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What Comes Next: Unlikely, unrealistic, or unimaginable?

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This post is part of “What Comes Next?: A forum on the end of the two-state paradigm.” This series was initiated by Jewish Voice for Peace as an investigation into the current state of thinking about one state and two state solutions, and the collection has been further expanded by Mondoweiss to mark 20 years since the Oslo process. The entire series can be found here.

By failing to secure Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s agreement to a settlement freeze in preparation for restarting direct Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, President Obama most likely put the final nail in the coffin of the two-state solution of the conflict. His willingness to accept public humiliation by the prime minister of a client state further suggests that the president is unlikely to spend the political capital required to resolve the conflict on terms close to the international consensus. The outlines of that consensus are well-known and close to President Clinton’s 2000 “parameters” – a potential source of legitimacy for Obama if he wanted it: Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with mutually agreed minor territorial modifications, East Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state, and Israel’s acknowledgment of the Palestinian refugees’ right to return but its limited implementation. During secret talks in the term of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, the Palestinian leadership agreed to far less than this, but was rebuffed – a clear indication that Israel has no interest in a settlement of this sort.

whatcomesnextverticalThe U.S. might ply Israel with sufficient weapons and guarantees to secure Israeli withdrawal from truncated parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu has expressed willingness to call such territories, which would lack economic viability and many basic attributes of sovereignty, a “Palestinian state.” No Palestinian political leader or substantial sector of Palestinian opinion is likely to agree to this.

To be credible, those who still advocate two states must reject this “Bibistan” solution and promote international pressure on Israel – BDS is the most available tool, since the U.S. is unwilling to withhold military aid – to secure Israel’s agreement to a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. Anything less is complicity with Israel’s occupation and settlement-expansion agenda.

With the traditional two-state solution becoming an ever less realistic option, the one-state solution – a democratic state where Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs would enjoy equal civic rights – has gained traction. This seems even more unlikely than the two-state solution. One-state proponents often say that a non-racial, democratic South Africa was implausible only a few years before it was achieved. There are legitimate comparisons between Israel and South Africa. But this is not one of them. Jews still comprise the demographic majority (barely) in historic Palestine; in 2001 whites comprised less than 10% of South Africa’s population. More importantly, Israel has the unlimited support of the United States and the complicity of important European states (primarily Germany, for obvious reasons). Unlike western support for apartheid South Africa, this is popular among enough Americans to make it a required position for candidates for the presidency and most congressional seats.

If two-states and one-state are both unlikely in the foreseeable future, then what? The great majority of Palestinians now living in historic Palestine – under occupation or as Israeli citizens – are not leaving. Their issue remains on the international agenda; stability in the Middle East requires its resolution. International solidarity efforts should focus on supporting them politically in the continuing struggles against occupation (the separation barrier, freedom of movement) and inequality (equal rights for Palestinian citizens of Israel). Joint Palestinian-Israeli struggle around these issues, which has been intensifying since 2000, along with international support, can alter both the balance of power and perceptions. Just and sustainable solutions unimaginable or unrealistic today may then become possible.

Joel Beinin

Joel Beinin is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University.  His most recent books are Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa 2nd edition (Stanford University Press, 2013), co-edited with Frédéric Vairel and The Struggle for Worker Rights in Egypt (Solidarity Center, 2010).

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16 Responses

  1. seafoid on October 14, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Unlimited support of United States and complicit support of Europe. But forever? Does Israel have generational change hedged?

  2. seafoid on October 14, 2013, 3:59 pm

    And is Israeli society disciplined enough to run apartheid and comply with international pariah standards in perpetuity? I think Israeli endurance is overrated. Bots really care about how they are perceived. Hasbara is the proof. They are happy to be cruel motherfuckers but it is not supposed to be public knowledge.

