Trending Topics:

The end of the ‘two-state solution’ is the beginning of a more just future

on 32 Comments

Even as I write this, the bulldozers have been busy throughout that one indivisible country known by the bifurcated term Israel/Palestine. Palestinian homes, community centers, livestock pens and other “structures” (as the Israel authorities dispassionately call them) have been demolished in the Old City, Silwan and various parts of “Area C” in the West Bank, as well among the Bedouin – Israeli citizens – in the Negev/Nakab. This is merely mopping up, herding the last of the Arabs into their prison cells where, forever, they will cease to be heard or heard from, a non-issue in Israel and, eventually, in the wider world distracted from bigger, more pressing matters.

An as-yet confidential report submitted by the European consuls in Jerusalem and Ramallah raises urgent concerns over the “forced expulsion” of Palestinians – a particularly strong term for European diplomats to use –from Area C of the West Bank (the 60% of the West Bank under full Israeli control but which today contains less than 5% of the Palestinian population). Focusing particularly on the rise in house demolitions by the Israeli authorities and the growing economic distress of the Palestinians living in Area C, the report mentions the fertile and strategic Jordan Valley (where the Palestinian population has declined from 250,000 to 50,000 since the start of the Occupation), plans to relocate 3000 Jahalin Bedouins to a barren hilltop above the Jerusalem garbage dump and the ongoing but accelerated demolition of Palestinian homes (500 in 2011).

At the same time the “judaization” of Jerusalem continues apace, a “greater” Israeli Jerusalem steadily isolating the Palestinian parts of the city from the rest of Palestinian society while ghettoizing their inhabitants, more than 100,000 of which now live beyond the Wall. Some 120 homes were demolished in East Jerusalem in 2011; over the same period the Israeli government announced the construction of close to 7000 housing units for Jews in East and “Greater” Jerusalem. “If current trends are not stopped and reversed,” said a previous EU report, “the establishment of a viable Palestinian state within the pre-1967 borders seems more remote than ever. The window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing….”

In fact, it closed long ago. In terms of settlers and Palestinians, the Israeli government treats the whole country as one. Last year it demolished three times more homes of Israeli citizens (Arabs, of course) than it did in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The demolition of Bedouin homes in the Negev/Nakab is part of a plan approved by the government to remove 30,000 citizens from their homes and confine them to townships.

None of this concerns “typical” Israelis even if they have heard of it (little appears in the news). For them, the Israeli-Arab conflict was won and forgotten years ago, somewhere around 2004 when Bush informed Sharon that the US does not expect Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders, thus effectively ending the “two-state solution,” and Arafat “mysteriously” died.

Since then, despite occasional protests from Europe, the “situation” has been normalized. Israelis enjoy peace and quiet, personal security and a booming economy (with the usual neoliberal problems of fair allocation). The unshakable, bi-partisan support of the American government and Congress effectively shields it from any kind of international sanctions. Above all, Israeli Jews have faith that those pesky Arabs living somewhere “over there” beyond the Walls and barbed-wire barriers have been pacified and brought under control by the IDF. A recent poll found that “security,” the term Israelis use instead of “occupation” or “peace,” was ranked eleventh among the concerns of the Israeli public, trailing well behind employment, crime, corruption, religious-secular differences, housing and other more pressing issues.

A for the international community, the “Quartet” representing the US, the EU, Russia and the UN in the non-existent “peace process” has gone completely silent. (Israel refused to table its position on borders and other key negotiating issues by the January 26th “deadline” laid down by the Quartet, and no new meetings are scheduled). The US has abandoned any pretense of an “honest broker.” Months ago, when the US entered its interminable election “season,” Israel received a green light from both the Democrats and Republicans to do whatever it sees fit in the Occupied Territory. Last May the Republicans invited Netanyahu to address Congress and send a clear message to Obama: hands off Israel. That same week, Obama, not to be out-done, addressed an AIPAC convention and reaffirmed Bush’s promise that Israel will not have to return to the 1967 borders or relinquish its major settlement blocs in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. He also took the occasion to promise an American veto should the Palestinians request membership in the UN – though that would merely amount to an official acceptance of the two-state treaty that the US claims it has been fostering all these years. No, as far as Israel and Israeli Jews are concerned, the conflict and even the need for pretense is over. The only thing remaining is to divert attention to more “urgent” global matters so that the Palestinian issue completely disappears. Voila Iran.

Oh, but what about the “demographic threat,” that “war of the womb” that will eventually force a solution? Well, as long as Israel has the Palestinian Authority to self-segregate its people, it has nothing to worry about. While the Palestinian Authority plays the “two-state solution” game, Israel can simply herd the Palestinians into the 70 tiny islands of Areas A and B, lock the gates and let the international community feed them – and go about placidly building a Greater Land of Israel with American and European complicity. Indeed, nothing demonstrates self-segregation more than Prime Minister Salem Fayyad’s neoliberal scheme of building a Palestinian …something… “from the ground up.” By building for the well-to-do in new private-sector cities like Rawabi, located safely in Area A, by building new highways (with Japanese and USAID assistance) that respect Israeli “Greater” Jerusalem and channel Palestinian traffic from Ramallah to Bethlehem through far-away Jericho, by expressing a willingness to accept Israeli territorial expansion in exchange for the ability to “do business,” Fayyad has invented yet a new form of neoliberal oppression-by-consent: viable apartheid (viable, at least, for the Palestinian business class). And as in the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa, the Palestinian Authority maintains a repressive internal order through its own American-trained/Israeli-approved militia, a second layer of occupation. (During the 2008 assault on Gaza, one of the few places in the world in which there were no demonstrations was the West Bank, where they were forbidden by the Palestinian Authority. Then-Prime Minister Olmert crowed that this was evidence of how effectively the Palestinians had been pacified.)

