First Thursdays - international updates on ODS on the 1st Thursday of every month
5 July 2018 3 items
1) In early May Jeff Halper in Mondoweiss wrote about the new ‘ODS Campaign’ (mentioned in our entry of 3 May) wherein it is not clear whether he is speaking for himself only or for the group of mainly Israelis which has been meeting and developing a Preamble and Program for the last eight months or so. In the article the soft-Zionist bi-nationalism that Jeff has advocated over the years has almost, but not quite, disappeared, as it is still asserted that Jewish Israelis (notabene not all Jews anywhere) have some sort of collective political rights in Palestine – a position which ODS rejects. The ‘Program’ printed in the article furthermore plagiarises the Munich Declaration, in six places lifting without attribution word-for-word or with slight changes our declaration’s key passages. As for organisation, the group has proceeded on the (debatable) premise that – in the words of one group member – it is ‘logical’ for the movement to ‘begin inside Israel and then expand’. It evidently wishes to open up and seek allies sometime during autumn 2018. A strong voice within the Zionist entity is an essential part of ODS’s moving forward, and this group contains many thinkers and activists with long experience in developing visions of democracy within Israel’s 1967 borders. And their insight that there is no hope at all without the clearest possible vision of a solution is a needed counter-weight to arguments that we should desist from talking about solutions altogether. Congratulations to them, and we hope we can work together. There are indeed different constituencies working for ODS, and they should start talking to each other.
2) Long-time ODS supporters Ofra Yeshua-Lyth and Naji El-Khatib then on 25 June in Mondoweiss wrote a critique of Halper’s May article, successfully refuting Halper’s idea that the future re-unified democratic state should grant any legal or political status whatsoever to any ethnically- or religiously-defined groups. Ofra and Naji are members of the new group ‘The Popular Movement for One Secular Democratic State’ who have declined to join the Popular Movement for ODS (our sister organisation) because its title and the Munich Declaration do not explicitly employ the word ‘secular’ – although the secularity of the state is clearly stated in the Munich Declaration’s articles 4 and 5.
3) Since its first General Assembly in Istanbul in February 2017, attended by over 5,000 Palestinians, the ‘Popular Conference of Palestinians Abroad’ has held frequent meetings of its smaller issue-oriented committees, and has now held the second meeting of its General Authority (or ‘Assembly’), again in Istanbul, on 28-30 June. Its press statement holds much between the lines of interest for ODS. While curiously not mentioning the re-unification of Palestine – perhaps this is taken for granted – its clear position for right of return and against the Oslo path implies firm rejection of any two-state solution. Its President, Salman Abu Sitta, and some other members such as Ghada Karmi, are of course on record for ODS. The (potential) strength of the Conference is indicated by the fact that Mahmoud Abbas has several times attacked it and its prominent members.
7 June 2018 2 items
1) Journalist Tom Segev is, after Ilan Pappe, Israel’s best historian. In Zürich’s newspaper Tages-Anzeiger on 12 May, p 41, he says “The two-state solution is no more.” Asked then if a “one-state solution with a ‘federal’ structure” is an option, he says perhaps, but probably not because the Palestinians and the Jewish Israelis are “two very different peoples” and if they are to be equal the federation would have to choose between their two sets of basic values, “the Islamic ones or the modern Israeli ones. Do we cut off thieves’ hands, or live like we do in Tel Aviv?” This statement shows the ocean of difference between Segev and the high-quality Pappe. At any rate Segev then contradicts himself by continuing to follow the 1937 Peel Commission’s argument that these differences require a two-state solution. Finishing off his thoroughly pro-Zionist statements he says the Palestinian so-called state should be incorporated by Jordan.
2) The UK Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s all-day conference on Right of Return (RoR) in London on 20 May shone some, but not enough, light on the question of what political solution is most compatible with RoR, most speakers who addressed the issue at all holding that obviously the two-state solution can be ruled out since return means the possible return of more than 8 million Palestinians to within the 1967 boundaries of Israel, thus ending the Jewish majority and the Jewish state in Palestine and, ipso facto, the two-state solution. As UN General Assembly Resolution 194 says, it means return to their homes, where they or their recent ancestors came from. However, Al-Shabaka policy fellow Tareq Baconi supported the argument of that organisation’s Director Nadia Hijab that we should avoid all talk of solutions – in an attempt to shut down debate even on assessing the relation between RoR and the various political solutions. Their arguments can be gleaned from their online writings.
3 May 2018 4 items
1) A new one-democratic-state group made up mainly of Israeli citizens, both Jewish and Palestinian, launched itself in late April. Most members of our affiliated group, the Popular Movement for ODS, know most of them – indeed some people are involved in both groups – and hope to work closely with them. However, they seem to be going it alone til now, not having co-ordinated their founding with other well-known ODS supporters or having sought input from outside a select group. We will be able to report more soon, e.g. whether one can join as a member and whether they want to affiliate, on the basis of the Munich Declaration, with the Popular Movement and ODS England. However that may be, we wish them good luck! We share the notion that without a clear vision of a solution, of an end state-of-affairs, the movement for all the rights of all the Palestinians is fighting with one hand tied behind its back, the other working non-stop on more concrete issues and taking the limited ‘rights-based’ approach.
