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Israel's major parties support a non-democratic one-state solution

No matter what their beliefs about Palestinians’ aims and desires, the policy of Israel’s leaders does not accord with their stated support for a two-state solution or for a democratic and Jewish state.

Following up on my post regarding the two-state solution (and some of the comments to that post), I would like to put forth a more general and formal version of my argument.

Let’s say that you are stridently opposed to the idea of one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean – one that would be undemocratic, and based on the explicit, formal and institutionalized supremacy of the (soon-to-be) Jewish minority within such a state. Let’s also say that you reject a democratic and egalitarian one-state solution, which would not – in your opinion – be compatible with the Jewish right for national self-determination. What do you do?

That depends on your assessment regarding the Palestinian position. As I see it, there are three possibilities for understanding the Palestinians’ stand.

First, you may believe that the Palestinians will reject any solution in which the state of Israel continues to exist in anything resembling its current form. If that is what you think, the solution is clear: dismantle the vast majority of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and retreat to lines of contiguous Israeli territory.

Such a solution would be good for security, as it does not constrict the IDF’s operational leeway in any way, and indeed it would release precious resources currently directed to defending these settlements. It would show the world Israel is committed to a reasonable solution, and would allow the country to retain both its Jewish and (formally) democratic character. Even the economic cost would be limited, as not all that many settlers live in those isolated settlements. It would entail a political rift with the hard right, but then again, the hard right supports a non-democratic one-state solution, so it is hard to see how friction with it can be avoided, if you stick to your own positions.

Second, you may believe that the Palestinians will only accept a solution in which they get 98 percent of West Bank. In this case, you will just give them what they want. You get to avoid the one-state non-democratic nightmare you are so concerned about, peace with the Palestinians, and widespread international support, probably covering most of the cost of this mass evacuation.

Third, you may believe that the Palestinians will accept a lot less than 98 percent, perhaps 94 percent (as Olmert suggested), or even less than that. In that case, it is only a matter of holding out until they cave. How long will you wait? Ten years? 20? 45? Eventually, you may conclude that Palestinians will not cave after all, or you will just grow impatient of living in your one-state, non-democratic nightmare for so long, that you will decide those few percentage of the West Bank are just not worth the trouble.

This bare-bones analysis clearly shows that, no matter what their beliefs about Palestinians’ aims and desires, the policy of Israel’s leaders does not accord with their stated support for a two-state solution or for a democratic and Jewish state. Whether they like to admit it or not (even to themselves), the leaders of all of Israel’s major parties support a non-democratic, one-state solution, based on Jewish supremacy.

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    1. Palestinian

      The Israeli leaders represent their voters.The vast majority of Israelis are happy or lets say comfortable with the status quo,those leaders represent Israel and its Zionist citizens with the exception of those who still have a moral compass (a tiny minority).Zionism(at least in its current form) is a racist ideology that the majority of Israelis support and defend furiously.

      Reply to Comment
      • rsgengland

        This seems like the age old attempt to seperate Jews and Zion.
        The vast majority of Jews are Zionist,as are the vast majority of Jews in Israel.
        Without Jews there would be no Zionists.
        Israel is a democratic country with a Jewish majority.
        Jewish minorities in the Middle East/North Africa, when they existed prior to 1948, required those Jews to be Dihmis, subject to the the whims and vagaries of the Muslim majority.
        Over a million Jews fled the Arab/Muslim countries because of their low status, and the lack of certainty and security in those lands.
        I find it highly unlikely that those Jews would look kindly on being forced to return to that type of existance.
        The Christians in the Middle East/North Africa are in danger of disappearing for the very same reason.

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    2. Carl

      I’ve never understood how a state can be guaranteed democratic and Jewish (or democratic and Christian, Muslim, white, whatever). Democracy is a means of choosing a government, not determining the character of a population.

      If a 1968 style, two state system was created today, its citizens might become atheist, emigrate, intermarry, etc. through the years, removing the Jewish majority. That would be the democratic choice of the population, and only profoundly undemocratic laws could prevent it happening.

      I hear the same argument about how we in the UK are ‘supposed’ to be a white, Christian country. Well we’re voting with our feet and hearts leaving the Christian population down to around 45%, and we atheists up to 25%.

      That’s democracy, and I like where it’s headed.

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      • The Trespasser

        You’ve never understood a great many of things. Most of them you won’t understand ever.

        Ex. you hardly understand what “democracy” means.

        From wiki:

        Democracy is a form of government in which all eligible citizens have an equal say in the decisions that affect their lives.

        In practice it means that Jewish majority has an inherent democratic right to do whatever it pleases to retain it’s Jewish character and majority.

