This is part of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.
One State advocates are having a field day. They deserve it. After standing in the Two State shadow for decades, the mainstream media is running opinion pieces on the need for Israel/Palestine to become one democratic secular state for all its citizens, Jewish and Arab alike.
The recent prominent writings are by Ian Lustick, a professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania, and Yousef Munayyer who directs the Jerusalem Fund in Washington, D.C., and its educational program, the Palestine Center. Lustick’s ambivalence about whether the best solution is one or two states sounds like a John Kerry alarm. Time is running out for Israel to choose the Two State solution. Israel is surrounded by hostile forces and, with Palestinians and the world up in arms over Israel’s behavior, the recipe for catastrophe is undeniable. Munayyer is less ambivalent. He favors the One State option for a host of reasons but focuses primarily on the rights and needs of Palestinians to be free in their own homeland.
Left out of the discussion is the position presented by Danny Danon, a member of the Knesset and the Deputy Defense Minister of Israel, in an Op-Ed that appeared in the Saturday Times. He leads with the provocative title: “Israel Should Annul the Oslo Accords.”
Even while disagreeing with Danon’s argument, one can appreciate his caustic manner. Referring to the possible fallout of Israel annulling the Oslo Accords, Danon lambasts the peace process “industry”: “Little impact would be felt by average Israelis and Palestinians. Those who would suffer most would be full-time negotiators like Martin S. Indyk and Saeb Erekat, who would find themselves out of a job after 20 years of gainful employment in the peace process industry.”
Aside from some much needed criticism of the peace process and those who benefit from it, Danon is to the point. Oslo was a poorly conceived and thinly disguised arrangement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization that was bound to fail. What should replace it? Danon pulls no punches:
We should implement what I have called a “three-state solution.” In the future, the final status of the Palestinians will be determined in a regional agreement involving Jordan and Egypt, when the latter has been restabilized. All the region’s states must participate in the process of creating a long-term solution for the Palestinian problem.
Danon also has a short term plan:
In the short term, the Palestinians will continue to have autonomy over their civilian lives while Israel remains in charge of security throughout Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank. Following an initial period, the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria could continue to develop their society as part of an agreement involving Israel and Jordan. Similarly, Gaza residents could work with Israel and Egypt to create a society that granted them full civil authority over their lives in a manner that was acceptable to all sides.
Danon’s language and thinking is paternalistic. He writes from the victor’s point of view. The use of Judea and Samaria is Judeo-centric. Referring to the “Palestinian problem” others the Palestinians. Danon’s watchword is autonomy. Palestinians don’t merit anything more.
Many in the One State and Two State camps will have little time for Danon’s proposed Three State solution. With the window on the Two State solution already closed, the Three State solution seems absurd. After the laughter subsides, though, take a look at the geopolitics in the evolving Middle East.
Israel and its Middle East allies – yes, that’s right, Israel and its Middle East allies. With regard to Palestinians, Israel’s allies include Egypt and Jordan as Danon indicates but likewise Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Turkey. They’re the most obvious. A disciplined Syria and nuclear-free Iran will also join in the effort to contain Palestinians, if they haven’t already. With Syria soon to be in a new Russian-American political framework and Iran begging for the US sanctions against it to be lifted, Hezbollah will be on the hot seat. If all goes as planned, watch as Lebanon joins the ranks of Israel’s Middle East allies in the next decade.
The Three State solution. Get ready to acknowledge the political reality. Danon’s vision has already arrived.