2) The shenanigans of the British press (without exception), the Tories, the LibDems and the Labour right wing with respect to bogus anti-semitism have reached the point of deepest injustice – and absurdity – with the ejection of Marc Wadsworth from the Labour Party. Unless Jeremy Corbyn gets a spine transplant, uproars over smalltime stuff like a pictures of a Rothschild alongside WASP bankers will make way for what the Zionists really want, namely bigtime legislation criminalising denial of Israel’s right to exist, resp. believing it should be replaced by a decent, normal democracy, constitutes a crime of racism against Jews. Criminalising advocacy of democracy, as BDS advocacy is being criminalised in France and the US. This would kill ODS advocacy. The lesson for ODS is that we need to drop everything and focus more on the fact that any state in Palestine that does not fulfil Palestinian self-determination is illegitimate.
3) Gideon Levy at Oxford Union arguing against the two-state solution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5zw3Yz-yas But he says the two-state solution is (was) a fair solution, with which ODS firmly disagrees. It was never a good solution, whether or not it is or was ‘feasible’ or ‘practicable’ or genuinely desired by Usrael.
4) 71 years ago: The U.S. State Department on 4 June 1947 took an unequivocal stand for ODS. The UN Special Commission on Palestine (UNSCOP) had been formed in May and was set to visit Palestine and make recommendations at the end of August on what should happen now that the British, in February, had said they were giving up the Mandate. Their ‘Plan for the Future Government of Palestine’ held: “Palestine should become neither an Arab State nor a Jewish State but a single independent Palestine State in which all its people, of whatever religion or blood, may dwell together [and share] a common Palestinian citizenship. … The Government of Palestine should represent all Palestinian citizens and should protect their human rights and fundamental freedoms.” The UN Trusteeship Council should “prepare Palestine for its ultimate establishment as a single, independent state. … The Constitution of Palestine, which should include a bill of rights, and a new legal system—equally applicable to Jew, Christian, and Moslem alike—should be in harmony with the principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the practices of advanced democratic countries.” Because President Harry Truman deemed himself in need of the Jewish vote during the presidential-election year of 1948, he overruled a similar stand taken by the State Department at the Security Council on 19 March 1948, reverting to support for the creation of the Zionist state in Palestine.
5 April 2018 2 items
[On and just after Land Day and the March of Return on 30 March martyrs have fallen in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and even inside 48. Add to these murders hundreds of wounded. Administrative detention of Palestinian citizens of Israel continues.]
1) Nevertheless organising for ODS goes on. Our affiliated group the Popular Movement for ODS held its annual general meeting on 17 March in Ramallah. Guests were Angelique Eijpe and Hamada Jaber, two of the three Directors of the new One State Foundation. Membership grew and a larger Board was elected: Radi Jarai (Chairman), Blake Alcott (Vice-Chairman), Imad Saed and Eddie Thompson (Co-Treasurers), as well as Ramzi Nasir, Sabine Blum, Ibrahim Saad, Munir Aboushi, Sameer M. Sbaihat, Walid Abu Tayeh, Ilan Pappe, Mousa I. Faroun, Ghada Karmi, Mohsen al-Khatib and Mohammad Khalid Faqeeh. Uri Davis and Mohammad El-Helu have resigned.
2) An ODS Campaign, initiated by Jeff Halper, continues to draft its Preamble and Program. Its mailing list (with one exception) consists of Israelis, both Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the language of its drafts seems tailored to appeal more to an Israeli than a Palestinian public. Its principles, aside from the recognition of the collective political rights of Palestinians and Jewish Israelis, tally 99% with those of ODS in Palestine and the Popular Movement; indeed it has apparently adopted almost word-for-word eleven passages from the Munich Declaration, albeit without attribution. Hopefully the Foundation, the Campaign, and those insisting that the word 'secular' must be in a movement's title will co-operate with us.
1 March 2018 6 items
1) Back on 1 January Awad Abdelfattah – long-time Secretary General of the Joint List political party Tajamoa/Balad Party (National Democratic Assembly) – wrote in +972: “Now is the time for one-staters to unite and build a movement.” The Usrael removal of Jerusalem from the fictitious bargaining table ends the “illusion of the two-state paradigm.” The “colonial agent” which is the PA has frozen united (one-state) Palestinian resistance at the stage of influential writings and conferences, but now we must organise in a coalition of binationalists and secular-state supporters of the pre-Oslo PLO ODS position. Awad has long worked for this behind the scenes and at our invitation gave several talks in England in May 2016 alongside Karl Sabbagh.
2) On 5 January Jerusalem correspondent David Halbfinger wrote in the NY Times: “As a 2-state solution loses steam, a 1-state plan gains traction.” For the article he interviewed Radi Jarai, President of the Popular Movement for ODS, our ‘sister’ or perhaps ‘mother’ organisation based in Ramallah. The article as usual is blind to the 6,000,000+ refugees, but covers the One Undemocratic State option well, and states briefly that yes, ODS means the end of Zionism’s state.
3) 27 January saw Roger Cohen writing in the NY Times: “It’s Time for Mahmoud Abbas to Go.” Cohen is the hard kind of soft Zionist who is sometimes touted as relatively Palestine-friendly. In the middle of an accurate portrayal of the failures of Mahmoud Abbas he drops this: “In the current vacuum, a dream of one state with equal rights for all peoples — a kind of United States of the Holy Land — has gained some traction. It is pure, if seductive, illusion — flimsy code for the destruction of Israel as the national homeland of the Jews. It will not happen.” ODS would replace the Jewish homeland IN PALESTINE, yes, but not “destroy” or deport a single human being. It is what all Zionists fear the most.
