The case for a democratic one-state solution

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with US President Donald Trump on May 23, 2017 in Jerusalem, Israel. (photo: Kobi Gideon / GPO / Getty Images)
The two-state solution is dead.

By George Bisharat | Los Angeles Times | May 23, 2019

Hope is a powerful motivator, and the prospect of building a just and genuinely free and democratic society — a true beacon of progress for the region if not the world — can inspire heroism in both Israelis and Palestinians.

President Donald Trump has promised he will soon unveil his “Deal of the Century” for Palestinians and Israelis. But it is unlikely to do much more than consecrate a reality that has prevailed for decades: Israelis living within the borders of historic Palestine will enjoy full freedoms and political rights, while a majority of Palestinians living within the same space will remain largely disenfranchised and voiceless.

One thing the deal will make apparent, however, is that the two-state solution is dead, laid low by a thousand cuts — or, more precisely, by the hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, whose immovable presence ensures that no genuinely sovereign Palestinian state will ever emerge there. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have both played a role in delivering the final blows: Trump with his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and Netanyahu by promising voters prior to his recent reelection to begin annexation of the West Bank.

It is time to face some undeniable facts:

First, despite Israel’s every effort to establish and maintain a Jewish majority, the two peoples living under Israeli rule hover at near parity, at approximately 6.5 million Jews and 6.5 million Palestinians.

Second, Jewish Israelis and Palestinian Arabs are destined to live together in Israel/Palestine in perpetuity. Neither people can or should be forced to leave the land in which they reside and to which they are passionately committed.

Third, segregation, of which the two-state solution was a form, is not the answer. As Americans know from our own historical experience, separate is never equal.

Finally, it is only equal rights and justice that can provide the foundation for a durable peace for Israelis and Palestinians.

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