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An equal-rights bi-national one-state solution is the only solution Open in fullscreen

Sophia Akram

An equal-rights bi-national one-state solution is the only solution

Trump and Netanyahu hold a joint press conference at the White House, February 15 [Getty]

Date of publication: 17 February, 2017

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Comment: Did Trump just kill off the two-state solution? The time has come for a single-state, with equal rights for all, before Israel creates one without Palestinians, writes Sophia Akram.
In the three weeks since Donald Trump took presidential office, he has besmirched the White House with a tornado of executive orders and a string of cringeworthy diplomatic interactions.

Abe, May and Trudeau's meetings with Trump were intensely scrutinised, but it's his relationship with Bibi that has so far been the most curious. While the Israeli right may have been optimistic that Trump would provide even more leeway for a Zionist takeover of the whole of Palestine, temporary doubts were cast when Trump described settlement construction as "unhelpful" to peace.  

It has long been assumed that that peace would be based on a "two-state solution". But Trump's statement - "I'm looking at two state and and one state, and I like the one that both parties like" - appears to imply otherwise.
The death of a two-state solution
The two-state solution has been the constant throughout the fraught but inadequate peace process.

Since the 1948 UN Resolution, the international community has maintained that Israel could have a state, if Palestinians could have their own, too. But this dream is moving further and further towards the surreal, especially since Israel's most right-wing government to date arrived in power.

Emboldening a previously marginal fringe movement, settlers have now reached the upper echelons of power. Gaining a platform within the Knesset, they are laying the literal groundwork for the West Bank to disappear. And on the other side of Israel, Gaza is being punished out of range of the international media.
For many Palestinians, the impasse of a failed peace process killed the two-state possibility a long time ago
Two-state or one-state is essentially a question of Palestinian want and Israeli will. But for many Palestinians, the impasse of a failed peace process killed the two-state possibility a long time ago. And many Israelis never endorsed it in the first place.
So is it not time for the rest of the international community to let go of a two-state solution, before Israel shapes a different one for its exclusive self-betterment?
What could a one-state solution look like? 
One-state means a nation that encompasses Israel and the occupied territories of Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem. One contiguous land mass from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. And this state can be either "the Jewish state", or a democratic state. Democracy does not allow for one group of people to have greater rights than another due to their religion or ethnicity.
Many commentators have pointed to the inherent problems of a two-state solution: It negates the right of return for Palestinians - a basic human right they will never be persuaded to give up - and something that Israel would never allow. This goes some way in accounting for the current impasse.
South Africa emerged from an apartheid regime despite staunch opposition from the ruling white classes in the 1990s - even as they shifted to the right, just as Israel is doing now
A so-called Palestinian state would be built on top of the water reserves that currently supply Israel, and that is something Israel is unlikely to give up. In addition, Israel would never allow a Palestinian state full sovereignty, conceding to only a "state-minus" status. Whatever Netanyahu thinks that means, without full sovereignty, it is not a state at all.
The US bent over backwards for the Israelis - opposing BDS and granting them their record-breaking $38 billion military aid package - while Israel flouted the trust of the international community and international law by not only refusing to cease settlement-building, but by building at an unprecedented rate.
Former Vice-president John Kerry never believed that a one-state solution could ever allow the region to be at peace.
Read more: Trump's rambling, nonsensical Netanyahu press conference leaves many bewildered

But lessons can be learned from history.

As Ali Abunimah points out, South Africa emerged from an apartheid regime despite staunch opposition from the ruling white classes in the 1990s - even as they shifted to the right, just as Israel is doing now. It may not have seemed possible at the time, but was achieved through unrelenting resistance from the African National Congress (ANC).
There is grassroots and political support for such a solution as well. Israel's president Reuven Rivlin said he supported the full annexation of the West Bank - but said it would be in exchange for complete Israeli citizenship and equal rights for Palestinian residents.

While his comments come in the mindset of a Zionist outlook, this would lay some political foundations for Palestinian self-determination.
In terms of public sentiment, a recent opinion poll suggested that two-thirds of Palestinians believe a two-state solution is no longer feasible. In many ways, one-state is already a reality, but it is one that currently benefits the Israeli party, with Palestine relegated to a mere series of Bantustans.
A difficult road
But Kerry had a point. Resistance comes at a high price. He believed there would never truly be peace if Israel and Palestine did not remain as two separate states, and this was a notion shared by former Israeli president Shimon Peres.
“Anyone who rejects the two-state solution, won't bring a one-state solution. They will instead bring one war, not one state. A bloody war with no end."
A recent opinion poll suggested that two-thirds of Palestinians believe a two-state solution is no longer feasible
That's because the clear majority of Israeli Jews would reject it - particularly a situation in which Palestinians received full voting and land-owning rights. Currently Arab Israelis are subjugated through institutionalised discrimination. Full voting rights would provide them with constitutional and political parity. And it would sacrifice the exclusively Jewish identity of Israel - the premise upon which it was created. 
The struggle is very much real - one-state will not come easy, and the same mechanisms of resistance will be needed. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that has been the leading form of coercion is slowly sullying Israel's current reputation and credibility, and this would need to continue in order to affect any meaningful change.

And of course, for a plight that has been internationalised from its very inception, the international community needs to be on board.

The UK and Australia are still endorsing the two-state solution. But the case for a one-state solution for the right reasons - one-state, one-person, one-vote - should be discussed now, before one-state without the Palestinians becomes a hardened reality.

Sophia Akram is a researcher and communications professional with a special interest in human rights particularly across the Middle East. Follow her on Twitter: @mssophiaakram

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

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