4) For his part Abbas at the UN Security Council fell back as expected on the business-as-usual, joint PA/Usrael two-state charade, looking merely for other sponsors to replace the U.S. That said, the speech is good on history and even mentions the refugees prominently before falling back on the preferred PA Zionist position for two states, 67 borders and the Arab Peace Initiative etc etc. So much for the promising, anti-two-state utterings of Saeb Erekat and Nabil Shaath just after the Trump announcement. [The link is to the full text at Times of Israel, which of course should be boycotted, but Al-Jazeera, MEMO, etc. fail to give full texts.]
5) Good news on 20 February from South Africa: “South Africa to cut diplomatic ties with Israel.” Great, because the ‘S’ in BDS must be strengthened now that the ‘B’ and ‘D’ are off and running. However, Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor said, “The majority party has agreed, that government must cut diplomatic ties with Israel, given the absence of genuine initiatives by Israel to secure lasting peace and a viable two-state solution that includes full freedom and democracy for the Palestinian people.” Even the ANC, which itself rejected Bantustans, is too weak or treacherous to reject the Bantustine two-state solution. S.A. President Ramaphosa added that he is for the “equal rights of both people to self-determination, freedom and security.” For him the Zionists are a “people” with exactly as much right to Palestine as the Palestinians.
6) South Africa-born ex-MP Lord Peter Hain recently timidly asked: “Is it time to talk about a one-state solution?” Well, yes, it’s way past time, but his first sentence: “I am both a longstanding supporter of the Palestinian cause and a friend of Israel.” £1000 to whoever can reconcile these two things. However that may be, Hain totally ignores the refugees, envisioning only those Palestinians (about equal in number to Jews) now between the river and the sea, and emphasises how a democratic single state would be good for Israelis.
1 February 2018 5 items
1) The 18 January 2018 issue of the New York Review of Books includes not only a middle-of-the-road essay by Raja Shehadeh but a cutting-edge piece by Sarah Helm called ‘Homeless in Gaza’. Both pieces plug ODS-advocate Ramzy Baroud’s new book The Last Earth. Monitoring trends outside of Gaza as well, she writes, “The one-state idea is already being discussed within senior ranks of the moderate Palestinian Authority.” Heralding the shift of attention away from the two-state plan and its reduction of Palestine to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, she quotes Baroud: “At a popular level Palestinians everywhere including the citizens of Israel are resurrecting… 1948 values in response to divisions of their leadership. It is an issue that unifies everyone.” Right of return, anti-Partition, anti-Zionism, not just the end of the 67 occupation.
She also quotes Birzeit politics professor Ghassan Katib: “ Palestinians always claimed their rights to historic Palestine. Then someone came along and convinced them that this was utopian and would not happen, offering a trade-off to go for the possible instead. Now people realize the possible and the impossible are both impossible, so they might as well stick to the impossible.” ODS is utopian and ‘impossible’, like most successful movements – anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, anti-Apartheid and… Zionism. The utopian succeeds. Katib adds, “But [ODS advocates] have no strategy, no plan.” I believe our NGO and the Popular Movement for ODS are baby-steps in moving from idea to plan.
2) According to the PA website the Palestinian Central Council, meeting on 14-15 January 2018 in Ramallah, stuck with its contradictory principles: divide Palestine along the 1967 borders – while at the same time demanding refugee return according to UNGA Resolution 194; accept the real Israeli ethnocracy in ‘Israel’ – while at the same time refusing to recognise Israel “as a Jewish state”. The PCC, after damning Israel and the U.S. for not fulfilling their Oslo obligations, rather than itself revoking those accords it merely and opaquely writes, “the transitional period stipulated in the agreements signed in Oslo, Cairo and Washington, with its obligations no longer stand.” Trump’s burial of the two-state solution has gone unnoticed by the Central Council, for it has merely chosen to beg other countries to pick up the U.S. role of burying Dignified Palestine.
3) Jeff Halper, founder of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions and proponent of bi-nationalism, as opposed to ODS, writes in Haaretz on 19 January 2018 that he actually prefers the two-state solution: “Although many of us still support the two-state solution as a workable, if not just, solution, it cannot mean apartheid. If the ‘hard’ left has indeed moved to a one-state solution, it is simply because we have had the courage to recognize political reality and the ‘facts on the ground’: The two-state solution died when the settlement enterprise reached a critical mass, when the fragmentation of Palestinian territory rendered a viable and sovereign Palestinian state no longer possible. … The ‘hard’ left must now lead the battle for a single, democratic, bi-national state in Israel/Palestine, not because we wanted to, but because it was [the] ‘sane’ Zionists that left us with this as the only possible option to apartheid. It is the only way to prevent Jews becoming the Afrikaaners of the Middle East, or worse.” He “still supports” the “unjust” two-state solution, but alas, it’s been rendered impossible. The “reality” forces him, with a heavy heart, to advocate something close to ODS. It is curious that his bottom line seems to be that the main problem with apartheid is that it tarnishes the good name of the “Jews”. I believe that nevertheless ODS and those who subscribe to bi-nationalism, whatever their motivation, can work together. Jeff adds: “We need a state which offers equal rights to all of its citizens – one citizenship, one vote, one parliament – but which constitutionally ensures the right of both Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs to their identities, narratives and institutions. … Palestinian refugees can come home;…”
4) Richard Falk also comes out for bi-nationalism in Middle East Eye and in his blog on 8 January. His summary of Edward Said’s seminal 1999 article advocating bi-nationalism [internal link]: “Following the lines prefigured 20 years ago by Edward Said two overriding principles must be served…: Israelis must be given a Jewish homeland within a reconfigured, and possibly neutrally renamed Palestine and the two people must allocate constitutional authority in ways that uphold the cardinal principles of collective equality and individual human dignity. Operationalizing such a vision would seem to necessitate the establishment of a secular unified state maybe with two flags and two names, which would have a certain resemblance to a bi-national state. [There must be] strong existential respect for the equality of the two peoples…” ODS, by contrast, rejects the approach in terms of collectives, peoples, nations or other ethno-religiously-defined groups (of which there are more than two in Palestine), and in any case rejects the idea that the Zionist colonists and the indigenous Palestinians in any way have collective moral or political “equality”. Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, but all residents can be equal citizens.
