Khalidi, Karon and Bronner (!) deliver a post mortem for the two-state solution

Israel/PalestineUS Politics
on 25 Comments

Really insightful episode of Al Jazeera English‘s “Empire” following the UN vote and the attack on Gaza. Host Marwan Bishara and guests Rashid Khalidi, Tony Karon and Ethan Bronner serve up yet another post mortem on the two-state solution. Peter Beinart is the lone hold out.

Khalidi, Karon and Bronner all seem in agreement that the time has passed for the current peace process and the two state map has it has come to be known. Karon says, “I don’t think there’s much prospect for the realization of the two state solution on the basis of the current political geography,” adding it’s not realistic to imagine an Israeli government that could move out the number of settlers necessary, a growing number which includes many second generation settlers at this point. Khalidi points out that 1 in 10 Israelis live in settlements and that the Oslo process is dead – “that approach has failed, in Palestinian eyes.” Bronner agrees, “I think we are very well likely beyond a time when we can imagine a contiguous Palestinian state exisiting.” Similar to Karon he doesn’t think any Israeli government could remove a meaningful number of settlers in a society that is, in his words, “home and land obsessed.” This is a powerful statement. Will it begin to find its way into the Times?

Beinart seems to indicate there is still hope, and trots out many of the familiar liberal Zionist arguments — polls show the Israeli public supports a Palestinian state, Abbas and Olmert were so close — and seems woefully out of sync in the current moment. Khalidi, the historian, responds just look at the record. Regardless of what polls show, the facts on the ground have been clear. Karon says the world has rebuffed US stewardship over the peace process through the overwhelmingly one sided UN vote, but Beinart stands behind US leadership while warning against pressuring Israel. He defends the status quo while admitting it is untenable. The liberal Zionist consensus under girding the Oslo Accords is toppling as Israeli colonization redraws the map and Beinart comes off as flailing. The typical beltway talking points sound nonsensical in a forum not restricted to Washington’s conventional wisdom.

The future may be wide open, and while shaking off the failed frameworks of the past is liberating, the alternatives are not necessarily more just. Darryl Li approaches this is an important article for Jadaliyya, “A Separate Piece?: Gaza and the ‘No-State Solution’“. He describes what may become an unintended outcome in Hamas’s victory in Gaza — a Palestinian statelet disconnected from the the Palestinian collective and the answer to Israel’s demographic fear:

In recent months, more and more quarters of respectable opinion have sounded the alarm that at some undefined point in the future, partition of Israel/Palestine along the 1967 lines will no longer be “feasible.” Yet any ensuing fights over the accuracy – or even the public acceptability – of such announcements miss how far ahead the Zionist right is on these questions. Unwedded to any pieties about “moderation” or the “two-state solution,” some Zionists have floated the idea of formally annexing the West Bank and extending citizenship to Palestinians – but with the massive asterisk of excluding the 1.7 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip in order to forestall a clear indigenous demographic majority.

While one can ridicule this proposal as a non-starter, it is a helpful reminder of the dangers lurking ahead for the Palestinian national movement in the wake of Israel’s onslaught against the Gaza Strip last month. The cease-fire agreement that ended the latest conflagration has been seen by both supporters and critics as a political victory for Hamas. Yet historically, greater autonomy for Palestinians in Gaza – be it under Fatah after the first Intifada or Hamas after the second – has come at the expense of broader solidarity. There is again a danger that Israel will exploit short-term Palestinian gains on the ground in order to further deepen the political disconnect between the Gaza Strip and the rest of the Palestinian people. If such trends continue, then the proposal above of an open apartheid regime with a Jewish majority made possible by removing Gaza from the demographic equation may not be such a remote possibility after all. . . .

Yet despite all of Israel’s problems with managing the Gaza Strip, the territory continues to maintain an important function: to help the Zionist project re-balance its demographic books. Between the river and the sea is a regime that calls itself the state of the Jewish people, but half of those living under its writ are not Jews. The Gaza Strip includes one out of every four members of this “troublesome” population, packed into a tiny corner of the whole country. Israel’s marginalization of Gaza is in many ways an attempt to ignore the question of how to build a common political community with the indigenous population, an effort to postpone Zionism’s reckoning with equality.

