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(Fifteen-minute read)

Once again the hands of the world to do anything are tied as we watch the fruits of historical events unfold in yet another tragic outbreak of killing in the lands of fundamentalism.  

On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the head of the Jewish Agency, proclaimed the establishment of the State of Israel. U.S. President Harry S. Truman recognized the new nation on the same day.

In 1921 Northern Ireland was created when Ireland was partitioned by the Government of Ireland Act 1920.  The ratification of the treaty led to a renewed period of civil war and years of hostility and violence between unionists and nationalists known as The Troubles.

Both are now only solvable by Unification.

Like Northern Ireland, Catholics and Protestants, Israelis Jews, and Palestinians can only be united under a single, binational plural nonsectarian society state.

If this were to happen both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs, Catholics, and Unionists would enjoy the same legal and civil rights and live under governments in which all religions and cultures are represented and protected.

Why is this the only route?

Like Northern Ireland Israel has no written constitution, the Basic Laws provide legal statements outlining the rights of the individual.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this after Israel introduced the Basic Laws.

“This is a defining moment in the history of Zionism and in the history of the State of Israel. One hundred twenty-two years ago after [Theodor], Herzl shared his vision, we have established into law the fundamental tenant [sic] of our existence. “Israel” is the nation-state of the Jewish people. A nation-state that respects the individual rights of all its citizens; and in the Middle East, only Israel respects these rights. This is our state, the state of the Jews. In recent years, some have attempted to cast doubt on this, and so to undercut the foundations of our existence and our rights. Today we etched in the stone of law: This is our state, this is our language, this is our anthem, and this is our flag.”

The law enshrines the Zionist idea upon which the nation was founded, namely that Israel is a country established to fulfill the Jewish people’s “right to national self-determination.”

Therefore when one looks at the recent history of Israel it mirrors South Africa’s years of Apartheid Law.  

However, there is something tragically ironic about the Palestinians’ campaign to press for a UN resolution to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Because that was what Israel already offered in 2000 and again in 2008 to no avail but because the history of the twentieth century is a history of the Palestinians’ resistance to establishing a Palestinian state—if it had to exist side by side with a Jewish state. By that standard, historic Palestine is simply a misnomer, especially if what is meant is an area with a particular set of borders enduring through time.

Why? 

Because the troubles of the Holy Land are surrounded by too many walls. A wall seen in a landscape photo with houses in the background.

Because we all know that borders and walls are porous and will become more so in the future with Climate change. 

Because when I see images of the U.S.-Mexico border fence, the Berlin Wall, the fences in Derry, the Jerusalem turnstiles, and the wall I know I don’t think of strength. I don’t think of freedom. I don’t think liberty. I don’t think compassion. I don’t think empathy. No, when I see that fence, I think of oppressive regimes.

Does a country that prides itself on freedom need a fortified border fence?

For all who confront a wall, it remains a daily, brutal reminder of aggression and loss.

                                               ——————

Historic Palestine and Northern Ireland as we know it today are derived from a map drawn up by the British at the end of World War I—in particular Israel by British Christians whose understanding of the geography of Palestine was largely based on the Bible, which, as we all know, is derived from the Jews. 

Think about it:

A border drawn by British Christians based on their reading of the Jewish Bible is now interpreted by Muslim fundamentalists as God-given and unchangeable!

The two-state solution has a long history dating back at least to 1937 when the British proposed to partition the land between Arabs and Jews while leaving Jerusalem under international control.

Achieving a two-state solution is unrealistic now and will remain so. 

There will be no two-state solution. 

Because.  

