One Country: Reviewing An Alternative Vision
By Remi Kanazi, 18 January, 2007
For years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been mired by a series of failed peace negotiation, enmeshing Israeli Jews and Palestinians in a seemingly intractable struggle. Even 59 years after the creation of the state of Israel the quest for Jewish security has not been realized, while Palestinians—those dispossessed in 1948, 1967, and the 3.8 million living under Israeli occupation—have not seen a just resolution to a conflict that has marred their history and shaped their identity. The international community, including many Israeli and Palestinians, still subscribe to the notion that the two-state solution is the only way to settle the conflict.
Ali Abunimah’s new book, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, exposes the impracticality of partition and presents an alternative vision, one that encompasses both peoples on the basis of equal rights. The vision Abunimah presents is a one state solution.
One Country begins by revealing the various layers of Israel’s occupation and the grim realities of the proposed two-state solution. The accepted international and Palestinian call for a two-state solution is based on 22 percent of historic Palestine—the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. The Palestinians (entitled under United Nations Resolution 194) insist on the right of return to their homeland or to be duly compensated for their expulsion. Yet, no Israeli prime minister or prominent figure to date has endorsed this right, nor has any Israeli government proposed a full withdrawal from the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Abunimah reveals that, during the Camp David talks of 2000, Israel’s most “generous” offer to the Palestinians included just 76.6 percent of the West Bank (while Israel would effectively annex East Jerusalem and the territorial waters of the Dead Sea) and demanded that “at least 80 percent of the settlers remain in place.” Abunimah further states, “Israel…insisted on permanent control of Palestinian airspace and a long list of onerous ‘security’ arrangements that would rob the Palestinian state of any real independence from Israel and introduce enormous opportunities for delay and backsliding as had happened with the Oslo Accords.”
Israel couldn’t simply withdraw from the entire West Bank. Israel’s impetus was predicated on the notion that the expansion of its borders and the enlargement of the demographic majority were necessary for its survival. Once the settlements were integrated into the Israeli narrative, successive US administrations acquiesced and declared—privately and publicly—that Israel was “entitled” to keep “parts” of the settlements in a final two-state solution. The settlement process, however, sectioned Palestinians off into inaccessible ghettos, dividing Palestinian land in such a way that a contiguous state became inconceivable. Israel never diverged from its initial plan to annex the settlements into the greater state. Abunimah correctly asserts, “It is not credible that a society would invest billions of dollars in roads and housing that it truly intended to give up.”
Whether Camp David 2000 or a host of other proposals, including the supposedly dovish Geneva Initiative (which scarcely deviated from the Camp David proposal), no plan had envisioned two separate states that would satisfy both Israelis and Palestinians. An initiative has yet to be produced by the Israeli left or right that resembles anything more than a continuation of the mistakes of Oslo and the self-serving policies that emerged during its “peace process.” Abunimah argues that those on the left, such as Yossi Beilin, have advocated plans that, “seek Palestinian endorsement of Israel’s annexation of territory and its refusal to readmit Palestinian refugees to their country.” Abunimah further suggests, “The leaders of the mainstream Israeli left came to embrace Palestinian statehood in theory while undermining it in practice.” The appropriation of Palestinian land and the expansion of settlements accelerated under leftist governments, debunking the myth that “dovish” administrations were needed to make peace with the Palestinians. What the Palestinians continue to need is a viable partner willing to engage with their government on the basis of equality and acceptance exemplified by action rather than words.
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