Since President Biden still insists that he is committed to the Two State Solution, maybe we should take another poke at it. A fresh look cannot hurt at what has become the most common phrase in the discourse on Palestine-Israel.
There have been several versions of the Two State idea. The one that came closest to being implemented is known as UN Resolution 194, or the Partition of Palestine. It almost became a reality in that the United Nations voted on it, and accepted it on November 29, 1947. But then, even before the ink was dry on the paper, the Zionist forces embarked on a sweeping campaign of ethnic cleansing to rid the country of its people and to take over as much land as possible. During this campaign, close to one million Palestinians were forced out of Palestine, countless civilians were massacred and hundreds of towns and villages were destroyed.
The Zionists took the cities and made them theirs. They took the crops in the fields and the fruit in the orchards, they stole the money from the banks, untold millions worth of vehicles and agriculture equipment, and made it all theirs. It was obvious that the Zionists had no intention to accept a plan to partition a country they wanted all to themselves. They took the country and its riches and then claimed they made a desert bloom.
The campaign tapered down – though it did not stop completely – at the beginning of 1949, and by the early 1950s two regions hitherto unknown were established: the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. These regions were not drawn along any geographic or otherwise natural borders but forced onto the map of Palestine by the Zionists, who at that point controlled close to 80% of the country.
Skipping forward to 1967 when Israel once again attacked its neighboring countries, and in five days it occupied the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, and the entire Sinai Peninsula. This history is well known. At that point, the idea came to redraw the partition plan, this time along the boundaries of the pre-1967 war borders, and allow the Palestinians a small “state” within those boundaries.
There were a few prominent Zionists, including my own father, who at that point was a general in the Israeli army and a member of the Israeli high command, and several others, who supported this plan. There were also Palestinian voices from within the West Bank and Gaza who were open to the idea. From that moment on any discourse regarding “peace” included the idea of a small Palestinian state alongside the larger Israel. Israel for its part did everything in its considerable power to make its new conquests irreversible, and for the most part, it was successful.
A country that was known as Palestine and has a recorded history going back at least four thousand years had become a footnote to Israel. The newly established Israel is a state that draws its legitimacy from the Bible, a religious book with little or no significance when it comes to recording history. This was achieved through a great deal of violence and a well-planned and well-funded targeted campaign of misinformation and political arm-twisting.
The paradigm in which Palestine is merely a footnote to Israel was accepted and is now dominant. Israel is the main story, and Palestine is a little region where the “Arabs of Israel” may enjoy some independence as long as Israel is agreeable to it.
The divisions of Palestine that Israel created were fully accepted and became the reality of Palestine: the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Arab citizens of Israel – who are not recognized as Palestinian at all, as though they all just landed out of nowhere – and the refugees who live outside of Palestine. The reality is that these divisions are not real, they have no history or legitimacy, and Palestinians have been forced to live within them.
Reversing the paradigm
Can one reverse this paradigm? Partition of Palestine is not possible and has no value. As long as Israel exists, it will never agree to a partition and it does not serve Palestinian interests. However, let us suppose for a moment that partition of some sort was possible and beneficial, how would this be done? The prevailing notion is that Israel will receive the larger part of the country, over 80%, and Palestinians will accept whatever they are given.
But what if it were up for negotiation? Perhaps the Palestinians, who are now the majority of the population between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea should have their state on the larger portion of Palestine, and Israel will be confined to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It has become acceptable that Palestinians are the footnote to Israelis, and it is obvious that Israelis deserve the lion’s share of the country on their terms. However, there is no reason to accept this.
Time to change the terms
One has to be either ignorant or corrupt to claim that the Two State Solution is a realistic idea. It is not unlikely that Joe Biden is both. Defeating the violent apartheid regime in Palestine and replacing it with a democracy with equal rights is the only realistic, viable and somewhat just approach to Palestine. The Two State Solution is nothing but a license for Israel to continue to abuse and destroy Palestine while killing and oppressing Palestinians.
Entitlement is the driving force of the colonizers, and Israelis are no different. They believe that they are entitled to Palestine, as much of it as they want, and that even if they were willing under a strict set of unrealistic conditions to accept that Palestinians deserve some semblance of self-determination, it will be done on their terms. They are the masters and they are entitled to the country and the resources. They are also entitled to determine who lives and dies and which of the Palestinian people get to live in what parts of the country and under what sets of laws.
However, this entitlement, like the entire Zionist enterprise, has no legitimacy and must be recognized as the crime against humanity that it is. As such, the perpetrators of the crime must be stopped and brought to justice, the system of apartheid dismantled, and a liberated, democratic Palestine must take its place.
Feature photo | An Israeli soldier looks down from a rooftop in Hebron, Occupied West Bank, May 3, 1980. Rina Castelnuovo | AP