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Latest Country Blogs: Palestine / Israel
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Palestinians start campaign for one state for all citizens

Momentum for a one-state solution for Palestine is building up just as the Israeli state is destroying even a remote chance of success for any Saudi-US Arab peace plan.

Last week, Palestinians marked the 65th anniversary of the Nakba, the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. It was also the day chosen by 22 senior Palestinian figures to announce “a popular movement project for a single democratic state in historic Palestine”.

Those calling for the creation of one democratic country between the Mediterranean Sea and the river Jordan were leading members of Fatah, the movement originally led by Palestine Liberation Organisation founder Yasser Arafat.

Their document, issued after a meeting held in the town of El Bireh in the West Bank, was the result of a two-year discussion. It declared that “the racist Israeli policy of separation and segregation has made the two-state solution ‏(based on pre-1967 borders‏) unrealistic”. Therefore, the most desirable option” left for the Palestinian people and the one that will allow the right of return is, they say:

a democratic state for all its citizens, which will be based on a democratic constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and will guarantee freedom and equal rights, without discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, religion, gender, skin colour, language, nationality, political opinion, social origin and place of birth.

Professor Uri Davis, from Al Quds university’s Israel studies department, explained that the concept for such a state was still under discussion, but that he personally was in favour of one state for both Israelis and Palestinians.

The announcement came only a few days after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dedicated Route 20, a new highway connecting Jewish neighbourhoods in northern Jerusalem. Former Israel Defence Forces leader, Shaul Arieli of the Council for Peace and Security, said the new roads undermined the prospect of the re-division of the city and the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. All peace plans put forward so far were based on a division of Jerusalem and transfer of portions of the city to a Palestinian state.

An Israeli expert on Jerusalem’s demography, Danny Seidemann, said that “the purpose of these highways is to clearly integrate the [Jewish] settlement blocs into the national highway network of Israel and thereby place East Jerusalem and the settlement blocs within Israel’s de facto borders”.

Their views were published in the liberal Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, which notes that the road could be “the nail in the coffin for plans to re-divide the capital and attach its Arab areas to a future Palestinian state”.

In other words, the road project completely scuppers the notion of a two-state solution for Israel-Palestine, which the extensive Zionist settlement programme on the West Bank had already made unviable.

The highway has been denounced by United Nations Special Rapporteur Richard Falk who is calling on the Israeli government to halt its construction immediately. He says it will ruin the livelihoods of the 9,300 Palestinian residents. Netanyahu’s road-building is hardly surprising considering that the Israeli Prime Minister’s aides have denounced the Arab peace plan as a “trick” intended to entrap Israel.

And, as Jonathan Cook, a distinguished journalist writing for the Israeli Occupation Archive, notes, Netanyahu’s government demanded that Google should not use the word “Palestine”,  claiming it was damaging the peace process.

Wikileaks has disclosed documents proving that Netanyahu is only the last of many Israeli leaders with total contempt for peace negotiations. In cables from 1975, US diplomats describe Israel as “hell-bent on self-destruction”.

The Fatah leaders’ support for a one-state solution is a crucial break from the conciliatory position taken for years by PLO president Mahmoud Abbas and Arab League negotiators who, under American pressure, conceded Palestinian territory in the hopes of a deal. A World to Win welcomes the initiative, which opens up a way forward for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

Corinna Lotz
A World to Win secretary
20 May 2013

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