One-state Solution, by George Bisharat in WaPo
It's testimony to the shift in the US mediascape that less than five years ago publishing the words Zionist and Lobby in one single sentence could practically cost you your journo job but that today the fairly centrist and largest of the Washington papers, WaPo publishes a "poignant, beautiful, sensible and moderate piece" (dixit Anthony Loewenstein) by Palestinian George Bisharat on the one-state solution...
"Where is the Palestinian Mandela?" pundits occasionally ask. But after these latest Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington fail -- as they inevitably will -- the more pressing question may be: "Where is the Israeli de Klerk?" Will an Israeli leader emerge with the former South African president's moral courage and foresight to dismantle a discriminatory regime and foster democracy based on equal rights?
For decades, the international community has assumed that historic
A de facto one-state reality has emerged, with
Palestinian refugees have lived in exile for 62 years, their right to return to their homes denied, while Jews from anywhere can freely immigrate to
Israeli leaders Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak have admitted that permanent Israeli rule over disenfranchised Palestinians would be tantamount to apartheid. Other observers, including former
Clearly, Palestinians and Israeli Jews will continue to live together. The question is: under what terms? Palestinians will no more accept permanent subordination than would any other people.
The answer is for Israelis and Palestinians to formalize their de facto one-state reality but on principles of equal rights rather than ethnic privilege. A carefully crafted multiyear transition including mechanisms for reconciliation would be mandatory. Israel/Palestine should have a secular, bilingual government elected on the basis of one person, one vote as well as strong constitutional guarantees of equality and protection of minorities, bolstered by international guarantees. Immigration should follow nondiscriminatory criteria. Civil marriage between members of different ethnic or religious groups should be permitted. Citizens should be free to reside in any part of the country, and public symbols, education and holidays should reflect the population's diversity.
Although the one-state option is sometimes dismissed as utopian, it overcomes major obstacles bedeviling the two-state solution. Borders need not be drawn,
The main obstacle to a single-state solution is the belief that
Israeli perspectives are already beginning to shift, most intriguingly among right-wing leaders. Former defense minister Moshe Arens recently proposed in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz that
Is one of these politicians the Israeli de Klerk? That remains to be seen.
If Americans aspire to more than managing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via perpetual and inconclusive negotiations, we should applaud this emerging discussion. Having overcome our own institutionalized racial discrimination, we can model the virtues of a vibrant, multicultural society based on equal rights. President Obama, moreover, would be a fitting emissary for this vital message.