Israel’s growing settlements force stark choices about its future

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(Graphic: The Economist)
The country cannot remain Jewish and democratic while controlling the entire Holy Land.

By Staff | The Economist | Feb 2, 2019

As Palestinians lose hope for a state of their own, some favor a ‘one-state’ deal: a single state on all the land with equal rights for Jews and Arabs. Israel would have to give up its predominantly Jewish identity. That is because, between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river, the overall number of Arabs has caught up with that of Jews, and may soon exceed them.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks are frozen. President Donald Trump’s plan for the “deal of the century” has been put off. The subject is absent in campaigning for the Israeli election in April, which focuses on looming corruption charges against Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister.

The Oslo accords of 1993 created a crazy quilt of autonomous zones in the lands that Israel captured in 1967. They also kindled the hope of creating a Palestinian state in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with its capital in East Jerusalem. After much bloodshed, though, most Israelis are wary of this “two-state solution.” Today Palestinians are mostly shut off by security barriers, and divided. The Palestinian Authority in the West Bank refuses to negotiate with Israel but co-operates on security. Its Islamist rival, Hamas, which runs Gaza, dares not risk another war, for now.

Besides, the growth of Jewish settlements makes a two-state deal ever harder. Establishing a Palestinian state would probably require the removal of settlers in its territory. Israel had trouble enough evicting 8,000 Jews from Gaza in 2005. There are more than fifty times as many in the West Bank. Even excluding East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel, the number of Jews east of the “green line” (the pre-1967 border) has risen from 110,000 in 1993 to 425,000. New home approvals nearly quadrupled from 5,000 in 2015–16 to 19,000 in 2017–18, according to Peace Now, a pressure group.

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The Arab world needs to move beyond the liberation of Palestine

A Palestinian demonstrator covers her face with the colors of the Palestinian flag during clashes with Israeli security forces following a protest on the Gaza-Israel border, Apr 6, 2018. (photo: Mohammed Abed / AFP)

Israel is going nowhere, and we in the Arab world have to deal with it. That means offering Israelis prosperity, security and friendship; all Israel needs to do is overcome their prejudices and give Palestinians their rights.

By Khalaf Al Habtoor | Haaretz | Jun 4, 2018


Israelis and Palestinians should revolt against the useless old leadership and outdated playbooks keeping them on different sides of the fence. Tear down those figurative and material walls. People power could be a game changer. The men in suits bent on consolidating power have let you down. Peace engendered by the very people who have the most to gain (and to lose) could work where all else has failed.


For the people caught in the enduring Israeli-Palestinian conflict, their own leaders and Western intermediaries have failed.

Summits, conferences, accords and a roadmap going nowhere have been a waste of time and effort. Earlier attempts at finding solutions brokered by US presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton were genuine — but were stymied. Those that followed were either fig leaves or half-hearted.

Today, there is not only “nothing on the table,” there is no table. When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced there would never be a Palestinian state on his watch — a statement he later retracted for international consumption — he meant every word. Just days ago, his government announced it would consider approving the construction of 2,000 more settler homes on the West Bank.

And, quite frankly, I am beginning to think President Donald Trump’s blueprint for peace is a figment of his imagination.

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Announcing the launch of One State Foundation

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A new Palestinian-Israeli initiative to grow debate and support for a one state solution.

By Jonathan Ofir | Mondoweiss | Mar 1, 2018


“Can we make people see, emotionally feel and rationally understand that a shared future in equality is in the end beneficial for all? That is the challenge we are taking on.”
— Angélique Eijpe, co-founder and board member of One State Foundation


We are still in times where speaking about a single democratic and secular state in Israel-Palestine is considered contentious. Just look how former Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg was received at a liberal synagogue in NY, when he spoke about this concept — Rabbi Matalon called him a “troublemaker,” and rabbi Cohen said he “pushed all the buttons.”

But today, a new foundation is officially launching — the One State Foundation, which boldly and clearly promotes this concept and goal.

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Confederation: The one possible Israel-Palestine solution

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY CHARLES LEVINSON
Palestinian boys playing soccer against the backdrop of the Israeli separation barrier that bisects their school playground in East Jerusalem, 2006. (photo: AWAD / AFP / Getty Images)

Talk of confederation sounds wistful in the current environment, but any talk of peace does. What’s really naïve is to suppose that only bad faith or ideological fanaticism has caused the two-state solution to fall into disrepute.

