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Bloggingheads: Reider vs Gorenberg: One state or two?

The Palestinian Authority’s statehood bid is portrayed as a crucial step on the way to the two state solution, yet an independent Palestinian state appears to as distant as ever. Watch below as Gershom Gorenberg and I engage in a Bloggingheads diavlog to discuss whether it’s time to begin considering other options.

One sneaky note – you’ll notice I’m having considerable issue with Gershom’s portrayal of the one-state approach: He argues that this is akin to being on a sinking ship (the status quo) with the shore (the two state solution) too far to swim to, and suggesting we flap our hands and fly there instead. As many a discussion, counter-allegories begin coming up properly the minute you hang up. So for what it’s worth, here is my reading of the situation: All of us, Palestinians and Israelis, are stuck on a plane flying toward a long agreed upon destination – the two state solution. Trouble is, the destination keeps getting further and further away, and there’s every indication the plane is starting to run out of fuel. What I’m suggesting is that it’s time to consider a change of course, or even crash-landing the plane, while Gershom insists we must persist on our original track. I guess time will tell.

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    1. Guillaume Charron

      But there are groups such as the FPLP who have advocated for a one state solution all along….

      Reply to Comment
    2. Nathan

      Don’t you hate it when you think of the best come back the second you put down the phone?!

      Dimi your metaphor leaves out some salient facts. If the two parties are on a plane, then it’s a double decker plane, and the Israelis are living upstairs and starting to encroach on the lower floor as well. Both parties would prefer to have the whole plane to themselves, but majorities on both floors of the plane have concluded that they could live with some kind of division. To be clear: majorities on both sides would rather partition the land than live in a single state that represents the national aspirations of neither side.

      Therefore what you’re saying is “Let’s ignore the voices of majorities on both sides and provide an answer that suits

      a)Groups that seek to continue the conflict (Hamas, ideological settlers etc) AND

      b)Persons/groups that are happy to live with their neighbours, and are more concerned with simply staying on the territory they personally live on (e.g. Tekoa for Menachem Froman) than national self determination for their collective communities.
      I think that one day it may eventuate that majorities on both sides will turn into people in category b) – but that simply isn’t the case at the moment.

      Reply to Comment
    3. ARTH

      Both participants in this dialogue assume that there is a solution that will lead to Peace in the region one state, two states, three states… Perhaps there isn’t and the status quo will continue on… until external geopolitical factors change. These include changes in American support, financial and political, for Israel, changes in the Arab political calculus, which are already occurring, and the rise of Turkey as a regional diplomatic player. One both Gorenberg and Reimer should remember is that it is only Israel that requires an “solution” to the conflict. Certainly the Arabs prefer Peace, but if this Peace is with or without the existence of a “Jewish State” is entirely secondary to them.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Thanks for that interchange.

      My own perspective is that some form of federal political resolution is inevitable over one or two generations, and would evolve by either suggested starting paths.

      The democratic concept of consent of the governed is the controlling question relative to issues of sovereignty.

      The legal problem with the settlements, the question of title, originated in a process of expropriation, for the purpose of ethnically exclusive residence.

      In ANY legal solution, the ethnically exclusive character of the settlements would lapse. And, in ANY legal solution, primarily compensation would be afforded to the individuals or class or collectivity for the value of land taken.

      Both the single and the two-state approach would have to incorporate principles of law in determination of title, and not just even a negotiated decree (to whomever’s specific benefit).

      I agree with Gershon, that in the presence of a willing Israeli administration, that the two-state approach is a more feasible path to current revival of Palestinian community, to diminished politically originated tensions, and with subsequent options at more integration in the future.

      I think it would be a mistake to not wait until then for specific preparation and agitation for a single state.

      If an Israeli administration was elected that sought peace in earnest, then the American advocacy groups would fall in line.

      So, again, I believe that the source of prospects of peace lie in three efforts.

      1. Electoral within Israel
      2. Social in forming common cause between Jewish and non-Jewish Israelis around issues that are not political in nature (occupation, sovereignty definition of political issue)
      3. Social/economic in forming partnership relationships between Jewish Israeli, non-Jewish Israeli, and Palestinian collaborative economic efforts.

      Resistance language hinders the likelihood of 1. And, BDS hinders the likelihood of 2 and 3.

      Some say that that is complicit with the occupation to ask that the resistance movement turn cooperative or not antagonistic to Israeli pro-Zionist agendas.

      I think the opposite. I think BDS ends up complicit in not making change, but “successfully” making fear, isolation and division.

      And, I think that constructive self-advocacy is a form of liberation, that results in an integrated society (if that is desired).

      All efforts to insist on the rule of law relative to settlement annexation is relevant, but limited to the rule of law (title law, invoking asserted selections of international law will blowback).

      Reply to Comment
    5. Mathieu

      I do not agree with Gershom Gorenberg when he says (@15:55) about Lebanon : “(…) political arrangements between comunitites which really don’t have a political common denominator, varies between periods of apparent democracy, which is pretty skin deep to begin with, and periods of violence”.

      I am curious to understand what is his definition of a full fledge, thick, meaty, democracy?