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        • directrob

          “whatever it pleases”

          Not really, in a democratic state whatever is limited by human rights, international law and international treaties.

          For real fun Israel should sign the european convention on human rights and let the ECtHR do its thing.

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          • The Trespasser

            “whatever it pleases”

            Not really, in a democratic state whatever is limited by human rights, international law and international treaties.

            A democratic state is free to do whatever it’s majority pleases.

            It is an international community which sets boundaries like human rights and international treaties for it’s members.

            However to be democratic a state does not necessarily have to protect human rights or be bound by any treaty – if its population prefers not to.

            >For real fun Israel should sign the european convention on human rights and let the ECtHR do its thing.

            Would it give Palestinians own state? In what borders? When?

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          • directrob

            You can define democracy whatever way you want.

            The UN’s view is:
            “… democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.”

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          • The Trespasser

            Sorry, but I can’t define “democracy” as I please.

            Being a somewhat educated man, knowing exactly where from the word came (ancient greece; demos – people, kratos – power) and also understanding why democracy is dubbed “the tyranny of the majority” leaves me very limited space for interpretations.

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          • Rauna

            A democratic state is free to do whatever it’s majority pleases.

            This’s probably what happened in Germany in 1940s. Looks like you finally learned something from Hitler and put into practice in OPT.

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          • Laurent Weppe

            As a matter of fact, Hitler never won the majority of the vote: his rise to power happened because the german upper-class caved in and decided that they’d rather support the nazi bullies rather than accept a deal with the left: once this was done, Hitler could pretty much go into “anyone who contradicts me dies” mode.

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    3. Mikesailor

      Of course those are the options. Yet, neither the Israeli (read Jewish) population, nor its governments, can accept any outcome except the apartheid third option, which is untenable in and of itself. For if Jewish ‘superiority’ is a myth, then the occupation and the entire Jewish Zionist experiment has been a maasive mistake, if not an outright criminal enterprise. And if a ‘Jewish’ state is not tenable, then why would anyone give such a state any legitimacy whatsoever?

      The Jews are faced with the same set of qustions facing the Geermans in the late 1930’s and early 40’s.
      After demonizing certain groups (Jews, gypsies, labor leaders etc.) and extolling the ‘Aryan culture’, what do you do with those groups you have defined as ‘less than human’, especially when you want their property? You can continue and formalize the discrimination a la South Africa (although the seeds of the destruction of such an idea are inherent), you can transfer the population (at least if it has somewhere to go or you risk a regional if not global war), you can exterminate the population (this has been tried, it won’t work and the crime will never be accepted in the modern world and the country attempting such a ‘final solution’ will rightly be a pariah state), or finally: accept the ethocratic concept of statehood and the accompanying scapegoating and injustices perpetrated against the discriminated populations have been colossal mistakes, create a country devoid of artificial distincvctions between citizens, create a state responsive to all its citizens, and move on. This last concept will probably be forced upon Israel from without, for Jewish Israelis have merged religion, ethnocracy and nationalism into a very toxic mix.

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    4. Richard Witty

      Implicit in all of your assumptions is that any settlers that reside in what would be Palestine would be forcefully evicted.

      That is NOT the only solution that grants Palestinians genuine sovereignty.

      Specifically, Fayyad has advocated for allowing any settlers that desired to remain as Palestinian citizens, to be able to do so. With the provision that the settlements would be integrated, by law, that settlers would have equal rights in a Palestinian democracy, and that compensation likely to a Palestinian land trust would be necessary for the value of forced taking from the Jewish land trust entity that holds current Israeli title to the land.

      It accomplishes four important things.

      1. It takes the fearful image and reality of mass forced removal off of the table. (With the high bar for Palestinians of actually affording the settlers equal rights and safety, comprising at most a 10% minority).

      2. It puts an END to the settlement enterprise as a state expansion exercise, instead only residential at that point.

      3. It takes the pressure off the definition of borders fight inch by inch. There still needs to be some thinking as to what borders make up a secure Israel and a contiguous Palestine.

      4. It preserves the possibility of East Jerusalem as Palestinian capital, a possibility growing remoter and remoter month by month. (The Bantustan Palestinian self-governance is a permanent possibility, but the East Jerusalem capital is diminishing.)

      The two-state approach is the only end game, and that nearly certainly would morph into more open borders, even a bi-national federal EU type state.

      That is MORE likely with a significant Jewish minority in Palestine, as there would be strong desire for free transit by both Israelis and Palestinians, and more prospects of degrees of integration with interaction.

