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one state solution

Ali Abunimah on the one state solution


At a colloquium held in Brussels on November 19.

One-State, Two-State and the ATFP

(In the Photo, Hussein Ibish)

By Antoine Raffoul • Aug 9th, 2010

Until recently, we had never heard of the American Task Force on Palestine (ATFP). After some research on the subject of the One-State vs the Two-State solution, we discovered a long Study published by the ATFP in 2009 entitled “What’s Wrong With The One-State Agenda”. It made for interesting reading and shed some light on the people behind the ATFP which claim “to promote an end to the conflict in the Middle East through a negotiated agreement that provides for two states – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security”.

This document (the ATFP calls it a Study) was originally drafted by Dr Hussein Ibish (who is a Senior Fellow at the ATFP) at the time Israel was launching its criminal ‘Operation Cast Lead’ on Gaza in December 2008. That onslaught left 1400 Gazans dead and most of the Gaza Strip in ruins. One would have thought that ‘Operation Cast Lead’ would provide the ATFP with the clearest example yet of Zionism’s consistent policy of using force to attain total colonial stranglehold in all of historic Palestine. Events of the last 62 years would also provide a clear evidence of this policy.

A good reading of ATFP’s Study raised many questions some of which we put in writing to Dr Ibish, the author, via the ATFP website. An automated confirmation was received promising a reply which never came.

Overall, the Study attempts to demolish the whole basis on which the One-State solution is being promoted by its advocates including this writer.

It is surely high time that all politicians, historians, writers and academics who still believe in and support the idea of a Two-State solution to the Israel-Palestine tragedy to come forward and submit, once and for all, a clear and transparent statement outlining exactly what they really mean by the Two-State solution. They have had 62 years to advance this idea and they have failed.

This ATFP Study, whilst calling for an end to the Israeli occupation through negotiations, does not take into account the failed UN Resolutions, the endless summits and the numerous peace conferences which have dotted the Middle East political and diplomatic landscape since 1947. After 62 years, we are no closer to resolving this tragedy than we were when it started in 1948 with the Palestinian Nakba and the creation of the state of Israel.

Over the years, Israel, through its huge military machine and the ‘eternal’ support of the United States, has managed to reinforce its illegal occupation of Palestinian land not only since 1967, but since 1947 when an illegal Partition Plan was forced upon the Palestinian people.

The occupation continues unchecked, the illegal settlement construction is in full force and moves forward unabated, the destruction of Palestinian homes and farmland has become a daily occurance and the flagrant Israeli defiance of International Law is a routine phenomenon as the international community looks on.

Throughout all of historic Palestine, this picture of unrelenting colonisation by Israel is a very well documented one. It is probably the most documented conflict of modern times. The colonial picture has not changed but the Palestinian landscape has.

Israel’s occupation of all Palestine is pretty much complete and in line with the first Zionist declaration in 1897 which called for the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine within 50 years. The Zionists finally managed it in 1948 – missing their target date by only 1 year.
The force of this near total occupation can only be maintained via a huge military machine and through an outdated Apartheid political system which will surely fail.

The network of physical obstructions built throughout the Palestinian landscape offer us a clear system of control unseen since WWII: from exclusive roads for Jews only, to the massive number of illegal settlements, to the prison Wall wrapping around Palestinian villages along and out of the Green Line, to the checkpoints and watch towers reminiscent of a Nazi regime and finally, to a judicial and political racist system which favours the occupier and dehumanises the occupied.

This is a picture of a solid iron grip over a whole indigenous people. Not just in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, but also a grip over the 1.5 million Palestinians inside Israel, otherwise called ‘the others’.

It is through this window that a One-State vs a Two-State debate must take place. The writer advocated a One-State solution back in 1968 as the dust settled on the 1967 war between Israel, Egypt, Syria and Jordan. It was another wake-up call to focus on that Zionist declaration of 1897. Total occupation of historic Palestine was set in motion after the six-day war ended. If that was not enough to convince the world that Israel was determined to continue the course set for it 70 years earlier, then it must take a second look over the last 62 years since the Nakba of 1948.

