It's no secret that advocates of the two-state solution are worried that the prospects for such an outcome are being eroded - as the LA Times piece makes abundantly clear, with quotes from, among others, Yasser Abed Rabbo and Condoleeza Rice.
However, to argue that there needs to be a renewed effort in underscoring the credibility of a two-state solution is one thing; to ditch it in favor of the "one-state" option is something else entirely.
Here is the nub of the problem with the LA Times piece. If this article was your first exposure to the "one-state" idea, you would come away thinking that it's eminently reasonable. That rather than being the preserve of genocidaires and antisemites like the Iranian theocrats, Hamas and Hezbollah, the "one-state solution" truly belongs to visionary democrats.
In the abstract, there is, of course, nothing wrong with states pooling their sovereignty or even merging with each other. Indeed, a principle rather like this has driven Europe's political development since the Second World War. Israel, moreover, offers a democratic beacon in a region blighted by tyranny, corruption and reactionary ideas. In the LA Times piece, Sari Nusseibeh suggests "that many Palestinians would feel more at home in a democracy shared with Israelis than in a Palestinian state run by Hamas."
Nusseibeh qualifies this statement by insisting that such an arrangement would need "to come about by consent." But it is nigh impossible to imagine any circumstances whereby such a proposal would secure the agreement of Israelis.
To begin with, it would mean abandoning the ideal of a Jewish state. Someone like Tony Judt would argue that there is no cost in abandoning an "anachronism"; I would respond that there is nothing anachronistic about Israel. if the European Union is the model for the one-staters, they would do well to remember that the member states of the EU are precisely that - member states. These states have not been asked to abandon their independence and their identity, nor have they been compelled to do so. Conversely, Israel is not being asked to join a regional community of states; it is being told to dissolve itself, and to do so in a neighborhood which exhorts the slogan "Kill the Jews!" with alarming frequency.
Moreover, those who would demand that Israel dissolve itself are hardly duplicating the notion of equal legitimacy which underlies the EU. To the contrary, they regard Israel as a colonial usurper, born in "original sin" - a citadel of "neo-Jews', in the words of a recent inchoate rant published on the one-statist website, Counterpunch.
For such people, a single state is an opportunity for Israeli Jews to atone for the historic crime of forming their own state, rather than an instrument for them to live with their neighbours as equals.
What the LA Times piece inadvertantly demonstrates is that it is ideology, rather than concerns about viability, contiguity, resources, open border policies and so forth, which primarily drives the one-staters. Prominently featured in the article is Hazem Kawasmi, a former Palestinian Authority official who is now busily researching the implementation of the one-state formula, having abandoned two states.
Why did Kawasmi give up on the two-state solution? Because the Israeli peace activists he met with " dismissed two cherished Palestinian aspirations. Like Olmert's government, they wanted to avoid talk of giving Palestinian refugees and their families the right of return to homes in Israel that they fled in 1948 or of sharing Jerusalem as capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state At that moment, Kawasmi said, he realized 'there is zero chance' for a two-state solution. He didn't sleep well for months. Then he embraced the single-state option, which had been debated for several years among Palestinians living abroad, and set out to create a buzz for it in the territories."
Given that the "right of return" is code for the elimination of Israel, it's debatable whether Kawasmi actually supported the two-state solution in the first place. And what is fanciful is Kawasmi's claim, made elsewhere in the piece, that by throwing their lot in with one-staters like him, the Jews of Israel will be spared the inevitable wrath of the Islamists. Sad to say, but imperative to repeat: Islamism, and its integral antisemitism, is not going to disappear overnight.
In addition, when Kawasmi talks about Jewish, Muslim and Christian communities living with equal rights, what does that mean, exactly? That Jews in Israel will cease to be a nation and become just a religion? That schools in the single state will teach the crimes of Zionism in the history curriculum? That the descendant of an Arab resident of Jaffa in 1948 takes priority over a Jew who is resident there now? None of this has been thought through - and yet Israelis, who listen to blood curdling rhetoric echoing around their region every day, are supposed to be comforted by a glib formula which views their national project as inherently illegitimate.
So let's not seduced by the talk of a "one-state solution." At best, it threatens a repeat of Iraq or Lebanon, at worst it is a prescription for genocide.