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Two-state think tank appoints one-state CEO (UPDATED)

Promising to promote ‘new thinking,’ Dan Goldenblatt, the founder of a one-state Israeli group, was made the new co-CEO of IPCRI.

Israel Palestine Center for Research and Information, a think tank formed in 1988 by veteran peace activist Gershon Baskin, has recently appointed Att. Dan Goldenblatt as the new Israeli co-CEO of the organization, alongside Riman Barakat, his Palestinian counterpart.

Interestingly enough, Goldenblatt, a former political adviser to MK Dr. Roman Bronfman, is one of the founders of Eretz Yoshveha, a group advocating a one-state solution to the conflict, consisting of left-wing Israeli academics and activists, Palestinian citizens of Israel and settlers. (Disclaimer: after a feature piece I published about the growing interest within the settler movement in the one-state solution, I attended an Eretz Yoshveha’s meeting.) Eretz Yoshveha’s recently-launched Hebrew blog states:

Eretz Yoshveha is a diverse group, consisting of Jews living on both sides of the Green Line, and of Arabs of 1948 who doubt the chances of successfully implementing the two-state solution and [therefore] wish to discuss alternatives to separation, under an understanding that the conflict should be resolved in the space between the sea and the Jordan River.

We believe that… the conflict didn’t start in 1967, and the claims of both peoples don’t end at the borders of the ceasefire that predates this war… the political reality is that one sovereign controls the entire land, on which two communities live… A single state exists now, but the political reality is not inclusive or fair…

While IPCRI’s website still states that the organization is “dedicated to the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on the basis of ‘two states for two peoples’,” I have learned that when applying for the position of co-CEO, Goldenblatt  made his political views known to the board of IPCRI, along with his intention to promote “new thinking” on the conflict.

Naturally, the changes at a small organization like IPCRI alone don’t represent a breakthrough in the political debate, but they provide further evidence of a growing dissatisfaction with the two-state solution as a viable, applicable idea. At the same time, the interest in a single state model is gradually moving from the intellectual debate into the political conversation. More to come, I believe.

Update: Gershon Baskin, the founder and co-chair of IPCRI, has posted the following comment to this post:

 Hanna Siniora and I remain the co-chair of the Board of IPCRI and IPCRI remains committed to the two states solution. We still believe that it is the only solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the only solution which enables both national movements to have self determination in their land. We have always believed that the two states should progress beyond 2 separate states after peace is achieved to find ways of cooperation, perhaps confederation or other such models but first two separate states. Dan Goldenblatt agreed to that formula when he was appointed as the new Co-CEO of IPCRI. IPCRI’s policy has not changed although we have always intelligently examined all options.

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    1. Aarondellaria

      It is rather worrying advocates from the two state solution, both on Israeli and Palestinian sides,are swifting towards the one state solution. There is already a one state and making it instituionally valid as a political framework would only mainting the staus quo of having two types of citizens and exhacerbatin the right of Israelis over the rights of the Palestinians. Palestiians need to govern themselves in order to achieve the freedom they cherish, so it seems from their years against military occupation. Then ISrael would either lose its democratic of Jewish nomenclature under the one state solution. Thw two states solution seems still the best possible option to the conflict. @aarondellaria

      Reply to Comment
    2. Aaron

      If one’s description of the situation is wrong, then one’s actions will likely be wrong as well. Specifically, be careful about basing political programs on vague metaphors, like calling the Arab-Israeli war a “civil war” (from the linked blog post) or saying that a “single state” already exists de facto from the river to the sea. These metaphors distort way more than they clarify. It’s interesting, though, that the rhetoric here implicitly rejects the usual colonial trope, of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza as colonies of Israel.
      “[T]he conflict didn’t start in 1967, and the claims of both peoples don’t end at the borders of the ceasefire that predates this war.” True, although the people Israel – I’m not talking about the one-state settler types – is willing to suspend its claim on the whole of the territory perpetually. Some dovish left-Zionists, the Gershom Gorenberg types, would do well to remember that the other side is currently not willing to do that. But this Jewish/Arab coalition is just heading for a *real* civil war, if both the Arabs and the Jews think that they can work out a *stable* one-state solution where their own side won’t end up being dominated by the other.

