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Debunking the racism behind a two-state solution
Published Monday 24/09/2012 (updated) 26/09/2012 14:30
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Israel's separation wall in Bethlehem. (MaanImages/File)

Much has been said and written about the Oslo Accords and the Geneva initiative. The signatories claim that these much debated documents in principle opened up new possibilities for ‘cooperation’ between what has for so long seemed to be irreconcilable positions.

Yasser Abed Rabbo and Yossi Beilin, the signatories of the Geneva Initiative, for example, believe that "the only solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the establishment of two-states." And, in what sounds like a warning, the latter adds that the window for a two-state solution will not be available indefinitely and Israel will be forced to deal with the "demographic threat" imposed on it by the Palestinians in historic Palestine.

This article, on the contrary, maintains that the two-state solution under present conditions denies the possibility of real coexistence based on equality. This is because both the Geneva document and the Oslo accords accept the Zionist consensus and, for the first time in the history of the conflict, seek to legitimize Israel as a Jewish state in historic Palestine.

In both of these documents, therefore, Israel would appear to have been confirmed as the "state of all the Jews" and never "the state of all of its citizens". The logic of separation implicit in these documents implies some fundamental contradictions and begs certain serious questions.

The Accord and the Initiative have legitimated apartheid. Both documents include a language that is, euphemistically, reminiscent of the series of laws known collectively as the Group Areas Act which forced the relocation of millions of non-white South Africans into racially-specific ghettos. It was created to split racial groups up into different residential areas.

Like in Apartheid South Africa, where the most developed areas were reserved for the white people, and 84 percent of the available land was granted to the same racial group, who made up only 15 percent of the total population, in Palestine even the 22 percent of the historic land on which an 'independent state' is supposed to be declared is, according to the Oslo accords, "disputed".

In the South African case, the 16 percent of remaining land was then occupied by 80 percent of the population. But contrary to the Palestinian case, that was never given legitimacy by the leadership of the indigenous population.

How can you call for the implementation of Security Council resolutions asserting the right of return of the 4.5 million Palestinian refugees to their lands in Israel, and at the same time maintain the exclusively Jewish nature of the state? To be fair, this contradiction also appears in the literature of the Palestinian Resistance Movement. Both Hamas and the PLO also fail to answer this question. Moreover, how does this solution solve the problem of racism and cultural oppression of the marginalized Palestinian citizens of Israel?

Furthermore, is the establishment of an independent state as the solution to the Palestinian problem even possible?

No Israeli position supports full statehood

The argument of Beilin and Abed Rabbo, and even that of the leadership of the PA, is that only negotiations can solve the problem. For ten years negotiations have not moved the Israeli position at all; the Camp David negotiations reached the impasse predicted by both the Palestinian left and the ant-Zionist Israeli left. Ehud Barak’s red lines in 1999, are now very well-known, and Netanyahu’s platform leads to nothing more than a canton for native Palestinians.

Of course Avigdor Lieberman’s advocacy of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine has won him more seats in the Knesset. Add to this the fact that the establishment of a Palestinian state is not mentioned in any of the clauses of the Oslo agreement, thus leaving the matter to be determined by the balance of power in the region. This balance tilts in favor of Israel, which rejects the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state, in spite of its recognition of the PLO.

No Israeli party, neither Labor nor Likud, is ready to accept a Palestinian state as the expression of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as defined by international law.

The Labor Party is prepared to negotiate with the Palestinians in order to give them an advanced form of self-rule that will be called a state, and through which the Palestinians will be enabled to possess certain selected features of 'independence,' such as a Palestinian flag, a national anthem, and a police force. Nothing more. This was Barak's 'generous' offer in Camp David.

The Likud Party, on the other hand, is not prepared to give the Palestinians even these semblances of self-rule. Their vision of the future is rather that the Palestinians should be allowed to run their own affairs under strict and binding Israeli control.

Turning the blame

And lately, in a bizarre, ironic twist, Palestinians have been blamed for killing the two-state solution. Right-wing Israeli historian Benny Morris has given up on finding a solution to "the conflict... mainly due to the Palestinians' consistent rejection of a solution of two states for two peoples."

