Ali Abunimah With an Interesting Take on the One State Solution

Posted on July 24, 2010

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At Electronic Intifada, Ali Abunimah has an interesting take on the recent one-state solution overtures by right wing Israelis:

…The Likudnik and settler advocates of a one-state solution with citizenship for Palestinians realize that Israel has lost the argument that Jewish sovereignty can be maintained forever at any price. A status quo where millions of Palestinians live without rights, subject to control by escalating Israeli violence is untenable even for them. At the same time repartition of historic Palestine — what they call Eretz Yisrael — into two states is unacceptable, and has proven unattainable — not least because of the settler movement itself.

Some on the Israeli right now recognize what Israeli geographer Meron Benvenisti has said for years: historic Palestine is already a “de facto binational state,” unpartionable except at a cost neither Israelis nor Palestinians are willing to pay. The relationship between Palestinians and Israelis is not that of equals however, but that “between horse and rider” as one settler vividly put it in Haaretz.

The graver danger is that the West Bank would turn into a dozen Gaza Strips with large Israeli civilian populations wedged between miserable, overcrowded walled Palestinian ghettos. The patchwork Palestinian state would be free only to administer its own poverty, visited by regular bouts of bloodshed.

Even a full Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank — something that is not remotely on the peace process agenda — would leave Israel with 1.5 million Palestinian citizens inside its borders. This population already faces escalating discrimination, incitement and loyalty tests. In an angry, ultra-nationalist Israel shrunken by the upheaval of abandoning West Bank settlements, these non-Jewish citizens could suffer much worse, including outright ethnic cleansing.

With no progress toward a two-state solution despite decades of efforts, the only Zionist alternative on offer has been outright expulsion of the Palestinians — a program long-championed by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party, which has seen its support increase steadily…Given these realities, “The worst solution … is apparently the right one: a binational state, full annexation, full citizenship” in the words of settler activist and former Netanyahu aide Uri Elitzur.

This awakening can be likened to what happened among South African whites in the 1980s. By that time it had become clear that the white minority government’s effort to “solve” the problem of black disenfranchisement by creating nominally independent homelands — bantustans — had failed. Pressure was mounting from internal resistance and the international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions.

By the mid-1980s, whites overwhelmingly understood that the apartheid status quo was untenable and they began to consider “reform” proposals that fell very far short of the African National Congress’ demands for a universal franchise — one-person, one-vote in a nonracial South Africa. The reforms began with the 1984 introduction of a tricameral parliament with separate chambers for whites, coloreds and Indians (none for blacks), with whites retaining overall control.

Until almost the end of the apartheid system, polls showed the vast majority of whites rejected a universal franchise, but were prepared to concede some form of power-sharing with the black majority as long as whites retained a veto over key decisions. The important point, as I have argued previously, is that one could not predict the final outcome of the negotiations that eventually brought about a fully democratic South Africa in 1994, based on what the white public and elites said they were prepared to accept (“Israeli Jews and the one-state solution,” The Electronic Intifada, 10 November 2009)…

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