It would be nothing short of ignorance to bury one’s head in the sand and cast a blind eye to all that Israel is doing in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. What is happening thier is nothing short of total occupation: physically, militarily, ethnically, and politically.

Which brings us to the ATFP Study: “What’s Wrong With The One-State Agenda”.
It is truly farcical, despite the above facts, that anyone should be calling for a Two-State Solution. It begs the question of what has been learnt by the American Task Force on Palestine (or any other Task Force or Think Tank for that matter), from the last 62 years which have seen millions of Palestinian refugees linger in their miserable camps and millions more suffocate under the longest and most cruel occupation in modern times.
In true fashion, the ATFP Study goes on the attack from the word go, against the authors of such publications as “The One State Solution” by Professor Virginia Tilley, “One Country” by the founder of the Electronic Intifada Ali Abunimah, and against the authors of the “One State Declaration” issued in London and Madrid in 2007 on the 60th anniversary of UN Resolution 181 (the Partition Plan).

The ATFP believes that because Israel ‘withdrew’ from Gaza (my italics) and from some small illegal outposts in the north of the West Bank, the logical conclusion would be that the Zionist leadership would not be adverse to the transfer of “sovereignty over a sufficient number of West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements to accommodate a viable and acceptable Palestinian state…”.

The key word here is, crucially, ‘accommodate’. Israel accommodates and a Palestinian state becomes magically viable. The ATFP author, Dr Ibish, must be blind to all the facts on the ground and fails to explain Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s statements about the ‘natural growth’ of his illegal settlements. If anything, ‘natural growth’ is what I call an illegal and one-sided ‘accommodation’.

The Study goes on to tackle the Right of Return for the Palestinian refugees to their homeland, which is a main demand by those advocating a One-State solution. The Study submits that “some form of limited ‘return’ to the new Palestinian state would be an integral part of conflict agreement”. Another key statement here is: ‘some form of limited return’. In other words, no one should expect the ‘sovereign state of Israel’, to “open its borders to large numbers of Palestinian refugees to return to live in Israel under any conceivable circumstances”.

What are we to understand by ‘limited return’ and from which miserable camp will the refugees be ‘returning’. Does any one of the millions of Palestinian refugees have any say in this? The ATFP does not volunteer an answer.

One of the most sensitive issues this Study tackles is ethnic and national identities of the Palestinians and ‘Israeli Jews’. It states that “one of the greatest strengths of the Two-State solution is that it does not require Israelis and Palestinians to reconcile their national [and ethnic] narratives” when each people have a state of their own.

But the reality on the ground shows that only one narrative is allowed to develop to the detriment of the other narrative, and that is the Jewish/Zionist narrative. The erasure of memory, the uprooting of the foundations of the Palestinian society, and the ethnic cleansing of a whole nation and its people, are daily occurrences in the OPT today.

They remain solid proof of how one narrative claims sole right over the other under occupation. By promoting a Two-State solution (if at all possible now) on the basis that two peoples have had a bitter history of conflict, bloodshed and distrust, the author of the Study seems to forget the lesson history teaches us.

The most recent of these are Northern Ireland and South Africa, where truth and reconciliation managed to forge the basis of a miracle of unity.

Palestinians, throughout their history had no conflict with the indigenous Jewish and other ethnic groups in Palestine. Many wonderful examples of that harmony can be heard from testimonials of living descendants of villages like Lifta (where Abunima’s family lived) and others. The aim of a political solution must certainly not be, as suggested by the ATFP Study, the separation of ethnic groups because they had a history of conflict, but to unite them in a single democratic, multi cultural and free state. Israel, as it stands today, cannot claim that mantle.