  3. HarryLaw on October 14, 2013, 5:46 pm

    It beggars belief that a Professor of middle east history can say that BDS is the most available tool to pressure the Israeli government, in my opinion the ICC is the best and immediately available tool to do that, but for unknown reasons [probably dire threats from Israel/US] Abbas will not do it.

  4. Walid on October 14, 2013, 7:13 pm

    For as long as Palestinian leaders and other Arab states are dancing to its tune, it could. Look how Bachir, Gadaffi, Morsi, Assad, and the Emir were popped up one by one. If the day comes when Arab leaders have had enough of Israel, then the US and its Euro friends would suddenly change their policies.

  5. Mike_Konrad on October 14, 2013, 8:26 pm

    Israel is set to become an energy exporter. Then she can do WHATEVER she wants. Like the Saudis with their gender segregation, monarchial tyranny, religious extemism, and support of Salafists in Syria.

    When you got oil, all is overlooked.

    Israel has won. This may be a good thing.

    • seafoid on October 15, 2013, 2:51 am

      Detroit won as well, Mike. But that was in the 50s.

    • Walid on October 15, 2013, 8:19 am

      Israel’s got a hell of a long way to go to be in the same class as Saudia with its oil and Qatar with its natural gas. Every other country now has natural gas especially Israel’s neighbours Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Egypt and even Palestine’s Gaza. All the reports I’ve been reading talk about a natural gas glut because there is so much of the stuff all over the place, not counting the shale production. By the time Israel starts pumping out the stuff, the production costs may outweigh the benefits.

    • eljay on October 15, 2013, 8:49 am

      >> Israel is set to become an energy exporter. Then she can do WHATEVER she wants. Like the Saudis with their gender segregation, monarchial tyranny, religious extemism, and support of Salafists in Syria. When you got oil, all is overlooked. Israel has won. This may be a good thing.

      The oppressive, colonialist, expansionist and supremacist “Jewish State” of Israel is poised to sink even further into injustice and immorality…and a Zio-supremacist cheers. (“Yay! We’re not better than Saudi Arabia or Mali anymore – now we’re just as bad as they are!”)

      These guys (and gals) never cease to amaze…

  6. Mike_Konrad on October 14, 2013, 8:59 pm

    Israel will never withdraw from Judea and Samaria (J&S).

    So there are five possibilities:

    1) She enfranchises the Arabs who live in J&S – highly unlikely
    2) She sets up a Kafkaesque police state arrangement – already exists
    3) She pays the Arabs to leave – best solution, but unlikely at this point
    4) She starts slow bureaucratic explusions – partly likely, by removals of residency
    5) Nuclear War

    #1 is highly unlikely, as Israel is determined to be a Jewish, not a binational state.

    #2 is what you have now. Apartheid is not exactly the correct term for it. The correct term is a Kafkaesque police state

    #3 some leaders have suggested paying the Arabs to leave – but most Jews seem adverse to it

    #4 Bureaucratic expulsions will happen. Students who study too long abroad, etc., will find that they cannot go home

    #5 Sadly this is possible.

    Rightly or wrongly, Israel will not budge on this.

    This is not prejudice, but fact. Israel is not a nuclear power because she intends to surrender.

    • Walid on October 15, 2013, 7:55 am

      “3) She pays the Arabs to leave – best solution, but unlikely at this point”

      Pay them to leave for where when you know damn well that there isn’t a country that would accept them. This is either idle talk or wishful thinking on the part of the Zionist barracudas desperate to show their benevolence. The one option not discussed by MK (no, not the unmanned aerial vehicle) is the one involving the Israeli population’s ongoing brainwashing into accepting the annihilation of the Palestinians as we discussed here last week about the Israeli education system teaching the kids from kindergarten age to hate and to kill Palestinians.

      It’s somewhat of an obscenity to read how Zionists refer to the pariah state as a “she”.

      • on October 15, 2013, 4:55 pm

        Take it from a proud Zionist – My kids went through Israeli kindergarten and school system and now the grands are in it and nowhere have I seen anything close to them being taught “to hate and kill Palestinians”. This is an absolutely dishonest information which has been assumed true on this blog.