      Reply to Comment
    6. Henry Weinstein

      Dimi, please, it would be great to have a more complete update written digest of this low audible interchange (tonight I’m too tired and when I close my eyes to hear better I fall asleep!).
      Half-sleeping, I’ve written this (hope it’s not completely out of touch):
      Maybe it’s not so much a solution, THE (one-two-?) solution, than a political deal, given-given, between the two sides (only two?, but Hamas?) which could be the less worse way to begin to end the Occupation era?
      Concretely: first end checkpoints & Gaza blockade, give as much autonomy as possible to Palestinians, then, if the deal is respected…
      Because if we wait for an Instant Solution, with so many extremists around, we could wait for a very long bloody time.
      The reality is the present generation of politicians, and probably the next, is totally incapable to settle the conflict of interests, i.e Israelis wanting peace & security vs Palestinians wanting independence & and ?…
      How to build a partnership beyond Israeli security concerns, that seems to be the realist question, no?

      Reply to Comment
    7. Bosko

      Hello …. There is an elephant in the room in this debate! Both sides argue from the SAME premise. Both say that there is only ONE villain in this conflict, Israel. Does any real person who has no axe to grind believe such a premise? I think it is important for me to highlight the reasons, as briefly as I can, why I think that both speakers are WRONG with that premise …
      In 1947, the UN voted to partition Palestine into two states, one Jewish state (resolution 181 includes the specific word “Jewish”) and one Arab state. The Arabs rejected that solution, they attacked the Jewish state and in that war, 1% of the Jewish population lost their lives. I won’t even talk about subsequent wars, hatreds, incitements, boycotts and rejectionisms by the Arab side, even before 1967 (before the settlements and the occupation). That act alone represents a giant wrong committed by the Arab side. And it needs to be said too that the 1948 aggression by the Arabs didn’t just result in Arab refugees. It resulted in about an equal number of Jewish refugees from Arab countries.
      Why do I emphasise this history? Because it is important to remember that as in all conflicts, there are two sides to a story and there are victims and victimisers on both sides.
      And if there are victims and victimisers on BOTH sides, then it means that BOTH sides need to compromise. Yet both these speakers ignored that need. I don’t wish to be rude to the speakers because they may be well meaning but the road to hell is paved with good intentions. They may call themselves to be part of the “peace camp” but many of us think that the term “surrender camp” would be more appropriate. Contrary to their intent, such views are not helpful. They are harmful on three fronts …
      1. They discourage Arabs from wanting to compromise.
      2. They cause rift within Israeli society, bordering on hatred between left and
      Right. That cannot be good for anyone …
      3. They harden International opinion against Israel. That cannot be good for
      The irony of it is that had the Arabs agreed to the UN partition plan in 1947. By now, more than likely we would have had a confederated state. But now it’s too late for that. There is too much bad blood for it to be a reality, at least for now. Perhaps in several generations from now, who knows … ?

      Reply to Comment
    8. Bosko,
      I think that nearly the opposite of what you expressed vehemently, is the truth.

      For example, the PA has been exemplary in its willing to compromise, even on some fundamental concerns for them.

      The history of security cooperation, internal persuasion of West Bank former terrorists to renounce terror as means, enforcement and prosecution of violent agitation, responsible and rational proposal and counter-proposal diplomacy.

      A single decision in 1948 is interesting, but long passed, as are assertions that the San Remo accords are legally binding currently.

      Certainly since Netanyahu’s administration has been in power, Israel has been the unwilling party.

      The greatest genuine sin that the current PA has done is to express its impatience indicating their frustration. That is not a sin, that is candor.

      To rationalize that peace is impossible when it is, or even may be, seems to be a great lapse.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Bosko

      Richard Witty says …
      “A single decision in 1948 …”
      You must be kidding Richard, right? Because of that single decision, as you call it, in that war of aggression, 1% of the Jewish population of 1948 lost their lives. Lets’ put it in perspective. It would be equivalent to 4 million Americans losing their lives in a war of aggression that some country would start against America. How would Americans react to that? What would America do to such an aggressor? I really hate to think. And I was talking only about 1948. I didn’t even mention what happened ever since.
      Now, about the security cooperation. Lets’ put that into perspective too. You don’t think that the West Banker Arabs benefited from that too? You want to score points to Abbas for it, for not resorting to violence? Is that a concession on his part? Then ask yourself this: Why is it not a concession on Israels’ part? After all as a consequence of the drop in Arab violence, there has been a drop of Israeli violence too in the West Bank.
      Now, lets’ get real. Bibi is not an angel. But even he has made a greater effort than Abbas. Remember the 10 month freeze in settlement activity that he instituted? Ok his hands were twisted, but he still did it. And what did Abbas do? For 8 of those 10 months he still refused to negotiate. He restarted the negotiations when were only 2 months left and then made sure that the negotiations would go nowhere so that he could feign mock frustration and blame Israel for it. Abbas has proved again, as he did with Olmert, that he is not a partner for peace

      Reply to Comment
    10. Dannecker

      You must choose-israel or peace. You cant have both. I support a Palestinian state from the River to the Sea. israelis can go back to Europe. The Palestinians will rightfully not tolerate foreign interlopers on their land

      Reply to Comment
    11. Bosko

      It does not matter what you choose. You have no say in the matter.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Mirwais

