Is­rael-pales­tine: The delu­sion of a two-state so­lu­tion

Nairobi Law Monthly - - Analysis -

It is du­plic­i­tous enough for the Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu to try to con­vince au­di­ences out­side his own country from time to time that he sup­ports the cre­ation of a Pales­tinian state. Worse still is that he por­trays his ef­forts in this re­gard as be­ing con­stantly thwarted by the Pales­tini­ans them­selves.

In other words, Ne­tanyahu would have us be­lieve that he is a greater pro­po­nent of such a state than those who have been de­nied it by al­most half a cen­tury of Is­raeli mil­i­tary oc­cu­pa­tion and coloni­sa­tion.

He re­it­er­ated this fal­lacy on March 22, while ad­dress­ing the an­nual con­fer­ence of the Amer­i­can-is­rael Pub­lic Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, Wash­ing­ton’s most in­flu­en­tial pro-is­rael lobby group.

He said he was will­ing to re­sume talks on a two-state so­lu­tion “im­me­di­ately … any­time, any­where”, if only his Pales­tinian coun­ter­part Mah­moud Ab­bas was will­ing to do the same.

This just one day af­ter the Is­raeli govern­ment is­sued no­tices to seize nearly 120 hectares of land from Pales­tinian vil­lages in the north­ern West Bank, and days af­ter it de­clared more than 2,300 dunums of land in Jeri­cho as “state lands”, which are then usu­ally granted to Jewish set­tlers.

Self-con­tra­dic­tion

Never mind that in the same speech, Ne­tanyahu urged the United States to op­pose any UN res­o­lu­tion call­ing for the cre­ation of a Pales­tinian state. It seems no one else apart from him ‒ not the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity or even the Pales­tini­ans ‒ is al­lowed to seek such a state.

And no one else is al­lowed to de­fine its pa­ram­e­ters. Is­rael’s ever-ex­pand­ing set­tle­ment en­ter­prise, which con­trols around half of the West Bank - in­clud­ing its wa­ter aquifers and most fer­tile land ‒ and has made a Swiss cheese out of the Pales­tinian ter­ri­tory ‒ must be largely main­tained.

Is­rael must keep il­le­gally an­nexed East Jerusalem ‒ whose bound­aries have been ex­panded to com­prise some 10 per­cent of the West Bank ‒ as well as the Jor­dan Val­ley, which com­prises about an­other 30 per cent. What­ever is left for a Pales­tinian state must be “demil­i­tarised” ‒ in other words re­main de­fence­less ‒ and recog­nise Is­rael as a Jewish state.

This de­mand was not made of Egypt or Jor­dan, and would fur­ther im­peril Is­rael’s Pales­tinian citizens, who com­prise more than 20 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion and are al­ready treated as sec­ond-class.

If all th­ese cri­te­ria ‒ and oth­ers ‒ are met, then Ne­tanyahu is all ears, be­cause he knows that the end re­sult would not be a state in any sense of the word. That the Pales­tini­ans would not ‒ and could not ‒ ac­cept such a “state” is pre­cisely why he can claim to sup­port its cre­ation, be­cause he knows it will never come to that.

Do not call them pre­con­di­tions, though; he does not like them, and ap­par­ently only the Pales­tini­ans have them.

In re­al­ity, while Is­rael’s en­tail flout­ing in­ter­na­tional law, that of the Pales­tini­ans ‒ a halt to set­tle­ment ex­pan­sion ‒ is sim­ply ad­her­ence to it.

When ob­jec­tive ob­servers point out the ob­vi­ous, that Is­rael can­not claim to be com­mit­ted to peace with the Pales­tini­ans while colonis­ing their land, they are sub­jected to the full fury of Is­raeli of­fi­cials.

When UN Sec­re­tary Gen­eral Ban Ki­moon did so in Jan­uary, he was ac­cused of “en­cour­ag­ing ter­ror”.

On the rare oc­ca­sion when Is­rael’s own al­lies do the same ‒ most re­cently US Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den ‒ they can safely be ig­nored, be­cause Is­rael knows th­ese words will never trans­late to pres­sure.

Re­mem­ber how quickly the US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama caved when Ne­tanyahu re­jected a halt to set­tle­ment ex­pan­sion be­fore talks with the Pales­tini­ans? He knew that Obama would not twist his arm.

And why lis­ten to Bi­den now, when the US elec­tion sea­son means pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates are fall­ing over them­selves to ap­pease the pow­er­ful pro-is­rael lobby?

Even when the demise of the two-state so­lu­tion is brought up, it is al­most al­ways por­trayed as a pos­si­bil­ity that could still be avoided, rather than some­thing that has al­ready hap­pened. This is con­ve­nient for those in­vested in the “peace process” be­cause they can avoid hav­ing to ad­mit they have failed, and hav­ing to ac­knowl­edge the one-state re­al­ity.

Point of no re­turn

Those who con­tinue to por­tray a twostate so­lu­tion as a pos­si­bil­ity are ‒ in­ad­ver­tently or oth­er­wise ‒ pro­vid­ing Is­rael with cover to con­tinue wip­ing Pales­tine off the map, be­cause the point of no re­turn seems to for­ever be on the hori­zon, and as long as that is the case, Is­rael can avoid blame for pass­ing the point of no re­turn.

There is noth­ing rad­i­cal about high­light­ing this. Ne­tanyahu him­self made clear in his last elec­tion cam­paign that there would be no Pales­tinian state un­der his watch ‒ it is this pledge to his elec­torate that should be taken se­ri­ously, not his faux dec­la­ra­tions to in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences about seek­ing peace.

There needs to be a par­a­digm shift in the way peo­ple view the con­flict and ways to solve it. That in­volves ac­knowl­edg­ing that Is­rael has cre­ated a one-state re­al­ity, and find­ing ways to make that state eq­ui­table rather than a ve­hi­cle for the apartheid sys­tem that ex­ists to­day.^

(Al Jazeera)

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