    • eljay on October 15, 2013, 8:41 am

      >> … Israel is determined to be a Jewish, not a binational state. … Israel is not a nuclear power because she intends to surrender.

      In other words, Israel is a hard-core supremacist bitch with a volatile temper just waiting to be set off. And Zio-supremacists see this as a good thing.

    • RoHa on October 16, 2013, 9:04 pm

      “3) She pays the Arabs to leave – best solution, but unlikely at this point”

      “Pay them to leave for where when you know damn well that there isn’t a country that would accept them.”

      Here’s the solution.

      First pay the Danes to leave Denmark and go and settle in Sweden, Norway, and Finland. Plenty of room there, and they’re all Scandanavians (even if the Finns talk funny) so they’ll fit in and feel at home.

      Then pay the Palestinians to go into Denmark, which will have become a land without a people.

      No-one could possibly object to that, and since Israel is making so much money (according to fnlevit) the price would be no obstacle.

  7. thankgodimatheist on October 15, 2013, 8:24 am

    “It’s somewhat of an obscenity to read how Zionists refer to the pariah state as a “she”.”
    The mark of an idolater. MK is an Israel worshiper. Vomit!

  8. on October 15, 2013, 5:31 pm

    By the way talking about pariah state – it is only in the eyes of this blog and the BDSers. But in fact the attempts to turn this into reality are not exactly supported by the a very important part of the world – the investors.

    Just today it was announced that
    “Facebook acquires Israeli app maker Onavo, and opens a Tel Aviv office. After losing out to Google on acquiring Israeli Waze for $1.2 bln, Facebook is paying between $100 million and $200 million for Onavo”.

    It is happening now almost every week.

    “Samsung – the electronic giant of South Korea, launched international innovation and strategy center in Ramat Gan, expected to invest millions of dollars in companies and academia,7340,L-4342371,00.html

    IBM announced its acquisition of cyber-security firm Trusteer and Apple reportedly snatched up TV application Matcha. Globes estimated it at $630 million, while Army Radio reported it between $800m. and $1 billion.

    Warren Buffet purchased a third Israeli company Ray-Q Interconnect bringing his investment in Isreal to close to $7 bln. Buffett rarely buys non-US companies, so his three Israeli acquisitions are clearly a vote of confidence in the overall Israeli economy as well as an indirect endorsement of Israel’s human capital. Indeed, in the Ray-Q acquisition as in Buffett’s previous purchases, there will be no lay-offs or redundancies and the center of Ray-Q’s operations will remain in Lod

    And that goes on and on. So – it is not just exporting energy and being like old Detroit.

    And by the way let us not forget the developing ties with India.

    “Last year, Israel topped the list of arms suppliers to India—just as India officially became the globe’s largest arms importer. And it’s not just missiles and drones: India has increasingly leaned on Tel Aviv for high-tech warfare, scooping up the Phalcon airborne radar and advanced electronic surveillance systems along with equipment to retrofit now-rickety Soviet-era weaponry. In New Delhi, Israel is seen not just as a ready and competent supplier, but as a kindred nation. “India and Israel both imagine themselves as democracies under siege,”

    And with China (Samsung of South Korea I already mentioned).
    “China seeking technological edge in Israel.

    Chinese investors are looking at Israeli high-tech – medical devices, cleantech, environmental technology, food processing and agriculture. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett flew to China for his first official visit abroad. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu preceded Bennett with his high-profile visit to China at the beginning of his new term.
    In Israel, the Chinese are looking for technology and don’t care much how they get it. They want to invest, buy the technology and collaborate …. Israel is not a threat to the Chinese and make a natural partner. The Chinese are aware of the Israeli story and hold our abilities and culture in tremendous esteem,”

    So the “bots” are not waiting for you people to find out how to proceed. They just do things.

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