By Sarah Robinson
December 31, 2016
[Sarah Robinson is a volunteer with the World Council of Churches who has written about Israel-Palestine since 2012. On Oct 17, 2016, she was refused entry to Israel at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv and deported . — Ed.]
In my opinion, [no] solutions are viable without visionary leadership and the willingness to compromise. Recalling the experience of South Africa, bold leadership and compromise brought apartheid to an end, and I believe the same is needed in Israel and Palestine. . . . I believe the appetite of both populations indicates that they are willing to start these talks but the lack of real leadership is restraining any progress.
This week, the Israel-Palestine conflict was nudged into the international spotlight. Last Friday, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted in favor of Resolution 2334 condemning the proliferation of settlement development and expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Usually, the United States (US) vetoes such resolutions but on Friday they abstained from voting thereby allowing the resolution to pass. Israel was quick to respond with damning language, threatening rhetoric, and victimized aggression. Originally, Egypt put the resolution forward to the UNSC, but after receiving pressure from president-elect Donald Trump, withdrew the application. Thus, a random mix of countries, including New Zealand and Venezuela, resubmitted the resolution which went to a vote. Israel has since accused New Zealand of declaring war in their action to present Resolution 2334 to the UNSC.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State John Kerry, gave a 1 hour 13-minute speech in Washington DC justifying the US choice to abstain, summarizing the history of US-Israel relations, UN resolutions, and peace negotiations, and outlining five principles to a solution and lasting peace. It was a good speech and it elicited swift condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, the speech was about twenty years too late. It rehashed positions and policies that have been ignored or bypassed for decades and although it sounded good, with less than three weeks remaining in the White House, the Obama administration is grasping at proverbial straws. Secretary Kerry pleaded with Israel to not execute the two-state solution but, in my opinion, the death of the two-state solution took place years ago, and this latest activity will not resuscitate it.
So, what are the one-state and two-state solutions?
One-State Solution: The one-state solution refers to a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the creation of a unitary, federal, or confederate Israeli-Palestinian state, which would encompass all of the present territory of Israel, the West Bank including East Jerusalem, and possibly the Gaza Strip.
Two-State Solution: The two-state solution refers to a solution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict currently under discussion, which calls for “two states for two groups of people.” The two-state solution envisages an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River.
The two-state solution, as it was envisioned in 1948 by the UN and international community, is no longer viable. The Israeli’s have steadily and systematically destroyed this option through their establishment of illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. International law is clear that any transfer of an occupier’s citizens to an occupied land is forbidden therefore making these settlements illegal. Israel has manufactured a system on the ground of segregation and exclusion rendering any simple solution of two states impossible.
What about a one-state solution? At this point, I do not see an alternative, however, what that one state looks like is up for debate. Secretary Kerry mentioned several times in his speech that Israel was both a Jewish state and a democratic state. Either he did not realize it or just chose to ignore it but, it is impossible for a state to be both Jewish and democratic. The founding premises of democracy are equality and inclusion and an exclusive, Jewish state does not meet these criteria. For a state to be truly Jewish, as Israel strives for, it must remove or restrain any non-Jewish ethnicity. Democracy is technically not ethnocentric and basing democracy on religion is no less correct.