      This is the umpteenth time I’ve heard Zionists and moderates go on about the Jews from Arab countries as a counterweight to the Palestinian refugee problem. I think some “facts” might be worth remembering here:

      a.) Not every Arab state had a Jewish population (not entirely important but necessary, given the emphasis on 22 Arab states engaging in an act of expulsion). Only Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco. 9 countries
      b.) Contra the Israeli-Palestinian situation, where you had one polity decide to drive out the Arab population in the context of war (read Benny Morris and Segev), you have 8 different countries with differing contexts and situations. Morocco and Lebanon did not expel their Jews. In fact, Morocco refused to allow Jews to even leave for a long time. In Algeria, the Jewish community were mostly French citizens (in spite of their being indigenous to the country) and as French citizens left with the other pied noirs following independence. Lebanon did not have a mass emigration of Jews after the creation of Israel and actually saw a growth in this population until the Lebanese Civil War of the 70’s, during which most members of the Jewish community fled in panic (as did many other Lebanese). Certainly it had something to do with having commonalities with the enemy but the state did not force them to leave, nor did you see the massive property confiscations of Iraq, Syria or Egypt. Iraq, Syria and Egypt are where you truly have problems regarding Jewish-Muslim coexistence and I certainly agree that Arab governments here acted terribly here. BUT let us not forget that in all of these states Israeli agents were oblivioius to and even encouraged anti-semitic legislation and actions in order to get these Jews to emigrate. The new Jewish state was short in demographics and Middle Eastern Jews were key to fiilling this shortage. Look at Operation Magic Carpet, which saw thousands of Jews airlifted from Yemen to Israel under the auspices of Israel, the US and the Imam Yahya of Yemen. I do not intend to apologize for Arab actions against its Jewish citizens (property confiscations, show trials/hangings of certain prominent community members and bloody riots – Farhud being the worst) but it certainly does not help that Israel shamelessly exploited the inevitable upswing in local anti-semitism to meet its own needs, certainly exacerbating the already-dangerous situation for “Arab Jews” in the process.
      c.) These events, however disturbing, did not constitute an “exchange of populations” as is sometimes argued by Jewish nakba advocates. Arab states did not react againts it’s Jews out of a need to take in Palestinians. Certainly some Arab governments agreed to meet with Israeli agents and let Jews leave (imam yahya in Yemen) but helping Palestinians were not part of this problem. Each of the Arab states at this time had their own interests to look after and pan-Arabism was not one of them, though it would be later. Even the 1948 war only saw half-hearted committment to the Palestinian cause, with Jordan going so far as to secretly agree with Israel to an annexation of the West Bank. Jews left because of spontaneous anti-Israeli violence and anger at the 1948 defeat, as well as a need to emphasize Arab unity against the Zionist enemy and awkward minorities that belong to both sides just don’t help, as is the case in many wars throughout history.

      This is a crude summary of my views on the matter, with some inevitable rough patches in factual detail, though the general facts are true. For more information, read Michael Fishbach’s wonderful book on Jewish property losses in the Arab countries. It does a good job of arguing for justice for these communties while simultaneously criticizing the way this narrative is shamelessly woven into the story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by Zionists and unquestioning “moderates” about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as is the case with Bosko.

      Also, whatever Arab countries did to Arab Jews in no way has any bearing Palestinian rights. The dispute here is between PALESTINIAN Arabs and Israelis. These are the two sides at war. Conflict with the other Arab states is secondary. Palestinian Arabs did not expel Jews en masse, Palestinian Arabs did not bring about a Jewish holocaust, and Palestinian Arabs certainly were not always the primary concern of other Arab rivals to Israel. Indeed the Palestinian movement had many partisans sceptical of the intentions of other Arab nations. These are just some of my thoughts on the matter. Criticize at will, if you want. But never simply dismiss.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Bosko

      Mirwais said …
      “a.) Not every Arab state had a Jewish population”
      “b.) Contra the Israeli-Palestinian situation, where you had one polity decide to drive out the Arab population …”
      You quoted Benny Morris wrongly. He didn’t say that there was a policy of expulsion. He said that some expulsion occurred as a result of decisions by some local commanders. And some of those decisions were driven by military considerations and the need control strategic roads. Morris listed other factors as well as to why many Arab civilians decided to flee. He mentioned Arab propaganda rhetoric which as a factor as well. Read Morris more carefully. He certainly didn’t cite official Israeli policy as THE reason for the refugees. He cited a variety of factors. I agree with most of the rest of your narrative in part b).
      “c.) These events, however disturbing, did not constitute an “exchange of populations”
      On this we disagree. The fact is that both Jews and Palestinian Arab populations ended up fleeing for a variety of reasons involving war, violence persecutions and whatever else. Roughly an equal number of Jewish refugees from various Arab lands ended up in Israel as Palestinianian Arabs in various Arab countries. That is already a defacto population exchange. Now be honest, Mirwais (you seem to be so far), the various Arab states who absorbed Palestinian refugees, decided on a deliberate policy of non integration in order to keep the wounds and the conflict alive. In effect, they have embarked on a deliberate policy of using the Palestinian refugees as cannon fodder. A truly unconscionable behaviour.
      “Also, whatever Arab countries did to Arab Jews in no way has any bearing Palestinian rights. The dispute here is between PALESTINIAN Arabs and Israelis”
      Only up to a point. But might I point out that had the Palestinian Arabs decided to accept the UN partition plan instead of starting a civil war, there may not have been any refugees. And as I said above, 1% of the Jewish population would not have perished in 1948 and many more since. That’s also true about casualties amongst Palestinian Arabs. I won’t labour the point. But please take note that my position all along has been that as in all wars, there are victims and victimizers on both sides. That was one of my main points when I commented on the two debaters who seemed to blame only Israel. I am sorry but I for one am not willing to accept simplistic positions like that.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Bosko,
      The single decision was made 63 years ago, mostly from outside of Palestine for their own opportunistic purposes.