      Those that believe that somehow integration into a single state could possibly occur via political pressure on what “should” be, via BDS separation, live in the ozone.

      Few toes on their feet for all the self-inflicted shots.


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    5. Jorge Goldfarb

      Concerning Roi Maor’s thesis: “Whether they like to admit it or not (even to themselves), the leaders of all of Israel’s major parties support a non-democratic, one-state solution, based on Jewish supremacy.”
      An additional perspective to the points presented by Mr. Maor is that resulting from political parties who claim to support a two-state solution but adopt a policy of ‘better to wait till conditions are more favorable”. By more favorable conditions they mean a situation where the majority of the Israeli public gives a higher priority to the question of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
      They don’t seem to realize that by adopting such a ‘sit and wait’ policy they are not being neutral but they are helping to pave the way to a binational state. This because while they are sitting and waiting, time does not stop; existing settlements are expanded and new ones created, making the specter of a binational state closer and closer to reality as time goes on.

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    6. Kolumn9

      Your analysis of (1) is BS. This was the proposed approach with the Gaza pullout and we were assured that the IDF would maintain its operational leeway. It turned out that this is not what happens and in fact the IDF faces political problems operating in territory it abandons. Be so kind as to at least be honest about presenting the options. You are not writing this article in 2004.

      I believe in 3 myself in addition to believing that the regional setting has no capacity for supporting any peace treaty at the moment. I also believe that the difference between 98% and 94% to be massive in relation to Israeli security in the future. So much so that the status quo is preferable to a peace treaty with 94%. This is because I don’t believe a peace treaty will hold in the long-term.

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    7. The prevalent Israeli concept of security requires IDF control at the Jordanian border. Then, as far as I can see, the best fantasy Two State solution is a semi-autonomous federated Palestinian state. I think, definitionally, as full Two State solution is impossible. A semi-autonomous Palestinian state would devolve into a bantu system as soon as Israel begins punishing it for various “infractions,” all punishments in the name of security; in a sense, the PA in the Bank is presently such a “state.” Post suicide bombings of 2000-4 or so, the concept of security has shifted such that Two States are impossible. The present Israeli trickle into the Bank policy simply acknowledges that.

      Eventually, Israel will fail as a Jewish Democracy because it cannot sustain a constitutional democracy under evolved apartheid. The trajectory is ultimately severe internal crisis. Strangely, the Wall Protests, by struggling to form a rights discourse, are warning Israel where it is headed. The connection between Israel and the Bank is already advanced and expanding. The only solution retaining the old view of Israel was Sharon’s: exit Gaza. I believe he sometimes talked about exiting the Bank as well. An exclusive Israel has died through the very attempt to secure it. What is left is a fight for the rule of law–within Israel and in the Bank. And, whatever finally ememerges, will perforce inherit much from the Israeli “constitution,” whatever that is. A constitutional fight within Israel is as well a constitutional fight for the Bank.

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      • I cannot read the piece, but have read the abstract. Yes, I can see further expulsion in an actual ground war, and Iran can be used as reason to maintain IDF border control. But, absent an actual ground war, I suspect the processes presently in play will just continue unabridged. Although I am privy to little on the Iran/Israel front, I see no evidence or reason for a proxy fight coming from the Bank. Of course, arming militants therein is always an option, and it would be one more reason to expell. But a massive expulsion absent a ground war seems unlikely, simply because Israel is owning the Bank, unlike Gaza, and so international reaction will be much more pronounced; Israel’s Gaza strategy works because it has succeeded in defining Gaza as an independent actor against it.

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    8. Jim

      Roi chooses to ignore the obvious: For the Israeli Hard Right, the one-state solution includes massive deportation of Palestinians.

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      • The Trespasser

        >For the Israeli Hard Right, the one-state solution includes massive deportation of Palestinians.


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        • Zephon

          Prove it.

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    9. JKNoReally

      This analysis doesn’t work because the first hypo doesn’t accurately describe what would happen if Israel left most settlements. If the Palestinians began a war of attrition against central Israel, firing rockets on Gush Dan from mountainous Samaria, the international community would not give Israel the leeway to crush the perpetrators. Whatever military resources would become available as a result of ending the occupation would be irrelevant. Every intelligent person who is informed about this conflict sees the flimniness of pieces that make these rosy assumptions about Palestinians or international opinion, or frame government decisions merely as necessary geared at finding a “solution” to be implemented in the near future. All the major parties agree that Israel can’t make take any big risks now. They’re buying time. That is all that can be said. If you want to write something interesting, break down your first hypo more and address the security issues in more detail. Enough conclusory nonsense.

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