Trump has reminded Palestinians that it was always about one state

Israel/PalestineMiddle East
on 16 Comments

For more than 15 years, the Middle East “peace process” initiated by the Oslo accords has been on life support. Last week, United States president Donald Trump pulled the plug, whether he understood it or not.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu could barely stifle a smile as Trump demoted the two-state solution from being the holy grail. Instead, he said of resolving the conflict: “I am looking at two states or one state … I can live with either one.”

Given the huge asymmetry of power, Israel now has a free hand to entrench its existing apartheid version of the one-state solution – Greater Israel – on the Palestinians. This is the destination to which Netanyahu has been steering the Israel-Palestine conflict his entire career.

It emerged this week that at a secret summit in Aqaba last year – attended by Egypt and Jordan, and overseen by US secretary of state John Kerry – Netanyahu was offered a regional peace deal that included almost everything he had demanded of the Palestinians. And still he said no.

Much earlier, in 2001, Netanyahu was secretly filmed boasting to settlers of how he had foiled the Oslo process a short time earlier by failing to carry out promised withdrawals from Palestinian territory. He shrugged off the US role as something that could be “easily moved to the right direction”.

Now he has the White House exactly where he wanted it.

In expressing ambivalence about the final number of states, Trump may have assumed he was leaving options open for his son-in-law and presumed peace envoy, Jared Kushner.

But words can take on a life of their own, especially when uttered by the president of the world’s only superpower.

Some believe Trump, faced with the region’s realities, will soon revert to Washington’s playbook on two states, with the US again adopting the bogus role of “honest broker”. Others suspect his interest will wilt, allowing Israel to intensify settlement building and its abuse of Palestinians.

The long-term effect, however, is likely to be more decisive. The one-state option mooted by Trump will resonate with both Israelis and Palestinians because it reminds each side of their historic ambitions.

The international community has repeatedly introduced the chimera of the two-state solution, but for most of their histories the two sides favored a single state – if for different reasons.

From the outset, the mainstream Zionist movement wanted an exclusive Jewish state, and a larger one than it was ever offered. Some even dreamed of the recreation of a Biblical kingdom whose borders incorporated swaths of neighboring Arab states.

In late 1947, the Zionist leadership backed the United Nations partition plan for tactical reasons, knowing the Palestinians would reject the transfer of most of their homeland to recent European immigrants.

A few months later they seized more territory – in war – than the UN envisioned, but were still not satisfied. Religious and secular alike hungered for the rest of Palestine. Shimon Peres was among the leaders who began the settlement drive immediately following the 1967 occupation.

Those territorial ambitions were muffled by Oslo, but will be unleashed again in full force by Trump’s stated indifference.

The Palestinians’ history points in a parallel direction. As Zionism made its first inroads into Palestine, they rejected any compromise with what were seen as European colonizers.

In the 1950s, after Israel’s creation, the resistance under Yasser Arafat espoused a single secular democratic state in all of historic Palestine. Only with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the Palestinians’ growing isolation in the early 1990s, did Arafat cave in to European and US pressure and sign up for partition.

But for Palestinians, Oslo has not only entailed enduring Israel’s constant bad faith, but it has also created a deeply compromised vehicle for self-government. The Palestinian Authority has split the Palestinian people territorially – between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza – and required a Faustian pact to uphold Israel’s security, including the settlers’, at all costs.

The truth, obscured by Oslo, is that the one-state solution has underpinned the aspirations of Israelis and Palestinians for more than a century. It did not come about because each expected different things from it.

For Israelis, it was to be a fortress to exclude the native Palestinian population.

For Palestinians, it was the locus of national liberation from centuries of colonial rule. Only later did many Palestinians, especially groups such as Hamas, come to mirror the Zionist idea of an exclusive – if in their case, Islamic – state.

Trump’s self-declared detachment will now revive these historic forces. Settler leader Naftali Bennett will compete with Netanyahu to take credit for speeding up the annexation of ever-greater blocs of West Bank territory while rejecting any compromise on Jerusalem.

Meanwhile, Palestinians, particularly the youth, will understand that their struggle is not for illusory borders but for liberation from the Jewish supremacism inherent in mainstream Zionism.

The struggle Trump’s equivocation provokes, however, must first play out in the internal politics of Israelis and Palestinians. It is a supremely clarifying moment. Each side must now define what it really wants to fight for: a fortress for their tribe alone, or a shared homeland ensuring rights and dignity for all.

A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi.

About Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His latest books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His new website is jonathan-cook.net.

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16 Responses

  1. eljay
    February 22, 2017, 10:54 am

    A single secular and democractic “Geographic Palestine” state can be a homeland for all people of and from (and up to n generations removed from) the region.

    A single religion-supremacist “Jewish State” primarily of and for people all over the world who choose to be/come Jewish can only be, well, a religion-supremacist state.

