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Knesset decapitates two-state solution

I just finished watching a live transmission of the Knesset vote on the referendum law. The law, which passed at a majority of 65 to 33, conditions any Israeli withdrawal from any of its territory – into which Israel, alone in the world,  includes the Golan Heights  East Jerusalem – on passing a nation-wide referendum. To overrule the law, the Knesset would need a privileged majority of 80 out of 120 parliamentarians.  Considering current and foreseeable trends in the public mood, overwhelming support for withdrawing from East Jerusalem – including the Old City, Gilo, Ramot Eshkol, and others – is highly unlikely.

This means that even if we ever get to an agreement on the key issue of a Palestinian capital in Jerusalem and the status of the city’s Palestinian residents, the referendum will kill it. The only alternative are if the government makes a new legislation and kills referendum law first, which seems highly improbable. The future Palestinian state, if it ever comes to pass, will be without its main symbol and historic capital.

The two state solution was in dire straits ever since it was born; the huge settlement expansion under Israel’s most leftist governments, especially the Rabin-Peres one, made it all but impossible to achieve on the ground. Whatever was left of its political future was further cast into question by the Olmert and Netanyahu documents, demanding the new Palestinian state  has no control of airspace or non-Israeli borders, and other attributes of a sovereign state. The referendum bill put nail-before-last in the two-state process. The last nail will come when the Palestinian Authority implodes, whether for lack of credibility, or for a conscious change of tactic in favour of demanding vote and collective rights within the overarching Israeli government.

For the record,  all of the Labor ministers, led by Ehud Barak, walked out of the chamber, not voting at all.  Much of Kadima were absent, except Livni and a handful of MKs, who voted against.  Labor once again chose the illusion of power over whatever they were once meant to stand for politically; some Labor ministers said they would vote against the law, but naturally didn’t threaten to resign, so Barak pulled out the lot of them. Livni, in all probability, feared an open revolt in her badly fractured party. Netanyahu voted in favor – I’m surprised you asked.

Click here to download the full text of the law (Hebrew .pdf)

In all honesty, the two state solution appears to be long past its due – what’s worse, considering the leadership Israel has to implement it, it seems likely to become an instrument of oppression, rather than liberation, for all involved.  If this path appears so unpromising, alternatives must be considered and discussed openly. I can only join Danny Rubinstein, Ali Abunimah, Yehuda Shenhav, Noam Sheizaf, Reuven Rivlin and a growing number of other voices calling to begin earnestly examining ways of achieving self determination, security, and collective rights for Israeli Jews and for Palestinians in a one-state framework.

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  • COMMENTS

    1. chicagosmonster

      this is simply unacceptable. I have never had such a shift from loving one country to hating it.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Ultimately the knesset only has the power to decide anything if the US lets it. The day you have a man in the Oval Office who is not owned by the Zionist Lobby the story will be different. For instance, when US bans its citizens from settling on the West Bank and then freezes economic ties with Israel until it gets out of the occupied territories, the apartheid state will be out of Palestine in double quick time. A little light pressure on the Zionists pockets, the place where it hurts them most, would work wonders.

      Reply to Comment
    3. [...] Dimi Reider writes: I just finished watching a live transmission of the Knesset vote on the referendum law. The law, which passed at a majority of 65 to 33, conditions any Israeli withdrawal from any of its territory – into which Israel, alone in the world, includes the Golan Heights East Jerusalem – on passing a nation-wide referendum. To revoke the law, the Knesset would need a privileged majority of 80 out of 120 parliamentarians. Considering current and foreseeable trends in the public mood, overwhelming support for withdrawing from East Jerusalem – including the Old City, Gilo, Ramot Eshkol, and others – is highly unlikely. [...]

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    4. [...] working  from Israel and the Palestinian territories. This post originally appeared in +972.Tagged as: Israel, peace process, two-state solution{ 6 comments… read them below or add one [...]

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    5. [...] voters. You can go here to vote:Click Here to vote to save an unborn lifeEarlier tonight we posted Dimi Reider’s analysis that the Israeli Knesset killed the two-state solution yesterday by passing a law to [...]

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    6. Ben Israel

      I know, it is certainly most infuriating when the people are actually allowed to decide on policy. Maybe a military coup would be the solution….then you don’t have to worry about public opinion.

      By the way Dimi, you should bone up on your history. Jerusalem was NEVER the “historic capital” of any Arab state. When Jordan controlled Jerusalem, its capital was in Rabbat Ammon (Amman).

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    7. Yair

      Dimi – I agree, It is getting to the point where those of us ahead of the curve need to sit down and think the possibilities within a single state framework. The spectrum is really wide and the outcomes could be as different from Bosnia to the UK.
      We should start a group discussion – and the discussion has to be both theoretical and pragamatic at the same time.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Evgeny

      Even if discussions will go ahead they will last for another 30 years. With the level of education constantly decreasing, political corruption on both sides growing and gaps between the rich and the poor widening, it is hard to imagine how will such negotiations involve and produce an agreement satisfying the numerous marginilised communities present on both sides.

      With the army having to deal with the ever increasing security threats and US slowly loosing its position of dominance, Israel will certainly be a very interesting place to watch, if not exactly a great place to live in (tastes differ).

      I will be certainly following.

