Middle East Peace

Bush and Olmert Re-affirm Their Goal of a Palestinian State Alongside Israel

That's a nice goal. But the practical question is: where would it be? Would it be just the West Bank? Or maybe the West bank and a strip of land to Gaza? If the Palestinians are concentrated in two separate areas within Israel, and Israeli settlements were allowed to grow aggressively in-between them, then how can there be a separate Palestinian state?

[Forgive me for now trying to summarize an immense problem in a blog entry, but here goes.]

The answer is: There cannot be a separate Palestinian state. It is too late to remove the settlements that are in the way. And the Palestinians would be trapped on a small patch of land and be refugees in their own country. There has to be another solution.

After 20 years of thinking and reading about this, I think I have the answer. It is a solution that is just beginning to receive serious attention after years in leftist circles among both Israeli and Arab scholars. It is the single state solution, not the two-state goal which politicians talk publicly about, but can never achieve.

Israelis would have to give-up their Orthodox / Zionist-dominated politics in favor of a secular government (an immense feat in itself). But they would not have to give-up an inch of land or any national security. They would not have to give-up any of their religious or national identity. And they wouldn't need a wall between themselves and the Palestinians, which clearly hurts both sides.

Palestinians would then be able to integrate into Israeli politics and the relatively strong Israeli economy. The Arabs would receive proper political representation, engage in free and fair elections, and to fly their flag alongside the Star of David in a shared capital of Jerusalem.

Sounds nuts? Yeah. But in my opinion, it is the only way to achieve peace. The PLO wanted their own state (among other things), but Jordan wouldn't allow it. Then Hamas wanted the destruction of Israel, but they failed as all terrorists ultimately do.

I know it is easy for me to express what Israel should do to secure peace. It would be far more difficult for Israelis to do it themselves. The ball is in their court.

The late, Palestinian scholar, Edward Said, constantly said that the first step Israel needs to take is to declare its borders to the UN. In my opinion, Israel should keep the Golan heights and declare its borders as they stand today. Then work to change the political system to accommodate the Palestinians. It would take two generations to take-hold. But the goal of living in a country where the threat of war with the other side does not exist -the goal expressed by former militant Yitzhak Rabin before he was assassinated- is a goal worth working very hard to achieve. It can be done. And it would set an amazing example of peace building (and nation re-building) in world history. Simply put, both the Israelis and Palestinians are in need of a reconstruction era.

Virginia Tilley has written an excellent book on the proposal. And so has Ali Abunimah. And for a thorough review of how the 'roadmap' to a two-state solution is failing, see Tanya Reinhart's "The Road to Nowhere: Israel/Palestine Since 2003."