  • There are 1.9 million Palestinian citizens of Israel (as of December 2019), comprising 21% of Israel’s population.
  • There are more than 60 Israeli laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
  • Since 1948 when the state was established, Israel has used laws such as the British Mandate-era Land (Acquisition for Public Purposes) Ordinance law and the Absentee Property Law to confiscate millions of acres of Palestinian land for the use of Jewish Israelis.
  • Since 2002, Israel has been constructing a wall that stretches for more than 700 kilometers, annexing Palestinian land inside the occupied West Bank. 
  • In September 2010, the late spiritual leader of the Shas party, which was part of Netanyahu’s coalition government, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, declared that Palestinians and other non-Jews were created to “serve” Jews. 
  • In 2014, the Knesset passed a law distinguishing between Christian and Muslim Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel, declaring that Christian Palestinians in Israel are not in fact Arab, part of an effort to divide Israel’s minority Palestinian population. This even though almost all Christian Palestinians are Arabs, and consider themselves to be such, and has long formed an integral part of Palestinian society.
  • In May 2012, Rabbi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman, Spiritual leader of the United Torah Judaism party, which was part of Netanyahu’s coalition government, told supporters the world was created for Jews and that Palestinians and other non-Jews are “murders” and “thieves”
  • In 2018, the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed the “Jewish nation-state” law as one of the country’s quasi-constitutional Basic Laws, which was widely condemned as racist and entrenching apartheid in Israel.
  • Israel’s Basic Laws also bar political candidates and parties from advocating for a secular democracy in which all citizens are fully equal, regardless of their religion or ethnicity, by calling for an end to Israel’s system of Jewish privilege.
  • In 2018, legislation calling for Israel to become a state based on full equality for all citizens introduced by Palestinian citizens of Israel was banned by a committee and prevented from even being debated by the Knesset
  • Ahead of the April 2019 election, Netanyahu wrote on Instagram: “Israel is not a state of all its citizens. According to the Nation-State Law that we passed, Israel is the nation-state of the Jewish People – and them alone.”
  • After the 2020 election, the United Arab List was the third-largest bloc in the Knesset, Israel’s legislature.
  • In both 2019 and 2021, Netanyahu also made electoral alliances with virulently racist, extreme right-wing political parties that openly call for the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from Israel/Palestine.
  • As part of an effort to maintain the Jewish majority created by the expulsions of 1948, Israel has passed a series of laws to limit the growth of the remaining Palestinian population and their towns and villages, and marginalize them politically.
  • There can be no peace or unification while dealing with terrorists like Hamas or the Provisional IRA or UDF. Like the IRA Hamas desperately needs a ladder that enables it to adopt a more pragmatic approach that will allow it to compromise its control in Gaza without formally compromising its ideology.

                                                    —————-

Where are we now?

Is peace even a possibility for one of the world’s longest-running conflicts or has the time already run out?

For nearly three decades, the so-called two-state solution has dominated discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But the idea of two states for two peoples in the territory both occupy was always an illusion, and in recent years, reality has set in.

The two-state solution is dead. 

Israeli settlement growth has already made two states unfeasible. 

Relinquishing land claims or building settlements in pursuit of peace to any people is especially war-making.

A “two-state solution,” would leave the Palestinians with only limited administrative sovereignty over a noncontiguous territory completely surrounded by Israel. Permitting an annexation that would create a reality of apartheid.

The time has come for all interested parties to instead consider the only alternative with any chance of delivering lasting peace: equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians in a single shared state. 

It is time to cast aside the concept of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement in favor of an Israeli-Arab agreement as the only way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In Israel /Palestinians case reaching an agreement on things like borders, Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees is too complicated for any other solution. 

In the Northern Ireland case, the complicated history of discriminatory and repressive English regime teaches us that Ireland had to cope with a revolution and civil war when it was undergoing a fundamental transformation that is still not completed without unification. 

With the collapse of the Catholic church power in Southern Ireland, the current border had been only a political border up to England turned it back on the EU.  

As a result, Northern Ireland while staying part of Britain reaching an agreement on a border that recognizes that Ireland is in the EU is a fact of life.  

In the Israelites case, if one was to draw the border along the ‘67 lines, hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in West Bank settlements wind up on the Palestinian side. Would those people become citizens of Palestine or (probably forcibly) be made to move back to Israel proper?

Yes, in both cases a one-state solution still comes with logistical problems of its own, not the least of which is who would keep the peace between two peoples who have been at war for more than a half-century.