This is not unlike saying that blacks of South Africa are to blame for killing the Bantusan system. And they should be punished. "In the end, both sides of the Palestinian movement, the fundamentalists led by Hamas and the secular bloc led by Fatah, are interested in Muslim rule over all of Palestine, with no Jewish state and no partition." And Palestinian leadership, according to Morris, "has no desire or intention of reaching a solution of two states for two peoples."

The two- state solution is dead because "the Palestinian leadership and people will not be satisfied with 20 percent of the territory of Palestine. A state composed of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem will not satisfy them," Morris says.

And when asked about the right of return, Morris claims that it "essentially requires the destruction of the Jewish state... the Palestinian discourse and the Palestinian objectives have not changed, and their actions, i.e. terror…". It is Palestinians that are to blame because "[the] demonization is not equal on the two sides. In the Israeli education system, in general, there is no demonization of the Arab, [whereas,] there, the Jews are completely demonized. The Palestinian authorities are busy deeply implanting the demonization. The Palestinian people think we can be made extinct. We don't think that about the Palestinians."

The problem for Morris is that "[aside] from revenge, the Palestinians have absolute faith in the justice of their side, which derives in part from religious faith. What God commands, and what his interpreters on Earth say that God commands, is the definite truth. While the Jews are much more skeptical about this sort of interpretation, the Palestinians feel that justice is on their side and that God doesn’t want the Holy Land to be shared with another people....". Edward Said and Frantz Fanon must be turning in their graves.

But facts on the ground tell another story. Settlement activity in the West Bank continues, as does the confiscation of land and the opening of zigzag roads to service the settlements. Notably, the number of Jewish settlers has risen from 193,000, when the Oslo Accords were signed, to 600,000. No Israeli government has ever been willing to commit itself to the complete evacuation of settlers from the West Bank.

Yet this is a basic pre-condition for the creation of an 'independent Palestinian state' impossible in light of Israel's commitment to the settlers. In order to guarantee the security of the settlements and ensure their future development, Israel is bound to control the greater part of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, in any future contingency it is certain that Israel will invoke its security needs to justify tightening its control over the Jordan Valley, thus, again, rendering the project of an independent Palestinian state impossible.

Jerusalem has suffered and is still suffering from the continuation of settlement activity, the building and expansion of Jewish neighborhoods, the confiscation of Jerusalem IDs, ethnic cleansing, and the policy of 'facts on the ground' which leave no room for future Palestinian control over the city.

In addition, Palestinian refugees living outside the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are experiencing increasing difficulties especially in places like Lebanon and Syria, and are waiting for the day to return to Palestine and to be compensated for their confiscated property. This is a right guaranteed by UN resolution 194.

Meanwhile the Palestinian community in Israel is prevented from coexisting on an equal footing with Israeli Jews. Israel’s state policy against its Palestinian citizens amounts to Apartheid as defined by the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, and ratified by United Nations General Assembly resolution 3068 (XXVIII) of 30 November 1973. Needless to say, the PA does not represent either of those two large segments of the Palestinian people.

One state

Defending a two-state solution is, therefore, an insult to the memory of those who fought for equality and justice not only in Palestine, but also in the American South and South Africa.

Thus we come to the inevitable conclusion that a sovereign, independent Palestinian state is, for the reasons mentioned above, unattainable. The question, therefore, is whether there is an alternative solution?

One alternative increasingly to be found in the writings and pronouncements of certain Palestinian intellectuals and activists is the idea of a secular-democratic state in Mandate Palestine in which all citizens are treated equally regardless of their religion, race or sex.

A secular, democratic state is one inhabited by its citizens and governed on the basis of equality and parity both between the individuals as citizens and between groups which have cultural identities. Inherent in such an arrangement is the condition that the groups living there are enabled to coexist and to develop on an equal basis.

This is summed up in Nelson Mandela’s last words at the end of his four hour statement to the court at the Rivonia Trial: "I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

This system is proposed here as a long-term solution that will need much nurturing, following the political demise of the project of an 'independent Palestinian state' as a result of the Oslo Accords, the siege of the Gaza Strip, and the occupation of the West Bank. The establishment of four Bantusans in South Africa was considered by the International Community to constitute a racist solution that could not and should not be entertained.

