The same folks that could not deliver on the two-state solution are now trying to convince us that the one-state solution is a definite disaster, leaving us, how surprising, with the glorious status-quo, the preferred approach of the government in power.
In recent weeks the Israeli public has become the target of campaigns, mainly from the left and center of the political spectrum that try to scare us about the dangers of the one-state solution. Woe to those who will not pursue the two-state solution because the one-state solution is absolutely incredibly terrible, is a nightmare and is bound to doom the Jewish state, Zionism and what not.
It’s not only left leaning organizations like “Peace Now” who chip in with a video clip which could have been produced by Bennett’s “Jewish Home” party considering the amount of fire, blood and gore and the drama it shows (albeit from a different point of view) but also solid characters like the US Secretary of State who commented in Washington just on Wednesday this week once again how committed the U.S. is to the two-state solution. Thus said Secretary Kerry: “Anybody who thinks otherwise can measure what unitary looks like by just looking at what’s been occurring over the past few weeks”, referring to the abundance of terror attacks against Israelis by Palestinians. “Violence presages one-state future” screamed the Haaretz headline.
This approach by many of those who think that the two-state solution is still feasible is fundamentally mistaken. It is intellectually dishonest. By referring to the one-state solution without clearly defining it, it throws out the baby with the bathwater. Are we talking about a codified occupation, an apartheid state ? Are we talking about a state of all its citizens, equal rights for all ? Is Gaza part of it or not ? There may very well be one-state solutions, or modified one- or two-state solutions that are a lot more acceptable to the Israeli public, the Palestinian public and the international community than a two-state solution, particularly one that cannot be implemented.
Unfortunately, as long as there is what amounts to a complete a-priori veto by the moderate left and center of the political spectrum of any proposal that is not a nigh perfect two-state solution (Israel within the 67 lines, a Palestinian state with limited arms, mutually agreed land-swaps and some kind of sharing agreement in Jerusalem), real and even promising alternatives to the standard two-state scenario cannot even be discussed in public because of the fear of backlash.
It is also the completely wrong approach: Those who want to pursue the two-state solution should openly speak about the one-state solution, not in negative terms but in neutral terms, as an option, a difficult one but certainly one that may become necessary. That would surely be much more realistic and attuned to reality. Politicians and public alike may then shudder, come to their senses and start pursuing the two-state solution in earnest and fast, and not continue doing nothing. Or else, they will start seriously look at alternatives, realizing that the two-state solution is a distant goal that, worthy as it may be, is highly unlikely to be realized in the near future.
Those among us who think that the international community will force us to implement a two-state solution or take serious steps into that direction will have to readjust their expectations. The world will give us all the rope we need to hang ourselves and will not interfere through any amount of serious pressure. Sanctions yes, BDS, certainly, years of grinding us down may very well be on the horizon but people should look at South-Africa: How long did it take the international sanctions regime to reduce the apartheid state into submission ? It took decades and only started to have a real impact after the political circumstances, the collapse of the Soviet-Union, became supportive.
No, if we really want to get ourselves out of this mess, we’ll have to work it out, jointly with the Palestinians. Limiting the dialogue to a two-state scenario that for all intents and purposes is no longer attainable politically, at least not in the short term, is counterproductive. Not only is the public mature enough to discuss and consider alternative scenarios but I suspect it may well be ahead of Israeli politicians, who, with the exception of what the mainstream calls the “lunatic left”, will not touch anything that is not a two-state solution, not even with a ten foot pole. And the Palestinians ? They will certainly know what is good for them.