      It is long long long past.

      The present decisions by Abbas, Fayyad, and the PA administration is to reconcile.

      Early in the Netanyahu administration, the PA submitted a sealed counter-proposal to the Israeli foreign ministry, which was never opened.

      The Netanyahu administration declared that they regarded the Olmert progress as void, that they desired to start negotiations from scratch, rather than from the continuity of Israeli administrations.

      I daresay that if you bothered to confer with Olmert personally, or to read his recent writing, you would have to conclude that Abbas and Fayyad are most sincere, and far more substantively compromising than Netanyahu.

      Again, your view of utter rejection and isolation of positive efforts in favor of what you consider “perfect” ones, will end up with Israel with no frontiers at treaty, when it is feasible (more than feasible, offered) that 100% of Israel’s frontiers could be at treaty.

      At treaty does not mean blind trust, but it does mean coherent process for reconciliation of specific complaints.

      The contrast of no process except war vs a process for reconciliation, is considerable.

      Reply to Comment
    15. Also, I sincerely hope that you and others that might be reading this blog take Dimi Reider’s perspective seriously, that there is a shift in the discussion of the two-state/one-state content.

      That is that in the past, the question revolved around whether a two-state approach was more desirable or less desirable than a single-state approach.

      Most of the liberal Jews (most Jews in the US) that I knew felt a sympathy for the democratic urge of the single state advocacy, but expressed that democratic urge in the form of partition, that they concluded that democracy (self-governance) was optimized in a partition setting.

      Dimi’s point is that selection of what is most desirable is coming to NOT be the determining logic for a single-state, but that with the extent and placement of Jewish/Israeli settlements in the West Bank, that a coherent Palestine is becoming impossible.

      I think its still at the level of difficult, not impossible. But, it is changing slowly.

      Its now an inch of ice on the top of a just barely frozen lake surface. At some point soon, the lake will be only describable as ice, not as water.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Dannecker

      I find it rich that 2 trespassers in Palestine are discussing its future. Dimi can return to Russia and Gershom can return to Brooklyn. Neither of them have any right to be in Palestine, much less discuss its future.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Bosko

      Yet they are there, they are doing it and so are millions of other Jews. Nobody will be “returning” to Europe or to America. There is nothing you can do about it.

      Reply to Comment
    18. Bosko

      Richard Witty said …
      The single decision was made 63 years ago, mostly from outside of Palestine for their own opportunistic purposes.
      It is long long long past”
      But the reprocussions of that decision are still with us today. Moreover, because of that decision, they cannot take the high ground even today. Yet they try to and many people on sites like these encourage them in it and that’s why they try to dictate terms instead of trying to reach a mutually acceptable solution.
      As for the “sealed envelope” and Netanyahu’s insistence to negotiate his own way, please let’s just ignore the cloak and dagger stuff (like sealed envelopes) and concentrate on the latter.
      The fact is that Olmert allegedly made a specific peace offer to Abbas in 2008. Abbas ignored it and in late 2008 he broke off negotiations even with Olmert, after Operation Cast Lead. Had Abbas accepted that offer, and had they signed a peace deal, I would have expected Netanyahu to abide by it. As it is, why should he? He has the right to negotiate his own way. Am I saying that’s wise? Not necessarily. But equally, I say that Abbas has not displayed any real willingness to negotiate in good faith even before Netanyahu was elected. He is behaving like he has all the cards and thinks that he can dictate terms. But he will find out in the goodness of time that he is very much mistaken.

      Reply to Comment
    19. Bosko

      Richard Witty said …
      “that there is a shift in the discussion of the two-state/one-state content”
      Only in some circles, only in some circles … And I am sorry to have to put it this way but in those circles, they habitually adjust the narrative to match the mood with Arab demands. Whenever, Arab demands harden, those circles immediately scramble to find a spin that supports Arab demands.Personally, I find their approch sad and counter productive.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Richard Witty

      The repurcussions of the Netanyahu administration’s decision to not pursue peace based on extended settlement construction moratorium and starting from the Olmert/Abbas discussions, instead seeking to reinvent the wheel, will similarly be experienced for a very long time.

      OUR actions, in OUR time, is what is important.

      To play the past only, however important in creating a context, is to neglect OUR responsibilities.

      Reply to Comment
    21. Bosko

      Richard Witty
      Like I said, I am not here to defend Netanyahu I am not sure whether what he is doing is wise, I repeat, I am genuinely not sure. But having said that, I am definitely here to advocate my belief that Abbas has not shown any desire to make a reasonable peace deal with Israel. In fact, my belief is that he is an old school enemy of Israel who has not given up on the idea of dismantling Israel. He is just come up with different tactics to try and make that happen.
      If you want to know on what grounds do I believe that? Read what I said above. Nothing you said negated what I said.

