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Palestine: One or Two State Solution

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PalestineOpinions vary. Why isn't clear. Years ago, two states were possible. No longer. Israel controls over half the West Bank and much of East Jerusalem. More is added daily.

When completed, the apartheid wall will control over 10% of Palestine. Isolated ghettoized bantustans on worthless scrubland won't work. Under those conditions, sovereign viability is impossible.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) claims otherwise. Its report titled "Moving Beyond the Status Quo: Safeguarding the Two-State Solution" endorses it.

Its action plan hopes to save it. It says the political and economic status quo isn't sustainable. At the same time, a "new reality is being created on the ground by Israel, which is destroying" the possibility.

The PA is institutionally ready for statehood, it stresses. In fact, it was ready over a generation ago.

In 1987, in his capacity as PLO legal advisor, Law Professor Francis Boyle drafted its 1988 Declaration of Independence. He predicted it would be an "instantaneous success." De jure UN membership would be achieved.

Palestine then met basic requirements needed for statehood. They include:

A determinable (not necessarily fixed) territory. Its borders are negotiable. The new state is comprised of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Palestinians have lived there for millennia. They rightfully deserve universally recognized sovereignty.

They have a fixed population. They're a legitimate state with a functioning government. It's peace loving. It accepts UN Charter provisions and can administer them. It's willing to do so. In 1988, Arafat declared the PLO as Palestine's Provisional Government.

It has the capacity to enter into relations with other states. On December 15, 1988, The General Assembly recognized Palestine's legitimacy. It gave it observer status.

Then and now, Palestine satisfies essential criteria. All UN Charter states (including America and Israel) provisionally recognized Palestinians as independent in accordance with UN Charter article 80(1) and League Covenant article 22(4).

As the League of Nations' successor, the General Assembly has exclusive legal authority to designate the PLO as the Palestinian peoples' legitimate representative.

The Palestine National Council (PNC) is the PLO's legislative body. It's empowered to proclaim the existence of Palestine. According to the binding 1925 Palestine Citizenship Order in Council, Palestinians, their children and grandchildren automatically become citizens. So do diaspora Palestinians.

Those living in Israel and Jordan have dual nationalities. Occupied Territory residents remain protected persons until a final peace agreement is reached.

If a new Palestinian state consisted of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in their entirety (22% of original Palestine), a two-state solution would work.

Over half a million Israelis live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. They're not leaving. Israel controls most of the land. It won't relinquish it.

The only solution is one state comprised of Israel and the Territories. At this time, nothing else will work.

PA leaders call current conditions unsustainable. They right. They identified the problem, not the solution. "The international community and Palestinians together need to exercise all possible efforts to preserve the viability of the two-state solution - or consider the alternatives," they say.

How? They're right saying "the only viable solution….is bringing an end to Israel's (45 year) occupation." They stop short of a viable way to do it.

Abbas won't seek full UN membership. He talks the talk but doesn't walk it. He's a traitor and a fraud. He's more for Israel than Palestine. He'll accept less than what Palestinians have deserved for decades.

He's comfortable with defeat, not victory. Full UN membership is dependent solely on the General Assembly, not the Security Council. It's irrelevant. It can't prevent membership if Abbas seeks it.

Palestine already is a state. What's left is getting official recognition and full de jure UN membership. Nothing prevents it. It hasn't so far happened because Abbas won't go for the gold. He's more beholden to Israel and Washington than his own people.

That aside, reality on the ground dictates a one-state solution. Ali Abunimah endorsed it in his book titled "One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse."

He explained the impracticality of partition. It doesn't work. He presented another way that will - one nation for all its people at peace with equal rights. At this stage, it's the only viable alternative if pursued and given a chance.

At the same time, no Israeli leader ever proposed it. Decades of peace negotiations have been entirely one-sided. Israel's solution is take what we give you or no deal. Its most generous offer stopped short of sovereign viability.

Israel won't relinquish Palestinian territory it controls. "It is not credible that a society would invest billions of dollars in road and housing that it truly intended to give up," said Abunimah.

He's right. He also said even the most liberal Israeli leaders "came to embrace Palestinian statehood in theory while undermining it in practice." For decades, expropriation of Palestinian land and dispossessing its residents have been official policy. It still is.

Doves and hardliners concur. Only their rhetoric differs. "Creating a single state for Israeli Jews and Palestinians could in theory resolve the most intractable issues - the fare of Israeli settlements….the rights of Palestinian refugees, and the status of Jerusalem."

The alternative assures occupation, continued conflict, land theft, dispossessions, inequality, a permanent non-Jewish underclass, instability, and avoidance of within reach justice. Abunimah is right saying:

"The main attraction of a single-state democracy is that it allows all the people to live in and enjoy the entire country while preserving their distinctive communities and addressing their particular needs."

"It offers the potential to de-territorialize the conflict and neutralize demography and ethnicity as a source of political power and legitimacy."

"The moment Israelis and Palestinians commit themselves to full equality, there is no rationale for separate states."

Most Palestinians want it. Israel remains the stumbling block. Changing its decades-long mindset won't be easy. It's up to resolved internal and external resistance to nudge it.

Jeff Halper and Itay Epshtain co-direct the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD). Together they addressed the same issue. They co-wrote "In the Name of Justice: ICAHD Raises Key Issues Around a Single State as a Step Towards Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict."

Although not fair and just, they don't reject a two-state solution in principle, especially if Palestinians prefer it. At the same time, conflict resolution must involve the entire region. One state "may represent only a stage, albeit an unavoidable stage, towards a more comprehensive solution."

"If the state is to be inclusive, should it be a unitary democratic state, a bi-national one or a combination? Will the solution be one defined purely by politics, or will the rights and obligations of all parties be guided indeed by international law and human rights treaties?"

Israel wants occupation legalized and permanent. Palestinians want and deserve sovereign freedom. Democratic legitimacy requires one nation for all its people, irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity, or other differentiating characteristics.

It requires institutionalized equal rights, observance of international law principles, and ending decades of occupation, colonization and apartheid.

It requires ending what's no longer tolerable and never was. It requires treating Arabs and Jews equally. It requires establishing binding statutes mandating it. It requires enforcing them. It requires commitment to do the right thing.

According to Halper and Epshtain:

"With the end of the two-state solution, only three options remain: apartheid, warehousing or a one-state solution."

Israel is comfortable with the first. Under international law, it's illegal. The second normalizes the status quo. It helps make the Palestinian issue disappear. So does focusing on Iran, other manufactured threats, and/or bread and circus distractions.

Resistance alone isn't enough, say both writers.

"We must see ourselves as political actors, and following the lead of our Palestinian partners we must formulate and pursue solutions that will provide justice, peace and the full range of human rights – civil, political, social, economic and cultural – guaranteed by international law."

ICAHD promotes a "rights-based approach." It's based on five fundamental principles, including:

(1) "A just peace and process leading up to it," according to international law principles.

(2) It must be inclusive for Arabs and Jews alike - one nation with equal rights for all its people.

(3) It must equitably resolve the refugee issue. Under international law, the right of return is inviolable.

(4) "A just peace must address the security concerns of all in the region."

(5) "A just peace must be regional in scope." Otherwise it won't work.

ICAHD endorses a one-state solution, "while still promoting the eventual emergence of a regional economic confederation." Begin "with the idea that two peoples share the country." A common political space must be created. Doing it won't be easy.

For sure it won't happen unless both sides try. At issue is turning around past failures. Palestinian, Israeli, and international civil societies "will play a decisive role in achieving justice, equality, peace, and reconciliation…." There's no other way.


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