Indeed, by clinging to the two-state solution and continuing to participate in “negotiations” years after they have proven themselves a trap, the Palestinian leadership plays a central role in its own people’s warehousing. The reality – even the fact – of occupation gets buried under the diversions set up by the fraudulent yet unending “peace process.” This only enables Israel not only to imprison the Palestinians in tiny cells; witness today’s mini-ethnic cleansing, just one of thousands of micro-events that have the cumulative effect of displacement, expulsion, segregation and incarceration. It also enables Israel to then blame the victims for causing their own oppression! When a Palestinian leadership assumes the prerogative to negotiate a political resolution yet lacks any genuine authority or leverage to do so, and when, in addition, it fails to abandon negotiations even after they have been exposed as a trap, it comes dangerously close to being collaborationist. For its part, Israel is off the hook. Instead of going through the motions of establishing an apartheid regime, it simply exploits the willingness of the Palestinian Authority to perpetuate the illusion of negotiations as a smokescreen covering its virtual imprisonment of the Palestinian “inmates.” Once the current mopping up operations are completed, the process of incarceration will be complete.

Today the only alternative agency to the Palestinian Authority is segments of the international civil society. The Arab and Muslims peoples for whom Palestinian liberation is an integral part of the Arab Spring, stand alongside thousands of political and human rights groups, critical activists, churches, trade unions and intellectuals throughout the world. Crucial as it is for keeping the issue alive and building grassroots support for the Palestinian cause that will steadily “trickle up” and affect governments’ policies, however, civil society advocacy is a stop-gap form of agency, ultimately unable to achieve a just peace by itself. We, too, are trapped in the dead-end personified by the two-state solution, reference to a “peace process” and their attendant “negotiations.” There is no way forward in the current paradigm. We must break out into a world of new possibilities foreclosed by the present options: a “two-state” apartheid regime or warehousing.

In my view, while advocacy and grassroots mobilization remain relevant, several tasks stand before us. First, we must endeavor to hasten the collapse of the present situation and subsequently, when new paradigms of genuine justice emerge from the chaos, be primed to push forward an entirely different solution that is currently impossible or inconceivable, be that a single democratic state over the entire country, a bi-national state, a regional confederation or some other alternative yet to be formulated. The Palestinians themselves must create a genuine, inclusive agency of their own that, following the collapse, can effectively seize the moment. Formulating a clear program and strategy, they will then be equipped to lead their people to liberation and a just peace, with the support of activists and others the world over.

A necessary and urgent first step towards collapsing the otherwise permanent regime of oppression in Israel/Palestine is that we stop talking about a two-state solution. It’s dead and gone as a political option – if, indeed, it ever really existed. It should be banned from the discourse because reference to an irrelevant “solution” only serves to confuse the discussion. Granted, this will be hard for liberals to do; everyone else, however, has given up on it. Most Palestinians, having once supported it, now realize that Israel will simply not withdraw to a point where a truly viable and sovereign state can emerge. The Israeli government, backed by the Bush-Obama policies on the settlement blocs, doesn’t even make pretence of pursuing it anymore, and the Israeli public is fine with the status quo. Nor does the permanent warehousing of the Palestinians seem to faze the American or European governments, or the Arab League. Even AIPAC has moved on to the “Iranian threat.”

Behind the insistence of the liberal Zionists of J Street, Peace Now, the Peace NGOs Forum run out of the Peres Center for Peace and others to hang on to a two-state solution at any cost is a not-so-hidden agenda. They seek to preserve Israel as a Jewish state even at the cost of enforcing institutional discrimination against Israel’s own Palestinian citizens. The real meaning of a “Jewish democracy” is living with apartheid and warehousing while protesting them. No, the liberals will be the hardest to wean away from the two-state snare. Yet if they don’t abandon it, they run the risk of promoting de facto their own worst nightmare of warehousing while providing the fig-leaf of legitimacy to cover the policies of Israel’s extreme right – all in the name of “peace.” This is what happens when one’s ideology places restrictions on one’s ability to perceive evil or to draw necessary if difficult conclusions. When wishful thinking becomes policy, it not only destroys your effectiveness as a political actor but leads you into positions, policies and alliances that, in the end, are inimical to your own goals and values. Jettisoning all talk of a “two-state solution” removes the major obstacle to clear analysis and the ability to move forward.

The obfuscation created by the “two-state solution” now out of the way, what emerges as clear as day is naked occupation, an apartheid regime extending across all of historic Palestine/Israel and the spectre of warehousing. Since none of these forms of oppression can ever be legitimized or transformed into something just, the task before us becomes clear: to cause their collapse by any means necessary. There are many ways to do this, just as the ANC did. Already Palestinian, Israel and international activists engage in internal resistance, together with international challenges to occupation represented by the Gaza flotillas and attempts to “crash” Israeli borders. Many civil society actors the world over have mobilized, some around campaigns such as Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS), others around direct actions, still others engaged in lobbying the UN and governments through such instruments as the Human Rights Council, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and international courts. There have been campaigns to reconvene the Tribunal that, under the Fourth Geneva Convention, has the authority and duty to sanction Israel for its gross violations. Dozens of groups and individuals alike engage in public speaking, mounting Israel Apartheid Weeks on university campuses and working through the media. And much more.
And here is where Palestinian civil society plays a crucial role, a role that cannot be played by non-Palestinians. If it is agreed that the Palestinian Authority must go if we are to get beyond the two-state trap – indeed, the dismantling of the PA being a major part of the collapse of the present system – then this call must originate from within the Palestinian community. Non-Palestinians must join in, of course, but the issue of who represents the Palestinians is their call exclusively.

