Peace

One state, two state, three state, four – Part III

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This is the third and final part of a three-part series exploring alternatives to the two-state solution in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Part one examined attitudes and approaches to the one-state solution. Part two looked at the option of an Israeli-Palestinian federation.

Prospects for a two-state resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have dimmed in recent months and years. Over 60 percent of both Palestinians and Israelis think it is unlikely a Palestinian state will be created in the coming years, according to a recent poll. An equally large majority on both sides opposes accepting the other’s conditions for returning to negotiations toward that goal. Frustrated that interim stages have become a permanent status quo and lamenting the lack of any process, Oslo peace process architects Yossi Beilin and Ahmed Qurei, have both recently called for the dismantling of their design.

Meanwhile, the one-state solution is cast as the only alternative, one that negates both current Zionist political thought and the goals of the Palestinian national movement. Other alternatives are rarely discussed, even as the conflict appears increasingly intractable.

Alternatives to the two-state solution, like the Oslo process itself and any other model for conflict resolution, need not be accepted as absolute prescriptions. Although not necessarily viable, the model outlined below, “parallel states,” offers new ideas for (more…)

One state, two state, three state, four – Part II

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Read part one of this series here

Many supporters of the two-state solution are apprehensive that its failure would eventually lead to one state, bringing to an end its Jewish character. However, there are several well-articulated alternatives that should be examined.

The two-state solution has faced a number of problems that appear to be becoming more and more insurmountable. The question of territory and geographic boundaries lies at the heart of many of those concerns. Israel’s continued settlement enterprise eats away at the territory slated for a future Palestinian state. Furthermore, much of mainstream Israeli thought says that withdrawing to the 1949 Armistice Lines (the Green Line) would leave Israel with “indefensible borders.”

Equally important is the question of whether an independent Palestinian state within the Green Line would actually be viable. The lack of territorial contiguity between the West Bank and (more…)

One state, two state, three state, four – Part I

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More than two decades since the start of the peace process, the two-state solution has become the only acceptable path for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in contemporary discourse. But while the two-state solution may be the only one currently sitting on the table, many others continue to linger around it, waiting for someone to pick them up. The most recent such attempt was the One State Conference held at Harvard University earlier this month, promoting the idea of one liberal state for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The conference was derided by all colors of Israelis and American Zionists as “delegitimizing” Israel. Discussing a one-state solution, some said, “is a euphemism for ending the existence of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.”

The likes of World Jewish Congress Secretary-General Dan Diker, along with various Israeli and world Jewish leaders, dismissed the conference as “anti-Semitic theater.” Jerusalem Post columnist (more…)

Why Netanyahu is wrong about Fatah-Hamas unity

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“You can either have peace with Hamas or peace with Israel,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a public statement Monday, hours after Abbas signed an agreement to form an interim government with Hamas ahead of Palestinian elections. The ultimatum, however, is fundamentally flawed; even if peace with Israel was around the corner, it would not be possible for the Palestinian president to reach a deal with Israel before mending ties with Hamas.

The only solution to the conflict currently on the table – although many others are lurking in the background – is the two-state solution, which by definition necessitates one unified Palestinian leadership. The goal of the two-state framework is the establishment of the State of Palestine, not two separate states in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But there are other more important issues involved. Mahmoud Abbas is not Yasser Arafat. Abbas’s credibility on the Palestinian street has been consistently waning. Currently entering the seventh year of a four-year (more…)

Taking the ‘peace’ out of the process

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The Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been dead for years, but a revival of talks between the two sides this week in Amman proved that ‘the process’ still serves a purpose. For Israel, even topical engagement in the process is necessary to maintain its aura of righteousness – that the Palestinians are to blame for a perpetual state of conflict – thereby allowing it to continue presenting the status quo as the only viable option. For the Palestinians, returning to the table justifies the revitalization of a stalled push for statehood by pointing to the futility of negotiations, and in a way, also helps maintain the status quo that serves the Ramallah political elite.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak took to the Israeli airwaves to discuss the upcoming talks a day before the two sides met in Amman this week. He discussed the various strategic advantages for Israel in resuming contacts with the Palestinians and at the same time made clear he had no expectations from them. But most notably, never in the 15-minute interview did he once say the word “peace.”