      Reply to Comment
    22. Richard Witty

      You claimed that Olmert made an offer to Abbas, and that Abbas rejected it and did not make a counter-offer.

      That was untrue.

      Both he and Olmert have stated publicly that they were close, and that Netanyahu changed the game.

      Although the Abbas/Olmert discussions occurred even during Cast Lead, the political environment after Cast Lead and the continuation of building in East Jerusalem, made the assertion of “moratorium on settlement construction” less than true.

      A new and extended moratorium that includes East Jerusalem, would demonstrate Israel’s willingness to make peace.

      But fundamental things have changed in East Jerusalem in particular, even with relatively only a small amount of construction, but initiated by Israel.

      Do you believe that his views are a rejection of peace, or that he might not be able to control his flanks?

      I think an argument based on the idea of risk that he might not be able to control his flanks is plausible, but that the argument that he is not sincere in pursuing peace and pursuing Palestinian independence peaceably is ludicrous.

      Worse than ludicrous, very very dangerous for the democratic justification of the state of Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    23. Bosko

      Richard Witty said …
      “You claimed that Olmert made an offer to Abbas, and that Abbas rejected it and did not make a counter-offer”
      That’s not what I claimed. I said that Abbas broke off negotiations with Olmert and he never restarted it.
      “Both he and Olmert have stated publicly that they were close”
      Being close is not good enough. Olmert’s offer was more than reasonable yet Abbas like Arafat before him could not say yes because that would mean that peace would break out. So It seems they don’t want such an outcome.
      You say that it’s all because of Netanyahu. Like I said, I am not defending Netanyahu but it would have been a simple matter for Abbas to trump Netanyahu by saying openly that he would be willing to sign a peace deal that Olmert offered. Did Abbas say that? No! He is pushing for the so called Arab peace initiative of 2000 which includes the full right of return demand and the 1949 armistice line borders. Both of which he knows are unacceptable to ANY Israeli government and to the overwhelming majority of Israeli people.
      I’ll stop here for now.

      Reply to Comment
    24. Bosko

      Richard Witty said …
      “A new and extended moratorium that includes East Jerusalem, would demonstrate Israel’s willingness to make peace”
      I reject the above notion that the ONUS is on Israel to demonstrate intent to make peace. To me it is a plain inversion of reality. As if Israel was the party that started all the Arab Israeli wars. Tell me Richard, do you remember the Israeli people pouring out to the streets of Tel Aviv, shaking their fists and clamouring for war? I seem to recall the Arab masses doing that before 1967 before there was “OCCUPATION” and before there were “SETTLEMENTS”.
      I do however remember hundreds of thousands of Israelis singing songs in support for peace in Rabin Square.

      Reply to Comment
    25. Richard Witty

      Then you are stuck Bosko. And, if your view is representative, then there will not be an Israel as you know it in 10 years. There will be some form of single state, and after bitter and unnecessary struggle, but not ending in anything that could be considered a peace.

      The PA has very responsibly pursued its effort for self-governance, and deserves it.

      It is currently more affirming of Zionism than likud, israel beitanhu, shas.

      Abbas submitted a counter-proposal to Olmert’s last offer, and Netanyahu tabled it, and switched to a policy of annexation of East Jerusalem, and continuation of settlement construction, and strategically placed.

      Israel HAS demonstrated an unwillingness to negotiate in earnest, and is at least a party (if not the) party that needs to indicate by actions, its sincere desire for peace within a two-state approach, rather than the consequence of neglecting that, which is a single democratic state, and further more severe political isolation.

      1967 was also a world away, 44 years.

      The present is different than even 2003, and largely due to Abbas. There is no Al Aqsa Martyrs (maybe splinters comprised of 10’s). Hamas, Islamic Jihad, PFLP do not have the scope to undertake terror, due to a combination of Israeli intelligence combined with PA law and enforcement of law.

      And, the bully pulpit of declaring violent means utterly futile for Palestinian affirmation.

      Reply to Comment
    26. Bosko

      Richard Witty
      I still say, I am not aware of any public counter proposal by Abbas other than the year 2000 Arab initiative which includes unacceptable demands like the right of return. Maybe you could post a link to educate me about it, Abbas’s counter proposal that is … ?
      You mentioned that Abbas suggested that he and Olmert were very close to an agreement. I scoff at that because it seems to me that what he is really doing is dangling a carrot but never wants to feed it to the donkey (which in my analogy are his Israeli negotiation partners). Abbas like Arafat before him just want to get more and more out of Israel without giving anything in return other than non violence (in the case of Abbas only).
      But let’s say that you are right and they WERE close. That would mean that Abbas would agree that Israel can keep the major settlement blocs including the Jewish sector of East Jerusalem, in exchange for land swaps. Right? If so, why is Abbas making such a hooo haaa about growing those settlements within their existing perimeters? After all wouldn’t Israel end up keeping those settlements as part of the deal? Obviously not, according to Abbas. And if not, then they were NOT close to a deal at all.

      Reply to Comment
    27. Richard Witty


      To start. I assume you regard the NY Times as a credible source?

