By: Prof. Dr. Mohsen Mohammad Saleh.
The Twelfth Illusion: The One State
The illusion that we are talking about here is related to the so-called dismantling of the Zionist apartheid regime by way of political struggle. We are not talking here about the liberation of Palestine and the imposition of the will of the Palestinian people on their land, by having an independent state, or by being united with the Arab Muslim nation, for this is not an illusion, it is rather a right that will be taken back, in the short or the long term.
Talking about the “one state” option as an illusion in Palestinian politics, may be disturbing to many Palestinians, because it is being marketed as the best option after the fall of the “two-state solution” option, which we are also convinced that it has fallen, and we discussed it in a previous article as an another illusion. Many Palestinians of the 1948 occupied territories may consider the “one state” option an acceptable one, while facing an Israeli racist state, and it is also acceptable to the international landscape, since it is close to the notion of dismantling an “apartheid” regime, similar to what has happened in South Africa, and since it is considered the last racist entity in the international landscape.
Such a call has a historical basis, for throughout the British occupation period, 1918–1948, the Palestinian struggle had focused on the idea of a single state, and in 1968, the Fatah movement brought up the idea again, when it called for a single democratic secular state in which Muslims, Christians and Jews are equal; and it was supported by other Palestinian factions.
The advocates of a “one state” differ on its definition, some of them define it as a bi-national state, in which Arabs and Jews agree to share power, without one party dominating the other; whereas most of them define it as a secular democratic state, treating every citizen as equal before the law, regardless of their religious or ethnic background.
Some advocates of the two-state solution (as did a number of leaders of the Palestinian Authority (PA)) have threatened to adopt the one-state solution, may be to put pressure on Israel and push it to pursue seriously the two-state solution.
To argue that during the British occupation (before 1948), there were calls for a one-state solution, it is methodologically and objectively misplaced. For the Palestinian people were still in their land and not displaced yet. And according to the United Nations regulations and after the end of the British Mandate, they had the right to exercise the right to self-determination. At that time, they still owned more than 94% of the land, and constituted more than 68% of the population. Whereas, now that Israel is established on about 77% of Palestinian land; after expelling and displacing about 83% (more than 800 thousand) of the Palestinians there, the Palestinian national project has turned into a liberation project. It is not a project of just having equal rights with the occupying colonialists, who have usurped the land and displaced its original inhabitants.
Second, arguing that the failure of the two-state solution is an excuse to adopt the one-state solution, after the Israelis completed the occupation of Palestine, does not actually highlight the attractiveness or practicality of the idea, rather, it shows the extent of arrogance, audacity, and how far the Israelis may go in imposing their concepts, which prevented reaching any of the “compromises.” The Palestinians and Arabs did not resort to the two-state solution until they exhausted all the means of a one-state solution, and were certain of the absolute Israeli rejection of it. For the one-state solution simply means ending and dismantling the Zionist project, and Israel’s approval means putting a “mercy bullet” into its head. If the two-state solution is acceptable in varying degrees to significant Israeli-Zionist segments; the one-state solution finds no room or serious consideration in any of the Israeli-Zionist circles. Therefore, if we assume, for the sake of argument, that the two-state solution is “possible,” the two-state solution to the Israeli settler community is “impossible”; and when the two-state solution is impossible, the one-state solution becomes even more impossible. Perhaps when the Israelis find themselves, under the pressure of the resistance action, forced to resort to difficult choices, they will prefer hundred times the two-state solution to the one-state solution. This way, their Zionist project would be preserved, they would keep control of most of the land and of the Jewish identity of their state, and they will maintain their international recognition. In general, if the supposed Israeli-Jewish partner is absent in the “one-state” solution, it would turn into an illusion, a mirage and wishful thinking.
Third, as for the talk about dismantling the relationship between the Jews and Zionism in Israel, it might seem logical at first, however, the experience of those who spread this idea for the past hundred years, especially the leftist movements, has proven its failure… Rather, evidence has showed increasing religious, national and racist extremism among Israelis, especially in the past twenty years.
Experience has shown that this kind of disengagement does not materialize unless there are resistance operations and effective uprisings that make Israel lose two pillars of its occupation (the security and the economy), plunge it into a crisis of searching for alternatives and turn its survival into an unbearable costly process and burden. Now that Israel thrives in the midst of a weak, disintegrated, backward, and normalized Arab-Islamic environment, and the Israelis live with an annual income equal to that of Europeans… All attempts at persuasion and all the poems of satire, love and hope cannot affect Israel a bit.