5) Finally, this panel of speakers gives us a chance to compare the views of the author of the best book on ODS, Virginia Tilley, with those of Al-Shabaka Executive Director Nadia Hijab which are much closer to a two-state solution; like the Palestinian Central Council, Hijab supports BDS without realising that the fulfilment of its demands are not compatible with any two-state solution, i.e. a Zionist and a Palestinian state living ‘side by side’.
4 January 2018 6 items
1) In the name of the PLO Bureau of Culture and Information, Hanan Ashrawi on 1 January reacted to the Likud Central Committee’s support for a Knesset bill to outright annex “all the areas of liberated settlement in Judea and Samaria” (i.e. West Bank Jews-only settlements). Together with the US’s ripping Jerusalem out of the hands of Christians, Moslems and Palestinians the camel’s back was finally broken. Presumably this is the official PLO view: “This is the final demise of the two-state solution and previously signed agreements. … Israel’s violation of all agreements and commitments has nullified Palestinian obligations and destroyed the chances of peace.” The PLO/PA has the power to withdraw from Oslo and clear out PA offices, leaving apartheid naked for the world to see. Will it?
2) On 31 December Daoud Kuttab in Arab News picked up on the English press release of our affiliated organisation, the Popular Movement for ODS, whose membership is based mostly in the West Bank and is legally a Swiss Association. After the Popular Movement Board meeting in Istanbul on 8-10 December, where guest Ilan Pappe agreed to join, Arabic news outlets as well reacted to our take on the changed situation. We never found Oslo or two states desirable, and now many more people are finally finding it unfeasible; in many new quarters the search for an alternative is on, and what alternatives are there other than ODS or single-state business-as-usual apartheid Israel?
3) On 28 December Gideon Levy in Haaretz reported the debate in Adelaide, South Australia, between Ali Abunimah (via video from Chicago), long-time ODS advocate, and long-time PA ambassador to various countries Afif Safieh, who spoke for the old guard which has been compromising Palestinian rights for decades. The Facebook link: https://www.facebook.com/pg/AustraliaPalestineAdvocacyNetwork/videos/ “Abunimah wants one state and the right of return; boycotts, divestment and sanctions; the end of Zionism and a halt to racism.” Safieh, also a long-time member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, stuck with the unrealistic “realistic” but bankrupt position of the PA that brought “fifty years of occupation and zero achievements”. Safieh did scream the hardest question to Abunimah, though: “We weren’t able to get two states, how will we get one?” Answer: Quit negotiating with an empty chair, apply pressure and more pressure. It’s not a question of “getting” but of taking back.
4) Hamid Dabashi in Al-Jazeera on 22 December celebrates the landslide U.N. votes against recognising Jerusalem as the Jewish state’s capital: “The miserable failure of Nikki Haley at the UN - both at the Security Council and the General Assembly vote - puts an end to the Oslo peace charade and with it the ‘two-state’ delusion. From now on anyone who utters the words "two-state solution" is a traitor to the cause of Palestinian national liberation movement, partaking in and promoting the wicked Israeli charlatanism to cover their continued theft of Palestine with no intention whatsoever ever to allow the formation of an independent Palestinian state.”
5) On 9 December Gideon Levy, that greatest, warmest, most perceptive of Israeli writers, again came within a hair of fully supporting ODS. Although as usual virtually neglecting the half of the Palestinians living outside Palestine, he once again welcomes an end to the “two-state mantra” and supports Saeb Erekat’s most likely not-quite-sincere call for “One person, one vote. One democratic state for two peoples.” Two “peoples” is an improvement on two “nations”, this is unfortunately the parity fallacy, the idea that there are two groups vying for Palestine with equal ethical and historical justification: “Trump declared that there aren’t two nations with equal rights in this land of two nations. There is one nation with one capital and all the rights, and another, inferior nation with no rights. There can be no solution on the premise of collective, ethno-religious political rights for non-indigenous Jews, for that case cannot be made. All individual Jewish Israelis, though, should remain citizens of the single state.
6) On 8 December on Al-Jazeera TV Mehdi Hasan engaged Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Husam Zomlot in a shouting match over two states vs one state: Zomlot first follows PA protocol in calling for equality only for those Palestinians living between the river and the sea (fully neglecting the diaspora). What if the world ignores the U.S., says ‘We want a two-state solution.’ Hasan is right to press Zomlot – to press the PA – for a clear statement, rather than mere hints, that two-states is for them off the table. Zomlot hides behind “I am a diplomat.” Ditched by the U.S., the puppet Ramallah government (through Nabil Shaath) is meanwhile shopping around for other foreign sponsors for their preferred Zionist two-state solution (Russia, EU countries, China), according to a report in Al-Monitor. Another death-bed revival of Partition, first declared dead in 1938 by the Woodhead Inquiry into the Peel plan.