Commentators who frame their critiques in terms of Israel acting against its own best interests have once again trotted out the empty cliché that Israel has empowered “radicals” over “moderates.” The real paradox of Hamas’ “victory,” however, lies elsewhere: that if Israel decides against all odds to actually honor the cease-fire and improve conditions in the Gaza Strip, that Hamas will be tempted to opt for unmolested and undisputed rule in its tiny corner of the land over the more arduous and risky path of working to reconstitute a broader liberation movement encompassing Palestinians everywhere. Until struggles in Gaza can be strategically connected to Palestinian and allied mobilizations elsewhere, however, Israel will face setbacks but not defeat.

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25 Responses

  1. Scott
    December 4, 2012, 2:34 pm

    I think the separate peace concept floated by Daryl Lee wouldn’t end the matter. Once the West Bank Palestinians are allowed to vote, they would inevitably be included in governmental coalitions, and would presumably press for both freedom of movement and maintenance of cultural/economic connections with Gaza, even though the Gaza Palestinians were part not part of “the same country.” I suspect that that having Palestinian voters on the West Bank would, after fifteen years or so, tone down the (Israeli) hatreds and break down some walls. Maybe I’m naive, or maybe the Israeli right wingers floating this idea are, not sure.

    • Scott
      December 4, 2012, 2:35 pm

      Li, sorry. Probably same character though.

    • Eva Smagacz
      December 4, 2012, 5:20 pm

      Palestinians will NEVER be allowed to join in ruling government coalitions. By hook or by crook, they will be excluded

      • eljay
        December 4, 2012, 6:51 pm

        >> Palestinians will NEVER be allowed to join in ruling government coalitions. By hook or by crook, they will be excluded

        Nothing will change until “Jewish State” is put to rest – by choice or by force – and is replaced by a secular, democratic and egalitarian single-state or two-state solution.

      • yonah fredman
        December 4, 2012, 7:04 pm

        Eva- there have been Palestinians who have joined ruling government coalitions: they were members of Zionist parties: Likud or Labor. To make your statement accurate you would have to say: there will never be antiZionist Palestinian parties who will be allowed to join government coalitions. (There are no Palestinian Zionist parties, nor should one anticipate such an unlikely scenario: and thus one might say there will never be Palestinian parties who will be allowed to join government coalitions.)

        (If I am being too technical in the service of accuracy I plead guilty.)

  2. Woody Tanaka
    December 4, 2012, 3:30 pm

    “Beinart seems to indicate there is still hope… [and] stands behind US leadership while warning against pressuring Israel. He defends the status quo while admitting it is untenable. ”

    Is there anyone more living in fantasyland than Beinart?

    • Krauss
      December 5, 2012, 12:16 am

      He is starting to turn into Norman Finkelstein. Once the facts get too brutal, it’s much easier to disconnect with reality and/or deny it alltogether. After all, Beinart is these days publishing Op-Eds together with notorious racists and pro-Apartheid people like Dershowitz.

  3. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    December 4, 2012, 4:55 pm

    ”that if Israel decides against all odds to actually honor the cease-fire and improve conditions in the Gaza Strip,”

    But you see, that will not happen.

    I think it was the ‘War Nerd’ (!) who once said that one of the most persistent stupidities of Israeli political culture is that they simply cannot leave the Palestinians alone, even when it’s in their interests to do so. He was referring to the West Bank, not Gaza, but the same applies. Instead of helping Abbas to build some degree of prosperity and dignity for the Palestinians in what would still, of course, be occupied territory, they just have to go and conduct raids every other week, turn a blind eye (at best) to rampaging ‘settlers’ and generally make life miserable for Palestinians at every turn, even though that of course builds up resentment and undermines Abbas.

    The same is true in Gaza. If they were to leave Hamas alone, turn a blind eye to the occasional rocket which hurts nobody anyway, allievieated the siege and allowed the people of Gaza to have some vague semblance of a normal life, then this might help to bring about the ‘3 state solution’ so many Zionists dream of. But they just can’t do it. Zionist ideology has no place for cooperating with Arabs, merely squashing them underfoot. So this little pipe dream is a non-starter, imho.

