Readers of political commentary on the Middle East will frequently see reference to the ‘one-state solution’ in relation to the Arab-Israeli conflict. What perhaps is often not sufficiently clear is what lies behind that particular political ethos, exactly who is promoting it and why.
Advocates of the ‘one state solution’ are, by definition, opposed to the two-state solution – i.e. the creation, as a result of negotiations between the relevant parties, of a Palestinian State which will exist side by side – hopefully in peace and good neighbourly relations – with the Jewish State of Israel. This has been the premise behind the entire peace process since 1993. It is the basis upon which the Oslo Accords and later the Roadmap were built. It was the logic behind Israel’s agreeing to the PLO being allowed to establish the Palestinian Authority and Israeli concessions on areas A and B. It is also the concept upon which all diplomatic efforts to bring peace to the region have been – and still are – based.
As frustrating as the peace process has been, the two-state solution remains the stated goal of the international community as well as successive Israeli governments during the last two decades and it is the solution of choice in the overwhelming majority of Israeli public opinion. On the other side of the dispute, whilst the Palestinian Authority also claims to be committed to the two-state solution, Hamas rejects it outright, refusing to take part in negotiations, refusing to recognise the right of Israel to exist and insisting upon the return of the descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel.
Many in the West (though by no means all) are able to recognise the rejectionist Hamas stance for what it is because the religious rhetoric and medieval-style language employed by its leaders to state the Hamas case is easy to identify as being rooted in Islamist theology and little attempt is made to hide the anti-Semitic attitudes behind the political-theological stance according to which, Jews must not be permitted to have their own state in the Middle East.
Less easy for many Westerners to understand is the similarity between the Hamas stance and that of advocates of the ‘one state solution’. One reason for that is because its advocates steer clear of religious rhetoric; instead they present their case clothed in the language of human rights; making reference to international law, justice, democracy, secularism and equality – all concepts with which it is significantly easier for the Western mind to connect and empathise.
However, the bottom line of the one-state proposal in fact differs little from that of the Hamas ‘solution’ to the problems of the Middle East in that both see the eradication of the Jewish State as the answer to the conflict. At a conference in Stuttgart last November, the blueprint for the one-state solution was laid out by its main advocates.
“The adherence to a 2-State Solution condemns Palestinians with Israeli citizenship to live as second class citizens in their historic country, in a racist state in which they are not allowed the same rights as Jewish citizens. Furthermore, the continuance of a Zionist state on the land of the Palestinian refugees denies these refugees the internationally recognized right to return.”
“The Two-State Solution cannot lead to anything other than the consolidation and cementation of inequality. The model of two states separated according to ethnicity or religion means ethnic separation or fundamental inequality inside this state, as we experience in Israel today. “
“At the end of the discussion there was general agreement that only the creation of a shared secular and democratic state in historical Palestine with equal rights for all can bring peace and equality for Palestinians and Israelis – a state in which all people live together with equal rights, irrespective of their religion or background. This of course includes the Palestinians expelled from the country (fulfillment of Resolution 194 of the UN General Assembly).”
Many of the minds behind the Stuttgart Declaration are also involved with the Palestine Justice Network (PJN) which in April 2011 launched its ‘One State Initiative’.
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