In Part III of the Study, Dr Ibish argues that “the creation of a single Palestinian-Israeli state is not possible given the existing international and regional power equations”. He writes that “Israel is not going to agree to dismantle itself simply because it has lost a moral argument or an academic debate”. True. But Zionism, albeit with financial clout, never gave up arguing, debating, lobbying and arm-twisiting real power players, large and small, across the international arena ever since that onerous year of 1897.

The Palestinian struggle, though helped by academic debates, moral arguments and international boycotts, is fundamentally about self-determination, justice and freedom from occupation, not simply about scoring in academic debates. Dr Ibish argues that advocates of the One-State solution cannot simply ask an entire people [the Israelis] to simply abandon their national goals and strategies, even though these national goals and strategies have been aimed at the ethnic cleansing and the colonial conquest of an entire people.

A call for the abandonment of such goals and strategies must not only come from advocates of a One-State solution, but also from the international community at large.

The Study, in a desperate attempt to give credence to its Two-State logic, tries to have its cake and eat it. It admits that there is no official international support for the Israeli settlement activities and that international calls (including from the United States) for Israel to end its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza, make Israel’s legal position untenable.

But the Study uses this fact to forward a naive argument that the One-State agenda effectively “lets Israel off the hook” because the settlements, the occupation, the Wall and all resulting injustices become, in the one state, matters to be resolved “through the political and legal processes of a single state, rather than [being considered] abuses committed by an occupying power…bound by the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention and other international instruments”.

This argument defies all logic as it falsely assumes that a crime by a state within its borders is less likely to be punished under International Law because such a crime would be considered as “one of civil rights within a given country…[and] the rights and interests of the international community in cases of domestic discrimination are not equivalent to those attached to territories considered by the UN Security Council to be under foreign military occupation”.

The Study thus considers that the rule of the jungle within a state is to be tolerated because it is inherently a civic matter within that state and not answerable under International Law.

The Study also assumes that the One-State advocated by us is the same Zionist Apartheid State called Israel.
Antoine Raffoul


Antoine Raffoul is a Palestinian architect living and practising in London. He was born in Nazareth and was expelled with his whole family by the Zionist underground when they entered Haifa in April 1948. The family settled in Tripoli Lebanon. In 1968, Antoine received his university degree in Architecture in the United States. After a working period of 3 years in New York City, he moved to London in 1971. He is the Founder and Co-ordinator of 1948: Lest.We.Forget, a non-partisan and mutli-professional group campaigning for truth about Palestine. He can be reached at

An excellent meeting

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on July 6, 2010
Two statesmen met in Washington on Tuesday who are looking smaller and smaller, who are taking smaller and smaller steps. They have decided not to decide, which in itself is a decision. When the chance of a two-state solution has long since entered injury time, they have decided on more extra time. Get ready for the binational state, or the next round of bloodletting.

My question is, which nations are they referring to? Israel and Palestine or Israel and the USA??
An excellent meeting
Two statesmen met in Washington on Tuesday who are looking smaller and smaller, who are taking smaller and smaller steps.

By Gideon Levy

It really was an excellent meeting: The chance that a binational state will be established has improved as a result; relations between Israel and the United States are indeed “marvelous.” Israel can continue with the whims of its occupation. The president of the United States proved Tuesday that perhaps there has been change, but not as far as we are concerned.

If there remained any vestiges of hope in the Middle East from Barack Obama, they have dissipated; if some people still expected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lead a courageous move, they now know they made a mistake (and misled others ).

The masked ball is at its peak: Preening each other, Obama and Netanyahu have proved that even their heavy layer of makeup can no longer hide the wrinkles. The worn-out, wizened old face of the longest “peace process” in history has been awarded another surprising and incomprehensible extention. It’s on its way nowhere.

The “warm” and “sympathetic” reception, albeit a little forced, including the presidential dog, Bo, the meeting of the wives, with the U.S. president accompanying the Israeli prime minister to the car in an “unprecedented” way, as the press enthused, cannot obscure reality. The reality is that Israel has again managed to fool not only America, but even its most promising president in years.

