A One State Solution

There is a common belief in the West that the solution to this terrible 60 year-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people can only be resolved through a two state solution.

What would a two state solution mean?

· A return to the 1967 borders as agreed under UN resolutions                                                                                                                                                                                                      · The division of Jerusalem into East and West Jerusalem and serving as capitals for the respective countries.
· A withdrawal of 240,000 Israelis living in settlements on Palestinian land
· The application of the law of return to allow Palestinians to return to Israel.
· A shared water supply from the Lake of Galilee.
· A guarantee of free movement of Palestinians between Gaza and the West Bank.
· A division of the land that Jews and Muslims alike regard as indivisible.

Is there any real hope of coming to such an agreement through such intractable issues? I believe a one state solution is the wise and compassionate solution.

In a one state solution, all Israelis and Palestinians, and Arabs resident in Israel, would share the same democratic, political, civic and human rights. In one swoop, it would immediately resolve most of the conflicts, fears and mistrusts around the problems that I have bulleted above for the two state solution. Both Palestinians and Israelis would have to make enormous sacrifices but at least Israelis and Palestinians would know they have a right to exist and everybody could move freely or stay where they are within a single nation.

The Oslo Agreement, the meetings of the Palestinian and Israeli leaders with President Clinton and various pathways to peace have not taken the Israelis and Palestinians any closer to a resolution, to peace or to a two state solution. The Israeli government’s current ferocious war on Hamas and other residents on Gaza and Gaza city means Israel has once again lost the war for the hearts and minds of Palestinians, as well lost the hearts and minds of the minority within Israel and the majority around the world who refuse to demonise the Palestinian people.

In my experience, many Israelis have darkened the word “Arabs” and the word “Palestinians” with blame, negativity and frequently sheer hatred due primarily to the extremist voices of politicians, the media,  the three years army conditioning for all young Israeli citizens  and possibly unresolved historical shadows. In other words, there is a widespread national trauma of despair and blame in Israel. Unlike the besieged Palestinians, Israel has an army of counsellors,  conflict resolution facilitators, dharma teachers, meditation teachers, psychologists and psychotherapists. This issue has to be tackled full on. Schools, colleges and universities, as well as during training in the army,  have to address this trauma, this dark shadow of always blaming the “other.”

The various kinds of protests in Israel, including some “refuseniks,” in the army, are a tiny, thoughtful and courageous Israeli minority. They refuse to support  the occupation, demonization of Arabs and Palestinians, incarceration of 10,700 suspected Palestinian terrorists in Guantanamo prisons in Israel, refuse to sanction the bombing raids, land invasions, the theft of Palestinian land, the 300 kilometre Enclosure Wall around Palestinians, the unyielding tightrope around Gaza, ongoing targeted assassinations, the humanitarian crisis of Gaza and the West Bank, and 2nd class citizenship of Arabs within Israel and protest about the use of F-16 bombers to bomb Gaza city and villages, and the threats of the Israeli govenment to send in scores of tanks to increase the deaths and destruction in Gaza.

Nothing will change until Israel, who holds the power, engages in some real soul searching and stops decades of blaming the “other” that only supports their politicians and generals lust for power. One beloved Israeli friend with Palestinian and Arab friends telephoned me from Israel this week and told me he felt “nauseous” about the war on Gaza.  We are told this present war upon Gaza is in response to the 23 Israel citizens and dozens injured who died in the past eight years (yes, eight years) due to the sickening launch of small locally made rocket fire from somewhere within the Gaza. These are stupid, irresponsible, pathetic and murderous attacks by the Hamas armed wing. It shows they neither have any humanitarian concerns for Israeli civilians nor even Palestinians.

Hamas does not understand the political/military pathology in Israel. Why? Because it is identical to their own. “We attack them because they attack us. They are the cause of this situation.” Israel claims this. Hamas claim this. Both say exactly the same thing about each other. Exactly.

The Israel government refuses to allow into Gaza city foreign film crews , photographers and reporters to show the carnage to men, women and children and the destruction of Gaza’s government offices, public buildings, apartment blocs, mosques and more and more of the city’s infrastructure. I have been watching filmed reports on Aljazeera television. At times of writing, around 400 people in Gaza have died in five days, four times that number wounded and far more traumatised. Hard to stomach. Hard to look at numerous lifeless dead babies and children. Hard to look at children who have survived but with limbs torn away. Hard to look at so many men, women and children dead, wounded and emotionally traumatised. Hard to look at the grieving mothers and the rage of the fathers and the utter despair on people’s faces.

Israel: Listen to the cries of your neighbour.

Israel holds the military power in the air, on land and on the seas. It is only last February that the Israeli air force bombed Gaza killing 112 Palestinians and injuring hundreds more in Operation Hot Winter as part of an operation to bomb Hamas Prime Minister’s Haniyeh’s office and other Hamas officials. It is only two years ago that Israel bombed Lebanon and the army invaded Lebanon killing more than 1300 Lebanese people, wounding and maiming thousands and bombing to the ground whole sections of southern Lebanon, with the Israeli army coming out of it morally defeated.

I remember giving Dharma teachings to 120 Israelis in the Negev desert about four years ago, a few kilometres from Gaza. I lay awake one night hearing the boom, boom, boom of rockets landing somewhere. The following day, Israelis tried to reassure me that it was probably only the Israeli military engaged in military practice. That day, an Israeli army spokesman said they had launched 114 rockets into Gaza that night. It made the newspapers for a few days.

Merits of a One State Solution

There are Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Muslims working hard to find reconciliation. They are the true sons and daughters of both communities. The ultimate resolution is surely a one state solution providing far greater security through democracy for both communities. Due to the fear in Israel of the demographics, Israelis and Palestinians could share 50% of seats in the national parliament. Parliamentary seats could be through proportional representation with a 5% minimum vote to ensure extremist minorities had to work very hard to deserve a place in Parliament in Jerusalem. It would require cross party support for a government to be elected. It would be a nation like England and Scotland in the United Kingdom. Everything is workable if the will is there.

A creative Israeli and Palestinian culture and society would forge a single nation to secure peace, justice and security. One of many benefits would be that followers of Judaism, Christianity and Islam would make pilgrimage to the new single state country to spend time in the birthplace of these religions and take the opportunity to visit the holy sites all over the region.

Between 1939 and 1945 numerous nations of the world were at war with each other. More than 50 million died. The nations then largely resolved their differences. Surely two small communities in the Middle East can resolve its love and attachment to the land.

I have come up with a name for the single state. PALISRAEL.

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