      Reply to Comment
    9. commenter

      So… requiring Israeli citizens to endorse a two-state solution via a referendum makes a two-state solution impossible, even though opinion polls say Israelis favour a two-state solution. Right.

      Seems to me that when people say “the two state solution is dead” they often actually mean either “I’m saying this to try to scare you and bounce you into accepting a two-state solution” or “I am indulging in wishful thinking and want a one state solution, to get rid of Israel”.

      Reply to Comment
    10. [...] gegen Frieden” – junge welt, 24.11.2010 [↩] Knesset decapitates two-state solution – +972, 22. November 2010 [↩] Mouin Rabbani: “Palestine at the UN: An alternative [...]

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    11. “The future Palestinian state, if it ever comes to pass, will be without its main symbol and historic capital.”

      Err…there was never a historical Palestinian nation (whether by “nation” we mean “ethnic peoplehood” or “sovereign nation-state”), so how can Jerusalem have been its capital, when it never existed?

      But let’s say that for the sake of argument, there was indeed such a nation, with Jerusalem as its capital. Why should the Jews lose their “main symbol and historic capital” just because the Palestinians, as Johnny-come-latelies, claim what has always been Jewish? Even the Bible critics who would doubt the authenticity of the Torah, would still admit that it was the Israelites/Hebrews who were living in Israel. So that means that by all accounts, there were Jews in Israel in 1400 BCE (give or take a few centuries). By contrast, the Arabs left the Arabian peninsula only around 600 CE. So even if we assume that the Palestinians came to Israel in 600 CE – i.e. giving them the most generous estimation we can – the Jews still have a 2000 lead on them.

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    12. Tahel Ilan

      the only reason the 2 state solution is being publicly advocated in israel is because it is the conditioning for our continuous financial and military support from the USA.
      a 2 state solution stopped being plausible more than 30 years ago.
      the only reason 2 people cant live in one country is if they hate each other that much. and that is called racism. which is why most israelis that dont fall into this category are living abroad in diverse ethnic communities and the ones that cant continue to fight for nothing with their own kids lives.

      Reply to Comment
    13. to MICHAEL MAKOVI

      There was also no Italian “ethnic peoplehood” or “sovereign nation-state” before 1860, and still Rome was it’s Capital.
      I’m sure you could think of a few other exampels.

      Reply to Comment
    14. When the Knesset passed the law, did they do it with a privileged majority? No. 65 to 33 is no privileged majority. So this is a bit strange. You need a privileged majority to accept any negotiation about Jerusalem. But can’t they just take the law back with a normal majority? If they can, the whole law is just a fake, a provocation. And then it means nothing. Because they could take it back at any time with a normal majority. Does anyboday know? Sorry for my English.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Dimi

      Hello there,
      Thanks to everyone for their comments- I’ll try to respond properly when I’m back at my own computer later tonight. Meanwhile, a clarification of a point that’s been raised several times, most recently by Schmok: The law was passed with a 65 members special majority. A simple majority is just the majority of the MKs who bother to show up. A special majority is over 61 members. A privileged majority is, as Schmok pointed out, 80 out 120, and is usually reserved for huge things, like constitutional (“basic”) legislation. In this case, the special majority means that the Knesset would need to cancel the law with a majority of over 61. But to overrule the law – which is what I wrote, and perhaps I should clarify this in the post itself- the Knesset would need a majority of 80. By overrule I mean forcing an agreement through WITHOUT a referendum, and without canceling the law.
      D

      Reply to Comment
    16. But instead of looking for a privileged majority it would be more easy to cancel the law. So the law is a joke. It is more easy to cancel the law (61 votes) than having a privileged majority. Why sould I seek for a privileged majority whan I could cancel the law? That’s what I mean.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Dimi Reider

      You might want to force past an agreement and keep the law for other occasions. But the point is that the law is mean to block an agreement: It’s very difficult to get a privileged majority to overrule the referendum, and it’s only marginally less difficult to get a +61 majority, because the parties keep getting smaller and smaller. More importantly, they keep getting more right wing. So they’re a lot less likely to vote to cancel that law then they were to vote it in.

      Reply to Comment
    18. But can’t you see the joke?

      You say: “It’s very difficult to get a privileged majority to overrule the referendum, and it’s only marginally less difficult to get a +61 majority, because the parties keep getting smaller and smaller.”

      To overrule the referendum they need at least 80 of 120 votes. So imagine Kadima, Labor and Likud want to retreat from East-Jerusalem. If they cannot get a privileged majority, they could just cancel the law. If they really want!

      Imagine the “left” opposition wants to overrule the referendum, it would be much more easy for them to cancel the law than to overrule. Sure, they cannot do this at the moment. But this is because they cannot even cancel the law.

      So in my opinion the whole law is just a fake, a provocation, a statement. Nothing more. The right-wing don’t want to give back East-Jerusalem. And because they want do a statement they just passed this law. Every nogotiation with the Palestinians would also need at least a special majority of 61 of 120, wouldn’t it?

      So at least it doesn’t matter if there is a law or if it isn’t. If they want they just cancel the law. But you are right: practical it will be more difficult to cancel the law because you need to find 30 votes of the ones who voted in favour. But it would be even hard to find a majority for giving East-Jerusalem back, if this law didn’t pass…

      Reply to Comment

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