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A lot of the grief over Shimon Peres is grief over the end of the two-state solution

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A lot of the grief over Shimon Peres is grief over the end of the two-state solution. The obsequies for Peres may be helpful to mainstream figures in coming to terms with a passing that is more tragic to them personally, and that so many have denied: the death of the idea of a viable Palestinian state alongside Israel.

And that is good news: because it is a reflection of reality.

Peres died at a time of growing signs that the U.S. establishment is waking up to realities that it has denied for a long time. There will be no Palestinian state. Israel will not withdraw from the occupation. We have entered the era of a binational state, and people should recalibrate their expectations, and their demands on the sovereign, the Israeli government.

This awareness is explicit in eulogies to Peres. Roger Cohen has a very good column today; because he writes sincerely about his love for something that has passed and acknowledges that the dream of an idealistic Israel has died in the eyes of the world:

I began by saying that a void fills the soul. It does, for those like myself who love Israel. But because of the politics of the past two decades, fewer people love Israel today, more people are reflexively hostile. In Peres, a noble idea of the Jewish State clung on against the dismal tide.

And now?

Tom Friedman is also woeful over an Israel that was once a “miracle” to him. The column is echt Friedman because he needs to tell us how close he was to Peres (and do some neoliberal networking/namedropping, too), but remember that a few days ago Friedman told Israeli tv that there is only one state in Israel/Palestine and the New York Times stylebook should reflect that reality.

Bibi [Netanyahu] won. He is now the father of one-state Israel. He is the Prime Minister of Israel-Palestine. He wants it; I think he should own it. I think the New York Times should change our stylebook and we should call him, ‘The Prime Minister of Israel-Palestine.’

Wonderful. Maybe the Times will listen.

Now let me go through other signs of this growing awareness.

The US Embassy sends out a Jewish new year’s gift that includes settler wine. Then it apologizes saying it didn’t know; but the fact is that the settlements are so normalized inside Israeli society that who would know?

And people are so upset over Donald Trump’s advisers saying that Israel should annex the West Bank; but the Democratic Party this summer removed any reference to “occupation” and “settlements” from the platform at the bidding of Hillary Clinton, in transparent deference to big donors (demonstrating, as I used to say here all the time, the occupation is a Jewish American achievement). But there you have it. There is no Green Line, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are amalgamated into Israel.

Rudy Giuliani says that the United States should “reject the whole notion of a two-state solution in Israel,” and in an unconscious reflection of this understanding, Politico publishes a piece on Trump’s campaigning in “Israel’s West Bank.” (And later corrects the error).

Bloomberg’s David Wainer shows what that means in an excellent piece about Israel’s surveillance regime in the West Bank, which is so pervasive it makes an organized Palestinian uprising all but impossible. The piece is a picture of ruthless sovereignty:

Israel’s grip on the territory, underpinned by granular surveillance methods that eavesdrop on phone calls and read text messages, is far more extensive than in previous decades. Based on high-tech monitoring methods, combined with human intelligence that includes a discreet but fertile cooperation with Palestinian security services, multiple raids occur nightly…

That piece is a bookend to Vox’s vapid piece on Jewish settlers that exonerates them of religious or nationalist fervor, as if they are all suburbanites in Westchester County. Adam Johnson of FAIR skewered that piece: “Vox explainer is 90% real estate ad; doesnt talk to one palestinian.”

But again: it’s the same understanding that Politico and Bloomberg reflect, “Israel’s West Bank.”

And statespeople know it. In the New York Review of Books, Nathan Thrall writes that Obama White House officials now divide over the question of whether the two-state solution “is dying or already dead,” and that the reluctance by some of them to engage in the so-called peace process reflects the understanding that it is a charade that “gives new life to the lie of a ‘temporary occupation’… as Israel gobbles up more of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

As a general says in Wainer’s Bloomberg piece, Israel is becoming “the world champions of occupation.” While Haaretz’s Barak Ravid reports that John Kerry became extremely agitated with Israeli counterparts last week over the country’s intransigence about settlements and the inevitability of a binational state in Israel and Palestine.

“Now, every single terrible act of violence, every new settlement announcement, takes us not closer to peace; they take us closer to a one-state solution,” he said. “That is no solution. It is an invitation to perpetual conflict. And as Shimon Peres himself said, it will bring one war, not one state.

Make no mistake about it, I believe that is the risk if we continue on the current course.”….“How does increasing the number of settlers indicate an attempt to create a Palestinian state?” Kerry asked, raising his voice. “The status quo is not sustainable. So either we mean it and we act on it, or we should shut up.”

