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Is it too late for a two-state solution?

Danny Rubinstein, one of Israel’s most prominent journalists and an expert on Palestine who speaks fluent Arabic, thinks it very possible that the two-state solution (Israel and Palestine) has been left behind in the dust kicked up by history.

In a piece for the US-based quarterly Dissent Magazine, called One State/Two States: Rethinking Israel and Palestine, he posits that the waning of the Palestinian national movement will ultimately be the catalyst for a single state. Rubinstein’s theory, which he supports with facts and anecdotes, deviates from the received belief on the Israeli mainstream left – that the settler movement has or will destroy the chance of a negotiated two-state solution with its ‘facts on the ground.’

It’s not that a one-state solution is desirable, posits Rubinstein; he is not even speaking of one state in terms of a solution. He is simply telling his readers what is happening, on the ground – and warning that it might not be possible to reverse the process.

Rubinstein describes a growing and significant movement amongst Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Israel to demand their rights as citizens of Israel, rather than continuing to agitate for a Palestinian state. The failure of the Oslo Accords and the Israeli military response to the Second Intifada caused the decline of the Palestinian national movement and the fracturing of Palestinian society. Young Palestinians who were born and raised in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have lost hope in a negotiated two-state solution. They have also lost faith in the Palestinian leadership.

These young Palestinians, many of whom speak fluent Hebrew, have Israeli friends and know Israeli society well, are now discussing openly the possibility of one state encompassing pre-1967 Israel and the occupied territories (excluding Gaza), with citizenship and civil rights for Palestinians.

In the past, thousands of young Arab citizens of Israel supported the PLO. One example is the poet Mahmoud Darwish, who left Israel to work with the PLO. But for the past few years the aspiration of many has been in the opposite direction. Some Palestinians who defined themselves as PLO loyalists have returned, or asked to return, and become regular Israeli citizens. … In one of the last polls, 96 percent of the villagers of Wadi Ara [a region of the Galilee with a high concentration of Palestinian-Arab-Israeli citizens] said that they were not willing to accept any arrangement in which the Palestinian Authority would rule their area.

Extraordinary things are now happening, without much publicity, in another Palestinian community, that of the 300,000 Arabs of East Jerusalem. In the past few years, tens of thousands of them have applied to the Ministry of the Interior for full Israeli citizenship.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian leadership that migrated back to the West Bank from Tunis in 1994 is leaving Ramallah. Sick of the occupation and disillusioned by the failure of Oslo, they are shifting their families to the luxurious Palestinian neighborhoods of Amman and other cities. Amman, writes Rubinstein, is not a place of exile for these cosmopolitan Palestinians who lived only briefly in the West Bank. The large Palestinian presence in Jordan has its own political consequences:

What the Jordanians want is quiet and stability in the West Bank. And they want to see a Palestinian national entity, non-militant and non-revolutionary, which will collaborate with the conservative regime in Amman. This is also the objective of Abu Mazen and his colleagues from the Fatah leadership, most of whom have homes and property in Jordan.

Click here to read the rest of this fascinating article.

Readers might also be interested in this 60 Minutes report that offers a similar theory – that the facts on the ground might well preclude a two-state solution from ever happening.

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    1. Y.

      Another option, of course, is to volunteer Jordan to be the Palestinian state (along with the territories or parts thereof). After all, the Palestinians seem awfully comfortable there, which is no surprise since it probably has a Palestinian majority already (Rubinstein agrees on the latter fact). It would be difficult to argue such a country would be non-viable, given current Jordan is, and keeping a different border from 67′ line should mollify Israel.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Y. one does not “volunteer” a sovereign state to be anything. One would not, for example, “volunteer” France to be England – or the reverse.

      Reply to Comment
    3. David


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    4. Y.

      Lisa, would you support Israel (sovereign or not) if it had 50 to 70 percent Palestinians** within the Green Line? Even if an oppressive “security service” managed to keep them quiet by being very very brutal?

      I fail to see why demographic discussions are only valid where Israel and the Palestinians are concerned.

      ** Rubinstein’s data on Jordan.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Y, I support Israel as long as it is a democratic state for all its citizens.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Y.

      Then why a different standard for Jordan**? That dictat^W royal family can’t be so cute…

      ** Or France if you like, in the case it had 50 to 70 percent Englishmen.

      Reply to Comment
    7. There is no different standard for Jordan.

      And again, one does not decide for a sovereign state how it should determine its identity. That is its own prerogative.

      Reply to Comment
    8. […] 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 […]

      Reply to Comment
    9. linda

      Y. i am always for the freedom of speech but, when it has a sense and your talks, are with no sense at all.

      Maybe you could find a different argument – be more creative – for sending the palestinians to jordan.. Then, you are the ones that get upset when someone tells you “go back to Poland”

      Reply to Comment
    10. Natan Brill

      Y. (Yisrael Medad), why do you insist on being a troll? Why are you afraid to put your name behind your comments?

      Reply to Comment
    11. Y.

      Linda – your imagination gets the best of you. I never suggested sending anyone anywhere. In fact, I was talking about adding territory to current Jordan as to create a viable PA state.

      Reply to Comment
    12. Y.

      I’m not Yisrael Medad, and I’m about as revealing as quite a lot of other commentators here.

      Reply to Comment
    13. Y.

      Err.. I meant commenters (talkbackers), of course.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Ben Israel

      It is not “too late” for the so-called “2-state solutino” because it never existed. The PLO’s adoption of it was merely a tactical move meant merely as a weapon to get Israel to agree to giving FATAH a territorial base from which to attack Israel, which was achieved as a result of the Oslo Agreements. The phony idea we keep hearing of “an indepedent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel in peace and prosperity” was never in the cards. The Palestinian leadership never claimed that it was. Any Palestinian leader who agreed to such a thing would go down in history as a traitor to the Arab/Muslim “umma”.

      Reply to Comment
    15. […] 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 […]

      Reply to Comment
    16. The two state solution is hardly dead, tho Bibi has been trying to kill it. If a government committed to peace were to replace Bibi and Lie-berman, it would offer economic incentatives to induce the economic settlers (a majority) to return within the green line. The settlement blocs near the green line would become Israeli in a one to one exchange with the Palestinians. The settlers would have to leave the site of the new Palestinian state, either thru carrots or sticks. Some settlers might resist leaving but, as Livni stated, that’s what governments are for. The alternative is apartheid, transfer, or the end of Israel as a democratic, Jewish state. None of that is a viable alternative.

      Reply to Comment