When will time run out for a two-state solution?

Yousef Munayyer says it’s time for the Palestinians to give the Israelis an ultimatum: the Palestinian Authority should set a date for the Israeli occupation to end and settlements be dismantled. “If this deadline is not met, the PA should dissolve the authority and convert the disjointed national movement into a broad civil rights movement seeking equal rights in a bi-national state.”

Munayyer writes:

Among those involved in the Middle East peace process industry there is much talk about “time running out” for a two-state solution.

Recently, the same sentiments were echoed by the US state department, reflecting a shift in the way the Obama administration is publicly talking about the conflict.

On more than one occasion, the state department and other Obama administration figures have said that “the status quo is unsustainable”. Notice again the element of time.

Time has been running out for a two-state solution since the beginning of Israel’s colonial enterprise in occupied Palestinian territory in 1967. Yet despite this reality, analyses of the situation continue to repeat this now-meaningless cliche year after year, decade after decade. It seems that, to many, time in the Middle East can be magically be suspended. Gravity, in this war-torn region, ceases to affect the inverted hourglass.

The idea that time is running out presupposes some actual threshold beyond which time will actually have run out – a midnight hour when the Cinderella-style fantasy of a two-state solution wakes up to the embarrassing reality of facts on the ground.

However, we never hear analysts specify where the threshold lies – at what point Israeli actions of settlement construction and expansion are considered to have finally tipped it over the edge. Without this, the two-state solution becomes the consummate zombie, very much alive in the policy discussion despite being long dead in reality.

Meanwhile, AFP reports:

A growing number of Palestinians support the establishment of a single state for Jews and Arabs including Israel and the occupied territories, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

The survey by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre (JMCC) found that support for a bi-national state in which Israelis and Palestinians would have equal rights had grown to 33.8 percent from 20.6 percent in June 2009.

During the same period, support for a negotiated two-state solution dropped from 55.2 percent to 43.9 percent, while 32.1 percent of respondents said the “peace process is dead” in response to a separate question.

Most Palestinians, 43.7 percent, support peaceful negotiations, while 29.8 percent support armed struggle and 21.9 percent support peaceful resistance as the best strategy for ending the Israeli occupation, the poll found.

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4 thoughts on “When will time run out for a two-state solution?

  1. Ian Arbuckle

    Even the Israeli government depends on the conflict with the Palestinians, Iranians or their neighbours for their power. The Zionist myth depends on real or imagined existential struggle against a non-Jewish enemy to exist. Without an enemy real or imagined, the Jews would start blaming each other for their faults, just as Theodor Herzl did when he wrote, blaming the Jews for their own persecution in Germany, “When we sink, we become a revolutionary proletariat. When we rise, there also rises our terrible power of the purse.” He wrote “.. each country can only absorb a limited number of Jews, if she doesn’t want disorders in her stomach. Germany has already too many Jews. “When people see their “group” apposed as the source of their power, they must create a new group if unopposed. If opposition is the key to maintaining their power then differences within their own group become the next essential.

    Factionalism and crony-ism is rife when power is assigned on the basis of the relation to a divisive struggle. So if the Palestinian Authority is firing teachers in the West Bank because they had some connection to the perfectly legitimate political campaign of Hamas in the last election, just imagine how a one state solution might work in relation to the selection of posts in such a government government?


    But the problem here is that the wound of this conflict has been allowed to fester for so long that any and all power is derived from the conflict not from the realistic vision of a future without conflict. It has become a self fulfilling fact of life. In other words, and for example the West Bank can not see education for educations sake but only as a tool for indoctrination or a means of purging any opposition to the Fatah leadership.

    Everyone’s position is skewed by the abomination of a racist, inhuman conflict, and the unimaginable resolution thereof, because of the lack of a vision without conflict. Few if any people are basing their power on a “plurality of peoples under a single nation” even if that is the actuality of the present situation.

  2. pabelmont

    The fault is in their stars, not in themselves (I & P). Israel, bless its heart, cannot escape from its expansionist Zionist self-definition. Cannot escape. Cannot. The Palestinians also cannot escape from their side of the same Israeli self-definition. Cannot escape. Not their faults.

    Only the “stars” (the USA) can provide an escape but it, too, is captured by self-aggrandizing self-definition, the militarist-imperialist-expansionist (of military power if not of population) which has so far blinded the USA to human rights that they are not even on the below-notice-zone of the radar. The USA CAN AND SHOULD ENFORCE THE LAW AND REQUIRE ISRAEL TO REMOVE THE SETTLERS, THE WALL, AND MAYBE THE SETTLEMENT-BUILDINGS. But it wont. (This is not the same thing as ending the occupation, but it would provide a “writing on the wall” for Israel to read and get used to.

    Not gonna happen.

    So, yes, Palestinians might as well dissolve the PA, dissolve all agreements ever made with Israel (agreements between occupier and occupied are all illegal anyhow to the extent that they purport to limit any rights guaranteed by the Fourth Geneva Convention), return negotiations (where they belong) to the PLO (with its possibly greater institutional and historic concern for refugees) and let the future take place within the now-and-future One State Solution (non democratic, apartheid-style even without the settlers) that Israel, The Only democracy In The Middle East TM so kindly provides without even the inconvenience of negotiations.

  3. Scott McConnell

    How many jobs does the PA provide for bureaucrats of various stripe? I would guess it’s the largest employer on the West Bank by far. Would international donors still fund it if it disbanded itself? Would Israel be able block transfer of international funds to a non PA “civil rights movement”. I don’t know the answers, but I suspect they may a big incentive for the PA to keep on as it’s been doing.

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