Fourth, the enticement of the “one-state” solution to the international community, similar to what had happened in South Africa, doesn’t seem to be sufficient. The major Western powers that have been supporting and sponsoring Israel, consider it a front line in the midst of the Arab and Muslim world, which implements their strategic objectives of controlling the region, keeping it weak, backwards and fragmented, and making it a market for their products. Therefore, over the past decades and throughout the different US administrations and presidents, the US has always considered Israel the cornerstone of its Middle East policy. These powers realize that the “Jewish-Zionist” nature of Israel is a prerequisite for its survival, and they don’t consider it a racist regime, given the religious and cultural backgrounds of many decision makers, especially those with Protestant background. If these forces adopt the two-state solution, then their transition to adopt the one-state solution becomes more difficult, unless Israel becomes a heavy burden to them and its harm becomes greater than its benefits, and this is mainly related to the revival of the region, recovery of its points of strength and the escalation of resistance action in Palestine.
Futhermore, the two-state solution is still accepted by most countries, where 137 of them officially recognize the State of Palestine; in addition to many other countries that adopt this solution, but are waiting for the success of the peace process. If this is the case for the two-state solution that failed and was bypassed by Israel, which acts as a “state above the law” and does not care for international pressure, then what about the “one-state” solution, which will require a different kind of journey? Palestinians may find themselves “after a long journey” that they have been running after a mirage.
In any case, we have previously warned against falling into the illusion of “international legitimacy,” which cannot be counted on to regain the rights and liberate the land, especially in the Palestinian case.
Fifth, the advocates of one-state solution do not answer questions about the identity of the land and the people in Palestine after the establishment of this state. Will it return to its Arab Muslim character? Do all Jewish settlers, who came just because of their religion (as Jews), over more than a hundred years, from all parts of the world, have the right to retain the right to “Palestinian” citizenship?! Are those who came by force of arms, under the cover of occupation and against the will of the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim Ummah (Muslim nation), entitled to take that citizenship? On what bases do the advocates of one state agree on giving this right to the occupying setlers?!
Some may argue that when a single state is formed and the Zionist project fails, many Israelis would want to return to their original countries, therefore, they would “tactically” agree to the idea of a single state… However, it is a sort of political “naivety,” if one would think that the Israelis are not fully aware of these consequences.
Sixth, the call for one state may reflect negatively on the resistance action against Israel, turning the conflict into a legal, political and rights battle, while avoiding the resistance action, its costs and prices. Whereas evidence on the grounds has shown that all forms of resistance, especially armed ones, are the one qualified for dismantling the relationship between the Jews and Zionism in Israel.
Seventh, the call for a one state solution may provide an unintended “legitimization” of the occupation of the West Bank, which will be included in the one-state project. This “legitimization” would be also the result of the “realistic” dealing with the Israeli occupation. In the meantime, Israel continues its systematic and organized Judaization of the land and the people, leaving those advocates to waste their time and efforts, as their comrades—the two-state advocates—did in the past fifty years.
Eighth, and finally, some call for a single state so that the Israelis would not claim that the advocates of the liberation project want to “throw the Jews into the sea”; which is definitely a false claim. In short, the liberation project is a civilized, humane and revival project, whose advocates are concerned with the return of rights to the lands’ owners, the return of Palestine to its people, and achieving justice for every human being, regardless of his/ her religion, sect, nationality and race. However, they are not obliged to offer free promises and concessions in advance to those who destroyed Palestine, displaced its people, and plundered its wealth. Furthermore, they should not put themselves under the pressure of searching for solutions to the Zionist project and the consequences of its occupation, for which only Israel should bear such responsibility.
It is important to note here that the Zionists themselves do not justify to the world how they actually threw the Palestinian people during the 1948 war into the sea and scattered them all over the globe; and how they have committed crimes over the past seventy years, without having any conscience? Rather they have the impudence and audacity to refuse the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their land, even though the whole world stands with them in this right. If they respect the minimum standards of humanity, then they should stop raising the “scarecrow” of the future, and find a solution to some of what they have already committed against the people of Palestine, and accept the natural and self-evident right of return of Palestinian refugees.
The idea of one-state solution will remain tempting and logical for many; however, in the methodological and objective context, it remains a mere hypothesis, and a propaganda and marketing that cannot be built on; unless what is meant by the one-state solution is the liberation of Palestine, and the establishment of one state, according to the will of the Palestinian people and the Arab and Muslim Ummah.
Therefore, sooner or later, the Palestinians, Arabs, Muslims and all the free people across the globe will return to the cornerstone of the liberation project; the resistance.