Magazine article Tikkun

Moving beyond the One-State/ Two-State Debate

Magazine article Tikkun

Moving beyond the One-State/ Two-State Debate

Article excerpt

The current Israeli government has no interest in any plausible version of a two-state solution. The current government also has no intention whatsoever of affirming equal citizenship of the Arab inhabitants of the West Bank within the overall Israeli control system. So what now?

The inclusion of Isaac Herzog in a unity government would not have altered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's interest in the perpetuation of the current state of affairs, which can best be described as either indefinite occupation or a system tending toward apartheid. Neither is acceptable either morally or in current international law.

I agree with Michael Lerner's creative proposal in this issue of Tikkun: the notion that liberal and progressive Jews should continue to imagine and support both a viable two-state solution and an egalitarian one within the territorial boundaries of the current control system, the old Palestinian Mandate. There is no need to make a definitive choice between them. Though both outcomes are unlikely in the short or middle term, both remain within the realm of possibility. Depending on the nature of the solutions, either could be just, and there is no moral reason why a larger state of all its citizens would be preferable to two smaller states.

In their best versions, the two-state and one-state solutions could be seen as converging in some form of federal association of two peoples within the larger territory, as Hannah Arendt once proposed. To overcome doubts about the one-state, majoritarian solution, it is desirable to think of the one-state arrangement once again as a federal system that would involve a high degree of autonomy for both peoples, as in the UN Special Committee Minority Proposal of 1947. Conversely, to overcome doubts about the viability of the two-state solution, it would be important to revive, at the very least, the UN General Assembly's Partition Plan for an economic union that could become the foundation for some form of political federation as well.

We cannot tell today, from a strategic point of view, which of the two options would have more chances of realization or be less utopian in the long term. What is clear, however, is that they would require two different political strategies and two different international roles. A two-state solution would require a political bargain between an Israeli government and a plausible Palestinian partner that included all major forces, otherwise no credible commitments could be guaranteed. Moreover, without very strong international pressure, even the relevant negotiations would not take place. Thus one political strategy would involve ratcheting up the pressure on the Israeli government and also on the intransigent elements on the Palestinian side. This strategy could also include agitating for increased international recognition of the Palestinian State by individual states, as well as passing detailed resolutions aiming at a solution in various international bodies.

A grassroots program of boycotts, divestment, and sanctions aiming at targeted sectors of the Israeli economy - for example, sectors engaged in war production and settlement financing, as well as companies based in West Bank settlements - could also be effective. Boycotting Israeli cultural and academic institutions would be unwise in this context, since calls for academic boycott can result in the advocates of all forms of boycott - including more narrowly targeted boycotts - being branded as anti-Semitic. …

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