A Response to Abunimah's "One State Solution"
November 13, 2006
Voice of the People
To the Editor:
Ali Abunimah’s “South Africa seen as model for Palestine” rests on faulty assumptions. Abunimah claims that Israel’s establishment of settlements in the territories where Palestinians “wanted” to create a state “has rendered separation impossible” and that “neither Palestinians nor Israelis are willing to give up enough of the country that they love.” In fact, polls have consistently shown that most Israelis and Palestinians are willing to divide the land equitably based on proposals like the Geneva Initiative which would create a Palestinian state in the equivalent of 100% of the West Bank.
The problem is not an unwillingness to divide the land, but how to build mutual trust, end the violence and create a bridge to peace. That requires US leadership, a willingness by President Bush to invest significant political capital into a sustained diplomatic initiative to negotiate a truce and oversee steps towards fashioning two secure and viable states. That kind of leadership—displayed successfully before in the Arab-Israeli arena by numerous Republican and Democratic presidents from Ford, Carter, and Clinton to Bush’s own father—has been sorely lacking in the Bush Administration. For the last six years, President Bush has adopted an irresponsible hands-off approach towards Arab-Israeli diplomacy and a misguided faith in Mideast regime change wars.
Abunimah maintains that Israel’s chosen solution is “unilateral separation” which he insists will “wall Palestinians into impoverished ghettos” liked the Bantustans of apartheid South Africa. In fact, Israeli and Palestinian leaders, with the support of most of Hamas, are seeking to negotiate an agreement which will lead to an armistice, the agreed removal of dozens of West Bank settlements, and the creation of a territorially contiguous Palestinian state in most of the West Bank. This would serve as a first step on the way to a permanent peace treaty and an international economic development campaign for Palestine.
Finally, Abunimah imagines that the persistent wishes of the overwhelming majority of Israelis and Palestinians to live in their own nation-states can be satisfied in a single multiethnic country which would replace Israel and Palestine. But when they have not disintegrated through ethnic and religious power struggles, such Middle Eastern polities have often collapsed into sectarian strife and bloody civil wars: see Iraq.
Gidon D. Remba
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