By Bernard Avishai | The New York Review of Books | Feb 2, 2018


The justification for the two-state solution is rooted, after all, in two persistent truths: first, that two separate national communities, each with a different language, historical grievance, sense of identity in the wider world, and dominant religious culture, have been squeezed by tragic events into a single small space. . . . Second, that a majority on each side prefers some form of compromise to a fight to the finish. . . . [But] moderate majorities “increasingly doubt its viability,” largely because they have grown jaded regarding the intentions of the other side, not because, in principle, they refuse the compromises two states would entail.


“The two-state solution is over,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters, responding to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.” As The New York Times subsequently reported, Erekat is hardly alone. The “over”-ness of “two states” — albeit with radical disagreements about the character of a hypothetical single state — has been claimed by ideological zealots, severe liberals, and exasperated peacemakers alike.

On the Palestinian side, one hears about the almost 700,000 Israeli settlers’ making annexation an established fact; on the Israeli side, about preventing recalcitrant Palestinian terrorists from firing missiles at Ben-Gurion Airport. For those of us living in Jerusalem, just speaking of two states, implying two capitals — but also, vaguely, some redivision of the city — invites skeptical, or pitying, stares from most Jews, as well as from Arabs, over a thousand of whom applied for Israeli citizenship in 2016.

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One state or two states? You’re asking the wrong question

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A Palestinian youth opens a gate in the Israeli wall, during a protest marking 12 years for the struggle against the wall and the occupation in the West Bank village of Bil’in, Feb 17, 2017.

We desperately need to go back to basics and recognize that guaranteeing Palestinians’ rights is the foundation for any political solution.

By Haggai Matar | +972 Magazine | Jan 29, 2018


During a recent trip to the US . . . I found devoted activists, all of them committed to resisting occupation and supporting peace . . . who refused to speak to each other solely based on the question of how many states we should have in this piece of land. I suggest that we hold off on that question and focus on the heart of the matter.


A new poll reveals that following Trump’s Jerusalem declaration there has been a drop in support for the two-state solution among both Israeli Jews and Palestinians in the occupied territories — with both communities dipping below the 50 percent level. Only Palestinians with Israeli citizenship who live inside the Green Line show overwhelming support for this solution.

The poll also shows that in tandem with this ongoing downward shift, there is a significant rise in the hostility of each group toward the other, as well as increasing support for armed struggle or a “decisive war” as a solution to the conflict. Conducted by veteran pollsters Dr. Khalil Shikaki and Walid Ladadwa from the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR), along with Israeli pollster and +972 Magazine writer Dr. Dahlia Scheindlin and the Tami Steinmetz Center for Peace Research (TSC) — this is a poll to be taken seriously.

These new findings have significant value, as they expose Trump’s devastating impact on the chance to end the occupation in the foreseeable future, while sounding the alarm bells over the hopelessness of both sides, such that violence and bloodshed are actually gaining traction as possible solutions to our troubles.

And yet, we must not view the poll results as a harbinger of “the end of the two-state solution” or “final proof that one state is the only way to go.” One state? Two states? You’re asking the wrong question.

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The Israeli Right’s “coexistence” in the West Bank

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The separation wall near the Qalandiya checkpoint outside of Jerusalem. (photo: Maya Levin / Flash90)

The “colonialists” accept the status quo, the “apartheidists” want complete separation, and the “transferists” openly await a third Nakba.

By Naam Sheizaf / +972 Magazine / Sep 11, 2017


The Right’s imagined coexistence in the occupied territories is uncannily similar to the kind whites dreamed of in Rhodesia. That is, we can get our cars fixed for cheap, and they can come work for us, bereft of any rights. In the meantime, they can continue living in their crowded cities and squalid refugee camps.


There is nothing the Israel Right loves more than adopting the criticism of its rivals on the Left in order to justify its rule. Strangely, this criticism has turned into a main aspect of the language settlers use when describing their “coexistence” with the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

Their argument goes as such: while Tel Aviv is a bubble where rich, liberal Jews love Arabs in theory only, in the West Bank we truly see the Palestinians as humans and as neighbors. The Left fantasizes about peace agreements with people it doesn’t even know, but the Right’s version of coexistence includes real people — who are sometimes filled with hate and sometimes are not, who work and live together but want to keep their own culture, and who see each other as equals.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

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Perhaps the Messiah Will Come

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Uri Avnery (photo: countercurrents.org)

The only real solution is the much-maligned “Two States for Two peoples,” the one declared dead many times. It’s either that solution or the destruction of both peoples.

by Uri Avnery / antiwar.com
March 11, 2017


Right after the foundation of the State of Israel, God appeared to David Ben-Gurion and told him, “You have done good by my people. Utter a wish and I shall grant it.”
“I wish that Israel shall be a Jewish and a democratic state and encompass all the country between the Mediterranean and the Jordan,” Ben-Gurion replied.
“That is too much even for me!” God exclaimed. “But I will grant you two of the three.”