  2. AddictionMyth
    February 22, 2017, 11:23 am

    Trump is currently unmoored on Israel. Here’s what happened: Trump-Putin-Bibi – axis of the alt-Righteous – were supposed to incite violence in the middle east using ISIS and terrorism hysteria to disrupt oil supplies to boost the value of Tillerson’s interests in Russia and the US. This plan failed for a million and a half reasons – not the least of which was that Flynn lied to Pence about it. So Pence flipped his lid and Flynn got ousted and now everything is going to hell. Trump has no direction – he doesn’t know what to do so he says, “Do whatever the hell you want.” It’s actually pretty funny to watch. So now it’s up to Jews (not the US or Obama or Trump) to say what happens next. The overall movement is towards one-state (2-state is dead), but fortunately there are still a few righteous Jews who will stand against apartheid: equal rights for all including full freedom of speech and religion without exceptions.

  3. Ossinev
    February 22, 2017, 1:03 pm

    “Meanwhile, Palestinians, particularly the youth, will understand that their struggle is not for illusory borders but for liberation from the Jewish supremacism inherent in mainstream Zionism”

    Yes and that struggle will be primarily against their Vichy PA leaders from Abbas down wards who have knowingly been keeping the two state farce alive for at least a decade knowing full well that it is a complete impossibility. – simply to feather their own nests and hang on to their “International profile” status.

    As much as anything else Trump`s “living with either one” should be seen as a seminal and hopefully terminal moment for the corrupt and self serving PA.

  4. Bumblebye
    February 22, 2017, 3:10 pm

    Tzipi Livni on HardTalk discussing this very issue. On as I type but already available:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04synjd

    (Edit – the sheer number of times she’s said “apartheid state” in just 7 minutes shows it’s a major worry for some at least)

    • oldgeezer
      February 22, 2017, 4:13 pm

      It was an interesting show but apart from criticism of Nutty she didn’t really display anything new in terms of Israel wanting peace. I suspect if she got elected as PM it would be more of the same but more carefully done. Israeli verbal support for a 2SS is a farce.

      Oh… Today is was an Iranian on the show and that was very very interesting.

    • jd65
      February 22, 2017, 6:17 pm

      Tzipi Livni will forever live in my mind as the head Operation Cast Lead cheerleader and she can go to hell, afaic. I certainly will not be watching that vid…

      • Maghlawatan
        February 23, 2017, 12:23 am

        She is awful. There isn’t a decent Zionist in the Knesset

      • echinococcus
        February 23, 2017, 10:12 am

        Don’t be ridiculous, Maghlawatan. There isn’t a decent Zionist anywhere on or under the earth, period. By the very definition of the word.

  5. Mooser
    February 22, 2017, 5:45 pm

    “It is a supremely clarifying moment. Each side must now define what it really wants to fight for: a fortress for their tribe alone, or a shared homeland ensuring rights and dignity for all.”

    Because both sides, after all, are equally well prepared and equipped for a fight. “A shared homeland”?

  6. talknic
    February 23, 2017, 6:05 am

    “This is the destination to which Netanyahu has been steering the Israel-Palestine conflict his entire career.”

    He’s a short term newby. The Zionist Federation has been colonizing Palestine for a hundred and twenty years. Netanyahu doesn’t want to share the same fate as Rabin

    So the plan remains unchanged http://wp.me/pDB7k-l5

  7. diasp0ra
    February 23, 2017, 6:19 am

    “Meanwhile, Palestinians, particularly the youth, will understand that their struggle is not for illusory borders but for liberation from the Jewish supremacism inherent in mainstream Zionism.”

    This hits the nail on the head, imo. The youth have a higher rate of support for the one state solution, especially in the West Bank, where it reached over 42%. This is without any sort of public discussion on the matter, without any politician calling for it, and despite the PA warning about it and preaching against it.

    If a popular leader, such as Marwan were to adopt this stance, Palestinian youth, and imo the rest of society would shift their paradigm.

    From my research, a large part of Palestinians refusing one state are not well informed on its meaning or its implications. This is naturally not the only reason, or the biggest one, but it is still there. There is almost no open debate on this. Hopefully this will create some.

  8. Ossinev
    February 23, 2017, 7:40 am

    Listened to the HardTalk interview with Livni. Very impressed with the interviewer who seemed to sense when she was cranking up into full Hasbara mode and redirected her to the point. Livni was her usual look at me listen to me I am so moderate compared to those nasties on the right mode and rattled on ad nauseum about wanting a “Jewish and Democratic” state simply unaware that for intelligent people in the West this is pure discrimination. In reality she is just as much a barrel of Ziocrap as the Yahoo , Liberman and Bennett. Particularly hilarious was her reference to the then upcoming sentencing of poor little Azaria as an example of Zioland holding itself to account by fully investigating alleged war crimes and punishing those found guilty (LOL).