Non-Palestinians can lso suggest various end-games. I’ve written, for example, about a Middle East economic confederation, believing that a regional approach is necessary to address the core issues. The Palestinian organization PASSIA published a collection of twelve possible outcomes. It is obvious, though, that it is the sole prerogative of the Palestinian people to decide what solution, or range of solutions, is acceptable. For this, and to organize effectively so as to bring about a desired outcome, the Palestinians need a new truly representative agency, one that replaces the PA and gives leadership and direction to broad-based civil society agency, one that has the authority to negotiate a settlement and actually move on to the implementation of a just peace.

As of now, it appears there is only one agency that possesses that legitimacy and mandate: the Palestinian National Council of the PLO (although Hamas and the other Islamic parties are not (yet) part of the PLO). Reconstituting the PNC through new elections would seem the most urgent item on the Palestinian agenda today – without which, in the absence of effective agency, we are all stuck in rearguard protest actions and Israel prevails. Our current situation, caught in the limbo between seeking the collapse of the oppressive system we have, and having a Palestinian agency that can effectively lead us towards a just resolution, is one of the most perilous we’ve faced. One person’s limbo is another person’s window of opportunity. Say what you will about Israel, it knows how to hustle and exploit even the smallest of opportunities to nail down its control permanently.

“Collapse with agency,” I suggest, could be a title of our refocused efforts to weather the limbo in the political process. Until a reinvigorated PNC or other representative agency can be constituted, a daunting but truly urgent task, Palestinian civil society might coalesce enough to create a kind of interim leadership bureau. This itself might be a daunting task. Most Palestinian leaders have either been killed by Israel or are languishing in Israeli prisons, while Palestinian civil society has been shattered into tiny disconnected and often antagonistic pieces. At home major divisions have been sown between “’48” and “’67” Palestinians; Gaza, Jerusalem and the West Bank have been effectively severed; and within the West Bank restrictions on movement among a bewildering array of “areas” – A, B, C, C-Restricted, H-1, H-2, nature reserves, closed military areas – have resulted in virtual, largely disconnected Palestinian mini-societies. Political divisions, especially among secular/traditional and Islamic factions, have been nurtured, not least by Israel. Overall, the Palestinian population, exhausted by years of sacrifice and resistance, impoverished and preoccupied with mere survival, has been left largely rudderless as many of its most educated and skilled potential leaders have left or are forbidden by Israel to return.

For its part, the Palestinian leadership has done little to bridge the wider divisions amongst those falling under PA rule, Palestinian citizens of Israel, residents of the refugee camps and the world-wide Diaspora, divisions that have grown even wider since the PLO and the PNC fell moribund. Indeed, major portions of the Palestinian Diaspora (and one may single out especially but not exclusively the large and prosperous communities of Latin America), have disconnected from the national struggle completely. The Palestinian possess some extremely articulate spokespeople and activists, but they tend to be either a collection of individual voices only tenuously tied to grassroots organizations, or grassroots resistance groups such as the Popular Committees that enjoy little political backing or strategic direction.

Ever aware that the struggle for liberation must be led by Palestinians, our collective task at the moment, in my view, is to bring about the collapse of the present situation in Palestine in order to exploit its fundamental unsustainabilty. The elimination of the Palestinian Authority is one way to precipitate that collapse. It would likely require Israel to physically reoccupy the Palestinian cities and probably Gaza as well (as if they have ever been de-occupied), bringing the reality of raw occupation back to the center of attention. Such a development would likely inflame Arab and Muslim public opinion, not to mention that of much of the rest of the world, and would create an untenable situation, forcing the hand of the international community. Israel would be put in an indefensible position, thus paving the way for new post-collapse possibilities – this time with an effective and representative Palestinian agency in place and a global movement primed to follow its lead.

But given the underlying unsustainability of the Occupation and the repressive system existing throughout historic Palestine – the massive violations of human rights and international law, the disruptive role the conflict plays in the international system and its overt brutality – collapse could come from a variety of places, some of them unsuspected and unrelated to Israel/Palestine. An attack on Iran could reshuffle the cards in the Middle East, and the Arab Spring is still a work in progress. Major disruptions in the flow of oil to the West due an attack on Iran, internal changes in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, instability in Russia and even the fact that China has no oil of its own could cause major financial crises worldwide. Sino-American tensions, environmental disasters or Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of the Taliban with unpredictable Indian reactions may all play an indirect yet forceful role. Who knows? Ron Paul, President Gingrich’s newly appointed Secretary of State, might end all military, economic and political support for Israel, in which case the Occupation (and more) would fall within a month.

Whatever the cause of the collapse – and we must play an active role in bring it about – it is incumbent upon us to be ready, mobilized and organized if we are to seize that historic moment, which might be coming sooner than we expect. Effective and broadly representative Palestinian agency will be critical. Collapse with agency is the only way to get “there” from “here.”

About Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). He can be reached at [email protected]

Other posts by .

Posted In:

32 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    February 19, 2012, 11:29 am

    Unfortunately the creation of Bantustans is from Israels point of view not the preferred solution, only one that they think they could get away with in the International community.No Palestinian community, or a small one that keeps it head down is the preferred end game. Israels ‘success’ so far has been due to the PA’s collaborationalist policies even when it is obvious with facts on the ground increasing every year since 1967, regardless of which Israeli Government was in power, when you are financed from outside by Europe and the US and dependent on them to ensure the continuation of the peace [annexation] process, it is an easy trap to fall into, especially when you are so weak. How many French people actively supported the resistance against the Nazis during the occupation of France? The Kings and Emirs in the GCC and the Arab league care only for their own thrones and the casinos and whorehouses of western Europe , their wish to see civil war in Syria speaks volumes for their sectarianism and contempt for a fellow Arab regime, what price the Palestinians? The sooner these satraps are swept from power the better. You are right a war on Iran could change the whole politics in the middle east, the recent poll across the Arab world indicated that 80 odd % of ordinary Arabs thought Iran should have nuclear power, most thought Israel/US the major threat in the region with only 10% thinking Iran was. The reason Israel has been so successful to date is because it has always known what it wanted and has persued its goal ruthlessly who can blame them, the opposition have foolishly believed in the good faith intentions of Israel/US negotiating a fair two state solution, how naive.

