One State or Two State (Issue No.28, Winter 2005)


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The editorial of the most recent issue of al Majdal states that while facts on the ground inform solutions, principles of equality, freedom and justice should be primary considerations as these principles form a basis for self-determination and a durable solution. Many of the articles included in this issue of al Majdal are translated from BADIL's Arabic language publication, Haq al Awda, and reflect current Palestinian positions regarding one-state and two-state solutions, whether any of the two is viable and which is preferable.

Many articles discuss the current reality on the ground which points to a solution Israel is imposing, but authors differ on the implications of this reality. The articles are placed in conversation with each other: one argues for and considers the binational state solution and positions itself somewhere between the two-state and one-state solutions, others offer criticism of the binational framework and argue for two-states, while others offer criticism of the two-state solution and argue for a one-state solution.

General articles on Palestinian refugees include a discussion of UNRWA agency reforms and UNRWA development project in a Syrian refugee camp. A photo montage of the newly installed 'terminal' which has replaced a checkpoint in the wall between Bethlehem and Jerusalem compliments the theme articles' discussion of current facts on the ground. Also included in the general articles is a discussion of Israel's attempts to not be held legally culpable for its actions and an update of Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions campaigns against Israel.

As all of the discussion and reports taking place in the context of a post-Sharon leadership, included in this issue of al Majdal is a reflection upon what Sharon's presence, before and during his tenure as Prime Minister, meant to Palestinians.

Discussions from within Debate amongst Palestinian activists and intellectuals as to whether a Palestinian state is still viable, whether it is the best option to ensure justice and address the effects of ethnic cleansing and what other options might exist, plays a determinative role in the strategy Palestinians will adopt in the future.

 This issue of al-Majdal features articles first published in BADIL’s Arabic language magazine Haq al-Awda. The articles reflect current Palestinian positions and debate regarding a one-state and two-state solution: whether any of the two is still possible and which is preferable. A recurring concern among the authors is how to develop a strategy that addresses self-determination for all Palestinians, including Palestinian refugees and internally displacees, and challenges the Israeli imposed solution,

which prevents both the formation of two viable states and the creation of one state for all its citizens. Sharon’s legacy Ariel Sharon has been in a coma since suffering a serious stroke on 5 January 2006. However, Sharon’s physical presence in Israeli leadership is not critical to the unfolding unilateral disengagement plan. Subduing the enemy by any means, Sharon’s infamous conception of a peace process, survives and gives rise to continued ethnic cleansing, racism and discrimination, destruction of property, missiles, torture, the Wall and enclaves, colonization, and apartheid. It must be recalled that subduing the enemy is the logic of war:

When I thought about how to write to your magazine entitled “The one-state and the two-state solution and the rights of the Palestinian refugees”, I realized that this topic would not be complete unless the option of the cantons-state was tackled. This because the intended Palestinian state is a partial one, with temporary borders and on less than 50% of the land occupied in 1967.

Palestinian refugees and the right of return has symbolized, on both political and historical levels, the essence of the Palestinian cause. Palestinian refugees stand as the symbol of the tragedy of the Palestinian people. They pose political, human and moral challenges, making them the nerve of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Therefore, the position on the right of return has become the litmus test against which the fairness, credibility and seriousness of individuals, organizations and proposed political solutions are examined.

Some politicians and commentators believe that ongoing talks about a single state shared by Israelis and Palestinians is senseless, especially after the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and the success of the unilateral disengagement plan. Among those are colleagues who supported a one-state solution after the failure of Oslo and prior to the disengagement from Gaza. The reason behind their reluctance is not obvious to me, especially after it has become clear that Israel’s Sharon-led Government does not offer solutions to any of the final status issues, neither Jerusalem, settlement, borders, refugees nor the question of sovereignty.

Independence is Not a Luxury, it is a Necessity

At times, the tragic choices to be made in the context of and the political dilemmas posed by the struggle for the freedom and rights of the Palestinian people generate ideas, conferences and initiatives which run against a just peace and block the light at the end of the tunnel. These ideas are based on exaggeration and are advanced by despairing and lazy intellectuals who prefer the comfortable studio and the lights of TV cameras over the hard work required by real political struggle.

It is no longer disputed, at least by those close to the ‘facts on the ground’, that Israel’s West Bank settlements have expanded to the point of eliminating the contiguous territory necessary to establishing a viable Palestinian state. On this understanding, even the Bush administration’s ‘road map’ assumes that substantial withdrawal of these settlements is necessary to a viable two-state solution.

Indicators that once documented [UNRWA’s] successes in health, education, relief, social services and other sectors are now in decline. In many areas these indicators compare unfavorably with host authority services as well as with international standards. Education and health facilities are often overcrowded and under-equipped; refugee homes and infrastructure are in dilapidated condition and refugees are increasingly falling through the gaps in service provision. Any further deterioration could threaten the long term human security of Palestine refugees and adversely affect stability in the Agency’s areas of operation.(1)

Some of the Challenges Facing UNRWA Engaging Neirab’s Refugees in Camp Development

 The barracks that became Neirab Camp, outside Aleppo in Northern Syria, are World War II French army barracks which Palestinians fleeingtheirvillagesin1948settledin,supposedlytemporarily,toawait their return. Blankets, the first partitions in barracks, when it was not unknown for someone to roll in their sleep into a neighbouring family’s space, were replaced by walls five years later as refugees began lives in exile.

6th Annual Meeting of the Palestine Right of Return Coalition
Netherlands 23-27 November 2005

The Palestine Right of Return Coalition held its 6th annual meeting in the city of Vlaardingen, Netherlands on 23-27 November 2005. The Dutch InterChurch Organization for Development Cooperation (ICCO) and the al-Awda Palestine Network - Netherlands jointly hosted the meeting. The meeting took place in the shadow of numerous major regional and international developments that impact the struggle of the Palestinian people to achieve their national rights.

Everybody knows Sharon had a dark past. For us Palestinians, for me as a Palestinian, he is our dark present. The entire destruction of the fabric of our civic and political society over the last five years had the looming presence of Sharon at its black heart. That single moment when Ariel Sharon went to Haram al Sharif to light the chaotic atavistic fuse of his return to political power, the moment which sparked our revolt against everything that he represented, which began to generate his rise to power, that single moment was the essence of his persona, the uniquely ruthless relentless dynamic of his role as conqueror.

Governance and Respect of Palestinian Rights

Hamas is now challenged with finding ways to respond to the legacy and the multi-facetted public expectations of its victory and new leadership role. The Palestinian vote has correctly been described as a political earthquake or tsunami that poses deep challenges to the Palestinian body politique, including the secular forces of the Palestinian left. The ball, however, is in the court of the international community – diplomats, governments, and civil society - who will have to show whether they are able and willing to hear and engage based on the message of Palestinian voters in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT).

Palestinian Civil Society

In 2005 the Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI) presented a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel to the 5th World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI) worked closely with the British Committee for Universities of Palestine (BRICUP) which lobbied the Association of University Teachers (AUT) to adopt an academic boycott of Israeli universities. Despite the fact that the initial AUT boycott was reversed due to enormous pressure from the Zionist lobby in the UK and beyond, it proved that an academic boycott is attainable. (

Israel argues it no longer occupies the Gaza Strip, however, the newly found “military flexibility” and the resulting steps taken to immune occupying forces from responsibility prove the contrary. In fact, they reaffirm Israel’s effective control of the territory and the criminal liability of its occupying forces.

Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the re-deployment has increased the “military’s flexibility” of response, which now includes “the use of all available means”, because Jewish settlers are no longer in the midst of Palestinian inhabited areas.(1)