7 December 2017 4 items
1) Saeb Erekat has declared "the two-state solution is over. Now is the time to transform the struggle [into one] for one-state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea." Of course this isn't good enough because, as always, it ditches the diaspora - no mention of right of return. But Trump and Netanyahu are evidently secret ODS supporters. If calling Jerusalem the capital of Israel and moving the embassy there helps prevent the two-state solution and raises Arab and Moslem solidarity with Palestinians, this is good news. The danger that Trump would really force Israel into a two-state solution seems to have passed. It has been written that “Trump’s peace plan has died on the rocks of Jerusalem.” Good. It was never a peace plan anyway.
2) What price is Hamas paying for integration with the PA? https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.818235?utm_source=smartfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.818235&utm_campaign=Jack+Khoury&utm_term=20171019-23:46&writerAlerts=true On the one hand Hamas security chief Yahya Sinwar, meeting with Palestinian youths, declared "The discussion is no longer about recognizing Israel but about wiping Israel out." On the other hand they are giving the PA Quislings, who are ready to accept Israel as a Jewish state, more say in Gaza. He said Hamas would disarm "when Satan enters paradise," and that no one can force it to disarm. “There’s not one minute of the day or night when we aren’t building up our military might.”
3) Anecdotally, in Lebanon most Palestinians seem to favour ODS. It seems to go without saying that ODS is the best solution because it is the only one consistent with Right of Return. The PA, and the PLO since 1988, has largely forgotten those in Lebanon.
4) Mohammed Dahlan, Fatah strongman in exile in Abu Dhabi, has said the two-state solution is impossible. https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/palestinians/1.815818
2 November 2017 2 items
1) 100 years ago today Arthur Balfour sent his letter - Declaration - to Lord Lionel Walter Rothschild as leader of the Jewish Zionists in Britain promising 'the Jewish people' political rights and presence in Palestine. The biggest UK event supposedly critical of the Balfour Declaration, held on 31 October 2017 at Methodist Central Hall Westminster, attended by 1,200 people and organised by the Balfour Project, unfortunately had at most one Palestinian speaker, the rest being the elite of Britain's two-state lobby. That Declaration affected all of Palestine, yet the Balfour Project prominently approves of a statement by prominent Israelis who, in the interest of preserving the Zionist state, support "two states, living side by side along the 1967 borders". Leaving the Palestinians one room of their 5-room house is good enough, it seems.
2) A piece of good news is that S. Michael Lynk, the Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Palestinian Territories Occupied since 1967,
has in strong language called
for international government-level sanctions against Israel. It is time for the 'S' in 'BDS' to be strengthened. The bad news is that, as his job title says, the whole thing is limited to the
West Bank and Gaza Strip, leaving the rest of Palestine ('Israel') and most Palestinians off the remit. If sanctions and boycotts led to Israeli abandonment of its West Bank settlements, would
all then be OK? Lynk himself in his report bemoans that Israeli actions have "put the two state solution on life support, with fading pulse..." From an ODS long-run point of view that's good
5 October 2017 5 items
1) Mahmoud Abbas reportedly ‘threatened’ Israel with a ‘one-state solution’ if the two-state solution is not given to him mighty soon. What did Abbas actually say at the UN on 20 September? Throughout he sticks hard and fast to the two-state solution and correctly asserts that it is Israel that never wanted this solution. Then, “if the two-state solution were to be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems – apartheid – [then] neither you, nor we, will have any other choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine.” The last paragraph’s apogee repeats this: “It will either be the independence of the state of Palestine, living side by side in peace and security with the state of Israel on the 1967 borders, or equal rights for all of the inhabitants of the land of historic Palestine from the river to the sea.” This as usual ignores the half of the Palestinians in exile.
2) A few days later Haaretz weighed in supporting the “simple, fair” two-state solution in which land is traded for peace and cementing a “free and strong Israel alongside an independent Palestinian state” (perhaps not quite so free and strong). “The gates are closing on the two-state solution” (let's hope); Abbas has rung “a wake-up call” and has “warned” that Israel will be faced with the “one-state solution”. The downside for Israel is that the apartheid within its de facto borders (all of historic Palestine) would be unavoidably visible to all. Haaretz, too, ignores the refugees.
3) To witness the present condition of two-state advocates in Ramallah check out these short videos on the site of the Geneva Initiative: http://www.geneva-accord.org/mainmenu/-i-am-your-partner-are-you-my-partner For these people, again, neither the refugees nor the Palestinians in Israel are worth a word.
4) The bi-national as opposed to the ODS approach is having a slight renaissance, witness a long article in the summer 2017 issue of the journal Middle East Policy. First Ian Lustick argues for the “equal legitimacy of both Jewish and Palestinian aspirations” (in Palestine). Co-author Hady Amr next opines that only the two-state solution can “fulfill both the joint national aspirations of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples.” On the US Academic Boycott site, similarly but without supporting the two-state solution Richard Falk argues for solutions “embodying the overlapping rights and self-determination of these two long embattled peoples.” Problems: 1) The 'peoples' are here ethno-religiously defined (at least the Jewish one), opening various cans of worms involving identity politics and collective rights - a regression from the Englightenment. 2) There might be an abstract Jewish collective, ethno-national right to self-determination somewhere, but not in Palestine because that necessarily happens at the expense of the Palestinians. 3) The language moreover implies a false ethical parity between the two groups.