In order to bring that inhumane solution to an end, the Apartheid regime was boycotted academically, culturally, diplomatically and economically until it succumbed and crumbled into pieces. Nothing remains of the old ethnically cleansed South Africa or the impoverished Bantusans it had created; not the red carpets, nor the national anthems, or the security apparatuses.

This is what racist solutions come to; a corner in the dustbin of history -- a museum for the gaze of new generations.

Haidar Eid is an independent political commentator and professor in the department of English literature at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza.
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1 ) Ali Abunimah / USA
24/09/2012 17:34
Excellent article Haidar!

2 ) Mary Hughes Thompson / USA
24/09/2012 19:42
Thank you Haidar. Shared on Facebook.

3 ) Ahmad Yaqiin / Canada
24/09/2012 19:53
Factually speaking Israel is not an Apartheid state". Not even close. Revising history wont change that fact. Judeans are Jews and Judea is the land of Jews that predate Muslims/ Islam and "Palestinians". If you compare that to SA when the Dutch invaded in the 15th century it was Blacks who predate the arrival of the Dutch. And if you study the history of Judea it is Muslims and others/ Romans who invade the Jewish city of Jerusalem . Even the Qu'ran makes note - SURA: 5: 20.

4 ) Jane / PA
24/09/2012 20:12
Where is my comments. The artical is in the line with Hamas?solution that will take more life of the ordinary people.. Nothing more.

5 ) Jerrold Cohen / USA
24/09/2012 20:55
This Jew, descended from a family of Jews several of whom were murdered simply because they were Jewish, denies the Statehood of Israel, as a UN creation without forethought that has turned out to be a murderer, a land thief, and a consummate bully to its Palestinian neighbors, who were there first (yes I do remember the biblical Philistines.) As far as I am concerned, there is no Israel, despite the fact that I used to collect for Eretz Yisroel as a child using Jewish National Fund cups.

6 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
25/09/2012 02:06
Excellent essay. Extremely WELL-said. So, Dr. Eid (I will respectfully use that title even if you don't have a doctorate), here we go: First off, frequent readers here know I've said countless times I am so tired and sick and sick and tired of setting the record STRAIGHT about how much land is (would) be "occupied" by whom. So AGAIN let me say it: If Israel were to occupy all land west of the Jordan River (out of all original, TOTAL Palestinian land--land from the Ottoman Empire), (cont.)

7 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
25/09/2012 02:49
advance the (second) Palestinian cause for nationhood and yes, we forever will be. That's the honest truth and so even considering a 1-nation solution is worthless. It doesn't mean beans to us equating us with S. Africa. I completely follow your points but the TOTAL situation involves factors light-years beyond such comparison and you damn well KNOW it. @ 3), You're damn right and I read Sura 5:20 (and 21) and MUCH Thanks. @ 5), GOOD FOR YOU !!! ... So go join those morons Neturei Karta.

8 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
25/09/2012 02:58
Israel would only "occupy" about 25% of "Palestinian" land. The remaining land (about 75%) is already occupied by Jordan/Palestine. So I would really like to debunk the ALREADY false claim that all the Palestinians want is a (second) Palestinian nation on 22% of historic Palestine. THAT'S COMPLETELY WRONG. Despite other ethnic groups living there, your people already have possession and ownership to live in Jordan/Palestine: YOUR NATION. So Israel IS to blame for the failure to (cont.)

9 ) Rami / Palestine
25/09/2012 11:16
Does Mr. Yehuda...EVER shut up? An ethnic cleanser disguised as a peace loving pacifist is the worst kind of all. I'll go to Jordan when you go back to Russia or Poland. How about that?

10 ) Ike / South Africa
25/09/2012 11:40
Imagine the reaction when the Palestinians come to power and in the unlikely event, decide on a cleansing of their population just like the present regime...

