Chomsky: Don't Be Distracted by One-State/Two-State 'Debate' on Israel -- Something Much More Nefarious Is Going on
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In July 13, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin issued a dire warning to the government of Israel: either it will reach some kind of two-state settlement or there will be a "shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality -- a state 'from the sea to the river'." The near inevitable outcome, "one state for two nations," will pose "an immediate existential threat of the erasure of the identity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state," soon with a Palestinian-Arab majority.
On similar grounds, in the latest issue of Britain's leading journal of international affairs, two prominent Middle East specialists, Clive Jones and Beverly Milton-Edwards, write that "if Israel wishes to be both Jewish and democratic," it must embrace "the two-state solution."
It is easy to cite many other examples, but unnecessary, because it is assumed almost universally that there are two options for cis-Jordan: either two states -- Palestinian and Jewish-democratic -- or one state "from the sea to the river." Israeli commentators express concern about the "demographic problem": too many Palestinians in a Jewish state. Many Palestinians and their advocates support the "one state solution," anticipating a civil rights, anti-Apartheid struggle that will lead to secular democracy. Other analysts also consistently pose the options in similar terms.
The analysis is almost universal, but crucially flawed. There is a third option, namely, the option that Israel is pursuing with constant US support. And this third option is the only realistic alternative to the two-state settlement that is backed by an overwhelming international consensus.
It makes sense, in my opinion, to contemplate a future binational secular democracy in the former Palestine, from the sea to the river. For what it's worth, that is what I have advocated for 70 years. But I stress: advocated. Advocacy, as distinct from mere proposal, requires sketching a path from here to there. The forms of true advocacy have changed with shifting circumstances. Since the mid-1970s, when Palestinian national rights became a salient issue, the only form of advocacy has been in stages, the first being the two-state settlement. No other path has been suggested that has even a remote chance of success. Proposing a binational ("one state") settlement without moving on to advocacy in effect provides support for the third option, the realistic one.
The third option, taking shape before our eyes, is not obscure. Israel is systematically extending plans that were sketched and initiated shortly after the 1967 war, and institutionalized more fully with the access to power of Menahem Begin's Likud a decade later.
The first step is to create what Yonatan Mendel calls "a disturbing new city" called "Jerusalem" but extending far beyond historic Jerusalem, incorporating dozens of Palestinian villages and surrounding lands, and furthermore, designated as a Jewish City and the capital of Israel. All of this is in direct violation of explicit Security Council orders. A corridor to the East of this new Greater Jerusalem incorporates the town of Ma'aleh Adumim, established in the 1970s but built primarily after the 1993 Oslo Accords, with lands reaching virtually to Jericho, thus effectively bisecting the West Bank. Corridors to the north incorporating the settler towns of Ariel and Kedumim further divide what is to remain under some degree of Palestinian control.
Meanwhile Israel is incorporating the territory on the Israeli side of the illegal "separation wall," in reality an annexation wall, taking arable land and water resources and many villages, strangling the town of Qalqilya, and separating Palestinian villagers from their fields. In what Israel calls "the seam" between the wall and the border, close to 10 percent of the West Bank, anyone is permitted to enter, except Palestinians. Those who live in the region have to go through a highly intricate bureaucratic procedure to gain temporary entry. Exit, for example for medical care, is hampered in the same way. The result, predictably, has been severe disruption of Palestinian lives, and according to UN reports, a decrease of more than 80% in number of farmers who routinely cultivate their lands and a decline of 60% in yield of olive trees, among other harmful effects. The pretext for the wall was security, but that means security for illegal Jewish settlers; about 85 per cent of the wall runs through the occupied West Bank.