It was enough to listen to the joint press conference to understand, or better yet, not understand, where we are headed. Will the freeze continue? Obama and Netanyahu squirmed, formulated and obfuscated, and no clear answer was forthcoming. If there was a time when people marveled at Henry Kissinger’s “constructive ambiguity,” now we have destructive ambiguity. Even when it came to the minimum move of a construction freeze, without which there is no proof of serious intent on Israel’s part, the two leaders threw up a smoke screen. A cowardly yes-and-no by both.

More than anything, the meeting proved that the criminal waste of time will go on. A year and a half has passed since the two took office, and almost nothing has changed except lip service to the freeze. A few lifted roadblocks here, a little less blockade of Gaza there – all relatively marginal matters, a bogus substitute for a bold jump over the abyss, without which nothing will move.

When direct talks become a goal, without anyone having a clue what Israel’s position is – a strange negotiation in which everyone knows what the Palestinians want and no one knows for sure what Israel wants – the wheel not only does not go forward, it goes backward. There are plenty of excuses and explanations: Obama has the congressional elections ahead of him, so he mustn’t make Netanyahu angry.

After that, the footfalls of the presidential elections can be heard, and then he certainly must not anger the Jews. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is pressuring Netanyahu now; tomorrow it might be Likud MK Danny Danon, and after all, you can’t expect Netanyahu to commit political suicide. And there you have it, his term in office is over, with no achievements. Good for you, Obama; bravo Netanyahu. You managed to make a mockery of each other, and together, of us all.

Netanyahu will be coming back to Israel over the weekend, adorned with false accomplishments. The settlers will mark a major achievement. Even if they don’t not admit it – they are never satisfied, after all – they can rejoice secretly. Their project will continue to prosper. If they have doubled their numbers since the Oslo Accords, now they can triple them.

And then what? Here then is a question for Obama and Netanyahu: Where to? No playing for time can blur the question. Where are they headed? What will improve in another year? What will be more promising in another two years? The Syrian president is knocking at the door begging for peace with Israel, and the two leaders are ignoring him. Will he still be knocking in two years? The Arab League’s initiative is still valid; terror has almost ceased. What will the situation be after they have finished compromising over the freeze in construction of balconies and ritual baths?

Two statesmen met in Washington on Tuesday who are looking smaller and smaller, who are taking smaller and smaller steps. They have decided not to decide, which in itself is a decision. When the chance of a two-state solution has long since entered injury time, they have decided on more extra time. Get ready for the binational state, or the next round of bloodletting.


Why two peoples may share one land

On a hot day in Vienna in August 1925, Arthur Ruppin ascended the podium at the Fourteenth Zionist Congress and declared, “Palestine will be a state of two nations. Gentlemen, this is a fact.”

Earlier that year, Ruppin, Martin Buber, and other Zionist leaders had founded Brith Shalom (Covenant of Peace), an organization dedicated to Jewish-Arab coexistence in Palestine. Their platform: a binational state for the two peoples.

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A one-state solution in the area is not as farfetched as it might seem.

Steps to create an Israel-Palestine

By Jonathan Kuttab
December 20, 2009

For a while, it seemed that a two-state solution might actually be achievable and that a sovereign Palestinian state would be created in the West Bank and Gaza, allowing Jews and Palestinians at last to go their separate ways. But these days, that looks less and less likely.

With Israel in total control of the territory from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River and unwilling to relinquish a significant part of the land, it’s time to consider the possibility that the current situation — one state, in effect — will continue. And although Jewish Israelis may control it now, birthrates suggest that, sooner or later, Jews will again be a minority in the territory.

What happens at that point is unclear, but unless continued military occupation and all-out apartheid is the desired path, now may be the time for Israelis to start putting in place the kinds of legal and constitutional safeguards that will protect all minorities, now and in the future, in a single democratic state of Israel-Palestine. This is both the right thing and the smart thing to do.

