As the possibility of a two-state solution fades into the horizon (cue the flatline), the discussion of alternatives continues to expand. Building off last month's One State conference at Harvard, NPR's Morning Edition featured a story today on the growing support for one democratic state among Palestinians.
In its broadest definition, the one-state solution would mean absorbing the West Bank and perhaps even the Gaza Strip and all of its Palestinian population into a greater Israel, where everyone would have equal rights.
"What, for me, the idea of one-state is about is ... breaking apart the system of privilege that exists and being able to live as an equal," says Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team. "That's the kind of state that I'm looking for."
Buttu is currently at Harvard, where she organized a conference on the one-state solution. She says equality under the law is the main aim of the one-state option.
"What we are talking about is a state which represents all of its citizens, where there isn't preferential treatment given in laws or in policies to one's religion," she says, "where in fact the issue of one's religion has practically no say in terms of what goes on in a person's life."
Also, Jimmy Carter has a curious Op-Ed in today's International Herald Tribune on a somewhat similar theme. Although ostensibly written to encourage more forceful US diplomacy towards a two-state solution, the piece actually seems to make the one state case as well.
From "Don't Give Up on Mideast Peace":
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman have been establishing more and more settlements in Palestine on confiscated land. While they profess their support for a “two-state solution,” their actions all aim to create a “Greater Israel,” from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River. Washington has voiced opposition to these steps, but has not made any strong efforts to prevent them. . .
There is a profound difference between “two-states” and “one-state.” The former contemplates two nations with citizens living side by side in peace under terms to be negotiated between leaders of the two principal parties. Other world leaders have almost universally acknowledged that strong help and influence of the United States will be necessary, and all the Arab nations have offered to support such an agreement.
In the case of the “one-state” outcome, if granted the full rights of citizenship, Palestinians would play a major role in the new nation with a possible majority in the future. If deprived of these rights as inferior and second-class dwellers on the land, this will be a system of apartheid that will not be accepted by the international community.
It's slightly unclear whether Carter is using "Palestinians would play a major role in the new nation" as a threat (he quotes Israeli leaders who certainly do), or is simply stating a fact. Later in the article he acknowledges:
The people are already greatly mixed. About 20 percent of Israeli citizens are Palestinians, although living under severe restrictions. The number of Israeli settlers in Palestinian territories has grown from about 5,000 when I left office in 1981 to about 525,000.
This would seem to support a case for one state, albeit with equal rights.
In Carter's 2006 book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid, he saw two outcomes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- peace in the form of a two-state solution, or apartheid with the Greater Israel status quo. While still clearly a strong advocate for two states, Carter does now seem to allow for the possibility of a third option, one which might be building support.