Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Way Forward in Israel-Palestine? One State!

I cannot recommend highly enough the essay that appears today at Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" site.  Yoav Peled and Horit Herman Peled, two Israeli academics, rationally and succinctly conclude that the two-state solution beloved of the Clinton-Bush-Obama foreign-policy establishment (including Dennis Ross, the report of whose departure from the halls of the DoS seems to have been quite premature) is as dead as the proverbial doorknob.

Why?  The settlements - and the settlers - of course.  

That comes as hardly a surprise - except perhaps to Elliott Abrams, who has never relented in his opinion that the settlements are NOT the problem in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and ought not be the centerpiece in any "peace process."  Well, folks, the peace process is going nowhere, and has been a sham in what amounts to living memory for many Palestinians - and I'm hard pressed not to believe that Mr. Abrams' attempts to deflect attention from the settlements was nothing more than a holding action intended to give Netanyahu and his ilk all the time they needed to cement those "facts on the ground."  You can bet that whenever Mr. Abrams passes, something nice will be named  for him in Israel.

What Peled and Peled recommend is most certainly the only remaining course of action that (1) provides at least some modicum of fairness and justice for the Palestinian people, and (2) might ensure the future viability of a state called "Israel" that might still constitute, to some extent, a Jewish "homeland":

Instead of pursuing the mirage of a two-state solution, would-be peace makers should recognize the fact that Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in fact constitute one state that has been in existence for nearly forty-five years, the longest lasting political formation in these territories since the Ottoman Empire. (The British Mandate for Palestine lasted thirty years; Israel in its pre-1967 borders lasted only nineteen years). The problem with that state, from a democratic, humanistic perspective, is that forty percent of its residents, the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, are non-citizens deprived of all civil and political rights. The solution to this problem is simple, although deeply controversial: establishing one secular, non-ethnic, democratic state with equal citizenship rights to all in the entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

The stability of the future secular, democratic Israeli-Palestinian state would depend not only on it being truly democratic, but also on the strictest constitutional separation between state and religion. This should not mean forced secularization or placing restrictions on the free exercise of religion, but it does mean that the state will neither sanction nor subsidize religious activities and institutions, nor will it tolerate religious practices that are discriminatory towards women. 

Gee.  The equality of all citizens, no matter their religious beliefs.  Separation of religion and state.  No discrimination against women.  Kinda sound like ideas that most Americans would think of as distinctly all-American, don't they?  And these ideas are being propounded by two citizens of Israel.

So, why do I feel safe and secure in assuming that those red-blooded all-American boys Mitt, Newt, and Rick (and - OK, OK - Barack too) would reject this solution outright?

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