Of course when Obama had a chance to do something about it, in 2011, with the UN Security Council resolution against settlements, he vetoed the resolution. Actions have consequences. Kerry was angered that there are now nearly 100,000 more Jewish settlers than there were a few years ago, but the US government was complicit.

Some of Kerry’s rage seems mere fulmination:

Kerry concluded by saying that Israelis and Palestinians are at a crossroads. “Either we reverse course and take serious steps on the path to a two-state solution, or the momentum of existing actions will carry us further toward an intractable one-state reality that nobody wants and nobody really thinks can work.

The fact is that others have moved on to a binational reality, and a demand for equal rights. Long ago, Ilene Cohen began signing her emails, 1S1P1V, for one state, one person, one vote. Sam Bahour makes this case in the Cleveland Plain Dealer this week:

If Israel is imposing upon us one state, then we Palestinians insist that it be one state with equal rights for all and not a continuation of the apartheid policies we now endure.

Anyone who has been to the West Bank and East Jerusalem and Gaza knows that Palestinians are rightsless. They don’t control their own back yards, let alone have the right to vote for the government that determines so much of their fortunes. The failure of the American mainstream to acknowledge these realities is an atrocity; though when it at last accepts this reality, there is a good chance that it will confront the Jim Crow/apartheid conditions of Palestinians, and the ethnocentric character of the regime that created those conditions. As Yakov Hirsch says, Israel has a lot bigger problems than the end of the two-state solution.

Zionists genuinely loved Shimon Peres. He reminded them of the ideals of their youth. As long as he was alive, he was the living picture of Oslo, and they could believe in a mirage: an enduring Jewish democracy. His death will serve an important function, closing that chapter forever.

Thanks to Todd Pierce, Allison Deger and Naomi Dann.

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10 Responses

  1. HarryLaw
    September 29, 2016, 3:58 pm

    Professor Finkelstein is right , if Israel will not accept a two state solution, with the implication of a Jewish majority state [within the 67 borders] for the foreseeable future, then they are certainly not going to allow one state to come about. A series of Bantustans [a form of Home rule] with no sovereignty or ability to govern themselves in any meaningful way etc with the power to at most employ security forces [as now] to keep order under Israeli military patronage, all the while being surrounded by settlements and barbed wire. No, I think the Israelis have transfer on the agenda or some other partition arrangement, as a substantial part of the Israeli electorate want. It could be possible in the event of a large war breaking out, which could give the hawks every incentive to do ‘the unthinkable’. At the present time, if the US/GCC and Turkish coalition were to achieve its aims in Syria, ‘regime change’, a whole new vista would open up. Hezbollah would be destroyed, then Israel, Saudi Arabia and the US could try to face down Iran. The only hope for the Palestinians is that Assad prevails [he will] and the balance of power shifts away from the bigoted sectarian regimes in the Gulf, which in turn would put tremendous pressure on Israel to come to a more reasonable compromise with its neighbors.

    • ritzl
      September 29, 2016, 5:36 pm

      Great points HarryLaw. My quibble is that Jewish Israel doesn’t poseess the option to “allow” anything. while there may have been the element of choice that “allow” implies, it no longer exists. The choice has been made.

      The perimeter of Israel (or Israel-Palestine, or better, Palestine-Israel) defined by decades of force as “river to sea.” It exists currently as one state. What happens now, from bantustans, to inarguably/legally/recognizable Apartheid-Hafrada-Jim Crow, to unambiguous and precedented international condemnation, to equal rights struggle (successful), is going to occur within that one state just as it did in the US and South Africa. It’s quacking like the proverbial duck.

      You’re right about Assad of course as a best hope for focusing the attention inward on the new state and the rights struggle I would just add that if Assad doesn’t prevail and Jewish-Israel, as its only solution, starts transporting (intentional allusion) Palestinians from their homes to Israel’s head-chopping, liver-eating, throat-slitting, alive-burning allies in Syria for them to do as they see fit with them, I believe that even the currently assertively complacent governments of the world would recoil and act. The Holocaust parallels would be too strong to ignore.

      IDK. It seems pretty clear that Jewish-Israel has cemented its own demise (as they see it). They’ll resist that outcome (Equal rights? Ugh.) mightily of course, but I’m not sure they have any alternatives but to ultimately acquiesce (That is if they genuinely value living in their “historical homeland” at all. Fact is probably half++ will move back to Brooklyn rather than share.).


