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Questions For One-Staters

By Ziad Asali

This article first appeared in The Daily Beast and appears with permission of the author.

Supporters of the two-state solution are often told that this vision is unrealistic and has become unachievable. Young, idealistic seekers of justice and equality are increasingly offering what they claim is a more “realistic” solution: a single state for all Israelis and Palestinians, including refugees.

Here are ten questions that might help these single-staters think through the feasibility of the project they have in mind:

1- How do we negotiate, implement or impose a single state in “Israel-Palestine”? Would it require a UN Security Council or General Assembly resolution dissolving the State of Israel? Does it need the voluntary dissolution of the State of Israel? Negotiations without negotiators? A military solution imposed by the international community or by the armed forces of Palestine and neighboring Arab countries?

2- Remembering that it is advocated by those Palestinians most opposed to Israel, what are the realistic prospects of gaining significant support for this idea among Jewish Israelis?

3- Should the Palestinian Authority disappear altogether? Would it be replaced by the Israeli bureaucracy or would the PA and the Knesset somehow merge, or be forced together by outside powers, and if so, how and by whom? Who would head the government? Or who would (at least) lead a transitional government until a unified one is formed, and how long would the transition last?

4- Would all citizens of this state become instantly equal before the law, with all rights and responsibilities of the citizen, without discrimination? Who will define these terms and implement them, and who will oversee the process?

5- Would the current educational systems be merged after the establishment of the single state? Would there be an official, hybrid, historical narrative? Or would the two narratives be taught simultaneously?

6- Would the armed forces of this state result from a merger of the existing forces? Would all citizens be eligible to join? Would the leaderships of the existing armed forces continue to be the same, or would they be replaced by some other leadership, and if so, whom?

7- Would there be an affirmative action program to integrate the disadvantaged into various systems, public and private? Would it be phased in over years, decades or centuries?

8- Would land ownership revert to the status quo in 1948 and 1967? How would competing property claims be managed and by whom?

9- What would be the national symbols, holidays and anthems of this new state?

10- What would happen regarding the occupation and settlements while these questions remain unaddressed?

Finally, would it not be fair to ask one-state advocates if their talents, energies and time have been diverted from the fight to achieve freedom for Palestine? Haven’t they fashioned, instead, yet another tool that will preserve the status quo and prolong the occupation?

2 Responses to “Questions For One-Staters”

  1. July 9, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    Ziad Asali asks some very pertinent questions. However he doesn’t even give a nod in the direction of the Israeli/Jewish supporters of a single state, who are probably of equal numbers as the Palestinians who support such a solution.

    The questions for Israelis who support a ‘Greater Israel’ from the Sea to the River would necessarily be different, but no less pertinent.

  2. Tony Iltis
    March 18, 2014 at 11:11 am #

    “How do we negotiate, implement or impose a single state in “Israel-Palestine”? ”

    There already is one. It’s called Israel. It rules over everything and everyone from the Sea to the River, although some as citizens with full rights, some as second or third class citizens and some as non-citizen subjects. The real question is how to replace it with something democratic. I can’t say I know what the answer is but the past 2 decades suggest that the answer isn’t begging for better Bantustans.

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