This past week, Antony Loewenstein and Ahmed Moor launched their book “After Zionism: One State for Israel and Palestine” at The School of Oriental and African Studies in London. I chose not to attend this quaint little bash, and whilst there is little need to go over why a one-state solution is intellectually ridiculous, in terms of the far left’s vision of a fused Israeli-Palestinian state, there are some practical questions that popped into my head.
Presumably, the Knesset and Palestinian governments would be dissolved, with voter registration throughout the territories and new elections held for a single assembly. There would then be several dilemmas: Would the democratic system be based on a Palestinian model with an all-powerful, directly elected president, or a prime minister asked by the ceremonial president to form a government? How many seats would parliament have? Would they persevere with proportional representation? And if so, what would be the threshold for political parties? For Jewish voters, a higher threshold and less seats in parliament would almost certainly lead to a wave of political mergers, with Likud welcoming back former friends from Kadima, religious parties putting aside differences that only students of Judaism could possibly understand, and Labor persistently wondering whether anyone will ever trust them again. Could Fatah and Hamas reconcile, despite decades of hostility, or would an Arab-Jewish coalition emerge?
With the formation of a government, how would the new state divide its budget? When Germany unified, West Germany had extraordinary sums available to invest in East Germany, but considering the current budget woes of Israel, it seems unlikely any great resources will be available to invest in Gaza and the West Bank. If cities like Tel Aviv continue to be the major source of tax revenues, how will their inhabitants react if their public services are neglected in favor of areas that have experienced decades of poverty like Gaza City? And how will education be structured? Will there be a national curriculum, or autonomy for schools? Will religious establishments be funded by the state? Or will their educational remit be based on financial independence and freedom from interference?
And how would the new military be structured? Would there be national service? Or would it be a non-militarised nation? If there was a military, would Gazan Islamists serve in separate units for West Bank secularists, ultra-Orthodox Jews, secular Jews? And what of Arabs born and raised in the former Israeli state? Would the new state unilaterally disarm its nuclear capabilities? Or would the hard men of Fatah and Hamas appreciate the gravitas of a nuclear bomb? If they rejected disarmament, would the attainment of a Sunni(-Jewish) nuclear weapon lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, further pushing Iran forward in pursuing nuclear weapons? And would neighboring Egypt feel compelled to match the nuclear capabilities of its Gazan neighbors after years spent as the bigger, tougher older brother? Would Hamas hand over its stockpile of weapons to a centralized military? Or, rejecting absorption into a greater Palestinian army, operate instead as a militia in competition with the state forces akin to the situation in Lebanon?
Since the 1967 green line borders will no longer exist, will Jewish settlements in the former West Bank be legalized? Or will they all be removed? And if so, where will those families go? If Jewish settlers have built homes on land legally purchased, what legal justification could a state have to remove them? Indeed, what legal system will be used? Will Jews be free to live anywhere in the new state, in Gaza and the Jordan Valley? What will be the policy on immigration? Will Jews from across the globe maintain a right of return, or only Palestinians displaced in the past 60 years? How will the new state view illegal immigration from Africa, and what will its policy on refugees fleeing violence in neighboring lands be?