  2. Newclench
    February 19, 2012, 11:31 am

    Let us know when Jews living in Palestine or Palestinians living in Israel can join the PLO, as whites could join the ANC. Or when a ‘Freedom Charter’ style document that addresses the aspirations of both sides is adopted and accepted.

    • GalenSword
      February 19, 2012, 12:41 pm

      I am not sure where Ilan Halevi resides nowadays, but he is a high-ranking member of the PLO. His wikipedia page suggests there are other high-ranking Jewish members of the PLO.

    • Cliff
      February 19, 2012, 1:02 pm

      Yep, let us know.

      In the meantime, Israel will continue to colonize Palestinian land and dispossess the indigenous peoples of the land.

    • justicewillprevail
      February 19, 2012, 1:52 pm

      Yeah, blame the compromised, unrepresentative, toothless PLO and ignore the perpetrators of war crimes, dispossession and resources theft who created the problem. The PLO isn’t the ANC, even if the apartheid under which Palestinians live analogy is justified.

    • kapok
      February 19, 2012, 2:41 pm

      Does the PLO charter prevent Jews from joining? Of course, if one should, it’s likely he’d be whisked away by the Israeli Schutzstaffel, or worse.

    • WeAreAllMadeOfStars
      February 19, 2012, 3:37 pm

      “Let us know when Jews living in Palestine or Palestinians living in Israel can join the PLO”… sure : now

      If you haven’t heard from Uri Davis, read this

    • Hostage
      February 21, 2012, 2:10 am

      Let us know when Jews living in Palestine or Palestinians living in Israel can join the PLO, as whites could join the ANC. Or when a ‘Freedom Charter’ style document that addresses the aspirations of both sides is adopted and accepted.

      Security Council resolution 1860 endorsed the Egyptian efforts to negotiate a reconciliation between Hamas and the PA, although the US abstained. Israel downplayed the importance of negotiations with the PA, because it did not govern Gaza or speak for all of the Palestinian people. The reconciliation agreement calls for Hamas to join the PLO. Let us know when Hamas is no longer designated as an enemy entity by the State of Israel. Seriously.

  3. smithgp
    February 19, 2012, 12:21 pm

    First some terminology

    In this response to Jeff Halpern’s article, “Democracy” means what it means in South Africa: equal rights for all the citizens of Palestine. It stands opposed to Apartheid, the present form of government in Palestine. Another term for Apartheid in Palestine is Zionism, the ranks of former liberal Zionists swelling steadily as one by one we reluctantly come to acknowledge the equation. “Palestine” here means the land between the river and the sea. I don’t know what the land will actually be called under Democracy, though a geographic name like Palestine—the name the pre-1948 yishuv themselves used—would certainly be more fitting than a sectarian name like “Israel.” If the name indeed turns out to be Palestine, Jewish citizens whose roots in the land go back 30 or 60 years will be no less Palestinian than Arab citizens whose roots go back five or ten centuries. Hilltop youth would become just another Palestinian police problem. Tel Aviv and Birzeit Universities would both be Palestinian institutions of higher learning. My purpose in this post is not to rehearse the many reasons for this vision of Palestine’s future. Rather I want to call attention to what seem to me to be obvious and urgent implications for today’s anti-Apartheid struggle.

    The urgent need for a government in waiting

    Little time elapsed between when South African Democracy still seemed a far-off utopian dream and its ultimate triumph. But the ANC was not caught off-guard. For decades they’d been creating a government-in-waiting, so that when F.W. de Klerk’s Nationalist Party voluntarily surrendered power, it was to an established entity in whose commitment to just treatment they could have some confidence. And how about Palestine’s new leadership: is it ready to govern on short notice? Is an alternative to the Apartheid regime being vigorously developed, an alternative at the same time just and practical?

    The task will much more difficult in Palestine than in South Africa. That’s because Jews and non-Jews are about equally numerous. Any workable government will have to be a non-sectarian coalition to whom the Apartheid leadership will reluctantly relinquish power despite having overwhelming superiority in armed force. The ANC, in contrast, represented 90 percent of the citizens and had no need to build a coalition with anti-Apartheid whites.

    The listless Democracy movement

    A “list” in parliamentary elections with proportional representation is a grouping of parliamentary candidates standing as a single political party. Elections to the Israeli Knesset and Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) are 100 percent and 50 percent by proportional representation, respectively. Both venues are well-suited homes for the government in waiting. In Israel it’s especially easy to create a list with real prospects for a substantial number of Knesset seats, as illustrated by the respectful reception of Yair Lapid shows. Two of the sitting Arab lists already have “Democratic” as part of their names, and Balad (Haneen Zouabi’s party) is ostensibly both Jewish and non-Jewish.

    Some aspects of BDS may stand in the way. Consider the extreme hypothetical case posited by the admirable Ahmed Moor on Mondoweiss on March 12, 2010: “Dr. Z is an anti-Zionist history lecturer at an Israeli institute of higher learning who actively contributes to the delegitimization of Zionism through his research. He feels strongly that Palestine/Israel ought to be one country and that Jewish privilege has no place in a modern democratic state. He is, in every way, an ally to the cause for equal rights in Palestine/Israel. So, why do I feel he should be boycotted?” Why indeed? Even if we agree with Moor’s “personal judgment…that Israeli academic institutions are not independent of…Zionist…political aims and goals,” is it wise to boycott the Neve Gordons of Israeli public discourse? These rare academic prophets, along with non-academic activists like Jeff Halpern, are, and must be seen to be, the vanguard of a new, truly Palestinian democracy, in which Dr. Z and his university are no less Palestinian than Ahmed Moor.

