“It’s not enough to say the 2 state solution is dead – you need to propose an alternative”, argue co-chairs of the One Democratic State Campaign

Jeff Halper (l.) and Awad Abdulfatteh (r) made a presentation and took questions from a large Canadian audience at a webinar organized by OFIP on May 9th on the “One Democratic State Campaign” of which they are the co-chairs. Halper is a Jewish Israeli and the founder of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions. Abdulfattah is a Palestinian citizen of Israel and the former General Secretary of the National Democratic Assembly (NDA), one of four parties in the Israeli Knesset. CTIP has preserved a video recording. See more:

As the Israeli government continues to make statements indicating its intent to annex more and more of the West Bank, many observers are being pushed to start thinking concretely about what next.

One scenario, of course, is that Israel takes over the whole of the land “from the river to the sea”. This would put all Palestinians permanently in a state of subjection to Jewish Israeli domination – whether they live under an “apartheid” situation in the West Bank, a “second class citizen” situation inside Israel or “permanent homeless squalour” as refugees in neighbouring countries.

But few think that that situation could endure very long.

ODSC-Logo-What are the options?

For the last 20 years, neither Palestinians nor Israelis have given much attention to considering any alternatives. The two state solution has been a widely accepted mantra. However, an old idea – that of one state “from the river to the sea” with equality for all – is starting to get some new attention.

The “One Democratic State Campaign”, which is Palestinian- led but supported by a small number of progressive Israeli Jews, has spent some time thinking about why a single democratic state makes sense, and what its main outlines might be.

A full description including the rationale and the 10 point program, is available in a recent article in the on-line publication Mondoweiss.

The Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine invited the ODSC -co-chairs to present their ideas in a virtual zoom meeting. Over 90 people attended. Some were excited. Some were skeptical. A few were opposed. Here is the video recording of the event.

Those wishing to know more about the One Democratic State Campaign are encouraged to email them at : contact@onedemocraticstate.org

Should Canada and Canadians support a 1 state solution?

While the idea of supporting one democratic state seems attractive to many Canadians, others think it is unrealistic and still believe that a 2 state solution is more feasible.

CTIP is of the view that Canadians should not really have a “position” on the 1 SS vs 2 SS issue for the Israel/Palestine situation. Any solution will involve painful compromises for both Palestinians and Israelis. Canadians don’t really have any skin in the game, so it’s not our call.

By the same token, and for the same reasons, CTIP believes the Government of Canada should STOP PROMOTING a 2 state solution as the “only” solution. Palestinians have been told over and over again by the international community (including Canadian governments and various political parties) that the 2 state solution is the only thing the international community will support. This unfairly handcuffs them and limits their ability to think creatively about options.

Canada’s position should be that we will support, and help, any solution which brings about equality, democracy and security for all.

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Canada Talks Israel Palestine (CTIP) is the weekly newsletter of Peter Larson, Chair of the Ottawa Forum on Israel/Palestine (OFIP). It aims to promote a serious discussion in Canada about the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue. There is no need to use strong words. A focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights is enough. Readers who have a different point of view are invited to make comment. 

Want to learn more about what we do? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.

Contact us at: ofip.chair@gmail.com.

8 comments

  1. It appears there is some racist identification going on here. Why Identify Halper as being Jewish? Is this to deflect any antisemitism perceived in his argument. Why is Abdulfatteh not identified as a Christian, Muslim, Druze, Ba’hai or what ever his religion might be? And why is he identified as a Palestinian as he is an Israeli Arab? The only Palestinian residing in Israel are those Jerusalemites from the eastern portion of Jerusalem who refused Israeli citizenship when the city was reunited when Jordan’s illegal annexation was overturned in a defensive war.

    Of course, the “One scenario, of course, is” statement is hopelessly undemocratic and seemingly antisemitic, regardless of Halper’s identity.

    1. Hey Frank, perhaps you have not been to Israel? It sounds like that. Or perhaps you have gone but not investigated this issue very deeply.

      In Israel there is a significant, legal difference between Israeli Jews (like Halper) and Palestinian citizens of Israel, (like Abdulfatteh). The legal status is far more important than the religious status or conviction. In Israel being “Jewish” is legally defined. And with being Jewish come some rights that non Jews do not have.

      Israel prefers to refer to its Palestinian citizens (the descendants of those who successfully resisted expulsion in 1947/48) as “Israeli Arabs”. But they are Palestinians just as much as those living in the West Bank, Gaza or in dozens of refugee camps.

      1. Hey ahik, thanks for this. I cannot explain it. Perhaps it depends on who is asking the question and how it is asked.

        Do you find it credible that Palestinians who are not Jewish feel comfortable singing the Israeli National anthem which talks about a Jewish home, or living in a state which defines itself as the National State of Jews when their ancestors have been living there for centuries? I don’t.

        I HAVE MET Palestinians in Israel who “accept” this nomenclature (Israeli Arabs) because to be declarative about their Palestinianness is to invite confrontation and problems. (For example, Palestinian Israelis who want to run for election cannot say they are “Palestinians” or that they oppose the idea of a Jewish State. To do so would lead to exclusion for the electoral process.)

        But I don’t think I have met any who wholeheartedly accept their imposed “Israelilness”. A common phrase is “I didn’t immigrate to Israel, Israel immigrated to me”.

      2. Palestinians who happen to be Israeli citizens because of where they were born or where they were living in 1948 are very aware that they have far more rights than their relatives who are trapped in the West Bank or Gaza; they use the specified designation so that they don’t have those rights taken away from them. One, who showed me his US “green card” told me that he came back to Palestine/Israel to slow Israel’s effort at ethnic cleansing not because he was happy to be Israeli.

    2. Mr. Sigman,

      It is important to identify Halpern as Jewish to remind us that this is not a conflict with all Jews on one side and all Arabs on the other. There are also Arabs who have decided to adopt Israel’s views. They usually do well.

      Halpern moved from the US to Israel but seems to have taken his “equal rights for all” principle with him. I find that admirable. Many did not.

      Recall too that Jerusalem was supposed to be a united and international city until Israel decided to take it and Jordan was able to keep the East.

      Some Palestinians in Jerusalem did not want to have a citizenship forced on them. Would you?

  2. Netanyahu and israeli ruling right wing coalitions hates the one democratic state solution as much as the 2 state solution and wants only Israel rule and control over the no state solution of Palestine proposed in the Trump plan. The international community shld stay on track with 2 SS with warning that 1 SS means end of Jewish democratic state and the 0 state status quo is unacceptable.
    Annexation will make the dilemna even worse.

  3. Israeli Arabs most assuredly identify themselves as Palestinian and are as opposed to annexation of more of Palestine even as they resist their second class status in Israel as confirmed in the Jewish nation state law. In a real 2 state solution of Israel and Palestine, with landswaps minority rights would be guaranteed including by allowing Jews to return to Israel and Arab Israelii Palestinians to Palestine. If this is rejected and a one state or binational state becomes a reality neither Arabs or Jews could dominate the other in a functioning democracy which could end Jewish dominant Israel as it is known now. Netanyahu has now halted annexation and must have seen this writing on the wall of a one state solution to deter him.

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