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Embracing the one-state solution – By Khalid Amayreh

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                          VIEWPOINT
"Exploring The Powerful Issues & Emotions of The Middle East" 
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Editor's Note:

Ultimately, there is really only one solution to the 
conflict between Israelis and Palestinians; One State. 

The common sense nature of this is overwhelming. It is 
not a novel idea that every person be allowed to vote. 

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Embracing the one-state solution – By Khalid Amayreh

As an arrogant Israel continues to destroy the "two-state 
solution" through unrelenting settlement expansion in the 
West Bank, especially East Jerusalem, a growing number of 
Palestinians, including intellectuals, academics as well as 
ordinary citizens, are abandoning the goal of "Palestinian 
statehood". Their new strategy is the creation of a 
democratic, unitary and secular state in all of Palestine-
Israel, in which Jews and Arabs would live in peace and 
equality. 

Advocates of the one-state solution argue that the two-
state solution is already dead and that any Palestinian 
state that might come out of the present peace process 
would be deformed and unviable and perpetuate conflict 
and violence in the region. "Such a state would be a sure 
prescription for future wars, instability and turbulence," 
one advocate argued during a recent symposium on the 
subject in Ramallah. 

To be sure, advocacy for the one-state solution is not 
new among Palestinians. For many years, the Palestine 
Liberation Organisation called for the creation of a 
secular, non-sectarian state in all of mandatory Palestine, 
where Jews, Muslims and Christians would be granted equal 
rights. Voices favouring a common Jewish-Arab homeland in 
Palestine were heard among Palestinians -- especially 
within leftist and communist circles -- even before the 
creation of Israel in 1948. 

Recent developments, however, including the apparent 
failure of recent high- profile peace efforts, such as 
the Annapolis Conference, coupled with Israel's adamant 
refusal to stop its settlement building activities and 
US inability and/or unwillingness to pressure Israel to 
halt its colonial expansion, are convincing an important 
sector of Palestinian elites that the two-state solution 
strategy is futile, unrealistic and detrimental to 
Palestinian national interests. 

This week, a prominent Fatah leader in the West Bank, Ziad 
Abu Ein, called for abandoning efforts to establish a 
Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the 
Gaza Strip, arguing that it is probably too late for the 
Palestinians to reach this goal, given existing demographic 
and political realities. "Our people would be willing to 
live in peace with Jews in the absence of fanaticism and 
intolerance, and based on the principles of equality, live 
and let live, and mutual respect," wrote Abu Ein in an 
article published Saturday on a website he created 
specifically for these ideas. 

Abu Ein called on "the nations of the world", the UN, as 
well as Israeli Jews to support and welcome the "desire 
of their Palestinian brothers and sisters to live in peace" 
in a unitary state extending from the Mediterranean to the 
River Jordan. Such a state, argued Abu Ein, would be free 
from violence, racism and efforts by one side to negate or 
undermine the interests of the other. 

It is uncertain if Abu Ein's ideas were coordinated with 
the senior leadership of Fatah in Ramallah. However, it 
is interesting that these ideas come amidst growing dis-
illusionment among many Palestinians with peace talks 
with Israel, which have so far yielded no tangible results. 
Indeed, frustration is conspicuous at all levels within 
Fatah. This week, pro-Fatah media quoted "sources close 
to Mahmoud Abbas" as saying that Abbas was already 
convinced of the futility of peace talks with Israel and 
that he was contemplating seeking an alternative to the 
failed talks. 

There was no detail given as to the nature of the 
"alternatives" sought, but well-informed Palestinians 
predict that options might include a decision by Abbas 
to resign and declare the peace process dead, dismantling 
the Palestinian Authority, or abandoning the two-state 
solution strategy and adopting a South-African style 
struggle for racial and religious equality in a democratic 
state based on the "one man, one vote" formula. 

Abbas, conscious of negative repercussions on his relations 
with the Bush administration, hastened to deny the report, 
saying he was still committed to the peace process and the 
two-state solution. 

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Nonetheless, it is clear that an increasing number of 
Palestinians are no longer giving the two-state strategy 
the benefit of the doubt. It is estimated that between 
25-35 per cent of Palestinians back the one-state 
solution. This percentage, however, is likely to increase 
dramatically if current peace talks between Israel and 
Abbas remain deadlocked. 

This week, an opinion survey conducted by the reliable 
Ramallah-based Centre for Policy and Survey Research 
showed that if new presidential elections were held now, 
Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh would receive 47 per cent of the 
vote compared with 46 per cent for Abbas. The figures 
represented a sharp rise in Haniyeh's popularity. A 
previous poll conducted by the same pollster in December 
gave Haniyeh only 37 per cent compared to 56 per cent 
for Abbas. 

The poll indicates that Hamas's steadfastness in the face 
of a harsh Israeli blockade, as well as the continued 
failure of the Israel-Abbas peace process, has led more 
Palestinians to give their support to Hamas. By nature 
this is bad news for proponents of a two- state solution. 

Earlier this month, a symposium was held in Ramallah in 
which several advocates of the one-state solution presented 
their views. They argued convincingly that in light of the 
ideological and political orientations permeating Israeli 
Jewish society, the chances of Israel withdrawing to the 
pre-1967 borders, and giving up East Jerusalem and 
dismantling major Jewish colonies in the West Bank, are 
very slim. Participants argued that Israel was even less 
likely to allow a significant number of Palestinian 
refugees to return to their original homes and villages 
in what is now called Israel as part of a two-state 
solution deal. 

Al-Ahram Weekly spoke with Hazem Al-Kawsmi, one of the main 
organisers of the symposium. He pointed out that the two-
state solution was not going to work, neither now nor in 
the future. 

"It is not going to work because Zionism doesn't want any 
kind of solution with the Palestinians. They want the whole 
land of Palestine. They want to keep controlling the lives 
of the Palestinians in every metre of historic Palestine. 
They want to control the oxygen Palestinians breathe, the 
water they drink, and the food they eat. They want to 
control borders, and retain the huge number of checkpoints, 
and they want to keep us living within walls, electric wire 
fences, and under total imprisonment." 

Kawsmi said he realised that the one-state solution concept 
was "anathema" to Israel and Zionism. 

"Today, Israel will not accept any solution, neither the 
two-state nor the one-state solution. Zionists are simply 
not ready for any solution that will bring peace for the 
region. They want peace only for Israelis, and to hell 
with others. They want to impose a situation that will 
take care of Zionist interests only, and they don't care 
about others who are involved in the conflict and live in 
the region. 

"So, since the Zionists will not accept any solution today, 
except for continuing their colonial designs, why should we 
care about what they would accept or reject? Palestinians, 
together with freedom supporters in the world, should 
initiate a strategy based on a one-state solution, and go 
confidently for this scenario. 

"Zionism is going to end, and this region will witness a 
new era where human rights are respected and justice is 
accomplished. The alternative to the one-state solution, 
which is a win-win situation for Israelis and Palestinians 
alike, would be open war forever based on a win-lose 
situation." 

Some Palestinian intellectuals believe that Israel, if and 
when forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, 
will choose the two-state solution, since the one-state 
solution would end Zionism and eventually reduce Jews in 
Israel-Palestine to a numerical minority. The issue comes 
down to these two solution, if Israel wants any solution, 
except a military one in which it erases the Palestinian 
national cause. 

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