by Hillel Schenker
Some people are saying that since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations are a non-starter, the settlements are continuing, and the international community seems to be unable to jump-start the peace process (President Obama’s preoccupied with the elections, and the Europeans with the fate of the Euro-zone), the two-state solution is dead and we--who believe in the necessity of an end to the occupation and a non-violent political resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict--should begin to explore alternative solutions: Like a Palestinian state in the West Bank with provisional borders, a unilateral Israeli “convergence” (disengagement), a confederation of Israel-Palestine-Jordan, or a bi-national one state solution.
Anyone who doubts the importance of the international community in the achievement of progress, or who challenges the Palestinian application for membership in the UN, would do well to recall that the basis for the legitimacy of the State of Israel was UNGA Resolution 181, otherwise known as the Partition Plan. That served as the basis for Ben-Gurion’s declaration of the independent State of Israel. Thus the international community played a key role in the establishment of the state.
The Partition Plan called for the establishment of a Jewish and an Arab state in place of the British Mandate. The State of Israel was established, fulfilling one half of the call, and unfortunately for all of us, the Arab state was not established. There are many reasons why the Palestinians and the Arab world were incapable of accepting the idea that only 45% of the land was to become an Arab state in 1947. Today there are senior Palestinians who regret this, and explain why they were incapable of doing it at the time.
What is happening now, still, is an attempt by the Palestinians, the Arab World and the international community, to belatedly realize the fulfillment of the second half of the Partition Plan, naming the aforementioned “Arab state” as the Palestinian state, under much worse conditions – 78% of the land for the Jewish state (Israel), and only 22% of the land for the Arab state (Palestine), of course with mutually agreed upon land swaps.
What Hashomer Hatzair, Meretz, Peace Now and all of the mainstream of the Israeli peace movement is saying today, is that the establishment of that Palestinian state is in the best interests of Israel, to ensure it’s future, and yes also, a deserved right of the Palestinian people – otherwise known as the mutual right to self-determination.
As for alternative proposals of a “convergence” (disengagement in the West Bank)or a partial agreement, as promoted by Shaul Mofaz who is running for the leadership of Kadima against Tzipi Livni -- we had a discussion in the Political Committee of the Israeli Peace NGO Forum two weeks ago (an umbrella for 60 mainstream peace and human rights organizations), started by the chair of the committee Prof. Dan Jacobson, about whether we, as the Zionist peace movement should begin to raise alternatives to the 2 state solution. Everyone who spoke said, in one manner or another, that as long as the official position of the Palestinian leadership and the international community is in favor of a two-state solution, we of all people should not be the ones to in any way legitimize alternatives.
Meanwhile, the two chairs of the Palestinian-Israeli PeaceNGO Forum, Oslo architect Dr. Ron Pundak, and Samaan Khoury, together with Dr. Meir Margalit, a Meretz Jerusalem city councilor, all members of the PIJ editorial board, together with Nancy Sadiq, recently held meetings in Buenos Aires with Argentina president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, the son of noted author and activist Jacobo Timerman (“Prisoner without a name, cell without a number”) who lived in Israel in the late 70s-early 80s.
As a rising power on the international scene, Argentina wants to become active in promoting the two-state solution, and they want to mobilize most of the other Latin American countries to join them. And particularly important, they will work to ensure that the Arab Peace Initiative (from 2002), in which the entire Arab and Moslem declare their readiness to recognize Israel based upon the two state solution, will remain on the table even after the changes being caused by the repercussions of the Arab Spring (see Akiva Eldar’s article in Haaretz “Argentine President Calls for Regional Involvement in Israeli-Palestinian Conflict”, 12/2/12).
If the day comes when the continuation of Israeli settlement activity and the lack of initiative on the part of the international community causes the Palestinian leadership to change its position and come out in favor of a bi-national one man/woman one vote solution, we will have to seek alternatives. That day may be drawing near, but it has not yet arrived; we still have a window of opportunity – particularly as long as the Arab Peace Initiative remains on the table, (it may yet be removed), and if President Obama will be reelected to a second term.
We could always get Gingrich and his “invented Palestinian people”. Romney is not much better.