zaterdag 23 augustus 2008

De illusie van de eenstatenoplossing (Yossi Alpher)

Volgens een recente opiniepeiling was 14% van de Israëli's - Joden en Arabieren - voor een een-staten-oplossing, tegenover driekwart voor een twee-staten-oplossing.

A one-state solution in Palestine is patently unrealistic
On both sides of the green line and, indeed, wherever people think about solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a lot of old-new thinking is taking place. Old, because there is really nothing new under the sun when it comes to solutions for Israelis and Palestinians. But new, because after 15 years of concentrated and largely fruitless efforts to solve the conflict with a negotiated two-state solution, we now encounter more and more discussion of alternatives.
Essentially, the dismal current status and future prospects of the Israeli-Palestinian two-state peace process are encouraging discussion among some Palestinians of reverting to the one-state solution championed by the Palestinian Liberation Organization in its early years and by Hamas. Meanwhile, among Israelis discouraged with the peace process, the Gaza-West Bank split is spurring consideration of solutions based on the existence of two Palestinian entities separated by Israel (in effect, a three-state solution), or of variations in which Israel and Jordan divide the West Bank and Israel and Egypt possibly deal jointly with the Gaza Strip.
Most of these ideas are patently unrealistic. Discussion of them often reflects despair, not pragmatic strategic thinking.
Beginning with three-state solutions, it is difficult to assess how deep and long-lasting the Gaza-West Bank, Hamas-Fatah split really is. Virtually all Palestinians insist that it has to end and that the two territories must eventually be rejoined, whether within a two-state solution or as part of a single binational state. But a historical review of the course of Palestinian dispersal since 1948, including the 1948-1967 period during which Gaza was ruled by Egypt and the West Bank by Jordan, can only conclude that yet another phase of division and fragmentation is a possibility. Here a lot depends on Hamas and militant Islam in general and the evolution of their approach toward the existence of Israel. With its current extremist ideology toward Israel, Hamas can perhaps be tolerated in Gaza but certainly not in the West Bank. This points to the possibility of Gaza emerging as a separate Palestinian entity within some sort of three-state or three-entity setup.
Israeli variations on a three-state solution, championed primarily by settler ideologues and others on the right wing, are patently unrealistic insofar as they call upon Egypt and Jordan to relieve or lighten Israel's Palestinian "burden" by annexing, administering or enlarging (into Sinai) Palestinian territories. Neither Cairo nor Amman has evinced the slightest readiness to comply. Nor does Washington appear inclined - based on the wishful thinking of some Israeli right wingers - to somehow compel them to do so.

But Israeli right-wing wishful thinking pales compared to that of Palestinians who appear to believe that if they advocate a one-state solution it could somehow become a reality. Put simply, the vast majority of Israeli Jews would not agree to live in a binational Israeli state. Hypothetically, if for some cataclysmic reason they could no longer live in a Jewish, democratic state in their historic homeland, they would prefer renewed dispersion and Diaspora to life in a binational Arab-Jewish (essentially Muslim-Jewish) state that by definition would not be Zionist and would almost certainly quickly relegate Jews to the status of a persecuted minority. Nor do Israelis intend to let that "cataclysmic reason" come to pass.
Precisely because Palestinians who proffer a one-state solution do not have a Jewish negotiating partner, the threat to somehow revert to this position (most recently voiced by PLO's chief peace negotiator Ahmed Qorei) unless Israel is more forthcoming in two-state solution negotiations is totally counter-productive. Not only does it not soften the Israeli negotiating position - it generates indifference or even hostility.
In traditional "stick and carrot" terms, the Palestinians making this threat are beating themselves with their own stick.
Perhaps most important for Israel and its supporters, failure of a two-state solution does not mean that the alternative is a one-state solution. Precisely because there is no such alternative, other options more readily suggest themselves, ranging from temporary conflict management to three states or entities. Nor does failure today mean that tomorrow we cannot try again to arrive at a two-state solution, which remains the best option for all.
True, there are a few Israeli Jews on the fringes of society who either advocate or would comply in a one-state solution. They include anti-Zionist leftists and ultra-orthodox as well as settlers who believe they can survive in a Jewish, non-democratic state in which Arabs are perpetual second-class citizens. I would not recommend to Palestinians that they rely on any of these fringe Jews as potential partners.
Yossi Alpher is a former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and was a senior adviser to Prime Minister Ehud Barak. This commentary first appeared at, an online newsletter publishing contending views of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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