11 ) ian / australia
25/09/2012 22:41
#3 "Judeans are Jews and Judea is the land of Jews that predate Muslims/ Islam and "Palestinians"." Nice try but what about the people who predate Judeans? If being there first is so important what about the Kenites, Kenezzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaim, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites? They're all mentioned in Genesis as living there (though destined for destruction by YHWH!) before the Children of Israel arrived to take up the "inheritence". So if you really

12 ) ian / australia
25/09/2012 22:42
(contd.) believed that "who was there first" or "who pre-dates whom" is the test for who owns it NOW...well, it's obviously the descendents of those Biblical peoples (not modern Jews)...and I wonder who they are. Hmmm?

13 ) Sami / Israel
26/09/2012 01:49
Rami: 50% of Israelis ARE NOT FROM EUROPE. I am from EGYPT.

14 ) Emile / Palestine
26/09/2012 09:10
#9 Rami, As soon as I see certain names I just skip over the comment. Ma'an seems intent upon giving a platform for morally devoid individuals and for those who's only purpose is to incite. Ma'an editors seem to like to give space to such folks, either to portray the Zionist side in its most extreme form or because they think they are providing freedom of speech. The lack of editorial talent cheapens and degrades this website. A shame.

15 ) Tissa / Sri Lanka
26/09/2012 12:21
Volumes had been written about the ownership of Holy Land. Boundaries are very clear.Why not give that small bit of land to remaining Palestinians so that they can live freely without begging for funds every month.They have no arms to attack any one.Even animals attack when they are kept without food and inside cages.

16 ) Noam / USA
27/09/2012 04:18
To #11 - All those people you mentioned are no longer around. I think that's the main difference. Plus, I think the Caananites were integrated with the Jews when Jerusalem was established - on a different hill then Jebus or whatever that city was called, I don't remember. Either way, if you go on pro-Palestinian sites you will see the mention of the "State of Isreal" as a historical state where it is located now.

17 ) shirley / australia
27/09/2012 14:23
this article ridiculous look around do you think life will be any better in 1 state as for south africa ANC had armed uprisings and minority whites were no trying to get blacks to leave but had similar idea to set up serlf rule bastuans like Isreals ultimate aim as isreal will never agree to 1 state with equal rights but autonomous bastuans with self rulefor pals with Isreal controlling water west bank now resembles 1930s berlin would NAZIS have welcomed jews 1 state illusion how is genocidewall

18 ) ian / australia
28/09/2012 04:30
#16 Can't see how any of that is relevant Noam. "All those people you mentioned are no longer around. I think that's the main difference." Why is that a difference? Their descendants are "around", just known by different names, just like the descendants of the ancient Judeans are around. "I think the Caananites were integrated with the Jews when Jerusalem was established..." But the "Jews" WERE Canaanites. "Canaanite" is the umbrella term for everyone living in Canaan. The Israelites/Hebrews

19 ) ian / australia
28/09/2012 04:33
(contd.) were a Canaanite tribe (one of many) who invented the fantasy narrative found in the Bible granting themselves all sorts of special entitlements and all dreamt up (in Babylon) a thousand years after the "fact". "...if you go on pro-Palestinian sites you will see the mention of the "State of Isreal" as a historical state where it is located now." Well, there was obviously some sort of bronze age hilltop chiefdom there, possibly ruled by tribal chiefs named Saul or Dawud or Shlomo (and

20 ) ian / australia
28/09/2012 04:34
(contd.) I'd look to archeology rather the Bible for the facts) but so what? That was then; this is now and it's time for the OTHER descendants of the ancient Canaanites to have ANOTHER modern state on their ancient homeland.

21 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
28/09/2012 15:40
@ 18) to 20), No, 16) has a valid point: If a people dies out through natural death/assimilation that makes a ton of difference because they're identity/culture/lifestyle is EXTINCT. So what if their "descendents" are "known" by different "names ???" ... So your point is that they still have valid attachment/ownership rights of land they once possessed but is now owned/occupied by another people ??? ... So that means if the 21st-century "descendents" of the Visigoths were to emerge (cont.)

