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A bi-national, democratic state is the only option Israel and Kerry has left us with

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“Bad Faith and Futile Conflict Management” — that’s the headline I would give to the extraordinary events of the past couple days: the vote in the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlement; Kerry’s speech tonight on the necessity of saving the two-state solution; and Netanyahu’s reaction to both.

The fact that neither Kerry nor the international community can get beyond the defunct two-state solution demonstrates two things. First, the only reason the two-state solution CANNOT be obtained is because of the lack of will of the international community – with the US at the head – to force Israel out of the 22% of historic Palestine which is occupied. Neither the US nor any other government nor the UN has ever threatened Israel with meaningful sanctions if it remained in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). Why? The US and Europe imposed severe sanctions on Russia when it took (back) the Crimea. Why is Israel allowed to keep the OPT? Kerry in his speech even opposed BDS, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS) of civil society. As long as the will to force Israel out of the OPT is lacking and sanctions ruled out, Israel wins.

Matrix of control map

Matrix of control map

Second, governments do not resolve conflicts; they merely manage them or, by taking sides, make them worse. Just look at Syria. If the two-state solution is dead, its because the US and all other governments did nothing to stop land expropriation, settlement building, the imprisonment of the Palestinians in tiny enclaves of Areas A, B and Gaza, the destruction of Palestinian agriculture and economy, home demolitions, Israeli highway and infrastructure construction that has irrevocably incorporated the OPT into Israel proper and all the rest. Just look at the map I made of Israel’s Matrix of Control and you’ll see there is nothing left of what would have been a Palestinian state (Don’t even bother trying to decipher the map, its point is clear.)

Not only did Israel eliminate the two-state solution, but we have what Kerry warned us about: one apartheid state. Israel has expanded onto 85% of historic Palestine. The Palestinians, half the population of the country today even without the return of the refugees, are locked into enclaves on only 10% of the land – Kerry’s “Swiss cheese” analogy. They lack all civil, national and human rights.

All this represents bad faith on the part of governments. Like Kerry, they all talk about “both sides.” It is a false symmetry, and they know it. Palestinian resistance is labelled “violence” and “terrorism,” while the terrorism of Israeli settlers towards Palestinians, backed by the official, pro-active state terrorism of the Israeli army and policies of displacement and home demolitions, are framed by Kerry & Co. as “legitimate security measures” and “Israel’s right to defend itself.” That is bad faith. Trying to present a symmetry between the oppressed and the oppressor, especially when the latter is a state with one of the most powerful militaries in the world (and a nuclear power), is not only disingenuous; it is knowingly dishonest.

The policies of every Israel government are also examples of bad faith – though that of Itzhak Shamir and his clone Netanyahu take the cake. Netanyahu’s response to both the UN vote and Kerry’s speech was worthy of his other clone’s (Trump’s) post-truth. The “true” reason the conflict cannot be resolved is not settlements or occupation, says Netanyahu, but the Palestinian’s refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state. (Kerry also echoes this when he says that Israel can be “Jewish and democratic,” an obvious oxymoron.)

In fact – and its worth focusing on this, because it “pro-Israeli” apologists will raise it ad naseum – the Palestinians recognized the state of Israel 30 years ago. That was the basis of the Oslo peace process. Netanyahu then raised the bar: the Palestinians had to recognize Israel as a Jewish state. Not only was no other country asked to do that (not Egypt or Jordan), but such a recognition would have prejudiced the civil rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel who are fighting for equal rights in a normal democracy. And what the character of Israel is should be an internal matter, not one Palestinian non-citizens should determine. Whether the US will become officially a White Christian ethnocracy or struggle to retain its multiculturalism is of concern to everyone. But it is a matter for Americans to decide, not others. Demanding that the Palestinian recognize Israel as “Jewish” is simply another trick of Netanyahu’s to blame the Palestinians for the stalemate. The Obama Administration bought it. Interestingly, when Netanyahu first suggested this to Bush and Condoleeza Rice, he was laughed out of their offices.

