Is the binational state becoming a realist argument?

Israel/Palestine
on 41 Comments

Meron Benvenisti in the New York Times– oh wait, sorry, in the Guardian. The Times won’t cover this! Note that on the same day as this sympathetic coverage of Benvenisti’s ideas, Steve Walt challenges American leadership: if the peace process is dead, as it seems to be, what have liberal policymakers come up with to answer that fact? The neocons have a clue, of course. They want apartheid, or amalgamating what’s left of Palestine in the West Bank to Jordan thru Churchillian hocus-pocus.

Here is Benvenisti:

"The entire discourse is wrong. By continuing that discourse you perpetuate the status quo. The struggle for the two-state solution is obsolete…

"For the last 20 years I have questioned the feasibility of the partition of Palestine and now I am absolutely sure it is impossible," he says. "Or, it is possible if it is imposed on the Palestinians but that will mean the legitimisation of the status quo, of Bantustans, of a system of political and economic inequality which is hailed as a solution by the entire world – unlike in South Africa.

"The entire paradigm is wrong. We are doing this because it is self-serving. It is convenient for us to stick to the old slogan of two states as if nothing has happened since we began advocating it in the 1980s."

…"Israel’s domination of the West Bank does not rely on the numbers of settlers or settlements," he argues. "The settlements are totally integrated into Israeli society. They’ve taken all the land they could. The rest is controlled by the Israeli army."

…He avoids speculating about future scenarios and makes do with the concept "bi-nationalism" – "not as a political or ideological programme so much as a de facto reality masquerading as a temporary state of affairs … a description of the current condition, not a prescription." And he sees signs that the Palestinians are beginning to adjust to the "total victory of the Jews" and use the power of the weak: demanding votes and human rights may prove more effective than violence, he suggests.

"The peace process," Benvenisti concludes, "is more than a waste of time. It is an illusion and it perpetuates an illusion. You can engage in a peace process and have negotiations and conferences – which have no connection whatsoever to reality on the ground."

41 Responses

  1. Richard Witty
    April 29, 2010, 10:04 am

    And, as Roger Cohen pointed out, the peace process, including Obama’s stated commitment to realize a Palestinian state in 2 years, is actually proceeding.

    Don’t act and speak in ways that will keep that from occurring, please. And certainly not in the name of advocating for the Palestinians.

    • potsherd
      April 29, 2010, 10:06 am

      The “peace process” is the enemy of real peace because it is the enemy of justice. It’s past time to end the scam.

      • Richard Witty
        April 29, 2010, 10:07 am

        The peace process completed, is the realization of justice.

        The peace process abandoned is the enemy of justice.

        • potsherd
          April 29, 2010, 10:21 am

          Benvenisti:

          “Palestinian leaders who are ready to accept this “are a bunch of traitors to their own cause”. Ramallah, prosperous headquarters of Abbas’s Palestinian Authority and the recipient of millions of dollars in foreign aid, is a “bubble in which those who steal the money can enjoy themselves”.

          “The entire paradigm is wrong. We are doing this because it is self-serving.”

        • Citizen
          April 29, 2010, 11:05 am

          Witty, are you thinking of the Versailles Treaty?

        • Sumud
          April 29, 2010, 11:26 am

          The peace process has been f-f-frozen:

          “Weisglass: Disengagement is formaldehyde for peace process”
          link to fromoccupiedpalestine.org

          RW – so you’ve absorbed the calls for justice (as opposed to peace), now you try use justice as a weapon to protect the peace process? LOL, very amateur.

        • Shingo
          April 29, 2010, 4:25 pm

          “The peace process completed, is the realization of justice.”

          The peace process is intended to never rech completion, which is why Witty is such a fan.

    • Citizen
      April 29, 2010, 11:04 am

      Witty, I’m sure you know more than Benvenisti, who tells us that “The peace process is more than a waste of time. It is an illusion and it perpetuates an illusion. You can engage in a peace process and have negotiations and conferences – which have no connection whatsoever to reality on the ground.”

      Where do you live again? Never mind, I’ll ask that Mexican kid blowing dead leaves off your sidewalk. Or maybe I’ll ask that cop driving by, Officer O’Leary…

    • Sumud
      April 29, 2010, 11:17 am

      “Don’t act and speak in ways that will keep that from occurring, please.”

      More pompous appeals to the status quo.