      Reply to Comment
    3. sh

      “…they provide further evidence of a growing dissatisfaction with the two-state solution as a viable, applicable idea…”
      I think they rather provide evidence of a growing realization that the “two states for two peoples living in peace with each other in separate, independent states”, however preferable for both that solution would seem, are not going to – and were probably never intended to – happen. That is certainly how I read things now. 20 years ago there was, in Israel, a widespread, deeply-felt desire for peace with the Palestinians – a sense of relief over, and willingness to take risks for, what the leadership said it was leading us towards. And if one solution proves not to have been a solution at all, another has to be striven for. Eretz Yoshveha have the right idea. Anyone who has struggled to make sense of the history that developments over the past couple of decades have forced us to discover, cannot but agree with the analysis that the conflict did not start in 1967 – even though 1967 borders could have been agreed upon at a certain point if only the right of return had been allowed on the table as well.
      An umbrella that can shelter both Eliaz Cohen and Yehouda Shenhav is one I’ll happily march beneath. Cohen a religious poet, Shenhav a secular intellectual, one a social worker, the other a lecturer, one Ashkenazi the other Sefardi, not a hint of arrogance or violence in either of them. Who are their Palestinian partners? And which of our political parties will embrace their ideas and transform them into a practical plan?

      Reply to Comment
    4. Jazzy

      Two States v. One State. The irresistible force meets the immovable object.

      Reply to Comment
    5. Aaron

      SH, I remember that “widespread, deeply-felt desire for peace with the Palestinians” of twenty years ago. A large majority (including me, for whatever that’s worth) supported the Oslo process despite the risk because we thought it would lead to land for peace.
      I still see this desire for peace today, just as strong. What’s changed is Israelis’ perceptions of the near-term chances for peace. Most Israelis (again, including me) support land-for-peace just as strongly today as they did twenty years ago.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Gershon Baskin

      Hanna Siniora and I remain the co-chair of the Board of IPCRI and IPCRI remains committed to the two states solution. We still believe that it is the only solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict and the only solution which enables both national movements to have self determination in their land. We have always believed that the two states should progress beyond 2 separate states after peace is achieved to find ways of cooperation, perhaps confederation or other such models but first two separate states. Dan Goldenblatt agreed to that formula when he was appointed as the new Co CEO of IPCRI. IPCRI’s policy has not changed although we have always intelligently examined all options.

      Reply to Comment
    7. John Yorke

      ‘Land for Peace’ often sounds like a good idea but only in theory; the reality of it has never lived up to expectations. Land, and possession of it, has such a primal, instinctive connection with all of mankind that, no matter what the circumstances, it is only surrendered, transferred or handed over with marked reluctance and much misgiving.

      Even so, land remains the key element where this struggle is concerned and it will not be possible to finalise matters without its inclusion in any worthwhile solution. Nevertheless, the premise of ‘Land for Peace’ is deficient in one major respect. It’s the wrong way round; always has been.

      Land isn’t much good without Peace. You can’t farm it with certainty, sell it, use it as collateral or live safely on it while the blast of war still echoes back and forth with no prospect of a permanent let-up in sight.

      The problem, therefore, is to establish peace first. Land can become a factor for sealing the deal but only after a sustained period of calm and non-violence has been generated and experienced. When this happens, the future can easily become a place where peace is very much the rule rather than the exception.

      It’s all just a matter of using the correct technique. And, after centuries of living (and dying) with wars going on all around us, that technique should, by now, have percolated through to even the meanest intelligence.


      Reply to Comment
    8. sh

      Aaron, I don’t know whether everyone who was enthusiastic did specifically support land for peace. I think many would have been relieved to have peace for peace. Certainly I would have.
      John Yorke explains it well.

      Reply to Comment
    9. John Yorke

      Thank you, SH, for your comment. It’s good to have your support.

      Peace, as with most desirable objects, isn’t going to drop into our laps like a ripe old apple. It’s very much a matter of shaking the tree until the fruit falls out.

      Exactly how hard we are prepared to shake that tree often depends on the value we place in the lives of our fellow man and woman.

      If all we see is a vague outline of some very distant figures, not personally known to us or related in any way, then our response will generally be that of the traditional liberal; balanced in tone, fair-minded, trying to see the problem from both sides but, ultimately, contributing nothing of immediate value to its solution.

      If we can identify with these people as being just like the rest of us, all needing to exist in peaceful surroundings without the constant fear of death and destruction snapping at their heels, then we should be prepared to take whatever steps are necessary to bring about that state of affairs.

      It seems to me that, so far, all our efforts, well-meaning though they may be, have achieved very little. To have produced shadows instead of substance in this matter demeans all of Mankind; it certainly doesn’t do much for our self-esteem nor does it help those in the direst of circumstances.

      I really think it’s time we cranked up that wonderful machine called the human brain and settled this business once and for all. For every crisis and peril in life there is nearly always an answer.
      Usually the mistake we make is to assume complexity where simplicity would be by far the better option.

      We’ve made too many mistakes here already. Let’s really try not to make any more; the cost in lives lost and futures blighted is already too great.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Apa

      @SH –

      Peace for peace? Is that where Israel gets to keep its settlements while the Palestinian population nearby keeps quiet?

      Reply to Comment
    11. david michaelis

      it is already one scrambled egg,that can not be unscrambled.
      Israel exists more decades as an occupier than the former democracy that exited till 1967.It is a new
      reality,that makes a clear choice between Apartheid or democracy for all.

