Jonathan Kuttab is a Palestinian international human rights lawyer, accredited before the bar in New York State, in Israel and in the Palestinian Territories. He believes in equality, democracy and human rights. And while he has come to the conclusion that the two state solution is no longer possible, it does not fill him with discouragement. On the contrary, he thinks its death will force Palestinians, Israelis and the international community to adopt new thinking about how to forge a compromise between Israelis and Palestinians which give each national group what they most need.
He outlines his own proposal in a short (80 pp) new book called “Beyond the two State Solution”. It is being actively promoted by Non Violence International, which supports “creative constructive nonviolent campaigns worldwide”.
Kuttab’s approach reflects his years of experience as a human rights and mediation lawyer, trying to set out what he thinks is the “bottom line” of each side.
He starts by outlining his understanding of both the Palestinian and Israeli/Zionist longing for self determination, security and space for cultural and economic development. For a long time, it was accepted that the only way to achieve this was by a geographical separation in which each group could develop separately.
However, Kuttab makes the case that Israeli actions in the West Bank over the last 20 years (settlements, settler only roads, etc.) have now made it IMPOSSIBLE to implement a two state solution. In short, even while claiming to want a two state solution, Israel has killed it.
So Kuttab suggests a new approach: figure out the minimum requirements for Palestinians and for Israeli Zionists, and develop a proposal which meets those requirements. This proposal is summed up in what he calls “Essential Elements of a New Order”, of which there are nine. Two of the most important are the Right of return (for both Jews and Palestinians) and equality and non discrimination for all.
CTIP caught up with Dr. Kuttab at his office in Philadelphia and asked him to share some of his thoughts with us.
Is Canada’s position still viable?
“Canada is committed to the goal of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East, which can only be achieved through a two-state solution”, says the Canadian government on its webpage. Not only does Canada say it supports a 2 state solution, but we say it is the ONLY SOLUTION!! We have continued to say this for over 20 years, even as the evidence relentlessly mounts that it is no longer possible.
It is not only the Trudeau Liberals who adhere to that position. All federal parties, Liberals, Conservatives, NDP, Greens and Bloc Québécois say the same thing. Isn’t it about time we started to seriously consider other options? Jonathan Kuttab’s proposals may not be exactly right and may not satisfy everyone. But serious people should take a look at his book and see whether they can do better.
For more information about Kuttab or to see a copy of his book go to his website.
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 Canada’s response to the complicated and emotional Israel/Palestine issue with a focus on the truth, clear analysis and human rights for all. Readers with different points of view are invited to make comment.
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