      “The two agreed that Israel could keep some land in the West Bank on which settlements had been built, but disagreed over how much. Mr. Olmert wanted 6.5 percent of the area but would go as low as 5.9 percent; Mr. Abbas offered 1.9 percent.

      In a separate interview, Mr. Abbas confirmed most of Mr. Olmert’s account. Both said they hoped at the time that American proposals would settle the differences. ”

      Others that I’ve met that have interviewed both Olmert and Abbas directly, have also confirmed that they both regarded peace as close.

      I don’t have a citation for the Abbas proposal to Netanyahu when he took office.

      The assertion that Abbas has not compromised significantly, has not sought peace earnestly is self-talk. (Self-talk is when you derive your information from one perspective, and repeat it.)

      The demand relative to settlement construction, is that you put the horse in front of the cart, not the cart before the horse.

      WHEN a deal is articulated and ratified, then construction can begin. Beginning construction before one has clear consented title, is expropriation, and actively conveys the intention to continue at it.

      The critical change with Dimi Reider’s presentation, is that the extent and locations of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem are quickly reaching the point where East Jerusalem is NOT a viable site for Palestinian capital.

      It is a material change in the profile of what would make a viable Palestinian state.

      For both Israel and Palestine, Palestine need be healthy, rather than strained. Strained states are subject to opportunistic dissent, while healthy states allow for dissent but the dissent doesn’t become a desparate fetish.

      If a healthy Palestine is not proposed, then a radical one will emerge, in which the only response that Israel can take is its divide strategy. It won’t last forever, and it gravely risks unified antagonism (sadly earned in ways), rather than the history of divided Arab antagonism that Israel can use to deflect.

      Either that or the proposal for dissolution of the PA, in which Israel will again be the legal occupying entity, responsible for the well-being, social services, to an antagonistic and resisting clientele.

      And, accompanying that will be the movement for one-person one-vote.

      As, the only consented basis for Zionism at all currently internationally is the Jewish majority in Israel (NOT the argument of historical exclusive connection to the land), to argue against one-person one-vote would be swimming against a very dominant stream.

      In that light, Abbas is among the most definitively supportive of a humane Zionism of any on the planet. To demean him, is to demean the prospect of Israel as Israel for more than a decade or two.

      Reply to Comment
    28. Bosko

      Richard Witty said …
      “I don’t have a citation for the Abbas proposal to Netanyahu when he took office”
      Thank you for admitting that. So, I guess then you won’t mind if I will treat this allegation that he did as unreal? At least until you can show a link to a credible site that confirms that there WAS such a proposal. I’d still want to know what was in it though …
      As for the New York Times article, I have no problems with it. I saw a similar article published by Haaretz. Unfortunately though there is nothing in those articles that negate my previous comments/interpretations about …
      Dangling the carrot but never wanting to feed it to the donkey.
      About the fact that there was no agreement about the right of return. Except maybe a bit more carrot dangling.
      The factis that Abbas was the one who walked away from the negotiations. Even from Olmert. He knew that the elections were looming and that there would be a backlash against Kadima because of Olmert. Yet he saw no urgency to come to a deal even though “they were close” to a deal. Abbas does not leave in a vacuum. He knew what would happen so I for one interpret that he wanted the outcome that we have. No deal and no negotiations because of his little excuses. He did manage to fool a lot of people on the left. Some because they genuinely believe him. Others who habitually believe only him and never the Israeli side.

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    29. Richard Witty

      Per Bernard Avishai, there was an agreement on the right of return, and has been for a long time.

      You are astounding Bosko. When confronted with any unknown, you rationalize current relations, which is suppressive, and very very dangerous for Israel.

      A treaty can be ratified of rejected by the knesset and the populace. To instead advocate for policies that prohibit the formation of a proposed treaty, and thereby prohibiting the knesset and populace from getting to ratify, is not particularly humane.

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    30. Bosko

      @Richard Witty
      Ok you don’t have to believe me but please read the following open letter that Carlo Strenger wrote recently in Haaretz to Abbas. This is an extract from that letter …
      “Tell Israelis that the Palestinian people demand that their tragedy of 1948 be acknowledged and recognized, but that you do not demand physical return of refugees to Israel; that individual Palestinians can claim compensation for the loss of their homes, but that, as was the case in Europe after WWII, you recognize that physical return is no longer an option”
      I am sure that you are aware that Carlo Strenger is an avowed leftist. So I ask you Richard, why is he asking Abbas to disavow the physical right of return demand? Would he ask him that if Abbas would have already done so in the past? Moreover, even your own reference, the link that you posted in the New York times, clearly stated that Abbas only made very vague references to that demand. Nothing specific but he DID reject Olmert’s offer. Go read your own reference, Richard. Don’t just believe me …

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    31. Richard Witty

      He’s speaking about the Palestinian street.

      The form of right of return is described by Avishai as a day in court, an opportunity to present legal claims on the basis of color-blind legal principles.

      EVERY state needs that status, color-blind courts applying legal principles.

      Its time.

      Make sure that you are not confusing the usage of language that you hear, for what was said.

      The PA statement could also be construed as “no one that retains their Israeli citizenship and establishes settlements in an effort to extend Israel will be allowed to remain in Palestine”.

      Other officials have invited settlers to remain in Palestine as Palestinian citizens, part of the people Israel, but not of the nation-state Israel.

