Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Binational security

Well, another Jewish Israeli "terrorist" has struck again, firing and killing four Palestinians in the northern West Bank. I put "terrorist" in quotes because the use of the term has become pointless given its various meanings and lack of meaning as the case may be. However, he is a "terrorist" in the same way that a Hamas or Islamic Jihad bomber is a terrorist, and the second in a week to come from the West Bank settlements. It does appear that the rabbis of the settlement areas are going to denounce the shooting and appeal against violence, which is a positive thing, as is the fact that the shooter was arrested and not arbitrarily killed (now we will see the outcome of the Israeli justice system).

I want to go back to what I said yesterday about the binational state and clarify a bit my opinions. It's clear that the binational state is not the first preference of either group--in numerous opinion polls this option is rejected in favor of the two-state solution. The problem is what type of two-state solution?

Palestinians want their own state; this means a state on 21 percent of mandatory Palestine that has territorial contiguity and includes East Jerusalem as the capital, as well as the rights of a state, that is, control of borders and its own security forces. Israelis reluctantly support a Palestinian state; that "Palestinian state" would not even be sovereign given the restrictions that would be imposed in the name of security. Israelis, or at least successive governments, don't take into account the fact that Israel would be clearly stronger than Palestine regardless of the restrictions or lack thereof placed on the new state. Meanwhile, Palestinians want at least a symbolic return of refugees to Israel, something the Jewish state may or may not be willing to accept.

The point of this whole thing is that nobody can agree on just what the two-state solution would look like, and until they do, the settlers (who have essentially been self-governing for years) will continue to expand their colonies in the West Bank to the point where they can't be uprooted and can't be disentangled from Palestinian population centers. Personally, I don't believe there will ever be agreement on what a two-state solution will look like, because Israeli leaders won't have the political ability to make the necessary concessions, and Palestinian leaders (a) can't make concessions either (though from my perspective they have already made the vast majority of those concessions), and (b) have less motivation to do so because the binational solution isn't perceived as negatively by them as it is by Israelis.

That's not to say that binationalism will be readily or happily accepted, and it might take more fighting (figuratively or literally) for equal rights for Palestinians before it is realized. That is if Israel opts for the "bantustan" solution. The other possibility Palestinians must be (and generally are) prepared to resist is expulsion/"involuntary transfer".

The only example we have of this type of binational settlement in practice is that of the Republic of South Africa, and the results are mixed; but South Africa also adopted a nonracial, noncommunitarian constitution, something which would likely be impossible even in the binational state; and Africans far outnumber whites in SA whereas in Israel/Palestine the numbers are closer to even (something which strikes me as a positive when it comes to creating compromise between communities).

Anyway, it is pointless to speculate on the possibilities for the binational state when it doesn't exist yet and may never exist for that matter, but it is interesting, especially for those looking at building institutions and conflict resolution.


lucyjackson3988 said...
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Alex said...
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