    The neoliberal threat

    South Africa’s anti-Apartheid movement may have triumphed politically, but it collapsed on the economic front. The economic principles of the ANC’s 1955 Freedom Charter were abandoned in favor of a neoliberal regime that has created some of the bleakest economic disparity in the world today. And much the same disaster, a second Nakba, looms in Palestine. Silwan will be sacked no less surely if the City of David theme park is run by Disney than if it is run by Elad. The neoliberal threat adds urgency to the need to create an alternative coalition government in waiting: a leadership with sufficient credibility among all Palestinians, including Jews, to guide the future democracy firmly toward liberty and justice for all.

  4. HarryLaw
    February 19, 2012, 1:31 pm

    Even when the Palestinian leadership were told to their faces what Israels policy is, it did not seem to faze them, so that at a west Jerusalem meeting in November 2007, Tzipi Livni told Ahmed Qureia that she believed Palestinians saw settlement building as meaning ” Israel takes more land [so] that the Palestinian state will be impossible “; that ” the Israel policy is to take more and more land day after day and that at the end of the day we’ll say that is impossible, we already have the land and we cannot create the state”. She conceded that it had been “the policy of the Government for a really long time” [Guardian on the Palestine papers] You don’t say. Only an imbecile could be taken in for close on 20 years, yes you are Saeb Ereket.

  5. ToivoS
    February 19, 2012, 3:16 pm

    Excellent analysis Jef. This probably the best case I have seen that the two-state solution is no longer possible. My problem with this is that it is not a case for us to make — as you say it must come the Palestinians. The logic for a one-state solution is there but the diplomatic, historical and current situation inside the West Bank all argue for two-states. As long as the PA rules, and receives the 100’s million dollars each year from the west to pay their police, there will be insufficient support for a one-state solution to build a political movement inside Palestine, at least for the immediate future.

    Politically, the ISM and other supporters for Palestinian justice will really have no choice but continue to support BDS and actions along those lines, but remain neutral or silent on the one-state/two-state quandary.

    This is probably the best course and for activists in the West, probably the only course. I had to agree with Finkelstein on one point he made — a genuine one-state solution will mean the end of Israel as a Jewish state. And for now that is not something that can be openly advocated without shattering whatever unity there is in the movement for Palestinian justice.

    • MHughes976
      February 20, 2012, 2:59 pm

      If we can’t say openly that minority rule, embodied in disfranchisement or in partition arrangements amounting to the same thing (large chunks of the majority aren’t citizens of the polity that takes all the important decisions), is unjust then it is a poor lookout. Anything else means finding ways to help the minority maintain its supremacy or its exclusive rights. But the whole idea is that these minority privileges are wrong.

      • ToivoS
        February 20, 2012, 10:37 pm

        Nope I didn’t say that at all. Go on and openly make that case with those we discuss these issues with. I agree with what you say.

        What I tried to say that it is unrealistic to ask ISM or the BDS movement to openly advocate for the one-state solution — in political terms that is just too divisive. I think they should simply demand justice for the Palestinians, as should we — the mechanism for achieving that end should be left to the Palestinians not to us.

      • MHughes976
        February 21, 2012, 5:13 pm

        Yes, we should remember that we aren’t negotiators for the Palestinians. Glad we’re in agreement!

  6. ahadhaadam
    February 19, 2012, 3:36 pm

    That’s a great article, I have nothing to add as it reflects my positions precisely – I couldn’t have written it any better. However, the strategy should be on two fronts: one to hasten a paradigm shift to abandon the two-state/Paltustan solution, and the other in confronting the self-appointed Jewish leadership in America and their power apparatus, which is ultimately what enables this oppression and ethnic cleansing to continue unabated.

    Someone should forward this to Finkelstein….

  7. NorthOfFortyNine
    February 19, 2012, 10:18 pm

    A tour de force. Should be disseminated far and wide. -N49.

  8. anonymouscomments
    February 20, 2012, 3:46 am

    First, we must endeavor to hasten the collapse of the present situation and subsequently, when new paradigms of genuine justice emerge from the chaos, be primed to push forward an entirely different solution that is currently impossible or inconceivable, be that a single democratic state over the entire country, a bi-national state, a regional confederation or some other alternative yet to be formulated.

    jeff halper,

    i always agree with you in general, but i have a very nagging fear, which causes me to lean towards the 2SS (i think both a viable 2SS and a just ~1SS are both *near* impossible, yet each remain conceivable; but a drive towards either has its own inherent risks/benefits/level of justice).

    i think i have a very valid fear regarding a push towards some sort of 1SS (or bi-national state/confederation/whatnot). the SAME ethnocentric, extremist, and terrorist zionist forces that existed in 1947-1949, and largely created israel as we know it, are *still* around. in fact, they now largely have the power of the state at their disposal. and they are the same forces that worked so hard to destroy the 2SS, hence are also waiting in the wings to capitalize on the same chaos you foresee. they do think ahead when trying to engineer the flow of events, and i think we must fear their ability to achieve what we may think is inconceivable (especially as they engineered it, and must have had plans for after the accepted failure of the 2SS, including something aside from perpetual apartheid, which they know is not sustainable long term).

    so i guess my question it this- does *part* of you fear that “evil” might trump justice, as chaos emerges? might it get worse? might the inconceivable end up being inconceivably bad, over what we would hope for?

    if you have *no* fear of this, why not?

    in my opinion, it is not inconceivable that under the chaos, we might see something like a repeat of 1947-1949. it seems impossible in the modern information age, but the world historically has gone through violent spasms and regional insanity, and such could occur again. the chaos can come in many forms, and can be both instigated and/or simply utilized by the israeli “right”/revisionist zionists. the things i think of include global economic instability, and regional wars. europe could even be distracted with its own right wing slide, terror attacks, a euro collapse, or whatnot. within israel we could see both false-flag and sincere terror, extreme race riots break out, *more serious* settler pogroms, *more* overtly fascist leaders taking power, and even the destruction of the al-aqsa mosque by a radical group or an element in the IAF/IDF (which would spark serious regional insanity).