      The Purpose of The Peace Process:

      link to en.wikipedia.org

    • Shingo
      April 29, 2010, 4:24 pm

      The “peace process” that Roger Cohen is referrign to is a process by which Israel get to stonewall and refuse to give ground. It’s not like there’s anyreason for Israel to rush things along.

      They’ll just make sure they run out the clock with the “peace process” until a more pliant president is elected and then abandon it, blaming the Palestinians of course.

      “Don’t act and speak in ways that will keep that from occurring, please. And certainly not in the name of advocating for the Palestinians. ”

      Here that folks? Witty’s advice is not to interrupt Israel’s stonewalling while they change the facts on the ground.

      • Richard Witty
        April 29, 2010, 4:39 pm

        Except for the legitimacy that Fayyad has engendered.

        Hamas doesn’t accomplish that. Unaffiliated political dissenters don’t accomplish that.

        The concept that the peace process is static is a lie. It may spin and spin, but the dissent process is no different.

        It also appears to have made progress. A limited Hampshire BDS resolution (now irrelevant). A very limited Berkeley resolution, vetoed. Occassional discussion of a single state in a few publications.

        I’m glad that there is some clarity here at least, among ALL of the dissenters that I read of advocacy for a single state, rather than the fraud that BDS is independant of the single-state effort.

        • Shingo
          April 29, 2010, 4:41 pm

          “The concept that the peace process is static is a lie.”

          Yes, it’s only been 43 years right Witty? And look how much has been accomplished in that time?

        • Shingo
          April 29, 2010, 4:52 pm

          “Except for the legitimacy that Fayyad has engendered.”

          Whar legitimacy? Is there a Palestinian state that’s been created while I was getting a coffee?

        • Richard Witty
          April 29, 2010, 4:53 pm

          Not yet. Coming.

          And, if negotiated or coordinated, there won’t be a subsequent civil war, nor war between Israel and Palestine.

        • Richard Witty
          April 29, 2010, 4:59 pm

          “And look how much has been accomplished in that time? ”

          In response to the first intifada’s “we don’t want to be part of Israel, we want to be independant”, a lot.

          In response to the current wave of “we want to be a single democratic (Palestinian majority) state”, less than nothing.

          It won’t be consented to, and some larger war than Gaza will occur in the struggle.

        • lareineblanche
          April 29, 2010, 5:34 pm

          “a single democratic (Palestinian majority) state” – there’s the rub, eh?
          This is the central problem for those following the J-Street party line. How do you handle a Pal numerical majority in a Jewish state? This would effectively be the end of a “Jewish” state. Unthinkable. I haven’t seen a clear explanation of this. You can’t supress them all, it would be impossible without a very repressive police force keeping them “in line”. Perhaps this is what they have been experimenting on in the West Bank, to see if it works – I think there might be a connection, maybe not.
          So, we arrive at the conclusion of a 2-state solution, but for different reasons.

        • Red
          April 29, 2010, 9:26 pm

          Fayyad may have engendered legitimacy in the eyes of US imperialism and the Israeli state and some Zionists, but please don’t confuse that for creating legitimacy in the eyes of Palestinians. Many Palestinians, both in Palestine and in exile, are opposed to what Fayyad is doing.

          On February 13, Haaretz rang an article which quoted Professor Sari Nusseibeh, president of Jerusalem’s Al Quds University, disputing the developing PA-Israeli-US promoted myth that Fayyad is a Palestinian “Ben Gurion”. Nusseibeh noted that Fayyad’s policies have done little to build an independent Palestinian state but also done little to challenge Israel’s control of the occupied West Bank, stating “the PA should shut its offices and demand Israel annex the territories and give civil rights to the Palestinians”.

          Other Palestinian political analysts and commentators in Palestine have made similiar comments and if you speak to Palestinians on the ground many feel the same way.

          Increasingly, Palestinian writers (in Palestine and in exile) have been point out that Fayyad’s policies are leading to nothing except “normalistation” of the Occupation.

  2. potsherd
    April 29, 2010, 10:08 am

    I’ve read Benvenisti many times in the English edition of Ha’aretz, and he shows a clear vision unshackled by the conventional unwisdom.

  3. potsherd
    April 29, 2010, 10:12 am

    The Miller article is well worth reading. link to foreignpolicy.com

  4. pabelmont
    April 29, 2010, 10:25 am

    The two-state solution is dead ONLY if Israel is allowed to maintain its settlers, its settlements (buildings) as Israel property, its wall. this is likely, but is no more “foregone” than any other “fact on the ground”. It’s not over until the * * * thin man sings his song of freedom. Let’s encourage him to sing it.

