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opinion/commentary View Comments

Two Peoples, One State?
By Raymond A. Schroth
Source: America magazine
Published: Monday, November 8, 2010
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What began in September as hope for a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine has fizzled. Palestinians will not negotiate while Israel builds settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, which in international law are occupied territory; Israel will not extend the “moratorium” on construction, during which Israel continued to build settlements and segregated highways and to demolish Palestinian homes.

The United States offered Israel concessions to renew the moratorium, but Mr. Netanyahu proposed a law demanding that all would-be Israeli citizens, including Israeli Arabs (20 percent of Israel’s population), swear allegiance to Israel specifically as a Jewish state—in effect, a forced commitment to beliefs they do not hold. Now Palestinians should consider alternatives. Should they unilaterally declare themselves a state and ask for U.S./U.N. recognition? Merge with Jordan? As the situation deteriorates, it is time for new ideas.

Hostility throughout the Arab world and within Israel mounts. Even if the West Bank and Gaza were to become a state, settlers already in place would refuse to budge. As Hanan Ashrawi, a representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said to The Washington Post, “How can you have a two-state solution if you are eating up the land of the other state?”

Many Israelis, particularly in Tel Aviv, distracted by prosperity, seem not to realize that within a few years an Arab majority will emerge and “Greater Israel” (Israel, West Bank and Gaza) will not be Jewish. If Arabs are not given full citizenship rights, Israel will not be a democracy either.

In this context, Israel must choose. It must either: (a) dismantle the settlements and return to the 1967 borders; (b) try to remain in the occupied territory as a ruling minority, which is in effect apartheid; or (c) drive out the Arab population, which would be ethnic cleansing.

But Israelis might also consider an alternative, one with roots in history and recently developed by Jewish, American and Palestinian intellectuals: a one-state solution.


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