  4. pabelmont
    December 4, 2012, 6:01 pm

    All can agree that there is no 2SS if we must await a FREE and VOLUNTARY decision by Israel to make enough room for the Palestinians. That’s clear and that’s what they all mean.

    I think we should all do what I do, drum-beat on the unspoken question.

    Perhaps their unspoken opinion is about the also unspoken question, namely, will the international community ever decide to create the sort of pressure that might/could persuade Israel to withdraw from the occupied zones UN-FREELY and INVOLUNTARILY (and with its tail between its legs), a resident on the mountain rather than king of the mountain.

    What kind of pressure, and administered how?

    Soft pressure like removal of embassies. Medium pressure like no-more-visas to Israelis, ending commercial airflights, no more sports or culture visits, Hard pressure: no more trade. When? ASAP. How long? Until all settlers are removed, all settlements dismantled and carted away, the wall dismantled and carted away. Or if a peace treaty is signed earlier.

    This should be easy to agree to because it merely seeks to enforce international law stated by UNSC 465 91980) and ICJ’s no-more-wall advisory opinion (7/2004).

    • Hostage
      December 5, 2012, 4:08 am

      What kind of pressure, and administered how?

      I think we already need international arrest warrants from the ICC and an international Korean conflict-style peacekeeping force – armed to the teeth – to “supervise” the IDF withdrawal from Palestine and to prevent price tag attacks by settlers. But hey, to each his own. You’re ideas are a good starting point too;-)

  5. Maximus Decimus Meridius
    December 4, 2012, 6:35 pm

    Just how evasive is that Ethan Bronner? ”The Israeli point of view is”…..”the Israelis would say that…”. Sorry, but you’re not hear to simply tell us what ”Israelis think”. You’re supposed to offer your own expertise – whatever that is. Notice how he tried to wiggle out of Bishara telling him that he was here as a legal expert. Apparently, he thinks his job is to give the Israeli point of view – while denying that he is giving the Israeli point of view.

    BTW I haven’t usually been a fan of Bishara, (I prefer his brother Azmi) but I was impressed by how knowledgable, thoughtful and skilled as a discussion host he was in this show.

  6. American
    December 4, 2012, 6:37 pm

    They all sound like Zionist agents to me…’opps, too late for a Palestine state, how sad.’

    And this crap?…….” Karon says, “I don’t think there’s much prospect for the realization of the two state solution on the basis of the current political geography,” adding it’s not realistic to imagine an Israeli government that could move out the number of settlers necessary, a growing number which includes many second generation settlers at this point.”

    It’ s not realistic to move the settlers out cause boo hoo, some are second generation squatters? Ha…millions of Germans were deported and forcibly moved out of European countries back to Germany after WWII …I think a few hundred thousand Israeli squatters can be moved.

  7. Rudolph
    December 4, 2012, 7:33 pm

    While I have no illusions over the great difficulty to have Israel enter good faith negotiations with the Palestinians, it is important to know that despite relentless settlement growth the two-state solution is still a realistic solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. According to Shaul Arieli, one of Israel’s leading experts on the demarcation of the future Israeli-Palestinian border, “It is true that over the years the settlements have driven a network of wedges between the clusters of Palestinian villages. But these wedges [have not created] a Jewish dominance that would make unilateral annexation [by Israel] possible….Some 85 percent of the settlers live in the settlement blocs that cover less than six percent of the area of the West bank. In the rest of the area, there is a clear Palestinian dominance. The number of Israelis living outside the blocs is only 2.6 percent of the population, while inside the blocs, it soars to 95 percent. The built-up area of the Israeli settlements outside the blocs covers less than 0.4 percent of the area of the West Bank…”
    Furthermore “most of the settlers who work are working inside Israel and therefore will not have to change jobs when a final status agreement is signed. Moreover, the number of households that will have to be absorbed in Israel, according to the Israeli or Palestinian proposals at the [2007] Annapolis peace talks, will not be greater than 30,000, while the reservoir of housing units planned in Israel…stands at more than ten times that number.”
    The Israeli supporters of “Greater Israel” (and there are many) are the critical enemies of a two-state solution. Their desired solution is to “transfer” occupied Palestinians on the West Bank to Jordan.