    She was unfortunately not pressed but allowed to duck one issue when the interviewer pointed out the recent UN resolution declaring that all repeat all settlements were illegal including the “one digit” territorial blocs which she kept referring to.

    At the end of the interview she was asked about rumours that the UN was about to offer her a role. Hadn`t heard about this before but if true it could turn out to be a corker ie alleged war criminal (Cast Lead) threatened with arrest abroad is given senior UN post.
    Checked and found:

    http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/UN-Chief-considering-MK-Tzipi-Livni-for-deputy-post-481285

    If I had been eating a bagel I would have choked on it. Can`t find any historical records of UN Under Secretary Generals being arrested and questioned on arrival at foreign airports so it may something to look forward to.

  9. Misterioso
    February 23, 2017, 10:55 am

    Food for thought:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-palestine-israel_us_58ad283de4b04a0b274e18ed?

    Huffington Post, Feb. 22/17

    “Trump Is Right On Palestine: A Two-State Solution Is No Longer Viable”

    By Graham E. Fuller, Former Vice Chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council.

    EXCERPTS:

    “During Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Washington, U.S. President Donald Trump publicly stated that he could support a divergence from a two-state solution in Palestine. He is the first United States president in recent memory to question that sacred article of U.S.-Middle East policy. But while the announcement came as a shock to many, indeed, a serious rethink is long overdue in recognizing the defunct ‘two-state scheme.’” 

    “The harsh reality is that Israel, through a relentless process of ‘creating facts on the ground,’ is now decades deep into the process of taking over illegally, step-by-step, the totality of Palestine. Israel has scant regard for any international law in this respect, and never has had any. Washington, apart from a few periodic pathetic bleats, has ended up functionally supporting this cynical scheme all the way, perhaps unwilling to confront the painful reality of what is really taking place, along with its dangerous political repercussions at home.”

    “Israel is extending day by day its control ― indeed ownership ― of Palestinian lands through expansion of illegal Jewish settlements and the dispossession of the rightful owners of these Palestinian lands. Put simply, there is little left of Palestinian land out of which ever to fashion a ‘two-state solution.’”

  10. amigo
    February 23, 2017, 1:53 pm

    The Palestinians do not need Trump to remind them of what Israel has always had in mind for them.Here is Lieberman,s statement the issue.

    “Like a Giant Bug, the Term Judenrein Emerges

    How will Avigdor Lieberman get the Arabs out of his country − by trains? Obergruppenführer Hans Frank could teach him a thing or two.

    The first time I heard it I was sure I must have heard wrong. Maybe a cow was lowing in the field just then, or a crow was cawing hoarsely in a tree. The second time, an ambulance’s wailing siren obscured the words.

    But the third time, when the sun was shining and the acacias were in bloom, I no longer had any doubt. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman had said that just as the Palestinians want a Judenrein Palestine, Israel will get rid of its Arabs, or at least most of them, and send them to the protectorate in the east politely known as “autonomy.”

    This time it was undeniable. I saw it on television – the word Judenrein emerging from under his moustache like a giant bug. Like in one of those sci-fi movies where the archaeologists uncover an ancient nest of insects, the Judenrein insect doesn’t emerge all alone. No, it’s followed by a black swarm of outsize bugs that darken the sky. If the minister was talking about making Israel Arab-rein, just which Arabs was he referring to – those from Jaffa? Acre? Umm al-Fahm? Nazareth? Rahat?” Haaretz

    http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-1.773228

  11. Ossinev
    February 24, 2017, 4:16 pm

    BTW Has any one let Donald know that he and his wonderful new Americans First America can be manoeuvred easily by Herr Yahoo you know that cocky little Jewish person who he invited to the White House recently:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrtuBas3Ipw

    He should be told.

  12. JLewisDickerson
    February 28, 2017, 3:39 am

    RE: “Trump has reminded Palestinians that it was always about one state”

    SEE: “Fighting Settlers’ Impunity and Immunity”, by Pierre Klochendler, Inter Press Service, 12/16/11

    [EXCERPT]. . . The Israeli occupation, particularly the future of wildcat settlements built by settlers without formal government approval has been a simmering issue ever since their creation during the 1990s.

    In 2005, former head of the State Prosecution Criminal Department Talia Sasson published a landmark report on the question. Commissioned by then prime minister Ariel Sharon, the report found the Israeli government guilty of “institutional lawbreaking”* and of the theft of private Palestinian land to covertly establish over a hundred “illegal outposts”.

    The damning irony is that the “outposts” were a 1997 initiative by none but Sharon himself, then foreign Minister under Netanyahu, who’d urged settlers to seize hilltops in order to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

    The report recommended criminal investigation against those allegedly involved in the scheme, but it was shelved. Repeated injunctions have since pressed successive governments to address the issue. . .

    ENTIRE ARTICLE – http://original.antiwar.com/klochendler/2011/12/15/fighting-settlers-impunity-and-immunity/

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