Perhaps feeling the need to justify to a domestic audience the simple act of sitting at the (more…)

Settlers, the Foreign Ministry and the ‘Demographic Demon’

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Earlier this summer, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon put out an English-language video, which was identical to one released by the Yesha Council (the umbrella organization of West Bank settlements) several months earlier. The widely distributed video argued Israel’s right to hold the West Bank and challenged the Palestinian right to establish a state in it.

Utilizing similar slick graphics, the same Yesha producers recently released a new video arguing that the “demographic demon,” the logic behind former prime minister Ariel Sharon’s personal conversion to a supporter of the two-state solution, is no longer a threat – if it ever was.

The new Yesha video is a direct challenge to that narrative, promoted by nearly every recent Israeli prime minister and peace-oriented organization – that in order to maintain an Israeli state in which Jews are the majority, a two-state solution is necessary. (more…)

Palestinian statehood and strategic perceptions of time

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What exactly will Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas bring back with him when he returns from the United Nations in New York later this month? In today’s world of 24-hour news cycles and in a conflict where reality can and does change by the minute, most speculation and analysis tends to focus on what will happen the day after statehood is declared. But while such a short-term analysis is appropriate from the Israeli perspective, looking at the latest diplomatic move from the Palestinian side requires a much longer view.

“We don’t want to raise expectations by saying we are going to come back with full independence,” Abbas said in his much-anticipated speech last week describing his foray in the United Nations. Even if the statehood bid in the UN is successful, he cautioned, it will not “end the occupation.”

Abbas, a protégé and ideological successor of late PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, shares the primary strategy of the iconic Palestinian leader and the current move should be understood in the context of (more…)

Notes on Netanyahu in Congress: A misrepresentation of reality

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A few quick notes on Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s speech to the US Congress on Tuesday:

  • Netanyahu, when making the case for annexing large settlement blocs in the ever-unlikely event that he makes peace, inflated the number of settlers living east of the pre-1967 lines by roughly 150,000. It is not clear where the claim of 650,000 Israelis living beyond the Green Line came from but the motivation for his statistical augmentation is likely driven by his desire to make the prospect of withdrawal appear impossible, as Mondoweiss speculated. (more…)

Obama creates linkage between Israel and the Arab world

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There is much to be examined in US President Barack Obama’s speech on the Middle East. As usual, the president’s words failed to thrill any side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For leftists, Obama did not go far enough in pressuring Israel to make concessions necessary for peace, and for the “Land of Israel” right-wingers, his explicit mention of 1967 borders as a basis for future borders represented a betrayal of Israeli interests. Both sides, of course, are over-reacting. The president did not introduce much new to the conflict save for one issue: linkage between the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the problems of the wider Middle East and American interests in the region.

For decades, Israeli politicians have been fighting what they call “linkage,” the idea that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can be linked to the violent strife and domestic problems in the Arab world (explained passionately here by the ADL’s Abraham Foxman). It is true that Israel is not the cause of conflict in the Middle East. The region has been plagued with armed conflict since Babylonian times and through to Israel’s establishment in 1948. If anything, Israel’s entrance into the Middle Eastern neighborhood has allowed Arabs to refocus their conflict on what is viewed as an external enemy, although a fair number of intra-Arab and intra-Muslim conflicts have threatened the region since (Iran-Iraq, Iraq-Kuwait, Syria-Jordan, Lebanon-Syria, Lebanon-Lebanon, Saudi Arabia-Yemen, etc.).

The conclusion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been widely linked to the relatively dormant Arab-Israeli conflict. With two notable exceptions, Egypt and Jordan, Arab states condition peace with Israel upon (more…)

Unilateral surprises: Netanyahu’s speech to Congress

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Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is slated to speak in front of a joint session of the US Congress in a few weeks’ time. In an attempt to preempt a planned Palestinian move seeking statehood in the United Nations, Netanyahu is expected to put forth his own peace initiative. The Prime Minister’s Office has been hyping the speech’s impact, saying it will “surprise the international community.”

But there is no real expectation of surprise.

The consensus in the Israeli press in recent months is that the prime minister has yet to offer any original ideas and is too much of a reactionary to conjure any up now. Editorials and columns in nearly every Israeli newspaper have lamented the lack of any forward-looking vision presented by the man expected to lead Israel into the future.

But what if all of the pundits are wrong and Netanyahu does actually understand (more…)

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