5) The Palestinian group closest to ODS ideologically remains the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine). No, ODS is not Marxist like the PFLP, but rather focuses on Palestine’s reunification and liberal democratisation. However, the PFLP fully embraces Right of Return, rejects the non-sovereign West Bank/Gaza Strip statelet being pushed harder than ever by the Palestinian Authority (PA, led by Mahmoud Abbas), and will never recognise Israel as a legitimate state. Early leaders were George Habash, Nayef Hawatneh, Ghassan Kanafani, Leila Khaled and Abu Ali Mustafa. Current leader Ahmad Sa’adat has been in Israeli jails since 2002. Here is a sample: http://pflp.ps/english/2016/12/27/barakat-call-to-action-for-ahmad-saadat-and-the-palestinian-prisoners-supports-the-true-leaders-of-palestinian-struggle/
6 September 2017 4 items
1) From the History Department: Shafiq al-Hout in his posthumous 2011 book My Life in the PLO writes of the PLO's clear ODS position throughout the 1960s and 1970s: "
The PLO presented a democratic solution in the shape of a single, democratic, and secular state for
Arabs and Jews, where all citizens would live with equal rights and duties. It was a blow to the Zionists and their allies, as who could possibly refuse coexistence rather than adhering to the option
of war? What could be more magnanimous than this position, where the victims, the dispossessed owners of the land, called for coexistence with the aggressors, forgetting all the tragedies of the past
and looking forward to a new future? Israel was cornered." (pp 128-29) While "forgetting" is not really necessary for ODS, it is unfortunately the case that, by 1988, with the adoption of its sad
Declaration of Independence, the PLO had totally abandoned the ODS position. (p 232)
2) In Counterpunch Shlomo Sand replied to French President Emmanuel Macron's recent libelous assertion that we democrats are antisemitic, concluding that "being a democrat and a republican [as the French President is supposed to be] I cannot - as all Zionists do, Left and Right, without exception - support a Jewish State.... I am a citizen who desires that the state he lives in should be an Israeli republic, and not a Jewish-communalist state." If Sand would go along with 'Palestinian' republic, and support unconditionally the Right of Return, he would be an asset for ODS.
3) Rasmea Odeh, the Palestinian woman and US citizen now being deported from the US for not revealing during her naturalisation process that she had been "a political prisoner who was brutally tortured and raped by Israeli soldiers and prison authorities", thanked all those from Black Lives Matter, the Women's March, and Jewish anti-Zionists who "support me as a survivor of torture and injustice, but also because they support the much more important cause of the liberation of all of Palestine—a democratic, secular Palestine for all." (her emphasis)
4) There is apparently a US-based group called Jews for Palestinian Right of Return who on their Facebook page publicise amongst other things the Nakba Tour of the US undertaken by Palestinian refugees who want to correct the fact that the solidarity scene is aware only of the injustice done to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (and perhaps Israel). Since ODS follows rigorously from RoR, this group will perhaps become allies.
3 August 2017 3 items
1) The Jewish State vs One Democratic State: Back on 10 May the Knesset passed by a vote of 48-41 the ‘Jewish State’ law which finally put down in so many words, black on white, what was til now only in Israel’s Declaration of Establishment, that Israel is Jewish. If passed it will become Israel’s 12th ‘Basic Law’. ‘Basic Laws’ are in effect Israel’s constitution. Along with the recent amendment to the “Basic Law: The Knesset”, enabling the banning of political parties and candidates for public office who do not pledge loyalty to Israel as a Jewish state, this new ‘Basic Law’ will provide the legal basis for expelling hundreds of thousands of Palestinian citizens of Israel, who must either sign on the dotted line to declare allegiance to the Jewish state, or get out. The silver lining is that this makes ODS look sane; as with the West Bank settlements and the creeping take-over of the ‘Temple Mount’, this makes things clearer to the watching world. The Knesset as of 3 August had not yet voted on this law.
2) According to Joel Beinin’s 1990 book Was the Red Flag Flying There?, in the 1940s the Jewish-Arab Palestine Communist Party (PCP) fought within itself over a binational state vs one democratic state. Most of the Jewish members, led by Shmuel Mikunis, believed in the national (collective) rights of the Jewish people in Palestine. But they opposed territorial partition (until the Soviet Union supported it in late 1947!) and wanted that unclear thing called binationalism, “an independent democratic state with equal national and civil rights for both peoples; neither an exclusive Arab nor an exclusively Jewish state…”. (p 45) That is, parity – like the non-communist IHUD group led by Judah Magnes.
3) Some Arab PCP members led by ‘Abd Allah Bandak, Ay’qub al-‘Armani, and Emile Habibi, supported by Tawfiq Tubi and Emil Tuma, formed the National Liberation League with a pure ODS programme: “a democratic government guaranteeing the rights of all inhabitants… without distinction’ and opposed Zionist immigration, settlement, and a Jewish state, while distinguishing between the Zionist movement and the Jewish inhabitants of Palestine.” (pp 42, 43) At a London conference in March 1947 Tuma “advanced… an independent democratic Palestine with neither partition nor parity arrangements between the two communities.” (p 44) At the March-April 2017 Cork conference on Israel’s illegitimacy the binational scheme was presented by Jeff Halper and opposed by several audience members. Halper never replied to a post-conference letter explaining ODS’s objections to his vision.
6 July 2017 4 items
1) According to Jonathan Cook’s analysis the strengthening Usrael-Egypt-Saudi alliance aimed against Iran is also against Palestine because it means even stronger support for the two-state solution than that of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. And especially if Trump/Kushner/Greenblatt really lean on Israel and the PA to do a two-state deal, we have no time to waste putting the one-democratic-state narrative on equal footing with the two-state one. I think we need to be bolder and talk clearly: Israel should be replaced by a democracy. By contrast:
2) By contrast, even strong supporters of most of the rights of some of the Palestinians feel compelled to assure the world that they affirm Israel’s right to exist, that there should be a Jewish state in Palestine – which ODS by definition does not because it prefers a democratic state. According to blogger Robert Cohen’s account the Church of Scotland is one such group. It was pressured by the Board of Deputies of British Jews to withdraw its relatively pro-Palestinian view of the Balfour Declaration, although the Church’s report “makes it very clear that the Church has no intention of denying the right of the State of Israel to exist and it also remains committed to ‘two States’.” One of those states happens to be a colonial-apartheid one...