    i mean to stress that we should not underestimate the efficacy of the nuttier zionist players to achieve their ends, especially under instability. hell, that is the long history of zionism in the region.

    people of your mindset in israel are gems, but the majority do not share your dreams, and in chaos, the powerful often dictate the flow.

    though a 2SS seems hard to get to, and would require a sea change in the global community posturing, the benefit is that there is no *chaos* phase, which could prove disastrous for the palestinians. this is not to discout your position, and i think it possible that path could prove fruitful. but the small chance for utter insanity does scare me…

    • Scott
      February 20, 2012, 8:23 am

      though a 2SS seems hard to get to, and would require a sea change in the global community posturing, the benefit is that there is no *chaos* phase, which could prove disastrous for the palestinians.

      This is smart.

      • NorthOfFortyNine
        February 20, 2012, 9:47 am

        the benefit is that there is no *chaos* phase,…

        I completely agree that there is real risk to a 1SS approach. In fact, I would say that pogroms are being planned now. The rubric will be “civil war” (as per eee) but these will just be naked porgroms designed to make Palestinians flee. This is in the works now.

        That said, clinging to a 2ss sol’n weds the mindset to a state that is incongruous to the reality on the ground now. There are no two states! One can blather on as much as one wants about international law, but the reality is that there is now one state. I don’t see how it helps to deny reality.

        So if there is to be a 2ss sol’n, it has to be apporached like Canada-Quebec or Ukraine-Russia or the few other cases where a country split. And to do this first requires the recognition of civil rights (referenda, etc.). That is the starting point for all solutions. -N49.

      • ahadhaadam
        February 20, 2012, 1:16 pm

        I don’t think it will be this simple to implement a Final Solution to a civilian population demanding civil rights. It will also be a hard sell to world media that it is a “civil war” when the victims are not citizens and do not possess arms. In addition, the Final Solution needs a fog of a regional war as local clashes will not suffice.

        It is in fact the Paltustan construct that is more likely to harbinger the Final Solution as this “solution” will not be stable in the long run because alas… people are not likely to accept living in closed holding pens indefinitely. It will result in uprisings, constant conflict and friction and also by segregating Palestinians into confined areas, it will make it easier for the Israeli army to carry out its final ethnic cleansing.

  9. Dan Crowther
    February 20, 2012, 11:55 am

    Welcome to the Cult Jeff!!!

    Anarchists for Palestine!!!

  10. Bumblebye
    February 20, 2012, 1:40 pm

    “steal Israel”????

  11. MHughes976
    February 20, 2012, 2:16 pm

    Absolutely! – Don’t know why this basic fact gets so readily forgotten or ignored.

    • MHughes976
      February 20, 2012, 4:44 pm

      This was meant to be a reply to N49’s remark, which has vanished, to the general effect that things have to be based on human rights for all.

  12. American
    February 20, 2012, 2:49 pm

    “…, in my view, is to bring about the collapse of the present situation in Palestine in order to exploit its fundamental unsustainabilty. The elimination of the Palestinian Authority is one way to precipitate that collapse”

    Sure go ahead and collapse Palestine and what little internationaly recongized government and attempts at some kind of unified government and unity Palestine has now—and lose any cooperation and support they have worked for with the UN and internationals.
    That way you can start from stratch all over again and your Palestine hobby revolution can go forever and ever and even turn into a Aparthied movement for Palestines that Israel will never give equal rights to in one state and that will give you another 6 decades long activist hobby.
    I don’t give a rats ass about keeping Israel as a Jewish state but if no one will even enforce international law and it’s protections against war crimes on Israel for Palestine now after all Israel has done and keeps doing, then you have squat chance of the world enforcing civil rights for Palestine internally in a Israel.

    What you are asking Palestines to do is spend another half a century under Jewish rule. No matter how many Palestines you would put into Israel for numbers they would go up against a Jewish political system already entrenched that would change their so called democratic rules every time an Arab demographic made any headway politically or economically. If this is what Palestines want to do, struggle under the zios for 50 more years, another generation, fine go for it.
    But it’s gonna be long and nasty and in the end what will be the Palestine under class will have to take the zionist state like Egyptians or Libyans.

  13. gracie fr
    February 20, 2012, 2:55 pm

    As Jeff Halper notes, time is of critical importance in devising a solution to the Israel/Palestine problem. Indeed at the current rate of settler expansion there will be very little territory left to negotiate a two state solution and life under one unitary government is filled with thorns. This leaves a sort of federated entity, the shape of which remains to be seen. The Israeli demands would be such to crush it before finishing the mission statement.
    Lately I have found myself getting exceedingly cross as the awareness of Israeli injustice has never been as high and growing. Many hopeful people bought in to Oslo, convinced that President Clinton’s Whitehouse lawn extravaganza would solve the conflict, eventually iron out all the snags and because of blind optimism, many advocates for an equitable solution sat on the sidelines. Of course life for the Palestinians only got worse as the bombs went off and the Wall went up. The American tragedy of September 11 was pie in the sky for counter terrorism in all its shapes and forms coopting as it did a Cold War attitude towards Muslims.
    It is imperative that the American public wakes up. Thanks to campus action, paneled discussions, outspoken activists, trips to Israel, questioning church congregations, and an instant electronic news feed, more Americans are coming around which gives me some hope. Jamil Toubbeh has posted an interesting, albeit somewhat disheartening article on the Palestine Chronicle website “Obsession with Israel: Variegated Trojan Horse” calibrating many of the abysmal potholes in the rough road ahead.