    At present Israel/Palestine is not a democracy — as we all know. But who “owns” the land of I/P?

    At present and since sometime in the period 1967-2000, Israel has made it clear that its preferred “solution” to the I/P impasse is its own unilateral One State Solution, namely, the occupation, which is non-democratic and apartheid-in-style.

    It is not that there is a danger that sometime in the undefined future Israel “might” become undemocratic. The Greater Israel of pre-1967 Israel PLUS the occupied Palestinian territories is already undemocratic.

    If Israel claims ownership of the entire I/P as inheritor of the Palestine Mandate, and if the world agrees to forget about the issues connected with “belligerent occupation”, then Israel is non-democratic today, and the exclusion of the refugees of 1948 only makes this more pointed.

    If Israel denies that it inherits the entire I/P from the Mandate and instead claims the right of conquest (a claim at odds with the new rules announced at Nuremberg in 1945 and by the founding of the UN with its agreements to ban the threat and use of force in international disputes), then Israel possesses the entire I/P by right of conquest — and the combined I/P is still undemocratic.

    If Israel agrees that it is merely the “belligerent occupier” of the occupied territories, then its wall and its settlements are illegal and should be removed forthwith.

    I gather that the US position is that there is an occupation. In that case, for human rights reasons and for the support of the rule of law as well, and because of Gen. Petraeus’s comment, the situation is “ripe” for President Obama to intervene.

    I would suggest that the proper initial intervention is to require removal of the 550,000 settlers and the wall, perhaps within 6 months or a year. The next intervention (if still required by then) is something along the lines of an imposed peace treaty.

    The removal of the settlers (and perhaps the salutary destruction of the settlements buildings as a strong reminder of who owns what) would undo the “facts on the ground” which so depresses Meron Benvenisti and others. As an Israeli he must, perhaps, believe in the permanency of the settlements.

    As a human being (who is not an Israeli) I can believe and urge that their impermanence be proved by strong action from President Obama.

    • lareineblanche
      April 29, 2010, 3:06 pm

      I agree with you here. There is no reason why a Greater I/P will suddenly become democratic for mysterious reasons ; public policy doesn’t as a rule reflect the percentages of the various groups of a population (if there were to be a Palestinian majority in a future state) unfortunately. The Palestinians living in Israel now aren’t exactly enjoying tremendous privileges, and simply having the right to vote is a very superficial definition of democracy at best – there are many laws and de facto customs that effectively hinder them from leading decent lives – is this failed model to just become a little bigger?
      General Dayton’s troops have been in the CisJordan for some time now, why?
      One can be optimistic that in a 1SS, somehow everything will work itself out, but I think that for now, as a first step, the flood needs to be dammed.

    • lareineblanche
      April 29, 2010, 4:05 pm

      But, I don’t share your optimism on Obama.
      It’s a testament to the shoddy moral character of the US elites that if any action is to be taken, it will be because their wallets are feeling it, not because of any idea of “international justice” or “human rights” – these things are unimportant to them.
      You’ll begin to see a change when wall street starts chirping about it for some reason. Patreus’ declaration was a step in the right direction. The “our boys are put in danger” argument can have some effect too.

  5. Shmuel
    April 29, 2010, 10:32 am

    Benvenisti is grand. He had a big influence on me, in terms of questioning the conventional wisdom of the Israeli left, and contemplating the idea of a single state. The following (from Ian Black’s interview) is classic Benvenisti, and converges with what so many others (including Yehouda Shenhav) are saying about the roots of the conflict, its possible solutions and where agreement and divergence actually lie:

    “The Israeli left would like to make us believe that the green line (the pre-1967 border) is something solid; that everything that is on this side is good and that everything bad began with the occupation in 1967. It is a false dichotomy. The green line is like a one-way mirror. It’s only for the Palestinians, not for Israelis.”

    • Shmuel
      April 29, 2010, 10:45 am

      Haim Hanegbi is another voice that, like Benvenisti, has been challenging the Israeli left and the concept of the 2ss for many years. Hanegbi, whose family (Bajayo) is originally from Hebron, has frequently protested (on behalf of the descendants of Hebron’s original Jews) against the false claim by today’s extremist settlers that they represent and are heirs to Hebron’s ancient Jewish community – which he stresses, was always integrated and on good terms with the city’s Muslim inhabitants.