Suffice it to say that a just peace will not come from Israel (bad faith) or governments (conflict management mixed with bad faith), or from the collaborationist Palestinian Authority. (It is truly sad but telling that rather than lending his voice to the discussion Abbas simply sent a one-liner saying he would resume negotiations if Israel stopped settlement construction. The PA is not even in the game.) A just resolution will only come when Palestinians and their Israeli allies come together pro-actively, in good faith and with a determination to resolve the situation justly. And it will take the form of a one-state solution – a bi-national, democratic state – because that is the only option Israel and Kerry have left us with.

Jeff Halper

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD) and a member of the One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC). He can be reached at [email protected]

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22 Responses

  1. just on December 29, 2016, 12:36 pm

    “Suffice it to say that a just peace will not come from Israel (bad faith) or governments (conflict management mixed with bad faith), or from the collaborationist Palestinian Authority. (It is truly sad but telling that rather than lending his voice to the discussion Abbas simply sent a one-liner saying he would resume negotiations if Israel stopped settlement construction. The PA is not even in the game.)”

    The “PA” is under Israeli Occupation, and so is Hamas. What can they do?

    Palestinians are routinely murdered, jailed indefinitely, and maimed by Israel. Their voices, crying for truth and justice, are silenced~ one way or another. Just have a look & listen at the newspapers and television and radio ‘news’. It’s clearly zio-tilted.

    Israel is a belligerent and thieving apartheid ‘state’. Many of their elected leaders make violent calls for continued injustice and theft, and the US remains mightily complicit.

    (What the heck is Fatou Bensouda and her ICC doing???)

  2. HarryLaw on December 29, 2016, 4:42 pm

    just, “What the heck is Fatou Bensouda and her ICC doing???” Good question,

    The ICC are at present conducting a preliminary investigation and recently put out a report… “Another issue where Bensouda took the Palestinians’ side is regarding Jerusalem’s status.

    She mentioned Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem, as she had in her 2015 report, but for the first time added, “The UN Security Council and International Court of Justice, among others, have regarded the annexation of east Jerusalem as a violation of the jus cogens norm prohibiting the acquisition of territory by military force.”

    While it is unclear what impact her statement about Jerusalem’s status will have on the war crimes examinations, it may show her leaning toward viewing Israel’s settlement enterprise as illegal as much of the world does, and perhaps even as war crimes.

    Whether settlements built since June 2014, the start of the period Bensouda is examining, constitute war crimes is a central issue of the ICC probe. The Palestinians say they are war crimes while Israel argues that they are disputed areas whose status can only be resolved by negotiations between the parties”.

    • Sibiriak on December 30, 2016, 2:41 am

      Meanwhile, the ICC’s credibility –and finances–are under attack:

      Top lawyer warns withdrawal of countries and limiting of funding threaten future of tribunal – and entire post-1945 settlement

      Three African states have begun withdrawing from its jurisdiction, raising fears that a succession of others will follow suit. Russia has removed its signature from the founding statute, the Philippines and Kenya are openly contemplating departure and key member nations – including the UK – have limited its funding.

      * * *

      […]The most immediate threat is the move by Burundi, South Africa and the Gambia, which in the last quarter of 2016 have all served notice of intention to withdraw, citing complaints that ICC prosecutions focus excessively on the African continent.

      Their exits, which will come into force a year after they served notice, will leave 121 member states that have ratified the 1998 Rome statute. China, the US, India, Russia, Indonesia and Israel are among those who have refused membership.

      * * *
      Bensouda urged support for the court’s proposed 7% increase in its annual budget of just over €147m. There was, however, concerted resistance to the plans even from normally supportive states, which pared it back to 3%.

      Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch both criticised resistance by the UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and other countries to the increase on the grounds of the global financial crisis and inefficiencies in the court.

      * * *

      The ICC – motto “peace through justice” – has opened 10 full-scale investigations since 2004 into former presidents, politicians and warlords, all but one involving crimes allegedly committed in Africa. The only non-African investigation is into claims of war crimes in South Ossetia after the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.

      The ICC’s 10 separate, preliminary examinations cover a broader geographical area: Afghanistan, Burundi, Colombia, Gabon, Guinea, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestine, the Gaza flotilla and Ukraine. The Iraq examination is into the conduct of British troops following the 2003 invasion; the Afghan inquiry could target both US and Taliban forces.

  3. amigo on December 29, 2016, 7:40 pm

    Ali Abunimah has a very good article up at EI .He points out the underlying racist elements of Obama,s and Kerry,s proposed resolution .

