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.
Want to learn more about us? Go to http://www.ottawaforumip.org.
Leading with a lie, is a lie.
Hey Jay, thanks for your contribution and the attached short video which starts out claiming that the term “Palestinian” was invented by Yasser Arafat in 1964.
That does not square with the fact that the Palestinians held their first congress in 1919 right after Britain took over control It was called the Palestinian Arab Congress (reflecting the fact, I presume that not everyone living in Palestine was Arabic.
Here is the reference from Wikipedia if you (or others) are interested.
BTW – I’m not sure it is helpful to reasonable discussion to start off by claiming that someone who disagrees with you is “lying”. I suggest you refrain from doing so. It may turn out that he/she has more accurate info than you.
Yes absolutely, leading a lie with a lie, but who’s lies are we talking about. This video is nothing but pure propaganda and almost entirely based on lies, masquerading as facts. That region was called Palestine for more than a thousand years. It will be too long to explain. I only say this: My wife and I have a Jewish woman friend for 50 years. She was born about 77 years ago in Palestine. Her birth certificate, which was given by the Zionist authorities. It says Born in Palestine. Another Jewish lady in my Unitarian Congregation, also about same age, says same thing. One Canadian Jewish lady from the family who owns the Tip Top clothing chain, passed away a number of years ago. In her obituary in the Toronto Star (I have the clipping) says twice that she was born in Haifa Palestine.
One more point. Jesus was a Jewish Palestinian, not a Jewish Israeli.
While completely understandable, I think it is extremely problematic to assert that the two-state solution is dead. Israel would like nothing more than for countries like Canada to abandon the two-state solution. It is the only internationally-recognized legal framework and it is based on international law. Of course the Palestinians can negotiate it away in exchange for full equality within one state. But that is the only basis on which the international community should ever abandon it – when and only when the Palestinians have freely given it up in return for full equality within one state.
Exactly, extreme Zionists like Netanyahu and now a large majority of theI sraeli electorate claiming everything and dismissing Palestinian human rights reject the 1 state equal solution even more than the 2 state aolution of equal states; they were barely able to stomach the Trump Kushner idea of a bantustan Palestine which had no buy in or even support by Palestine. They in fact prefer and have and can live with indefinitely a system of apartheid Israel Jewish domination from the river to the sea even though taking different forms in Israel proper and occupied Palestine. That it condemns Israel to being a Jewish supremacist unequal non democratic human rights violating occupying non universally recognized state is of little concern to committed Zionists who reject any criticism as being antisemitic. .
The road to either a 1 state or a 2 state solution is difficult. One idea is to operate on a 2 state assumption as the best solution but be willing to accept only a one state equal solution if all reasonable attempts to effect a 2 state solution fails. This could entail universal recognition especially by Israel’s friends of Palestine UN with its capital in East Jerusalem along with recognition of Israelm with current borders with its capital in West Jerusalem. The international communnity would then base its relations with Israel and Palestine on this dual recognition basis operationally. It could be willing to assist Israel and Palestine to formalize their relationship on this basis as quickly as possible, but not be willing to wait indefinitely and endlessly for such a peace agreement. It could be made clear to Israel and Palestine that if such a 2 state solution was not acted upon, the only valid alternative would be a 1 state solution of equality consistent with international & UN human rights standards .
This would at least be a strategy to overcome obstacles and advance a solution.
Thank you Peter for drawing attention to Mr. Kuttab’s publication, which should be widely read as a contribution to thinking about alternatives to an increasingly unlikely 2 state solution.
The reason that the myth of a “two state solution” and the slogan “two states for two peoples” live on is because they sound fair. Only if you look at reality can you see that there is nothing fair about it and never was. The most obvious fact is that the two states would not be equal in any way. More important, people on both sides would be denied the right to return to the place they think of as their home. These things were always true. The “two state solution” was never a fair solution and never real. It was advanced to camouflage the ongoing ethnic cleansing. Mr. Kuttab should not be saying that such a solution is no longer possible because that implies that it might have been possible once. If you think it might have been possible once, you may go on to imagine that some changes might bring it back to life.
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