In recent years the idea of a one-state solution has been anathema to Israelis and their supporters worldwide. This has been fueled by the fear of the “demographic threat” posed by the high Palestinian birthrate. Indeed, many Israeli supporters of a two-state solution came to that position out of fear of this demographic threat rather than sympathy with Palestinian national aspirations.

At the root of their fear was the belief that despite Israel’s best efforts to push Palestinians from land and property and to import Jewish settlers in their stead, the Arab population would keep climbing. And that, when the Arabs reached the 51% mark, the state of Israel would collapse, its Jewish character would disappear and its population would dwindle into obscurity.

Yet that scenario is not necessarily the inevitable result of either demography or democracy. Religious and ethnic minorities have successfully thrived in many countries and managed to retain their distinctive culture and identity, and succeeded in being effective and sometimes even dominant influences in those countries. Those who believe in coexistence must begin to seriously think of the legal and constitutional mechanisms needed to safeguard the rights of a Jewish minority in Israel-Palestine.

It is true that the experience of Israel with its Palestinian minority does not offer a comforting prospect. The behavior of the Jewish majority toward the Palestinian citizens of Israel has not been magnanimous or tolerant. Where ethnic cleansing was insufficient, military rule, land confiscation and systemic discrimination have all been employed. The relationship was not helped by the actions of Palestinians outside Israel who resented losing their homeland or by the behavior of some Arab countries, neither of which accepted the imposed Jewish character of Israel.

Yet it is possible, especially during this period when Jews are still the majority in power in Israel, to begin to envision the type of guarantees they may require in the future. Other countries have wrestled with this problem, and while each situation is different, the problem is by no means unprecedented.

Zionism will ultimately need to redefine its goals and aspirations, this time without ignoring or seeking to dispossess the indigenous Palestinian population. Palestinians will also have to deal with this reality, and accept — even enthusiastically endorse — the elements required to make Jews truly feel at peace in the single new state that will be the home of both people.

Strong, institutionalized mechanisms will be needed to prevent the “tyranny of 51%.” A bicameral legislature, for example, should be installed, in which the lower house is elected by proportional representation but the upper house has a composition that safeguards both peoples equally, regardless of their numbers in the population. A rotating presidency may be preferable to designating certain positions for each minority (as in Lebanon). And constitutional provisions that safeguard the rights of minorities should be enshrined in a constitution that can only be amended or altered by both houses of parliament with a large (80%) majority.

Both Hebrew and Arabic will be designated as official languages, and governmental offices will be closed for Jewish, Muslim and Christian holidays. New laws will be enacted that strengthen the secular civil courts in personal status matters, while leaving some leeway for all religious communities to have a say in lawmaking, including Reform and Conservative Jews who currently chafe under the Orthodox monopoly over Jewish personal status matters in Israel. Educational systems that honor and cater to the different communities will give each a measure of control over the education of its children within a national system that maintains professional standards for all publicly-funded schools. Strong constitutional provisions will be enacted to prohibit discrimination in all spheres of life, while independent courts will be enabled to enforce such provisions.

Many on both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, will reject this line of thinking, and in all cases, it is clear that a lot of goodwill and much careful thinking is necessary. But as the options keep narrowing for all participants, we need to start thinking of how we can live together, rather than insist on dying apart.

Jonathan Kuttab is a Palestinian attorney and human rights activist. He is a co-founder of Al
Haq and the Mandela Institute for Political Prisoners. 2009dec20,0,3289579.story

The Interview Ha’aretz Doesn’t Want You To See

Ali Abunimah

Rehaviya Berman conducted an interview with Ali Abunimah, for Ha’aretz, a few weeks ago. The Interview was never published. Berman decided to publish it on his blog [Hebrew] and I decided to translate it, for your reading pleasure:
Exclusive: One On One with the Leader of the Electronic Intifada

Rehaviya Berman

Meet Ali Abunimah, the son of a Jordanian diplomat, a Palestinian activist, and the man who brings the hottest news of the struggle to thousands of people. His message: Forget two states, one will be tough enough to get it right.

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