Opinion |

The Two-state Solution Is Already Dead

Supporters of a two-state solution respond aggressively to anyone who tries to undermine their magical faith in a miracle that what is dead will somehow be resurrected.

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington, Dec. 28, 2016.
Secretary of State John Kerry speaks at the State Department in Washington, Dec. 28, 2016. Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

A question for declared supporters of the two-state solution, which means almost everyone, from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to Prof. Shlomo Avineri: You all say that this solution is in great danger, maybe even in its death throes. So what needs to happen for you to admit that it has breathed its last? What else needs to happen for you to declare it dead? Another 10,000 settlers? Or 20,000? Another five years of stalemate? When will you admit it?

Most people know the truth but refuse to admit it. They know that the number of settlers has reached a critical mass. They know that no party in Israel will ever evacuate them. And without all of them being evacuated – and this, too, is something they know – there is no viable Palestinian state.

They know that settler Israel never intended to implement the two-state solution. The fact is that all Israeli governments – all of them – continued the settlement enterprise.

Two-state supporters are worried about the situation, even fearful. They are acting like the relatives of a moribund patient who is already brain dead, and whose organs are needed for transplants, but they refuse, hoping that somehow, a miracle will happen and the living dead will be resurrected. There are rabbis who promise them its possible. From Kerry to Avineri, this is exactly how proponents of two states are acting – hoping for a miracle and therefore preventing the life-saving transplants.

Its hard to begin again from scratch. The two-state solution was ideal. It guaranteed relative justice to both sides and a state for each nation. But Israel did everything it could to destroy it via the settlements, the one irreversible factor in the equation of the Israel-Palestine relationship.

Thats why the worlds anger at the settlements has suddenly increased: It knows they are irreversible. Yet two-state supporters, both in Jerusalem and in Washington, never did anything to stop them when it was still possible. The conclusion is unavoidable: declaring the death of the two-state solution. But instead, they continue waiting for a miracle.

Kerry, Avineri and their ilk are full of good intentions. Theyre also right in saying this was the only solution. But by denying its death, they are merely solidifying the status quo, the occupation, which is the Israeli governments goal.

In Europe, the United States, the Palestinian Authority and Israel, people continue to parrot two states out of inertia and fear of the ramifications of change. And they thereby anesthetize and suffocate any thinking suited to the new situation.

Clinging to yesterdays solution with all their might, two-state supporters also respond aggressively to anyone who tries to undermine their magical faith in a miracle. Thats standard practice for religious, almost messianic beliefs – woe to anyone who tries to undermine them. And thats how theyre behaving now toward A.B. Yehoshua, who proposed a typical old-style Israeli solution to the new situation.

Yehoshua proposed granting permanent residency to Palestinians living in Area C, the part of the West Bank under full Israeli control. Thats too little, too nationalist and too discriminatory. Yehoshua still believes in the superiority of the Jews, in interim agreements and small leaps over the abyss. But in contrast to upholders of the two-state solution, he at least has the courage and integrity to recognize the new reality and try to offer solutions to it. And therefore, hes already considered a heretic by his peers.

Indeed, the solution of a single democratic state is heresy against everything we were raised on. It requires us to rethink everything – to rethink Zionism and the all privileges that were bestowed on one people only. This is the beginning of a long, painful road, but its the only one thats still open to us.

This road leads to one of two destinations: an apartheid state or a democratic state. There is no third option. The growing talk of annexation and the hasty anti-democratic legislation attests that Israel is now laying the ideological and legal foundations for implementing the first option, an apartheid state. The battle against it must focus on promoting the second option – the democratic state. Those who continue to prattle about two states are sabotaging this effort.

One reminder: A single state has already existed for a long time. In the new year that begins today, it will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its founding. The time has come to launch a battle over the nature of its regime.

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