Sunday, January 15

Death 0f the Two-State Solution

A peace movement poster: Israeli and Palestini...Image via Wikipedia

The Palestinians and Israelis have jump-started peace negotiations again for the umpteenth time, under the auspices of King Abdullah of Jordan. Dr.Saeb Erakat, the Palestinian negotiator admitted that these negotiations would lead nowhere.

Erakat is right. There will be no solution as the basic ingredients are absent.

One can assume, with reasonable certainty, that the two-state solution is undergoing a rather painful rigor mortis. When Israel's PM Netanyahu supports a two-state solution, he knows that it will never happen. Babbling about the two-state solution in ambiguous speeches does very little to solve anything. It just defers an impending disaster. We all know that procrastination is the thief of time and this is applicable here.

In order to achieve a two-state solution, the occupation must cease and the illegal settlers in the occupied territories must return to Israel within agreed defined borders when a final agreement between the two sides is signed.

The right wing Netanyahu Government coalition will never agree to this. So what is there to talk about - the price of cottage-cheese? The negotiations will consist of polemics, photo opportunities and in the end a total breakdown with an agreement between the two sides remaining illusive.

Prof. Hisham Awartani, Head of Economics, An-Najah University in Nablus, stated that there would never be a two-state solution. He stated that most of the Palestinian people are not interested anyway. Their priorities are economic - simply making ends meet and having jobs that can provide that goal. Other alternative solutions - if there are any - must be put on the table. Awartani claims that more and more people are considering a one-state solution and discussions on this issue are becoming more widespread. When a trend begins that moves away from a two-state solution we, in Israel, must adapt to the final consequences of that trend. Burying our heads in the sand is no solution. "Maintaining the status quo of the occupation" is suicidal. Violence and war between the two sides is not in anybody's interests and must be avoided by facing up to reality as it is, without populist clich├ęs that solve nothing.

Failure of the two-state solution must be laid on the doorstep of both sides with Israel tipping the balance in its boosting of illegal settlements in the occupied territories.

Even the atmosphere within Israel is not conducive to a two-state solution. The Israeli electorate is moving further to the right with many extremist right wing groups going on the rampage in the territories, burning mosques and destroying Palestinian property not to mention the physical abuse of innocent Palestinian women and children. Graffiti by a group called Price Tag is scribbled on Palestinian property including mosques.

Is this a favorable atmosphere for negotiations? Even arrests of the perpetrators, if any, are rare.

It is also significant to note that PM Salaam Fayad of the Palestinian Authority has been emphasizing laying the groundwork for improving economic infrastructure for the Palestinians in order to create new jobs and strengthen Palestinian self-sufficiency. He does not talk about a two-state solution either. He is trying to prepare the groundwork for a change in the Palestinian economy so that they can be more self sufficient.

Both Israelis and Palestinians have to be receptive to new ideas towards a solution to the conflict. It is unproductive harping on the past.

Both sides are aware that we need a new vision towards a solution. The two-state solution is losing its practicality. This can be seen by the increasing establishment of new housing schemes for Israelis in the occupied territories allotted to the establishment of the Palestinian State.

This has made the situation so much more complicated. However, other possible solutions gaining ground are:
  1. A Federal Solution
  2. A Confederation Solution.
  3. Bilateral solution.

All these solutions are in reality one or another form of a one state solution. Perhaps an example of this is the USA which is composed of a number of states under a single president.

In any case, there are no signs in Israel of any desire to reach any solution whether a one-state or two-state solution.

When apartheid South Africa began to crumble, there were signs of goodwill amongst South Africans of all races to make a new beginning. The white minority government became more accommodating to change. Separate amenities for whites and blacks were abolished and Nelson Mandela was released from prison in 1990 after serving close on 27 years. Practical steps were taken to ease a potentially explosive situation into a situation of reconciliation amongst the various racial groups in South Africa. Naturally it was not easy but the transition to black majority rule was not violent as most white supremacists predicted.

In Israel the basic ingredients for peace and goodwill with the Palestinians are severely lacking. Any possible solution will be greeted with opposition by the majority of Israelis. The only way they can prevent any solution to this tragic conflict is by maintaining the occupation by dominating the Palestinians by encouraging illegal settlements making a two-state solution unattainable. It looks as if this has been achieved.

Other methods employed by the Israeli government are the introduction of draconic laws that are eroding Israel's democracy. I have discussed this in previous articles on my blog.

Israel's supporters are quick to emphasize that Israel is not an apartheid state resembling apartheid South Africa. Unfortunately, the similarity is becoming more difficult to avoid.

On Wednesday, 11th January, 2012, the High Court of Justice made a ruling on the legality of the Citizenship Law that proves the erosion of this institution's role as Israel's guardian of civil rights. The justices of the court somehow were manipulated by the ruling government. Justified unification of Israeli citizens with their Palestinian spouses is rendered illegal in Israel. Compare this to the Immorality Act of apartheid South Africa, not to mention the notorious Group Areas Act which is another example.

The excuse - endangering Israel's security, is not always valid. Potential spouses can always be screened for security reasons rather than having heinous racist legislation passed using the security label as justification.

We even hear statements made by members of the right wing Netanyahu Government coalition emphasizing the importance of maintaining Israel's identity as a Jewish state being more important than a democracy.

Religious fanatic violence is on the rise and with it the intolerance towards those who are different are not conducive to a solution to the conflict. The ingredients for a solution to the conflict are being eroded and we are creating a prescription for a disaster. 
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