Only a Single-State Solution Will Bring Peace
Updated April 24, 2014, 12:57 PM
Let’s go back to basics: The Palestinian people live under occupation and siege in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, as second-class citizens in present-day Israel, and as refugees, as a consequence of the Zionist colonization of historic Palestine that began more than a century ago and continues today.
Efforts to “solve” the situation by creating separate, ethnically homogenous states for the colonizing society, on the one hand, and for the victims of the colonization, on the other — along the lines of apartheid South Africa’s Bantustan system — have failed.
The remaining route to a just peace would be a historic agreement to dismantle this colonial reality; it would transform Israeli Jews from a settler-colonial garrison society, and Palestinians from a subjugated people, into citizens of a common state committed to protecting the rights of all. Painstaking work would be needed to reverse the gross inequalities that are the consequence of the purposeful dispossession of the Palestinians.
As in South Africa and Northern Ireland, where historic settlements along similar lines are being implemented, such an agreement would require a legitimate, broadbased Palestinian leadership and an Israeli leadership that recognizes that Israel’s form of ethnoreligious apartheid must end.
Yet for many years, Israel and the United States have done all they can to thwart the emergence or recognition of representative Palestinian leaders: the Palestinian Authority functions as a native enforcer on behalf of Israel’s occupation. Hamas, though it is currently observing the November 2012 ceasefire it negotiated with Israel, remains committed to exercising the Palestinians’ right to resistance and self-defense.
This contradiction cannot be resolved through the agreement that was just signed in Gaza. Nor will Israel or the United States permit the weakened and aid-dependent Palestinian Authority to implement it.
A major step toward a just peace would be if the United States would stop interfering in Palestinian politics and instead use its influence to pressure Israel to abandon its commitment to ethnoreligious segregation.
While that is unlikely to happen soon, Palestinians will continue to seek other ways to defend their internationally recognized rights, and that includes their peaceful strategy of boycott, divestment and sanctions.