If someone had told me 50 years ago that the rulers of Israel, Jordan and Egypt had met in secret to make peace, I would have thought that I was dreaming.

If I had been told that the leaders of Egypt and Jordan had offered Israel complete peace in return for leaving the occupied territories, with some exchanges of territory and a token return of refugees, I would have thought that the Messiah had come. I would have started to believe in God or Allah or whoever there is up there.

Yet a few weeks ago it was disclosed that the rulers of Egypt and Jordan had indeed met in secret last year with the Prime Minister of Israel in Aqaba, the pleasant sea resort where the three states touch each other. The two Arab leaders, acting de facto for the entire Arab world, had made this offer. Benyamin Netanyahu gave no answer and went home.

So did the Messiah.

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We are Using the Wrong Timeline for the Jewish State

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Foreign ministers 100 years apart: Arthur Balfour of Britain and John Kerry of the U.S. (photos: Mondoweiss)

In his parting speech, former Secretary of State John Kerry described a future of a “one-state” scenario — Palestinians living in enclaves without rights — but he was actually describing the situation of today.

By Jonathan Ofir / Mondoweiss
January 3, 2017


“I say [the two state solution] was not born because I think that there was not one Prime Minister in Israel who ever really intended it. Because if there had been a PM who would have really intended it, then they would first of all stop with the settlements. And no PM has ever stopped with the settlements.”
— Gideon Levy


In his recent speech titled “Remarks on Middle East Peace,” US Secretary of State John Kerry offered a wide historical symmetric trajectory including “milestones” which Kerry believes “illustrate the two sides of the conflict and form the basis for its resolution.”

His three-point trajectory was based upon three dates: 1897, 1947 and 1967.

It started out 120 years ago, 1897, with the First Zionist Congress in Basel, “by a group of Jewish visionaries, who decided that the only effective response to the waves of anti-Semitic horrors sweeping across Europe was to create a state in the historic home of the Jewish people, where their ties to the land went back centuries – a state that could defend its borders, protect its people, and live in peace with its neighbors. That was the vision. That was the modern beginning, and it remains the dream of Israel today,” as Kerry appraises.
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The Middle East “peace process” was a myth — Donald Trump ended it

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(photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP)

The final interment of the already moribund “two-state solution” would force all concerned to face what is obvious to any honest observer.

By Rashid Khalidi* / The Guardian
February 18, 2017


For decades, an imposed reality of one-state — the only sovereign entity enjoying total security control — has existed between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. This one state is Israel. Irrespective of the label one uses for it, this is the only outcome that this Israeli government will accept, whatever subaltern, or helot, or “autonomous” status it deigns to allow the Palestinians.


“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like.” With these words at a joint press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump may have finally dispelled the already receding mirage of any just solution.

Trump was clearly seeking to please his guest, spurred by the zealots in his government, four of whom, Public Safety Minister Gilad Erdan, Education Minister Naftali Bennett, Sports Minister Miri Regev, and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovley, just publicly came out against creation of a Palestinian state.

For decades, Israeli governments, pursuing the colonization of the entirety of “Eretz Israel,” have systematically destroyed the prerequisites for a solution involving a contiguous, sustainable, sovereign Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. Nevertheless, the myth that a real Palestinian state is on offer, and that there actually is a genuine “peace process,” endures as one of the greatest examples of magical thinking in modern times.

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Trump’s “One-State” Remarks Embolden Right-Wing Zionists — Jewish and Christian

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At a press conference with Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump signaled openness to a one-state solution in the Middle East. (photo: Kevin Lamarque / Reuters)

President of oldest US pro-Israel group salutes “new sane era” as Trump’s views underscore divisions among Jews and influence of evangelical Christians.

By Ed Pilkington / The Guardian
February 17, 2017


Critics of the one-state solution point out that it would destroy the fundamental character of Israel as a democratic Jewish state: Arabs and Palestinians would numerically be dominant in a single state and that in turn would either eradicate the Jewish nature of the country or force it to forgo democracy by relegating the Palestinians to second-class status.


Donald Trump’s apparent readiness to accept a one-state solution to the Middle East conflict that would permanently rule out a Palestinian nation is emboldening rightwing Zionists in the US — both among Jewish Americans and the much larger pool of pro-Israeli evangelical Christians.

Some Zionist groups welcomed with delight the president’s unexpected comment on Wednesday that tore up the longstanding US adherence to a two-state solution in which Israel would coexist peacefully alongside a fully-formed Palestine.

“I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like,” he said.

Continue reading “Trump’s “One-State” Remarks Embolden Right-Wing Zionists — Jewish and Christian”