22 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
28/09/2012 15:54
and say, "Hey !!! ... We're really NOT Europeans but are nonetheless the REAL owners of large areas of Roman Empire land (large areas of Spain, France, Italy, etc.) even though we invaded the Roman Empire and afterwards may have assimilated with the peoples thereof and now we want it ALL back !!!" that these Visigoth "descendents" would be justified ??? ... That's CRAZY !!! LIKEWISE for any 21st-century Canaanite "descendents" that might pop up. Second, NO-O-O--O-O !!! ... We sure as (cont.)

23 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
28/09/2012 16:16
hell are NOT Canaanites nor we're our ancestors. When you get down to business, from our ancestors since the day we came out of Egypt till today we are all the same: Jews/ISRAELITES. Got THAT ??? "Canaanite" is NO umbrella term. It's the general term for the peoples of far, southwestern, Mediterranean Sea-area Mesopotamia who lived there since before the time of Abraham (roughly 2000 B.C.E.). We kicked THEM out. (How else do you think Jebus become part of ISRAEL ??? ... You think (cont.)

24 ) Yehuda Solomon / Israel
28/09/2012 16:26
the Jebusites threw a party and invited us in ???) ... Archeology shows MUCH of Biblical Israel: Ever seen the underground tunnels under Jerusalem built during the reign of our kings to bring in water ??? ... Finally, even the Arabs are NOT 21st-century "Canaanite" descendents. That's actually VERY INSULTING to them. The Arab Peoples descend from ISHMAEL. REMEMBER that.

25 ) Carol Scheller / Switzerland
29/09/2012 18:22
A rare, lucid vision from Gaza which I hope to translate and put on my blog in French (http://carol.blog.tdg.ch). Oh, yes, Emile, oh yes !

26 ) sher / italy
30/09/2012 02:16
timely

27 ) ian / australia
03/10/2012 04:01
#21-24 Archeologically speaking, Yehuda, you would be a Biblical maximalist...on steroids! "NO-O-O--O-O !!! ... We sure as hell are NOT Canaanites nor we're our ancestors...we are...Jews/ISRAELITES. Got THAT ???" Others disagree, like British Museum archeologist Jonathan N. Tubb: "Ammonites, Moabites, Israelites and Phoenicians undoubtedly achieved their own cultural identities, and yet ethnically they were all Canaanites". Surely Yehuda, it's just commonsense that stories of supernatural

28 ) ian / australia
03/10/2012 04:04
(contd.) origins and G-d given covenants/inheritances are mythical (like the whole bondage in Egypt story) and that the REAL origins of the Israelites are like those of the other ancient people in the region...kind of prosaic and unremarkable. And I agree about the Visigoths. The idea of ancient tile to modern lands is ridiculous...basicly coz living people have rights which dead people don't...and is NOT the basis for the Palestinians' right to a state on a part of your beautiful region!

29 ) ian / australia
03/10/2012 05:38
(contd.) origins and G-d given covenants/inheritances are mythical (like the whole bondage in Egypt story) and that the REAL origins of the Israelites are like those of the other ancient people in the region...kind of prosaic and unremarkable. And I agree about the Visigoths. The idea of ancient title to modern lands is ridiculous...coz living people have rights which dead people don't...and is NOT the basis for the Palestinians' right to a sovereign state in (a part of) your beautiful region!

30 ) ian / australia
03/10/2012 05:50
(contd.) Have I ever been in Hezekiah's Tunnel? Fuggedaboutit...too wet and SCARY...and, other than awesome, ancient Judean engineering, irrelevant. "...even the Arabs are NOT 21st-century "Canaanite" descendents. That's actually VERY INSULTING to them." Not to Abu Mazen it's not: "...when he (Bibi) claimed the Jews have a historical right dating back to 3000 years BCE, we say that the nation of Palestine upon the land of Canaan had a 7,000-year history. This is the truth that must be said:

31 ) ian / australia
03/10/2012 05:51
(contd.) Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history." Yalla!

32 ) ian / australia
03/10/2012 08:53
(contd.) Netanyahu, you are incidental in history. We are the people of history. We are the owners of history." Doesn't sound "insulted" to me. Yalla!
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