    • Talkback on December 30, 2016, 8:01 am

      Abunimah’s reference to the Dayton peace agreement is priceless!

      “5. Refugees and Displaced Persons. All refugees and displaced persons have the right freely to return to their homes of origin. They have the right, in accordance with Annex 7 to the General Framework Agreement, to have restored to them property of which they were deprived in the course of hostilities since 1991 and to be compensated for any such property that cannot be restored to them. Any commitments or statements relating to such property made under duress are null and void.”

  4. Sibiriak on December 29, 2016, 7:54 pm

    A just resolution will only come when Palestinians and their Israeli allies come together pro-actively, in good faith and with a determination to resolve the situation justly.

    For all Halper’s hardcore realism regarding the “matrix of control”, this is a liberal pipe-dream.

    How many real Israeli allies do the Palestinians have? What power do they have? Israel has slid into ethnocentric madness. Its delusional to think that the “good faith and determination” of a minuscule progressive alliance can produce a just solution.

    Outside pressure from the international community is essential, even if states are acting in “bad faith”, and the result is less than fully just.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on December 29, 2016, 11:49 pm

      And unless the US economy crashes to a Depression era level and our influence wanes, the American people will need to be exposed to the truth about Israel’s harm to American interests if things are to change.

      • rosross on December 30, 2016, 6:43 pm


        What ‘influence’ ? The US clearly has not a whit of influence over the rampaging of the rogue Israeli State and while it meddles, it clearly does not have much influence even with its massive military power, having lost its wars in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan etc., adding nothing to the world but chaos and misery. Some influence.

      • Atlantaiconoclast on December 31, 2016, 10:10 am

        We don’t use leverage against Israel was my point, but there is that potential that remains until our economy crashes so hard that Israel will no longer assume it can depend on us.

    • HarryLaw on December 30, 2016, 10:25 am

      Sibiriak. Too true, Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister declared on 22 May 2015 just after her appointment, She wants a Greater Israel encompassing the present
      Israel plus the West Bank she delivered a speech to Israeli diplomats, justifying this on the grounds that God had promised the land of Israel to the Jews and asserting:
      “This land is ours. All of it is ours. We did not come here to apologize for that.”

      • rosross on December 30, 2016, 6:51 pm

        The delusion on which UN mandated Israel was founded is that a religion can confer land rights. It doesn’t. It never did. Jews have no rights to land anywhere in the world. Neither do Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Jains, any religion.

        Palestine belongs to the Palestinians and in the one-state solution some, or many Israelis might remain to become citizens of the new democratic State, but the Palestinians will be a majority and the State is most likely to be called what it has been for thousands of years, Palestine, and at that point, people will cry and cheer and rejoice as they did when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down.

        One can have compassion for those involved in the delusional colonial experiment carried out by Zionists in Palestine, but that does not and never did make it right or sensible.

        Sane Israelis who can leave their religious bigotry behind will become citizens of the new State and live a better life without occupation, colonisation and apartheid.

    • rosross on December 30, 2016, 6:47 pm

      One wonders if the labels Israeli and Palestinian were replaced by German and Poland, or Japan and China, if anyone of sound mind would have considered that….

      ‘a just resolution will only come when ….. and their ……allies, come together proactively, in good faith, and with determination to resolve the situation justly.’

      What occupier has ever cared about justice or good faith? Occupiers care about occupying and colonisers care about colonising and Israel only cares about Jewish Israelis.

      Occupied peoples are powerless. Israel has all of the power and all of the responsibility.

      Israel is the aggressor and always has been. The Palestinians have justice, time and numbers on their side and that will always triumph over a debased coloniser.

    • chinese box on January 2, 2017, 11:03 am

      I have a lot of respect for Halper, it takes balls to go against the grain like he does in a society like Israel that prizes groupthink, and for so many years. It’s remarkable that he hasn’t given up the fight and left for another country and no one would blame him if he did.

      But I agree, it’s a pipe dream at this point. It seems like his (and Gideon Levy’s) main function is observing and cataloguing what is going on, try as they might to effect real change in that country. Israel seems to be growing more insular as time passes.

  5. rosross on December 30, 2016, 6:38 pm

    Why is the reference made to a bi-national State, when, as a democracy it won’t be bi-national, but one nationality, whatever the new nation is called.