      I like that proposal as it tests settlers’ religious convictions, whether they are settling for power and extra-legal territorial expansion, or to fulfill the mitzvah of residence.

      These are not the times of Joshua. These are the times of the reticent elder David, the accommodating Solomon.

      Reply to Comment
    32. Bosko

      @Richard Witty
      Before I address the rest of your post, let me remind you that not all “settlers” are religious. And not all settlers want to keep the “settlements” for religious reasons. Nor because they want to stick their fingers into Palestinian eyes. This world of ours is not two dimensional. There isn’t JUST ‘good’ and ‘evil’. More often than not, the world is made up of shades of grey, not just black and white. As far as I am concerned, the “settlers” are human beings not evil incarnate …

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    33. Bosko

      Oh and I didn’t mean it to sound as if I consider religious “settlers” evil either. They are human beings too.

      Reply to Comment
    34. Bosko

      @Richard Witty
      But before we get bogged down about the “settlements”, let’s finish our discussion about the right of return demand. Because if Abbas and his people persist with that demand, there is no use discussing anything else. Why? Because even if Israel would dismantle ALL the “settlements” which will never happen, even then a peace deal would be out of reach because Israel will never agree to large numbers of Palestinian Arabs “returning” to Israel. At least I hope not because they would be insane to allow it.

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    35. If Israel cannot grant equal rights and process to its Arab citizens, what should one expect from a single de jure jurisdiction over all of Palestine? Clean your own house. You might be well surprised by what becomes possible if that can really be done.

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    36. Richard Witty

      The difference between constructing what is possible (Avishai’s emphasis), and risk-aversion, is that through the methodology of only risk aversion, NOTHING HAPPENS.

      You’ve avoided really all of the substantive differences that I’ve presented Bosko.

      Peace is possible ONLY if pursued. And, neglecting to pursue peace that is possible is a grave moral and spiritual distortion.

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    37. Richard Witty

      On the right of return, the maximalist approach described by those that regard all of the land as Palestine, is impossible.

      The form of that argument is that “any descendant of an authorized resident in the land from river to sea, has the right to settle anywhere in the land from river to sea”.

      The PA right of return, has the form that Palestine has the right to invite any definition of who is a national that it chooses (similar to Israel’s right through legislation to control its immigration policies).

      The legal definition regards the confirmation of title to land as the basis of ownership, and if owned fully, to residence.

      That chain of title is referencable by evidence, the status determinable by a color-blind court.

      In most cases, current residence is the rock in the river, that acceptable remedy must adjust to. So, for example, if there is a long-standing current resident, and a former Palestinian has a valid legal claim to title (even partially), then the form of remedy would likely be compensation.

      In the cases (many), where there is still no residence, but clear demonstrable Palestinian title to land, then their restoration of residence (even if a couple generations have passed) is an appropriate remedy.

      The shift in status of title to specific land in Israel from contested to consented is a VERY BIG DEAL. The contested status remains until perfected.

      That is a feature of Ottoman, British, Israeli law alike.

      It doesn’t address many of the Palestinian refugees’ needs, as many did not have title to the land that they resided on. Many had temporary permission, even extendable, but not permanent ownership.

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    38. Richard Witty

      1. Maximalist right of return – Anybody to anywhere
      2. Moderate right of return – Any definition that the Palestinian legislature adopts applicable to the territory under its sovereignty + those with title to land that is not currently built on and occupied by Israeli civilians.

      Reply to Comment
    39. Bosko

      @Richard Witty
      Thanks for explaining the difference between the maximalist and minimalist right of return and the various legal subtelties. But with respect, that’s not what we were discussing. We were discussing whether Abbas and even Olmert reached agreement on the “right of return” demand. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that they have. At best, Abbas has been pussyfooting about it with Olmert and at worst, to his own people Abbas displayed great intransigence about this issue and he made statements which suggested that he favours maximalist demands. Or it least maximalist enough to be unacceptable to most Israelis.
      As for your comment about risk aversion. What more risks do you want Israel to take? The demand to allow large numbers of Arabs to “return” to Israel is a risk too high. No country which has been at war with a neighbour for 6 decades which vowed to destroy it, would allow itself to be swamped with a people who were part of that hostile enemy. Such nonsense is only asked of Israel. That would not be risk, it would be tantamount to national suicide.
      Do you feel that I am overstating my claim? Do you feel that Abbas is not a maximalist on the ROR demand? I am not the only one with that position. Most Israelis agree with what I have been saying to you. If it is a misconception, there IS an obvious way to dispel it. Abbas could declare specifically, formally openly and consistently, not in diplomatic language, what his actual demands are in relation to the ROR. Then stick to it and be consistent instead of play games with it. It is high time that he should take some risks for peace.

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    40. Richard Witty

      “Do you feel that Abbas is not a maximalist on the ROR demand? I am not the only one with that position.”

      Not in the slightest. His position is the minimalist position, that Palestine itself would offer the right of return to the jurisdiction of Palestine. And, that all Palestinians deserve their day in court.

      Abbas does not have to answer to your imagination. His own words are widely published if you research. Like all politicians, there are points that indicate some confusion, some doubt, but also reams and reams of clarification.

      If you want to speak second-hand (to someone that has communicated with him at length), I would recommend that you make personal contact with Bernard Avishai. If you speak with him respectfully, he will give you the time of day.