  8. ritzl
    December 4, 2012, 8:39 pm

    Using the diminutive, “statelet” when describing Gaza is pretty dismissive and maybe even arrogant, if Gaza becomes the unbeholden (re: mostly unoccupied and therefore operating with free political will) representative of Palestinian interests in the international venues that the UN vote opened to the PLO.

    I hope this diminutive doesn’t become the operative term. Gaza could well be THE sole independent Palestinian state for the foreseeable future, and maybe forever. With it would come responsibilities/maturity of the next practical step toward Palestinian unification, as well as rights, the combination of which can only be a good thing. With it would also come leverage and the willingness to use it (Hamas as opposed to co-opted WB leadership) to effect the desired outcome within a one state construct for the rest of Palestine-Israel.

    I guess that’s the only way I see Palestine-Israel of 20 years from now, NOT becoming Lebanon of 30 years ago. A political outlet for the pressure-cooker of 60 years of pent-up Palestinian grievances against Israel.

    Maybe Gaza is the key to everything, rather than an afterthought with the label, “statelet.”

  9. yourstruly
    December 4, 2012, 9:16 pm

    don’t pressure israel? BDS, BDS, BDS! how’s that for not pressuring?

  10. chinese box
    December 4, 2012, 10:30 pm

    It’s significant that even Bronner comes across as more level-headed than Beinart in this discussion. Beinart seems to be clinging desperately to the hope that this can still be worked out by internal changes in the Israeli government and an entre nous conversation among American Jews.

  11. piotr
    December 5, 2012, 12:04 am

    To me, it seems that Israel follows old and proven Roman maxims.

    Divide et impera. Arab population is split into (1) Israeli Beduins, (2) Israeli Druze, (3) Israeli Arabs, (4) Jerusalem residents, (5) West-Bankers of Area C, (6) West-Bankers of Area B, (7) West Bankers of Area (A), (7) Gazans. As all 7 populations feel oppressed, almost all view themselves as Palestinians, so the scheme does not work as well as intended, but indeed, Gaza serves here as internal garbage can, and there is clear goal to push as many as possible behind the barbed wire surrounding the Gaza, thus solving the “demographic threat” issue. Area A is the garbage can number 2.

    Panem and circenses. Bread or prosperity, and amusements of which there is a big variety. Shooting gallery in Gaza, and contact sports in Area C dominate.

    But there is really no room for peace here.

  12. gingershot
    December 5, 2012, 12:34 am

    Watching Bronner describe the handiwork he has dedicated his career to, while keeping a straight face, was pretty sickening

  13. AM
    December 5, 2012, 2:00 am

    ____When did this change happen to Bronner? ___
    I’ve noticed a couple articles of the past few months showing Bronner being aware of what is going on; this is after the debacles that happened before he stepped aside from his previous posting at the NYT. Only 12 minutes into this video he truthfully articulated the Palestinians perspective of why they aren’t interested in the game of the ‘peace process’.

    Am I mis reading something???

    That said, there is still a long road on the way to being a Non-Zionist ;-) That said, I’m encouraged, especially after watching the Hilary video last night.

  14. Hostage
    December 5, 2012, 3:35 am

    it’s not realistic to imagine an Israeli government that could move out the number of settlers necessary, a growing number which includes many second generation settlers at this point.

    They’re awfully quick to sign away the rights of the majority of the inhabitants. In 1948, the UN proposed a Jewish state with a 50 percent non-Jewish population.

    If Palestinians, who outnumber the settlers 2 to 1, can a) get the IDF replaced with an international peacekeeping force; b) cut-off the settlers benefits and tax free foreign funding; and c) treat the settlers as non-immigrant resident aliens who owe income and property taxes to Palestine; then 4) the exodus of the settler population will take care of the majority of the problems.

  15. Stephen Shenfield
    December 5, 2012, 6:13 am

    The idea of extending citizenship to West Bank Palestinians was floated in 2010 by a young Likud MK, Ms. Hotovely. She may be something of a maverick. In any case, it is important to note that she proposes combining the extension of citizenship with a strict ban on organizations seeking to “destroy Israel” and “a new basic law to ensure that Israel remains a Jewish state” irrespective of the demographic balance. In other words, a strengthening and extension of the system of two-tier citizenship that already exists inside Israel proper. It is not very clear to me exactly how the envisioned arrangement would work, but the goal of entrenching Jewish dominance even if the Palestinians become a majority of the population suggests a peculiar conception of democracy.