There is no incentive or stick in the universe that can make Israelis or the Irish agree to double their population and with a culturally foreign, hostile population to boot unless there is recognition that we are basically all the same. 

Any other solution requires two separate, independent states, one Israeli and one Palestinian, each with its own government and full autonomy over its domestic and international affairs which is totally unrealistic. 

Where would the borders be between these states?

What would happen to Jerusalem, a city important to both peoples?

It is time for a progressive one-state solution.

                                       —————-

 

Israel now faces a clear choice:

Hopelessness and endless conflict can be replaced by a peaceful future, but only if we act differently. We must put aside the concept of an Israeli-Palestinian agreement in favor of an Israeli-Arab agreement as the only realistic means to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Either it finds ways of integrating its Arab citizens into national life and reversing a growing trend of communal alienation and anger. Or its own Arab citizens could become a powerful part of a more unified Palestinian national movement confronting Israeli rule.

The devil is in the details.

The current outbreak of violence is sowing the seeds for a conflict that is worse than the one we already have. We are far from the verge, or anywhere close, to achieving a conflict-ending agreement. 

The issue now is not even one or two states it’s three states, what you have right now is a three-stage approach.

You have Israel with its residual authority in Gaza and the West Bank, you have the Palestinian Authority which is dysfunctional although admirable entity which has done quite a bit in terms of state-building, and then you have Hamas which is consolidating its power and control in Gaza and the longer that separation continues the longer that consolidation and the hardening of those political, economic and physiological lines will be.

Recognition of Israel as the nation of the Jewish people, the so-called fifth element, which has now become a fundamental part of the negotiating process at least on the Israeli and, I suspect, the American side to have put the notion of negotiating two states right now between this Israeli government and this Palestinian Authority virtually unthinkable.

We have to understand something, violence and disruption and dislocation have been part of the peace process since its inception. In fact, the farther the peace process goes the more upsets and violence there is.

Palestinian citizens of Israel are 20 percent of the population of Israel they have rights that are guaranteed by law but the Israelis discriminate against them socially and economically.

Then we have in one of the most densely populated places in the world 6 million Palestinians ruled by Israel, with no citizenship. 

We all know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue is extremely complex and filled with biases and denials, not to mention cherry-picking only certain aspects of history at the expense of others.

Arab dictators of nearby countries don’t care about Palestinians and find it more convenient to just keep the conflict frozen. A huge obstacle to solving the problem is the official policy of Arab states, which all agreed to not grant citizenship or any other regular legal status to people born in them who are descendants of “Palestinians.”

We also know that the Israeli-Palestinian issue won’t go away. Neither will it be solved by oversimplification or dismissing the many arguments-some which are justified from all sides.

Take, for instance, I have never understood by what logic the Palestinians in the West Bank would want to create a one-state, would actually make a case for one-state, or on what legal and political basis would they lay their claim to citizenship in one state.

Last but not least where are the voices on the opposite sides of the younger generation.

Surely those that belong to multiple nations and are not still diasporic with today’s technology have myriad cross-border connections – that impact identity (and politics?) 

Yes, they are dealing with an uncertain world, and yet if you consider the past now is the moment to be more optimistic about the future. 

Any historian and geographer who has spent time on the ground and around the world know that borders and boundaries are porous at best times.  

Jerusalem will have to be the capital of both states, there will have to be security arrangements that meet Israeli security needs and the Palestinian desire for sovereignty and there has to be some resolution of the refugee issue which deals with a variety of aspects, compensation, rehabilitation, absorption, some historic recognition by the Israelis of the refugee problem, some limited return of refugees to Israel proper perhaps, unlimited return to a Palestinian state, but these are general principles, and once you state those there is still a lot of work to be done.

As long as the conflict is ongoing, the Palestinian economy can’t rebuild, so foreign money spent will achieve little more than temporary humanitarian relief till one side fully capitulates to the other due to slaughter.

The only way true citizenship of a country can be achieved after years of wars is the creation of a new state from the rubble.

All comments appreciated. All like clicks and abuse chucked in the bin.