    • James North
      April 29, 2010, 10:46 am

      I’m with Shmuel. Benvenisti was the first big Israeli independent voice I stumbled across in the late ’90s. I couldn’t believe I had never read about him in the U.S. press; a former deputy mayor of Jerusalem saying what he said astonished me — as did the fact that he had a regular column in Haaretz. I learned quickly that you can say things in Israel that you can’t say in New York.

      • Citizen
        April 29, 2010, 11:09 am

        And, James North, Witty prefers to keep it that way; he even echoes the muzzled MSM constantly in what he says on this blog. His Hasbara 101 booklet is really well-thumbed. I suggest he get a cub, or even a wolf badge.

    • Richard Witty
      April 29, 2010, 3:10 pm

      What does Benvenisti mean by “The green line is like a one-way mirror. Its only for the Palestinians, not for the Israelis”?

      • Shingo
        April 29, 2010, 4:26 pm

        Becasue Israel have never recognized it.

        • Richard Witty
          April 29, 2010, 4:35 pm

          Is that what he means?

          I thought it would be a very useful civil disobedience exercise to paint or even just put a green thread at the green line, weekly even.

          Non-violent. Done by Jews.

          Then every time a dissenting Israeli Jew crosses the line, he/she should make a conspicuous effort to gain official permission to enter Palestine.

          Just a thought.

        • Shingo
          April 29, 2010, 4:40 pm

          “Then every time a dissenting Israeli Jew crosses the line, he/she should make a conspicuous effort to gain official permission to enter Palestine.”

          And every time a palestinian crosses the line, he get’s shot right Witty?

        • Richard Witty
          April 29, 2010, 4:56 pm

          Wierd interpretation.

          The green paint, by Israelis, makes it a two-sided mirror, not a one-sided one.

          One strategy by some Palestinian solidarity was to favor likud, to encourage them to over-extend.

          Maybe that is yours. But, I don’t see how you get to say that are you supporting Palestinians’ welfare in that regard, moreso strategizing for a maximalist political end.

        • sherbrsi
          April 29, 2010, 4:59 pm

          Non-violent. Done by Jews.

          Then every time a dissenting Israeli Jew crosses the line, he/she should make a conspicuous effort to gain official permission to enter Palestine.

          No thanks Witty.

          Green paint and non-violence does not make Eretz Israel.

        • Richard Witty
          April 29, 2010, 5:17 pm

          I don’t understand your point.

          You guys are amazing knee-jerkers. EVERYthing that a Zionist says, you disagree with, on principle.

          It is very wierd.

        • sherbrsi
          April 29, 2010, 5:23 pm

          I don’t understand your point.

          It’s simple, and obvious to anyone.

          Green paint does not set boundaries. It makes for a fun exercise, but it doesn’t mean anything if the Zionists don’t learn to abide by the restrictions imposed by boundaries, which to the state of Israel is something to be expanded relentlessly into the territories of Palestine for Jewish-exclusive settlement.

          So I’m sure you can have a lot of fun with the idea in your head, just as you paint Blumenthal as a childish maximalist, or just as the BDS takes an inverted form within your imagination, but, like countless other things you assert on this website, they possess no reflection in reality.

  6. MHughes976
    April 29, 2010, 11:36 am

    The logic of Benvenisti’s position is that the Palestinians should be enfranchised members of a united society. Does he draw this conclusion?

    • Shmuel
      April 29, 2010, 11:49 am

      MHughes: The logic of Benvenisti’s position is that the Palestinians should be enfranchised members of a united society. Does he draw this conclusion?

      Absoltely, and has been saying so for years.

    • lareineblanche
      April 29, 2010, 6:14 pm

      OK. This is the ideal solution. What does he propose to give the Palestinians some kind of representative democracy? Are they just supposed to “fight it out” ?
      I doubt he’ll be in the front lines.

  7. DICKERSON3870
    April 29, 2010, 7:26 pm

    RE: “Meron Benvenisti in the New York Times– oh wait, sorry, in the Guardian. The Times won’t cover this! ” – Weiss
    SEE – Watchdog: BBC biased against Israel, By Jonny Paul, JPost, 04/27/10
    (excerpt)…Simon Plosker, Honest Reporting’s managing editor, said: “While some British media outlets such as the Guardian contribute to the demonization of Israel by way of sheer Israel bashing, the BBC’s reporting, while more subtle, is just as dangerous to Israel.”…
    ENTIRE ARTICLE – link to niqnaq.wordpress.com

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