  14. frankier
    February 20, 2012, 5:31 pm

    It is just sad to see that the process of realization of the inevitable one-state solution will have to go through the pain and suffering of both people involved. It is unfortunate to have to acknowledge that, just like in South Africa, the process will not be clean and it will most likely that few other decades. To use another more recent analogy, the hubris and self assurance that characterized the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan, and most likely Syrian, dictators, will be shared by the current Israeli government and some of its people. I hope to be wrong, but by the time they are ready to cut a deal, it will be too late for a balanced solution.

  15. American
    February 20, 2012, 5:47 pm

    Jeff, this is what you wrote/predicted in Nov 2010

    “The first possible game-changer is already being discussed: a unilateral declaration by the Palestinian Authority of a state based on the 1949 armistice lines (the 1967 “Green Line”), which then applies for membership in the UN. This, I believe, would force the hand of the international community. Most of the countries of the world would recognize a Palestinian state – including not a few in Europe – placing the US, Britain, Germany and other reluctant powers in a difficult if not impossible situation, including isolation and even irrelevancy. Indeed, a Palestinians declaration of independence within those boundaries would be a unilateral act but rather one done in agreement with the member states of the UN, who have accepted the 1949/1967 borders as the basis of a solution. It conforms as well to the Road Map initiative led by the US itself.

    Such a scenario, while still possible given the deadlock in negotiations, is unlikely, if only because the leadership of the Palestinian Authority lacks the courage to undertake such a bold initiative. A second one seems more likely: in 2011, the Palestinian Authority will either resign or collapse, throwing the Occupation back on the lap of Israel. Given the deadlock in negotiations, I can’t see the PA lasting even until August, when (sort-of) Prime Minister Salem Fayyad expects the international community to give the Palestinians a state. Even if the 90-day settlement freeze eventually comes into effect, Netanyahu will not negotiate borders during that period, the only issue worth discussing. Either fed up to the point of resigning – Abbas may be weak and pliable, but he is not a collaborator – or having lost so much credibility with its own people that it simply collapses, the fall of the PA would end definitively the present “process.”>>>>

    But the “Palestinian Authority lacks the courage to undertake such a bold initiative”…did take the initiative and go to the UN in Sept 2011.

    And this:

    “The end or fall of the PA would create an intolerable and unsustainable situation. Israel would be forced to retake by force all the Occupied Territories, and unable to allow Hamas to step into the vacuum, would have to do so violently, perhaps even invading Gaza again and assuming permanent control. Having to support four million impoverished Palestinians with no economic infrastructure whatsoever would be an impossible burden (and hopefully the “donor community” would not enable the re-occupation by stepping in to prevent a “humanitarian crisis,” as it does today). Such a move on the part of Israel would also inflame the Muslim world and generate massive protests worldwide, again forcing the hand of the international community. Looked at in this way, the Palestinians have one source of enormous clout: they are the gatekeepers. Until they – the Palestinian people as a whole, not the PA – say the conflict is over, it’s not over. Israel and its erstwhile allies have the ability to make life almost unbearable for the Palestinians, but they cannot impose apartheid or warehousing. We, the millions supporting the Palestinian struggle the world over, will not let it go until the Palestinians signal that they have arrived at a settlement that they can live with. Until then, the conflict will remain open and globally disruptive”

    So if Israel violently retakes Gaza/Palestine after the fall of the Palestine government and no donors step in to prevent them from starving since Israel won’t feed them–you think this would lead to massive Arab protest and then “We” meaning everyone who isn’t going to be in Palestine to take the blunt of this will not let them give up till they get what they want.
    Let me ask you why you think the ‘world or the Arabs are going to do anything? And if Palestines massively protest?—well they get shot in the head and gassed.

    If I was Israel I would adopt your recommendations, it would give me more excuses to kill more Palestines as terrorist, expell Gaza as terrorist, confiscate more land for ‘security”, put up more check points ,expand the wall—all the same things they have done while no one did anything about the ’08 assault on Gaza or anything else.

    Are you sure you’re not a double agent or unwilling dupe for Israel?…:):)

  16. American
    February 20, 2012, 6:41 pm

    Also Jeff, while I am sure your desire for a solution is sincere, it’s very confusing.
    Exactly what do you want/envision?

    I’ve read what you said before:

    “Even before the September vote, (at the UN on Palestine statehood) )it must be made clear that the Palestinian vision is not of a two-state “solution” but rather of a two-state stage in a process that will ultimately result in a single state – democratic, bi-national or part of a regional confederation. The very dynamics of two peoples sharing the same land in peace and mutual relations, together with the existence of a Palestinian community inside Israel and the right of the refugees to truly return home, lead to further evolution. It may take decades, but the idea is that both countries are transformed into a more inclusive entity on the entire land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan”

    So it appears you weren’t for Palestine getting a true ‘independent statehood’. Why?

    “And second, rejecting Palestinian admission to the UN puts an end to the “two-state solution.” As long as the possibility of two states could be held out, any other option, including one state or a regional confederation, was effectively eliminated. Moving beyond that after September clears the way for the only genuine and possible solution: one inclusive state”

    Again it seems you are stuck on Israel as One state of Israel, even when there was a possiblity of two states, and then also on a wider notion of some kind of ‘regional confederation of states.

    My confusion and question is this—in this collapse of Palestine government leading to some kind of revolt and world action that ends in One State–what do the Palestine get out of it? What exactly are the benefits to them?

    Would the Palestine sections get more of their own water resources back…would Israel allow Palestines sections more the the 20% of their own water resources they get now while Israelis get 80% of it?
    Who would profit from from the Gaza gas fields?
    Would the taxes on Palestine goods that Israel now holds and turns over to Palestine when and if they feel like it be put equally back into Palestine sectors or used like Israel uses Palestine water..80% for Israelis and 20% for Palestines?

