In a rare display of unanimity, Arab and Jewish Jerusalemites agreed that abandoning a two-state solution for one state would invariably result in violence, as well as an Arab majority.
On Thursday, one day after US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Washington press conference raised the possibility of jettisoning the one-time pillar of peace talks, a cross-section of residents predicted institutionalized “chaos.”
“I don’t believe that one state is the right thing for us, because we’ll have an Arab prime minister and there will no longer be a Jewish state,” said Sarit, a middle-aged Jaffa Road boutique owner, who requested her last name not be published.
Trump edges away from two-state solution (credit: REUTERS)
“The other outcome would be apartheid, which is something we could never live with, so the only option is two states,” she continued. “People say they have Gaza and Jordan, but this is their home, and we have to recognize that they need to live here and have their own state.”
Already fearing Trump’s presidency, Arab resident Yasmina Quteb, 30, who lives in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur on the Mount of Olives, said she believes any intervention from Trump will backfire.
“Trump is going to make everything worse here, because everything he does is irrational,” said Quteb, who wore a black hijab while walking home with a friend from Zion Square.
“He’s not doing his own people good – he’s not doing the immigrants coming to his country any good – so I don’t think he’s going to do us any good, and I wish he would just stay out of it.”
Despite the promise from President Reuven Rivlin of equal rights for all citizens after Israel would annex the West Bank and absorb the 2.7 million Palestinians living there, Quteb predicted an Arab uprising.
“Making it into one state is going to cause chaos,” she said. “[Israel] has been divided for a long time, and if this happens it’s going to cause another intifada.”
Elias Capon, a 23-year-old salesman at a Mamilla Mall clothing store, said the sheer shock of the paradigm shift will be too difficult for most Israelis and Arabs to absorb.
“I don’t think it will work, because both sides are not used to the idea, and everyone born here was raised to believe in a two state-solution,” he said. “So, it’s like telling someone who was born black that he is now white.”
Citing chronic unrest in east Jerusalem – compounded by the absorption of nearly 3 million more Palestinians from the West Bank – Benny Rave, 34, who owns Anak Hacellular on Jaffa Road, predicted Israel would lose control of security as well as its Jewish majority.
“There will no longer be an Israeli country if this happens,” he said. “It will be ‘Palestine,’ like they say, which is an invented name and identity. I’d prefer them to leave Israel and go back to their roots, which is Jordan. Even their flag is almost identical to Jordan’s.”
Meanwhile, Rami Wakileh, a 41-year-old attorney and Christian Palestinian living in Pisgat Ze’ev, deemed the proposal for one state “the worst solution ever.”
“It’s bad for Israelis and for Palestinians, because in the end we’ll wind up with a state with no internal borders and no peace,” he said. “It would be two ideologically opposed nations living inside one nation, and in the past 100 years they haven’t solved the problem, so there is no reason to suppose one state will solve it. They are just postponing the problem by doing this.”
A two-state solution, Wakileh asserted, is the only viable means of resolving the conflict.
“It is the only way, because each nation would know exactly where they will live, and be able to live in a way where no one will interfere with difficult problems like religion, and beliefs that are not compatible.
It will be easier to keep each nation separated from the other and have normal relations like any other two states.”
Moreover, Wakileh echoed Israeli concerns of an inevitable Arab majority.
“It’s a very bad solution for Israelis, because Arabs will become the majority at some point and it will no longer be a Jewish state, which is what they want.”
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