Makdisi: E1 sets the stage for one state

Israel/Palestine
on 11 Comments

Saree Makdisi joins the two state post mortem.  In tomorrow’s International Herald Tribune, Makdisi says Netanyahu’s decision to build in the E1 area not only kills the two-state solution, but also seals the fate of an exclusively Jewish state:

In moving forward with long-threatened plans to develop E1, Israel will be breaking the back of the West Bank and isolating the capital of the prospective Palestinian state from its hinterland. In so doing, it will be terminating once and for all the very prospect of that state — and with it, by definition, any lingering possibility of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Oddly enough, the Palestine recognized by the United Nation is only an abstraction; the one that Israel is now about to throttle is much more real, at least insofar as the throttling will materially affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in a way that mere recognition does not.

However heavy the blow to Palestinian aspirations, an equally heavy political price for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s E1 plan will be paid by Israelis. For by terminating the prospect of a two-state solution, Netanyahu will also be sealing the fate of an exclusively Jewish state.

As cannier Israeli politicians (Ehud Olmert among them) have long warned, maintaining the existence of Israel as a Jewish state fundamentally requires perpetuating at least the idea of a Palestinian state, even if only as a deferred fiction kept alive through endless negotiations.

Once the fiction of a separate Palestinian state is revealed to have no more substance than the Wizard of Oz — which the E1 plan will all but guarantee — those Palestinians who have not already done so will commit themselves to the only viable alternative: a one-state solution, in which the idea of an exclusively Jewish state and an exclusively Palestinian one will yield to what was really all along the preferable alternative, a single democratic and secular state in all of historical Palestine that both peoples will have to share as equal citizens.

A campaign for rights and equality in a single state is a project toward which the Palestinians will now be able to turn with the formidable international support they have already developed at both the diplomatic and the grassroots levels, including a global boycott and sanctions movement whose bite Israel has already felt.

For Palestinians, in any case, one state is infinitely preferable to two, for the simple reason that no version of the two-state solution that has ever been proposed has meaningfully sought to address the rights of more than the minority of Palestinians who actually live in the territory on which that state is supposed to exist . . .

What must be added here is that if a one-state solution offers the last remaining key to a just and lasting peace, Israeli Jews will pay what will turn out to be only a short-term price in exchange for many long-term gains. Like Palestinians, they will lose the dream and the prospect of a state exclusively their own. But — also like Palestinians — what they will gain in turn is the right to live in peace.

    Leave a Reply