How will it all end?

There are only four options that will ultimately decide the fate of the territories

By
January 8, 2012 23:27
4 minute read.
A boy in the Yitzhar settlement

A boy in Yitzhar 311. (photo credit: (Reuters))

 
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In recent months the press has been flooded with articles by left-wing writers, including former Knesset Speaker Avrum Burg and author A.B. Yehoshua, who have argued that long-=standing Israeli settlement policy in the Territories has rendered a two-state solution irrelevant. The only remaining option, they say, is a single state west of the Jordan River.

Since Israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank without annexation is not a long-term option, and since these writers reject the option of a non-democratic Jewish state in “Greater Israel,” the only remaining options, in their opinion, are a bi-national state or “a state of all its citizens.”

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The idea of the bi-national state is based on the principle that it is not exclusively the national state of either of its two component nations, but that each group has basic national rights that are not dependent on its relative numerical strength.

The implementation of this concept can take various forms, including parity (a 50:50 distribution of parliamentary seats, government positions, seats on the Supreme Court, etc.) or separate institutions (for example – two separate national parliaments, in addition to a single joint parliament).

There have been several bi-national (or multinational) states of this sort. With the exception of Switzerland, however, all have failed (e.g. Czechoslovakia) or are in dire straits (e.g. Belgium).

The state-of-all-its-citizens solution, on the other hand, is based on the principle that all citizens have absolute equal rights on the personal level, irrespective of their national (or ethnic) affiliation or religion. As individuals each citizen has a right to belong to whichever religion or ethnic group he chooses, but as a collective each national group, and each religion is subject to the general laws of the state, which may, of course, grant them certain exclusive rights as well.

I don’t believe either of these two solutions is feasible today, for the simple reason that an overwhelming majority of Israelis insist on Israel remaining a national state, and among Palestinians who advocate these solutions today, the majority regard them as interim tools towards achieving the ultimate goal of an Arab state in the whole of Palestine.



But even if there were agreement as to the desirability of these solutions, their successful implementation requires a much deeper commitment to democracy, and willingness to forgo old dreams, than exists today either in Israel or among the Palestinians – whether in the Palestinian Authority or in Gaza.

If we conclude that these two solutions are nothing but intellectual pipe dreams, we are left with the following options:

• Israeli annexation of the West Bank, and the formal establishment of Apartheid;

• A two-state solution enabling Jewish settlements to continue to remain inside the Palestinian state, just as Arab towns and villages exist in the State of Israel today;

• A two-state solution involving land swaps that would leave most Jewish settlers within the borders of the State of Israel.

• A two-state solution involving the transfer of all Jews out of the territory of the Palestinian state to Israel.

In all the two-state options the Palestinian state could include the West Bank and Gaza only, or could form part of a federation with Jordan, the majority of whose population is Palestinian.

None of these options is simple, and some might actually prove to be unfeasible. The international community (including a Republicanled US) would be highly unlikely to sit back and twiddle its thumbs if Israeli tried to implement an Apartheid arrangement, and could likely not stop the Muslim world from reacting with force.

For the second option, unfortunately, those Palestinians who seek a two-state solution are unwilling to accept the symmetry between Arab towns and villages that have existed in what is today Israel for hundreds of years, and Jewish settlements established (in their eyes illegally) in territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

The third solution was the basis of negotiations with the Palestinians, by prime ministers Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert, and encountered difficulties, though not necessarily insurmountable ones.

The fourth solution is abhorrent not only to the Jewish settlers, but to most Jewish Israelis, even though history has taught us that such solutions, traumatic as they may be, can resolve impossible situations. This is what happened in the case of over a million Frenchmen who were obliged to move back from Algeria to France in 1962, following De Gaulle’s decision to end the war there by simply quitting.

Whether we like it or not, one of the four latter scenarios is what will actually occur eventually, and it is from among them that we shall have to choose.

The writer teaches at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College. She is the author of The Bi-national Idea in Palestine in Mandatory Times.

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