For decades the Israeli-Palestinian peace process progressed, or not, along a steel rail of policy agreed by all parties; that a two-state solution was the answer and ultimate destination. On Wednesday that all changed.
“So, I’m looking at two-state and one-state and I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. If Bibi and if the Palestinians…if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best,” said the new US President Donald Trump, meeting with the visiting Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
This has let loose a mighty bull in the Mideast china shop.
If only all that were required for peace would be the Israelis and Palestinians agreeing.
Today, in front of the— Jewish Identity (@JewishIdentity) February 15, 2017
WhiteHouse</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/TorahJews">TorahJews gathered to tell the world that the State of #Israel does NOT represent the #Jewish people! pic.twitter.com/uTNNE9pTW4
In 1988 Yasser Arafat proclaimed a Palestinian state for the first time, evoking a two- state solution, in itself implicit recognition of the state of Israel.
Five years later after the toughest of negotiations in Oslo the enemies met in Washington hosted by Bill Clinton. Yasser Arafat and Yitzak Rabin committed to peace on the solid principle of two states living side-by-side peacefully. This became official US, UN, Israeli and Palestinian policy. Now that unity is broken.
In Ramallah, Saeb Erekat, who was at the heart of the negotiations, is furious.
“What Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is thinking about, the one state-two systems, the military government imposed on Palestinians, is apartheid. This is not doable in the twenty-first century,” he fumes.
Erekat: Only alternative to the two-state solution is one single democratic state with equal rights for Christians, Muslims & Jews 🇵🇸 pic.twitter.com/wVzOpNLU8r— Palestine PLO – NAD (@nadplo) February 15, 2017
The Palestinian’s situation on the ground has, however, changed radically since 1967.
Today, although Gaza is still entirely Palestinian, the West bank is sausage-sliced into three zones.
Zone A, only 20% of the territory, holds 50% of the population, and is entirely under Palestinian control.
Zone B is another 20% of the land, with 40% of the population. While the Palestinians exercise civil control, the Israelis insist on sharing military responsibility.
Zone C accounts for the remaining 60% of the territory, but only 6% of the Palestinian population. Here Israel is in total control.
Years of colonisation policies have ensured the Palestinians have lost a lot of land.
So a two-state solution today would leave one tiny and scattered, unviable in the opinion of many, and with what frontiers, exactly? The alternative unitary, binational state remains just an idea on paper.
Would Palestinians have the same rights as Jews in a “greater Israel”? With both democratic and demographic effects in mind, Israel right now favours the status quo. The Palestinians lose out either way.