3) Same theme again: Jonathan Cook’s superb long piece on Marwan Barghouti shows him as the best of Fatah, yet even he supports the Zionist two-state solution. Cook: “Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa [says]: ‘My and Marwan’s generation still harbors a spark of a hope that the conflict will end with a two-state solution. My children don’t believe in that; they aspire to a single, democratic state.’ Indeed, many young activists have come to view the two-state solution as an illusion, one that derailed the national struggle for more than two decades. They are increasingly interested in a one-state solution, harking back to the original aims of the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Arafat.”
4) Straight anti-Zionist talk as always from current member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council (and the Palestinian National Council) Uri Davis, who describes himself as “a Palestinian of Jewish descent.” He is a Board member of the Popular Front for One Democratic State on the Land of Historic Palestine who decades ago wrote pioneering works on right of return, the Jewish National Fund and, already in 1987, Israeli apartheid. And about the term ‘occupation’, today absurdly used only in reference to the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Back in 1972 in both the Village Voice and the Journal of Palestine Studies (vol 1, issue 4) Uri wrote that when he was Vice-Chairman of the Israeli League for Civil and human Rights (Israel Shahak was Chairman) he “first had to come to grips with [the fact] that, essentially, the right-wing Zionist contention that there was no essential difference between the colonization of Tel Aviv and Jaffa prior to and immediately after 1948, and the colonization of Hebron in 1967, was correct.” One Occupied Territory.
1 June 2017 7 items
1) On 2 May 2017 in Middle East Eye David Hearst wrote a great analysis of last month’s Hamas document wherein he embraces ODS. http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/palestinian-state-1967-borders-hamas-going-hajj-everyone-leaving-2072066433 Hearst, Ali Abunimah, Omar Barghouti, the PFLP, and Hamas and Tajamoa more or less explicitly, support ODS. Let us hope for a broad, organised front.
2) On 3 May 2017 Dena Takruri interviewed Bernie Sanders on Al Jazeera TV: “Do you support BDS?” Our hero Sanders: “No, I don’t.” Takruri: “Hopes for a two-state solution are almost dead. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza increasingly support the one-state solution, with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians alike, and equal citizenship. Is that something you support?” “No, I don’t. If that happens then that would be the end of the state of Israel, and I support Israel’s right to exist.” So Sanders and the British Labour Party see eye to eye. http://www.timesofisrael.com/why-bernie-sanders-defending-israel-on-al-jazeera-is-a-big-deal/ US Congressmen Justin Amash, whose father is Palestinian, and Keith Ellison, a Moslem who is critical of Israel, might do better on these questions.
3) On 5 May 2017 Gideon Levy quoted Marwan Barghouti in 2002 quoting a friend: “You Israelis have a present but no future, and we Palestinians have a future but no present. Give us the present and you will have a future.” Probably true, and certainly in line with the ODS vision. http://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-1.787244?utm_source=smartfocus&utm_medium=email&utm_content=israel-news/.premium-1.787244&utm_campaign=Gideon+Levy&utm_term=20170505-00:36&writerAlerts=true Unfortunately, Barghouti joins the PA, Sanders, Corbyn, Tzipi Livni, Ari Shavit, Jonathan Freedland and, most likely, Trump, Jared Kushner and Jeremy Greenblatt in supporting the two-state solution.
4) In May Shibley Telhami and Stella Rouse of the University of Maryland Critical Issues Poll published their poll of 2,138 US-American “panelists” in April 2017: 37% for two states, 31% for one democratic state, 9% for one undemocratic state, 15% for the status quo, 9% who “refused”. Removing the two-state option from the poll got: 63% ODS, 10% OUndemocraticS, 27% status quo. 1/3 of US voters for ODS!
5) On 10 May 2017 the Palestine Chronicle reported that the Dublin and Sligo city councils will fly the Palestinian flag this Nakba Day. The Dublin statement said this was “a gesture of our solidarity with the people of Palestine living under occupation in the West Bank and Gaza, with the Palestinian citizens of Israel denied basic democratic rights, and with the over seven million displaced Palestinians denied the right of return to their homeland.” All 3 groups of Palestinians! http://www.palestinechronicle.com/ireland-capital-votes-to-fly-palestinian-flag-above-city-hall-for-nakba-day/ Another solidarity action also explicitly mentioning ALL Palestinians and embracing with no ifs and buts the Right of Return was an Open Letter to US NFL footballers persuading them to cancel their visit to Israel. https://www.thenation.com/article/open-letter-to-nfl-players-traveling-to-israel-on-a-trip-organized-by-netanyahus-government/ Are you listening, PSC?
6) Back on 12 April Al-Shabaka writers Nadia Hijab and Ingrid Jaradat Gassner argued that we should not talk about solutions at all, but about rights, using approaches emphasising Israel apartheid and BDS, and we should by no means erase the Green Line. This deserves an exact critical reading for anyone who believes democracy in historic Palestine needs a motivating vision captured in a single idea, as was done by anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, the ANC and… Zionism. https://al-shabaka.org/commentaries/talking-palestine-frame-analysis-goals-messages/
7) Alas, we come to ODS’s rival, the Two States, One Homeland “initiative”. While its positions are are somewhat vague, the idea seems to be two Green-Line states with exclusive citizenships but free movement, employment and residence, but no Right of Return. http://www.jpost.com/Arab-Israeli-Conflict/The-perfect-deal-to-end-the-conflict-492363 Their site is here.
