Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.

×

Two states are neither possible nor desirable

While still small, the percentage of activists supporting a single-state solution to the Israel-Palestine question is, for the first time in decades, growing.

December 1, 2003
4 min read

The debate over the issue has become so lively that in November an International Herald Tribune editorial was moved to comment that a shared state’s code for the end of Israel and must be strenuously opposed.

Such sentiments would be widely shared by Zionists. Many prominent Palestinians are also unhappy with the idea, but this is not reason enough to dismiss it. The two-state solution is neither feasible nor desirable.

Israel’s progressive colonisation of Palestinian land has made a Palestinian state impossible. A glance at the map of the West Bank, with its colonies, bypass roads and separation wall, affirms this reality.

The West Bank now houses 400,000 Jewish settlers (excluding the 200,000 Israelis in East Jerusalem), and 80 per cent of its water has been siphoned off to Israel. When the wall is completed about 40 per cent of the land will be left in uncontiguous parts incapable of being formed into a state. Awareness of these facts has prompted calls from Europe and the US for Israel to remove the settlements and abandon the wall – so far to no avail.

Israeli colonisation of Palestinian land has been pursued relentlessly by every Israeli government since 1967, and has defied every effort to create a Palestinian state. It is no wonder that increasing numbers of Palestinians – and some Israelis – are starting to reconsider the one-state option.

Some Israelis are beginning to fear for the moral and existential future of the Jewish state. Most are Zionists who argue that Israeli society is corrupted by oppressing another people, and that hatred of Israel may one day lead to its destruction – its victims will not always be so weak.

They now speak of a bi-national state, with Arabs and Jews sharing the same land. Though this would limit Zionist territorial ambitions, it would help preserve a Jewish homeland. For Palestinians who see no logistical possibility of a separate Palestinian state, such a solution also provides a base for Palestinian self-determination and nationhood.

Even if it was logistically possible, a two-state solution would involve an inequitable division of the land (the occupied territories comprise 22 per cent of original Palestine) and could not accommodate all the refugees claiming a right to return.

Supporters of the Zionist project need to understand that Zionism was an idea forced on the Palestinians. Israel was created on Palestinian land, at the Palestinians’ expense – for reasons that have nothing to do with them. Hence, the survival of Israel as a Jewish state is not the problem of the Palestinians but of those who supported the Zionist project.

The Palestinian goals of regaining their lost land, repatriating their refugees and building a normal society cannot be realised while Israel, as a Zionist, exclusivist state, remains.

The only humane, just and practical outcome is sharing the land between the Israelis and Palestinians already there, and allowing those who were displaced to return. I would argue for a secular, democratic state on the model of the Western liberal democracies.

Numerous objections will be raised, most of which boil down to current realpolitik. Israelis will resist the dismantling of their dreams, and the balance of power favours them. But the moral force of this solution remains and, like all issues of principle, will outlive the vagaries and shifts of politics and history. To abandon it because it is too difficult to implement today is to cede victory even before battle begins.Dr Ghada Karmi is a research fellow at the University of Exeter and the author of In Search of Fatima: a Palestinian memoir (Verso). She is currently working on a book about the one-state solution scheduled for publication next summer.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
Why not try our new pay as you feel subscription? You decide how much to pay.

An ‘obscure’ party? I’m amazed at how little people in Britain know about the DUP
After the Tories' deal with the Democratic Unionists, Denis Burke asks why people in Britain weren't a bit more curious about Northern Ireland before now

The Tories’ deal with the DUP is outright bribery – but this government won’t last
Theresa May’s £1.5 billion bung to the DUP is the last nail in the coffin of the austerity myth, writes Louis Mendee

Brexit, Corbyn and beyond
Clarity of analysis can help the left avoid practical traps, argues Paul O'Connell

Paul Mason vs Progress: ‘Decide whether you want to be part of this party’ – full report
Broadcaster and Corbyn supporter Paul Mason tells the Blairites' annual conference some home truths

Contagion: how the crisis spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe

How empire struck back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency

Empire en vogue
Nadine El-Enany examines the imperial pretensions of Britain's post-Brexit foreign affairs and trade strategy

Grenfell Tower residents evicted from hotel with just hours’ notice
An urgent call for support from the Radical Housing Network

Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker

In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing

After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry

Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again

Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood

7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.

After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani

If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945

On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.

Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow

The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite

Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.

Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports

On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.

Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns

Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below

The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections

In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines

Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes

Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.

Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.