      Reply to Comment
    12. sh

      Not in my book it isn’t. Peace brings trust. Ownership then becomes secondary as it does not prevent or regulate access. The irony inherent in fighting to the *death* over ownership of places that they hold to be holy becomes apparent to all.

      Reply to Comment
    13. sh

      That was for APA.

      Reply to Comment
    14. Steve

      Everyone who hates Jews is rooting for a one-state “solution” that eliminates Israel.

      Everyone who wants peace, and the Jewish state of Israel to be safe, is for two states.

      Obviously Israel is never going to merge with the Palestinians, despite the one-staters urging Israel to kill itself.

      Reply to Comment
    15. ARTH

      Finally, the beginning of a discussion on what happens next.. and it isn’t a two-state solution.

      Reply to Comment
    16. John Yorke

      There have always been too many barriers standing in the way of a peaceful solution to this situation. It is almost certain that, in the absence of any concerted, comprehensive plan to properly address the matter, the years ahead will continue take their inevitable toll of the lives and dreams of both Arabs and Israelis alike.

      Why should this be so? What would be needed to prevent this from happening? What are the basic problems facing any type of peace initiative in this region of the Middle East?

      1. Getting it started and having it provide what it’s supposed to deliver is often the hardest part of the procedure.

      2. Policing the arrangement is also fraught with difficulty and disagreement. The number of viewpoints to be considered and the various interpretations of this and that make for a protracted evaluation of whatever transpires. Such delay is fatal to any peace process.

      3. Accepting the finality of any judgment or penalty given in the course of such a scenario is never an easy thing to do. All sides will try to contest anything that has an adverse effect on the advantages they hold or positions that they wish to acquire.

      What, if any, are the answers to these apparently insurmountable considerations?

      1. Whatever system is chosen, it must have the ability to self-start and then to proceed in spite of all objections and obstacles placed in its path. Think of the most powerful ice-breaking vessel in the world and then magnify that image a million times. Not even the very biggest icebergs would stand a chance against it.

      2. The very best policing of all is that of self-policing, the ability to be there on the spot whenever lawbreaking is about to take place. In other words, the potential lawbreaker is confronted by himself or his neighbours acting as his very own policeman. That would solve the dilemma quite nicely and on each and every occasion.

      3. If it can be established well beforehand that there is never to be any court of appeal and that all decisions are final, even questionable ones, then further debate on any particular event or incident becomes academic; any extra disputation can thereafter confine itself solely to that sphere of intellectual discourse.

      But what would encompass all these requirements in one tidy little package, a solution that is easy for everyone to understand and guaranteed to accomplish the task for which it has been designed?


      If any of you can think of a better solution or, perhaps, one that comes close, then please make it known to the rest of us as soon as you can.

      There are a lot of people marked for death if no answer is forthcoming.
      And one of them could even be you. Or me.

      Reply to Comment
    17. Steve

      There is no chance that Israel suicides itself and gives up a Jewish state and merges with millions of Palestinians (or anyone).

      Sorry. Israel won’t destroy itself, as “selfish” as that is!

      Reply to Comment
    18. John Yorke


      There are many ways to commit suicide and one of them is to enter a gas-filled room with a box of matches. So long as no attempt is made to strike a match, there is no immediate danger but the effects of the gas will eventually kill any person remaining there for too long. The choice, therefore, is between a quick death and a somewhat lengthier one.

      The Israeli/Palestinian room presently measures some 20 – 25,000 square kilometres, depending on how the area in question is viewed and by whom. The ‘gas’ has been swirling around inside it for well in excess of six decades and its lethal flow has already claimed thousands of lives. Unless some seriously large extractor fan is turned on, this process will continue much as it has always done and many more people are destined to die as a result. Striking a match can appear to burn off some of the gas for a while but the loss of life that this usually entails only serves to make the rest of the gas more potent than ever.

      So, the best course of action must be to find that ‘seriously large extractor fan’ and use it to suck out the bulk of all those dangerous fumes now enclosed in what is an extremely confined space. Thereafter, whatever small residue of gas may still remain, it will never again be capable of any great combustion or toxicity.

      That will certainly be a distinct improvement on the situation as we see it today – and have seen it these past 64 years.

      Reply to Comment
    19. zayzafouna

      we always opposed the 2 state solution because it rewarded theives for their theft with a sovereign state. Now that the creation of israel has been recognized as theft, even by Jews (probably the majority of 972 editors), and the rest of the world, it is time to talk aboput the one state solution. I would like the 972 editors to remain in a free Palestine from the River to the Sea, but would encourage most people to exercise their right of return.

      Reply to Comment
    20. Johnny

      i agree with the one-state solution because they should get the land promised to them by GOD(the most high)

      Reply to Comment
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