4 May 2017 5 items
1) Hamas's new A Document of General Principles and Policies is very close to ODS: Hamas aims for 1) official reunification of Palestine, 2) return and restitution for the externally and internally displaced, and 3) an end to the "Zionist entity" (the Jewish state in Palestine). §20 says that the "establishment of a... Palestinian state" bordered by the 1949 armistice lines is "a formula of national consensus". Most of the press is inaccurately calling this an acceptance of the two-state solution, just as it inaccurately says this Document replaces the 1988 Hamas Charter. (ODS is however not religious and our Munich Declaration takes no position on the tactic of armed resistance.)
2) The Reut Group and the Anti-Defamation League wrote a January 2017 update to the Reut Institute's 2010 report on how to combat the denial of Israel's right to exist. The new report's title, 'The assault on Israel's legitimacy: The frustrating 20X question: Why is it still growing?', refers to the fact that although Israel is spending 20 times as much on the PR battle against us than in 2010, "results remain elusive". BDS and ODS are demonised, and §39 correctly says that BDS entails ODS. Reut/ADL's main tactic is to "drive a wedge" between "hardcore de-legitimizers" of BDS and ODS and those who don't object to Zionism in principle but merely to Israeli policies.
3) The One Undemocratic Staters have become stronger within Likud and in the Jewish Home and Israel Is Our Home parties, and for instance within Ramallah's Jewish-only settlement Beit El. They oppose the two-state solution and want to annex the West Bank to make a clear-cut apartheid state - which, intriguingly, would be easier for us to fight because the world knows how to deal with unhidden apartheid.
4) Trump and his team in taking the two-state solution down off its pedestal might be also going for One Undemocratic State, but who knows? There are signs this businessman-led team is sick of losing money on Israel and might pressure it towards the two-state solution. This would be a game-changer, also for ODS. At any rate the PA - Abbas and Saeb Erekat - have since February not stopped screaming against abandoning the two-state solution. Funny that it was Erekat who in 2009 said that "the two-state solution is no longer an option" and that Palestinians should "refocus... on the one-state solution where Muslims, Christians and Jews can live as equals".
5) Several analyses of the Cork Conference: by Haim Bresheeth in BRICUP Newsletter 109, by Andy Simons available at firstname.lastname@example.org, and by Blake Alcott in the Palestine Chronicle. The messages of most of the speakers are in line with ODS and against Zionism in principle.
6 April 2017 5 items
1) More and more and more one reads that the two-state solution is dead. One reason given is that the fictional Palestinian state made up of the Gaza Strip plus a few Bantustans in the West Bank is too small and fragmented to be 'viable' or 'feasible'. Whereas the point is that it was never desirable. But if the partition option is closed, at least the 'One' in One Democratic State is agreed. Next comes the 'Democratic' part.
2) The Cork Conference from 31 March - 2 April 2017, which the Zionist lobby twice forbade at the University of Southampton, was a success. Most of the 38 speakers brought evidence that Israel is indeed illegitimate - because it is a European colony, because it is racist, because it is an apartheid state, because its creation went over the heads and hearts of the indigenous who were thus denied their self-determination, etc. Many lawyers spoke on which documents of international law render Israel illegal. Not just its actions, but its essence. And illegitimate states don't have the right to exist, so the territory will be freed for some version of One State - an unpartitioned Palestinian homeland
3) Ramzy Baroud, editor of the Palestine Chronicle, recently wrote an analysis of the two-state solution, which was never alive, and calls for One Democratic State without any ifs or buts.
4) In September 2016 about 56% of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip thought the two-state solution was no longer an option. In early 2017 the percentage had risen to 66%. Warning: reports of these polls by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research consistently claim they are revealing the opinions of 'the Palestinians'. This is rubbish, because the Palestinians in Israel (1.7 million) and in the diaspora (6 million) are not even surveyed!
5) On 24 March 2017 in Washington D.C. quite a few supporters of ODS spoke at a conference on the Israel lobby, including Ilan Pappe who said living with the idea of a two-state solution 'is like sleeping with a corpse'. Hanan Ashrawi said, 'There is zero time for the two-state solution.'
2 March 2017 4 items
1) Billboards advocating One Democratic State in Palestine have been erected in the West Bank town of Kafr Aqab, between Jerusalem and Ramallah, according to this Ma'an News report. Who is behind it is unknown.
2) Donald Trump's declared indifference over the two-state/one-state debate is making the world realise the two-state solution is (fortunately) dead and making it ask the question: What kind of single state? Democratic (ODS) or Undemocratic (OUS, the status quo, apartheid)?
3) Saeb Erekat and the PA are still publicly supporting the two-state solution, even if Erekat's comments on Trump's statement have been reported differently by different news outlets. The Guardian's clueless reporter, Peter Beaumont, has Erekat speaking bluntly against democracy, while Haaretz, probably more accurately, has him both advocating ODS and warning direly of any abandonment of the two-state solution.
4) The Popular Movement for ODS, founded May 2013 and with its Secretariat in Ramallah and Bethlehem, registered itself in 2016 as a Swiss Association, Handelsregisteramt Number CHE-390.290.948. It held its first General Assembly on 14/15 January, in Istanbul, where it elected a 10-person Board. The only condition for membership is support for the Munich Declaration and being nominated by 2 present members. To join get in touch through the link above or the ODS England contact page.