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Mon, 23 May 2011 21:41:06 -0400
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Netanyahu and the One-State Solution 

by Neve Gordon

Published on Monday, May 23, 2011 by Al-Jazeera-English
http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/05/2011522124514911313.html

Distributed by Common Dreams
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/05/23-9

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address US
legislators on Tuesday. He will, no doubt, tell members
of Congress that he supports a two-state solution, but
his support will be predicated on four negative
principles: no to Israel's full withdrawal to the 1967
borders; no to the division of Jerusalem; no to the
right of return for Palestinian refugees; and no to a
Palestinian military presence in the new state.
[Netanyahu's uncompromising stance is not grounded in
unfolding events, and if his rejectionist policy
continues, it will reinforce the idea of a bi-national
one-state solution. (Getty)] Netanyahu's uncompromising
stance is not grounded in unfolding events, and if his
rejectionist policy continues, it will reinforce the
idea of a bi-national one-state solution. (Getty)

The problem with Netanyahu's approach is not so much
that it is informed by a rejectionist worldview. The
problem is not even Netanyahu's distorted conception of
Palestine's future sovereignty, which Meron Benvenisti
aptly described as "scattered, lacking any cohesive
physical infrastructure, with no direct connection to
the outside world, and limited to the height of its
residential buildings and the depth of its graves. The
airspace and the water resources will remain under
Israeli control..."

Rather, the real problem is that Netanyahu's outlook is
totally detached from current political developments,
particularly the changing power relations both in the
Middle East and around the world. Indeed, his approach
is totally anachronistic.

Netanyahu's not-so-implicit threat that Israel will
continue its colonial project if the Palestinians do
not accept some kind of "Bantustan solution" no longer
carries any weight. The two peoples have already passed
this juncture.

The Palestinians have clearly declared that they will
not bow down to such intimidations, and it is now clear
that the conflict has reached an entirely new
intersection.

At this new intersection, there are two signs. The
first points towards the west and reads "viable and
just two-state solution", while the second one points
eastward and reads "power sharing".

The first sign is informed by years of political
negotiations (from the Madrid conference in 1991,
through Oslo, Camp David, Taba, and Annapolis)
alongside the publication of different initiatives
(from the Geneva Initiative and the Saudi Plan to the
Nussaiba and Ayalon Plan), all of which have clarified
what it would take to reach a peace settlement based on
the two-state solution. It entails three central
components:

1. Israel's full withdrawal to the 1967 border, with
possible one-for-one land swaps so that ultimately the
total amount of land that was occupied will be
returned.

2. Jerusalem's division according to the 1967 borders,
with certain land swaps to guarantee that each side has
control over its own religious sites and large
neighbourhoods. Both these clauses entail the
dismantlement of Israeli settlements and the return of
the Jewish settlers to Israel.

3. The acknowledgement of the right of return of all
Palestinians, but with the following stipulation: while
all Palestinians will be able to return to the
fledgling Palestinian state, only a limited number
agreed upon by the two sides will be allowed to return
to Israel; those who cannot exercise this right or,
alternatively, choose not to, will receive full
compensation.

Israel's continued unwillingness to fully support these
three components is rapidly leading to the annulment of
the two-state option and, as a result, is leaving open
only one possible future direction: power sharing.

The notion of power sharing would entail the
preservation of the existing borders, from the Jordan
valley to the Mediterranean Sea, and an agreed upon
form of a power sharing government led by Israeli Jews
and Palestinians, and based on the liberal democracy
model of the separation of powers. It also entails a
parity of esteem - namely, the idea that each side
respects the other side's identity and ethos, including
language, culture and religion. This, to put it simply,
is the bi-national one-state solution.

Many Palestinians have come to realise that even though
they are currently under occupation, Israel's
rejectionist stance will unwittingly lead to the
bi-national solution. And while Netanyahu is still
miles behind the current juncture, it is high time for
a Jewish Israeli and Jewish American Awakening, one
that will force their respective leaders to support a
viable democratic future for the Jews and Palestinians
living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean
Sea. One that will bring an end to the violent
conflict.

Read more at Al-Jazeera-English. 
(c) 2011 Al-Jazeera-English

Neve Gordon is an Israeli activist and the author of
Israel's Occupation.

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