    We all know the devil is in the details so what are the details of how this One State or confederation of states would work for Palestines. And exactly where would Palestine and Palestines fit in a confederation of states. Or when you say ‘confederation of states’ are you saying that once Israel and Palestine become the one state of Israel the goal is then to have this One state accepted by other ME states on the basis that Israel now has incorporated the Palestines?

    I am confused here—I don’t see what the Palestines have to gain in this.
    Explain further with detail please.

  17. anonymouscomments
    February 21, 2012, 1:18 am


    I share some of your sentiments.

    Aside from the sincere fears I stated above, there is another element to the 1SS/2SS debate, people often do not fully consider. What do they think the ~1SS will look like internally, as far as income, wealth, and privilege disparity?

    In South Africa, apartheid is gone, but the economics now tell a new story of oppression and gross inequality. This is not to knock the end of apartheid, but if a *viable* 2SS is *achievable*, there are some serious benefits to both nations, in both tangible and intangible terms.

    This might sound a little “racial”, but I think there are cultural difference between Jewish Israelis, and Arab Palestinians (things I like very much about each). Even between Arab Christians and Arab Muslims in Israel, there is stark income disparity and cultural differences.

    Might the single state actually look bad for the Palestinians, in the short and long term? The relative financial success of Jewish Americans is fairly astounding, and they are ~2% of the US population, yet are a dominant force in politics and have achieved very “above average” income and wealth. What would the economic terrain look like in ~50% Jewish Palestine? Even a few billionaire Jewish nationals could really rock the system. In fact, in Israel right now, a handfull of Jewish families control the majority of the economy.

    I really love the West Bank, and the pace and the “feeling” of the culture. What might happen in a single state? Is it possible some things may be lost? Is it possible that a *Palestinian* state would afford them a secure place to define their identity and shape their own economy and economics, without perhaps being dominated by the existing Jewish Israeli elite, or a future Jewish elite?

    Would a Palestinian state allow the Palestinians to become the exclusive profiteers from the tourism to their state (which will be high after a 2SS), and from their resources…. while a single state might see Jewish/Jewish Israeli capital divert the profits from these key resources? Could Arab Palestinians become a stark under class in their own land, simply due to institutional, structural, cultural or whatever differences? Might the 2SS be the only real means to ensure such ethnic dominance does not occur (which sadly already does exist in Israel)?

    How bad will the tensions be in a ~50-50% Arab-Jewish state? Will it not ever risk devolving into outright race wars, much like ~1948, or other instances of ethno-religious violence we have seen in the world?

    I lived in the old city in Beit Sahour, and I liked it. I lived in Tel Aviv near Jaffa, and I liked it (pervasive racism and ignorance aside). But there are very distint differences, and some things might be lost under the umbrella of one state (and it is the West Bank I fear may loose things).

    I do think many Palestinians in the West Bank might prefer a distinctly and undeniably *Arab* Palestine, over what might transpire in a mixed, 50-50% ~1SS.

    Can any Palestinians weigh in here?

  18. Hostage
    February 21, 2012, 1:51 am

    Halper had me until he started shreying about Fayyad building “something”. The objection to recognizing and dealing with Palestinians on an equal legal footing has always been that there is only a government in exile or one presiding over nothing. I suppose he thinks publishing a plan to end the Israeli occupation or filing a criminal complaint against Israelis with the ICC Prosecutor are just some more examples of collaboration.

    Fayyad endorsed the existing PLO platform of a real state based upon 1967 borders in accordance with: the requirements of international legitimacy; the applicable UN resolutions, including 194(III), 242(1967), & 338(1973); and international law. That plan called for belated recognition of Palestine’s borders and UN membership in line with Phase II of the Quartet Road Map as affirmed in Security Council resolution 1397 (2002). It has been available for several years from the PA website and the Permanent Observer’s UN website.

    Haaretz, AFP, and others have reported on Fayyad’s refusal of proposals for an economic peace without ending the occupation or a real state:

    But Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad has rejected Netanyahu’s proposals for an economic solution to the Middle East conflict.
    Fayyad, a former International Monetary Fund economist, said the conflict was a political one that required a political solution.
    “I am interested not in redefining the occupation but in ending the occupation,” he said in an interview published by the Israeli daily Haaretz on Tuesday.

    link to
    The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority tells Al Jazeera why Palestine is ready for statehood.

    I agree that the status quo of a single apartheid state is the likely outcome of the US and Israel vetoing the plan for two stares that they both paid lip service to for so long. But why waste your time and space blaming the victims and putting words in their mouths that they’ve never uttered?

  19. tampsa
    March 21, 2012, 2:19 pm

    From 1936 to 1948 I was a “self-hating Jew” (in today’s terminology). I was opposed to the Zionist/Jewish Agency program to establish the “Jewish National Homeland.” From 1948 to somewhere in the current century I tilted at other windmills. Then I was awakened from a long ideological slumber by a headline “Is the 2ss dead?”

    I entered active polemic life in defense of the 2ss until near the end of 2011, when I finally realized that in fact there was no rational possibility of a viable Palestine. Indeed, the official Likud platform states that Israel will never allow an independent Palestinian state west of the Jordan, which is explicitly claimed as the Eastern border of Israel. [So much for your negotiations, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton]

    I am now for the unitary 1ss with full and real equal rights for all. This will take work, both within and without Cis-Jordan along the model of what it took to end apartheid in South Africa [BDS!].

    Incidentally, your hair splitters who see the term anti-Semite as directed at more than Jews, because Arabs are also Semites, the term was coined by European and American defenders of the Jews per se, who didn’t know anything about other Semites. Anti-Semite is today a goy who criticizes Israel, just as self-hater is the Jewish equivalent. Did I see one of your commenters [in a different thread] who extended the concept of Semite even to Iranians because they are also Mideastern Muslims?

Leave a Reply