.
3. Next One State Conference
The One State movement has books, articles, documents and websites. There have been conferences in Madrid, London, Boston and Haifa. Now organisers of a Conference in October in Houston, Texas have drafted a new declaration and are aiming to create a structure and plan of action. This is a great step forward, and One Democracy hopes to be there.
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