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One-State Solution, the way forward in Palestine

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May 26, 2021

What is the issue?

  • For more than 50 years, attempts to bring peace to historical Palestine have adhered to the two-state solution as the only way forward.
  • But here is why the whole premise of the two-state solution is wrong, providing Israel the immunity to continue its ethnic cleansing.

What was a similar offer made earlier?

  • The idea of partitioning Palestine is not new.
  • It was already offered by the new British occupiers of Palestine in 1937.
  • The Zionist movement was hardly 50 years old then.
  • The Zionist goal was to turn historical Palestine into a Jewish state.
  • To this, a chunk of the Palestinian homeland was proposed as a future state.
  • [Back then, this was similar to an offer as decolonising India by partitioning it between a British India and local India.]
  • No country would have ever consented to such a post-colonial arrangement, and it was naturally rejected by the Palestinians.

What was the catastrophic event that followed the proposal?

  • International community back in 1940s insisted that the Palestinians should give half of their homeland to the settler movement of Zionism.
  • But Palestinians kept reiterating that the settler movement of Zionism would not be content with just half of the country.
  • Coming true, in less than a year, under the guise of UN support, the new Jewish state took over nearly 80% of historical Palestine.
  • They ethnically cleansed almost a million Palestinians (more than half of Palestine’s population).
  • They demolished half of Palestine’s villages and most of its towns in 9 months in 1948.
  • This was an event known by the Palestinians as the Nakba, the catastrophe.

What happened following Israel’s occupation?

  • In 1967, Israel occupied the rest of historical Palestine.
  • In the process, they expelled another 300,000 Palestinians.
  • It was impossible after 1948 to repeat a massive ethnic cleansing.
  • So, it was substituted by incremental ethnic cleansing.
  • The last stage in this process was one of the root causes that ignited the cycle of recent violence. (Click here to know more.)
  • It is to do with the proposed eviction of Palestinians from Shaykh [Sheikh] Jarrah, an East Jerusalem neighbourhood.
  • The eviction is part of an overall attempt to Judaise East Jerusalem.
  • Imposing military rule in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip after they were occupied was another means.
  • This enclaved the people there without basic human and civil rights.
  • A version of an Apartheid regime was imposed on the Palestinian minority in Israel.
  • Also, there was constant refusal to allow the 1948 refugees to return.
  • This completed the matrix of power that allowed Israel to retain the land.

What is the tw0-state solution proposed now?

  • The two-state solution proposes establishing two states for two peoples: Israel for the Jewish people and Palestine for the Palestinian people.
  • The solution was offered for the first time by liberal Zionists and the United States in the 1980s.
  • It was seen by some Palestinians as a way to end the occupation of the West Bank, and help the partial fulfilment of the Palestinian right for self-determination and independence.
  • This was why the Palestine Liberation Organization was willing to give it a go in 1993, by signing the Oslo Accords.
  • But the Palestinian position has no impact in the current balance of power.
  • Israel’s interpretation is what matters more now, and no global power would challenge its interpretation.

What is Israel’s idea of a two-state solution?

  • The two-state solution is another means of having the territories of West Bank and Gaza Strip, without incorporating most of the people living there.
  • In order to ensure it, Israel partitioned the West Bank (which is 20% of historical Palestine) into a Jewish and an Arab part.
  • This happened in the second phase of the Oslo Accords, known as the Oslo II agreement of 1995.
  • The Palestinians were forced to accept it under American and Egyptian pressure.
  • One area, called area C (consists of 60% of the West Bank) was directly ruled from 1995 until today by Israel.
  • After 2009, under Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel is in the process of officially annexing this area, while ethnically cleansing the Palestinians living in it.
  • The remaining 40% of the West Bank, areas A and B under Oslo II, were put under the Palestinian Authority.
  • The Authority optimistically calls itself the state of Palestine.
  • But in essence, it has no power whatsoever, except that given to it, and withdrawn from it, by Israel.

What was the Bantustanisation attempt?

  • [The white-dominated government of South Africa classified the country’s Black Africans as Bantu.
  • A Bantustan was a territory that the National Party administration of South Africa set aside for black inhabitants of South Africa and South West Africa (now Namibia), as part of its policy of apartheid.]
  • Similar to creating a Bantustan, in Israel, the Gaza Strip was divided too.
  • Israel hoped that another Bantustan, like the one in areas A and B, would be established there under the Palestinian Authority’s rule and under the same conditions.
  • But the people of Gaza opted to support a new player, Hamas, and its ally, the Islamic Jihad, which resisted this offer.
  • Israel responded by imposing a callous siege and blockade on the Gaza Strip.
  • To complete the partition of the West Bank, its Bantustanisation, and the siege of Gaza, Israel passed a citizenship law in 2018.
  • Known as the nationality law, it made Palestinian citizens in essence to be the “Africans” of a new Israeli Jewish apartheid state.

Why is a two-state solution flawed?

  • The two-state solution is essentially based on the assumption of parity, approaching the conflict as one fought between two national movements.
  • But, this is not the real case.
  • It is instead a settler colonial reality which began in the late 19th century and continues until today, motivated by “the elimination of the native”.
  • It thus essentially involves genocide, ethnic cleansing operation, etc.
  • The presence of more than 600,000 Jewish settlers, with a very high rate of natural growth, means that Israel will never consider moving them out.
  • And without that, even a soft version of a two-state solution is impossible.
  • In all, the two-state solution is not going to stop the ethnic cleansing and instead, it provides Israel international immunity to continue it.

What is the best way forward then?

  • The only alternative is to decolonise historical Palestine and build a new State - a State for all its citizens all over the country.
  • This should move forward with –
  1. dismantlement of colonialist institutions
  2. fair redistribution of the country’s natural resources
  3. compensation of the victims of the ethnic cleansing and allowing their repatriation
  • Settlers and natives should together build a new state that is democratic, part of the Arab world and not against it.


Source: The Hindu

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