    • chinese box
      December 5, 2012, 9:21 am


      I don’t think that would work at all. It’s that kind of constitution/power arrangement handed down by the French that started the civil war in Lebanon.

  16. gingershot
    December 5, 2012, 8:54 am

    Bronner’s Victory Lap on ‘Palestinian Existential Exhaustion’

    I woke up this am and found my finger on why I dislike Bronner’s contribution to this discussion so much

    It’s all about the tremendous Israeli strategic psychological victory of Israel over the Palestinians. Bronner’s proclamation of ‘Palestinian Existential Exhaustion’ – that Israel has Palestine right where she wants her – and his victory lap on the success outcome of the entire self-Proclaimed Israeli Strategy of the last 40 years

    The entire Israeli strategic thrust, at the psychological or meta-levels, has been to so exhaust, humilate, and lay the Palestinian population and leadership so prostate, that it would accept any Bantustan that Israel chose to give her as a crumb off her table. Witness the view into the Palestinian leadership doing precisely this as illuminated by the Palestine Papers. This has been the Israeli victory that Bronner sheds his crocodile tears over – the ‘Shock Doctrine’ or ‘Brainwashing’ or ‘Traumatization’ of the Palestinians such they are no longer capable of acting in their own interests other than trying to make Israel stop. That’s the PA.

    A Palestinian state so pathetic that would only serve to remind Israel of her mastery over the Arabs, more than a viable Palestinian state

    Bronner, who has done so much to help the US aid Israel in this exhaustion of the Palestinians, here crow about his – and Israel’s success – and calls it ‘disheartening’.

    At 40:47 – 41:47 begins his lament over the psychological collapse of Palestine, the Palestine we saw in the Palestine Papers that will give Livni EVERYTHING – the Palestine of Bronner and
    Netanyahu’s dreams. That’s why I can’t stand this guy

    [Crowing about the ‘Palestenian Existential Exhasution’ and how the Palestinians are so benumbed that they cannot even celebrate their statehood or new freedoms – exactly the outcome every Israeli policy has been designed to achieve – and the Israelis themselves SAY THIS
    ‘There is a kind of dysfunctionalism in Palestinian life’ – Rashid picks up on it]

    Khalidi sets up the stage which Bronner tees off from and Beinart has some valuable moments right after

    Bronner wants to make sure his crowning achievements for Israel’s most strategic all her victories are plainly recognized – and his place as the standard bearer of the those achievements at the New York times and America herself.

    Bronner can’t wait to sell his new meme – there is no longer any ‘two-state ruse’, Israel doesn’t need one anymore– now it’s all Setter One State and the world had better get used to it.Can’t wait for the book

    • Hostage
      December 5, 2012, 2:20 pm

      Bronner’s proclamation of ‘Palestinian Existential Exhaustion’ – that Israel has Palestine right where she wants her – and his victory lap on the success outcome of the entire self-Proclaimed Israeli Strategy of the last 40 years

      I think it goes without saying that the US and Israel are in the most precarious position that they’ve ever been in. They’ve exhausted the patience of the rest of the world with the occupation and settlements.

      The Palestinian leadership has called their bluff on the statehood bid and financial sanctions. They’ve repeatedly signaled that they will simply shutdown the PA and hand over the keys and expenses for funding the occupation to Israel, while demanding equal rights in a single state, including the right to vote in Israel’s elections.

  17. danielmate
    December 5, 2012, 3:45 pm

    Fantastic panel discussion, thanks Adam. Easily outshines anything I’ve ever seen on the topic in any American media, and that includes Democracy Now! (which I’m very partial to.)

    Interesting moment, near the end, where Khalidi calls the creation of Israel “a great story” that “should be told in Arabic, in the Arab world, so that people can learn, because it’s a wonderful reconstruction of a national heritage.”

    In general there was a whole lot more agreement among these thinkers than I expected. Bronner, in particular, surprised me with his level of… what’s the word… sanity on the issue.

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