A Bi-delusional State

This land will either be home to two nation-states for two peoples, or one nation-state - a Palestinian Arab state. The concept of a nation-state is not going to disappear from here; it would behoove us to make sure that Israel doesn't disappear.

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While decades overdue, the realization is starting to sink in for some on the right that in the modern world - mostly democratic, but non-democratic too - it is not possible to exert permanent control over a territory without granting its residents citizenship.

It has been clear since 1967 that Israel does not have the option of annexing the territories and naturalizing its inhabitants. Such a scenario would spell the end of Israel. Recently, figures like Reuven Rivlin and Moshe Arens have embraced the option of annexation and citizenship. Arens is proposing a Greater Land of Israel Lite, without Gaza. In his view, a Jewish majority will remain even after annexation. This is a delusion. Any arrangement whereby Israel annexes the West Bank and leaves out Gaza is inconceivable.

Moreover, it is not just Gazans who will have to be given Israeli citizenship, but the descendants of Palestinian refugees.Since it is obvious that any final arrangement would need to include a Palestinian right of return.

A Palestinian woman hangs laundry outside her house in front of a section of the separation barrier in the West Bank.Credit: Reuters

Any two-state deal would have to stipulate that a right of return applies solely to the future Palestinian state. However, if there is just one state between the Jordan and the Mediterranean, there will be no alternative but to grant a right of return to this country. Such a situation would create an Arab-Muslim majority, which would only grow bigger.

Contrary to the fantasies of the right, it is obvious to all that such a state will not be Israel. On the other hand, the state will not be binational either, to the dismay of those on the left. It will be an Arab-Muslim state through and through, even if it officially calls itself binational upon its founding.

Is it conceivable to assume that the Palestinian people will, over time, agree to be the only Arab people whose state does not have a clear-cut Arab character and is not considered a part of the Arab world? Is it logical to presume that this concession, which no Arab people has agreed to undertake for the benefit of a non-Arab minority population that is indigenous to the land, will be granted to the Zionist "alien presence"?

The champions of the "one-state solution" pledge that all the legal arrangements that will safeguard the binational character of the state and protect the rights of all ethnic groups in the country will be spelled out in advance. The problem is that written guarantees cannot determine what will happen in practice. Does the world - especially the Middle East - not have enough examples of the discrepancy between the content of state constitutions and the true nature of those states' governments?

In an op-ed piece that appeared on these pages last month, Carlo Strenger argues that Arens' proposal is tantamount to supporting a binational state, and that the idea is worthy of consideration. According to Strenger, the state that emerges from such an arrangement must be completely secular. After the founding of such a state, Strenger wrote, "Arab rejection of a fully liberal Israel-Palestine would no longer have a case." Well, that makes perfect sense, since the root of the conflict, of course, is that none of the multitude of secular and liberal players in the region can stomach agreeing to a non-secular, illiberal state in their midst.

How does one realize this idea of creating a secular and liberal binational state? It's simple, really. We just bring together the secular liberals of Israeli Jewish society, the secular liberals of Israeli Arab society, the secular liberals of the West Bank, the secular liberals of Gaza, and the secular and liberal masses of the refugee camps in the neighboring countries. Then we establish a "fully liberal" secular state.

When faced with this coalition of the delusional, one must say clearly: This land is home to two nations, both of which have the right to national independence. A binational state is an extreme rarity that is nonexistent in our region. This land will either be home to two nation-states for two peoples, or one nation-state - a Palestinian Arab state. The concept of a nation-state is not going to disappear from here; it would behoove us to make sure that Israel doesn't disappear.

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