  2. HarryLaw
    September 29, 2016, 4:14 pm

    “The US Embassy sends out a Jewish new year’s gift that includes settler wine. Then it apologizes saying it didn’t know; but the fact is that the settlements are so normalized inside Israeli society that who would know?” Who would know indeed, Netanyahu just held a cabinet meeting on the Golan Heights and declared the Golan Heights would always be part of Israel, then tried to get Obama to agree with him [to no avail], maybe Obama remembered that 1981 UNSC Resolution, 497 ..“That the acquisition of territory by force was inadmissible and that Israel’s decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the Golan Heights is null and void and without legal effect”.

  3. ritzl
    September 29, 2016, 4:51 pm

    GREAT article!

    Now it all begins in earnest.

    • annie
      September 29, 2016, 8:21 pm

      i agree, great article and round up.

      thanks phil.

  4. jon s
    jon s
    September 30, 2016, 10:12 am

    “We have entered the era of a binational state”.
    I’m curious as to whether Phil -or anyone else – knows of any Palestinians who agree to the concept of a binational state.

    • dgfincham
      September 30, 2016, 2:14 pm

      Thank you jon for raising this point. Palestine was a bi-national state from 1922 when it became a defined political entity until 1948 when the State of Israel was declared within the territory specified in the UN Partition Plan. The Palestinians rejected partition and the aim of the PLO was always to re-unite Palestine into a single democratic state with protection for the minority Jewish community. It was Yaser Arafat who eventually decided that the Palestinians had no alternative but to accept the continued existence of Israel, thus accepting the necessity for a two-state solution. He did however say that if there was a two-state reality he would continue to work for re-unification by political means. This is the process I have suggested in another comment on this page.

      • jon s
        jon s
        October 1, 2016, 5:12 pm

        Dr. Fincham,
        In the period 1922-1948 Palestine was administerd by the British as a League of Nations mandate, so I don’t think that it can be referred to as a “state”- bi national or otherwise – in that period.

        The bi-national concept was promoted by groups like “Brit Shalom” (a “dovish” organization, in present-day terminology) and the Zionist-Socialist Hashomer Hatzair movement, prior to 1948.
        My question was serious: is there any Palestinian support for a bi-national state today?

      • talknic
        October 1, 2016, 9:05 pm

        @ jon s October 1, 2016, 5:12 pm

        “In the period 1922-1948 Palestine was administerd by the British as a League of Nations mandate, so I don’t think that it can be referred to as a “state”- bi national or otherwise – in that period.”

        You’ve been shown what the LoN Covenant and the Mandate for Palestine say several times, yet you continue to bullsh*t. You say you’re a teacher. One might be forgiven surely of thinking you teach bullsh*t or that you bullsh*t about being a teacher, because you display the intellect of an imbecile.

        1) The State of Palestine’s ‘recognition’ was conditional. Recognition is entirely dependent on something 1st existing. Example: Israel existed before it was recognized.
        A) See the Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States “The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states.” )
        B) See the Lon Covenant

        LoN Covenant 1919
        ARTICLE 22.

        To those colonies and territories which as a consequence of the late war have ceased to be under the sovereignty of the States which formerly governed them and which are inhabited by peoples not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world, there should be applied the principle that the well-being and development of such peoples form a sacred trust of civilisation and that securities for the performance of this trust should be embodied in this Covenant. (later adopted into the UN Charter as Chapt XI)

        Certain communities formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone. The wishes of these communities must be a principal consideration in the selection of the Mandatory.

        Other peoples, especially those of Central Africa …

        I don’t believe Palestine was in Central Africa


        LoN Mandate for Palestine ART. 7.

        The Administration of Palestine shall be responsible for enacting a nationality law. There shall be included in this law provisions framed so as to facilitate the acquisition of Palestinian citizenship by Jews who take up their permanent residence in Palestine.

        The Nationality Law was adopted in 1925. Palestine was a Nation State when it was partitioned by default of Israel unilaterally proclaiming itself independent of Palestine, effective 00:01 May 15th 1948 (ME time)

        BTW …. Thanks again for affording the opportunity to show readers just how empty Ziopuke can be. Keep up the good work

  5. dgfincham
    September 30, 2016, 11:10 am

    The two-state solution is not dead: it is only one UNSC resolution away. The two states already exist as legal recognized entities. According to UNSCR 242, Israel forces must withdraw from territory outside the 1949 Green Line. There must be an enforceable resolution demanding an end to the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza. There is a majority for this in the Security Council: only the US veto stands in the way. Once Palestine has gained its freedom the two nations discuss as equals their future relationship and the ‘final status issues’ of Jerusalem, the settlers, the refugees and the mutual border. The negotiations might end up with two sovereign states; some kind of confederation; or even a voluntary union of two nations into a single state with a defined but open border between them (cf. Scotland & England). Neither Israel nor Palestine is going to allow itself to be absorbed by the other.

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