    At present there are Israelis who are citizens of UN mandated Israel, many of whom are Jewish but most of whom are not really Jewish, as atheist or secular, and nearly a quarter of whom are not Jewish by religion, and there are Palestinians, most of whom are Muslim, but many of whom are Christian.

    So, a new democratic State, whatever it is called, will, like all democracies have citizens of various religions and race and nationality. It will just be a democratic State, like any other democratic State although now free of religious bigotry and the belief that followers of Judaism are superior and must be in control.

    Israelis who cannot cope with Judaism being relegated below democratic principles, can return to the countries they, their parents or grandparents left to colonise Palestine. As indeed many young Israelis are already doing because they choose not to live in an apartheid occupying State.

    • Atlantaiconoclast on December 31, 2016, 10:15 am

      Many? I hope that is true, but do you have figures to document this?

      • Mooser on December 31, 2016, 12:08 pm

        “Many? I hope that is true, but do you have figures to document this?”

        You can find those with the figures concerning the Palestinian viewpoint on Fox news, “even at the height of the suicide bombings in Israel”

    • chinese box on January 2, 2017, 1:28 pm

      I agree. “Bi national state” is an empty concept.

  6. JLWarner on December 30, 2016, 9:07 pm


    You should learn a bit about bi-national states before you condemn them. Almost every “democratic” state is bi-national, including the U.S., Canada, U.K., China, Iran, Lebanon, Switzerland, and so on. Bi-national means there is some special rights given to non-majority groups. For example, the states in the U.S.

    As applied to Israel-Palestine, a bi-national state will assure rights for Palestinians and maybe other groups like Bedouins. There are dozens of way that might be accomplished.

    • Sibiriak on December 30, 2016, 10:30 pm

      JLWarner: Almost every “democratic” state is bi-national

      Or multinational, to be precise.

      Cf. Nationalities and regions of Spain

      In Spanish jurisprudence, the concept nationality appears for the first time in the current constitution, approved in 1978, and after much debate in the Spanish Parliament.[8][9]

      Although it was explicitly understood that the term made reference to Galicia, the Basque Country and Catalonia,[4][5][8][10] the constitution does not specify any by name. Between the strong centralist position inherited from Franco’s regime and the nationalist position mainly from the Galicians, Basques, and Catalans, that term came about as a consensus and was applied in their respective Statutes of Autonomy once all nationalities and regions acceded to self-government or autonomy and were constituted as autonomous communities.

  7. Theo on January 2, 2017, 8:12 am

    Yes, a two state solution would have worked, before 1967!!
    Anyone, who today takes these words in his mouth, is kidding itself and his fellow believers, as anyone with a little brain in his head knows that the zionist expansions after the 1967 war and the consequent settling of palestinian real estate made any such idea impossible! The West Bank looks like a swiss cheese, in the holes live the palestinian majority, but has no connection to other areas, unless they surpass jews only areas and get shot doing it!

    My idea of the solution that will not taste any zionist:
    1. Jews must go back to the 1948 borders approved by the UN.
    2. Zionist settlers, who still live in the forgone past, must return to the lands where they came from, because with them there is no chance for a peaceful coexistance.
    3. Palestinian refugees return to the vacated settlements on the WB and in Jerusalem.
    4. Jerusalem will be declared a holy city, free of zionist and moslem politics, and governed by an elected body of christians, moslems and jews. (Similar to the Vatican).
    5. Israel and Palestina, within their new borders, will be democratic countries, where religion and races will not guarantee a better life and where politics and religion will be separated. Rabbis and mullahs have no voices in politics.

    Now it is an open season, shoot me for above idea, what in my opinion is the only real choice, beside wars for the next hundred years or so. Israel cannot win all of them, even GB, a superpower once, eventually had to leave the colonies.

  8. Maghlawatan on January 2, 2017, 11:38 am

    There would be a simple solution. Swap the West Bank for half of the Negev and the Galilee.
    90% of Israeli Jews live between the 2 . Let the Zionists brainwash their kids and let the palestinians develop their 2 areas.

  9. Maghlawatan on January 2, 2017, 11:50 am

    WTF did Zionists expect anyway? If they want all the land they have to take all the people. No bullshit about Gaza either.

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