      Abbas has risked assassination for decades. He has taken more and more substantive risks for peace than nearly anyone alive. It is a very sad commentary that Palestinians that have endeavored to suggest peace have not yet been assassinated. Israeli prime ministers have. Egyptians have.

      You have to make the same demands of Netanyahu, if you want peace. If you want a deflection, a falsehood, keep going after Abbas. He’s taken and is taking the only plausible path that is possible.

      He is the most responsive Palestinian leader of any.

      Maybe in 300 years, Israel will be confidently in power in the region for 275 years, and no Palestinian will remember any displacement, and period of persecution.

      But, much more than equally likely, Israel will face a one-person one-vote campaign in five years, that will swamp it.

      And, all because Israel failed to take the opportunity that the unique presence of Abbas and Fayyad represented.

      The time is rapidly passing on that possibility, especially with the announcement today of intentional establishment of 2600 Jewish-only homes to be built in East Jerusalem.

      This is a disaster, that is just accepted.

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    41. Bosko

      Richard, it isn’t about what I as an individual accept or don’t accept. Millions of us have the perception that Abbas is a maximalist with his right of return demand. Either he proves people like me wrong by stopping his ambiguies or there won’t be a deal. Both people would lose if that happens. But for Israel, the potential alternative of giving in to the maximalist demands is worse.

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    42. Bosko

      @Richard Witty
      What people like me are concerned about, as I said or at least implied a number of times, is that they have put the issue of the ROR demand on the back burner. They just want to concentrate on the “settlements” and extract maximum concessions from Israel on that score. And on pain of accusing Israel as the obstructionist party if they don’t budge. Which is what’s happening now.
      But let’s say, Israel gets it’s arms twisted or it gets otherwise persuaded to give up as much as it can, to the point of pain even. Let’s say that comes about. So the “settlements” become a non issue. Then the ROR issue comes up. And lo and behold, pessimists like me prove to be correct and Abbas turns out to be a maximalist in his demands. Negotiations would inevitably ground to a halt. Judging by past history, Abbas would not be blamed, or worse, Israel would be blamed, remember Durban? That’s exactly what happened in 2001.
      You might say, so what? What’s the damage? Israel wouldn’t be worse off than now. But you would be wrong. It would be worse off as it was after the debacle of 2000/2001. Why? Because a new base position would be established. And after several years of delay, if and when peace negotiations would recommence, Israel would be expected to make further concessions from that new base position. Again, that’s exactly what happened in the past. And that’s how many people on your side of politics have come to view Israel as the villain. It’s not a nice game but it IS transparent.

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    43. AYLA

      @Greg Pollock–you’ll probably never see this, but great comment. (we need those little fb red notifiers, and ‘like’ buttons’).

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    44. Richard Witty

      You never heard of treaties, of agreements?

      If you endeavor to make peace and you have valid concerns, insist that features that deal with the concerns are clarified in the agreement.

      Also, your statement that millions believe that Abbas is a maximalist, unwilling to fundamentally compromise, is self-talk.

      Read what the man has said, written, done. And, as I suggested, speak directly to someone that has spoken directly to him.

      Don’t seek to rationalize a prejudicial perspective. Actually bother to find out.

      Failing to, by you and by the millions, will result in a very very different Israel than you desire.

      The one-person one-vote precedent, is NOT something that ANY European or American ally will be able to deflect.

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    45. Richard Witty

      Reider’s accurate point is that Israel is entering a very different world time.

      You have to take it much more seriously than you are, relying on “millions agree with me”, rather than taking the personal responsiblity to think it through independently of popular opinion.

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    46. Richard Witty

      Just for reference, I personally prefer the two-state approach, as apparently Gershon Gorenberg does as well. I don’t know if Dimi Reider prefers the single-state or merely observes that the two-state approach is being rendered implausible.

      I consider democracy to be important, as in formation of governments that are optimally consented. (There is no perfection.)

      Reply to Comment
    47. Bosko

      Richard Witty said …
      “Read what the man has said, written, done. And, as I suggested”
      We have been through this discussion. I have read what Abbas has been saying and posted references to you about it. It seems that we both read many of his utterances. But you and I came to a different conclusion about it. Let me reiterate my conclusion …
      At best, Abbas is playing a deliberate game of obfuscation. He says different things at different times to different people but even when he supposedly says minimalist things, he is not specific. In other words, he does not mention the numbers of returnees that he would insist on. And at worst, he has said this many times .. ‘We will never give up our right of return’ …

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    48. Richard Witty

      I would never give up one’s legal rights either.

      As indicated in Olmert’s, Avishai’s, many others direct comments on the negotiations, Abbas has been willing to accept the minimalist form of right of return, return offered to green line Palestine per their internal determination (parallel to Israel having the right to determine its definition of right of return within the area of its sovereignty) plus the day in court for all pending land title claims (many).

      It is just, admissable, doable, mutually acceptable.

      Try it.

      Again, even if his motivation ends up different than what I surmise, negotiate in earnest. Make sure that the features that convey confidence are in the treaty.

      That is DIFFERENT than the game of “he cannot be trusted, lets wait”.

      You will wait for the dissolution of Israel. He and Fayyad are the best that Israel will engage for a generation.

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