The Death of the Two-State Solution

By Paul Larudee *

My wife is currently cancer free, but her chemotherapy caused her to gain a lot of weight, which she wants to lose, but she says that she doesn’t have the will and self-discipline to change her diet or start an exercise routine. Instead, she seeks cures and promises from advertisers on social media for expensive fake remedies in a bottle. Of course, these never work as advertised. I warn her that, “If it sounds too good to be true, it is.”

Such is the two-state solution. It has been a fake and a fantasy built on a contradiction from the day that Theodore Herzl proposed a Jewish state in Der Judenstaat in 1895. The contradiction is based on the fact that in order to create a Jewish state, enough Jews needed to be gathered in one place in order to create it.

How many is enough? According to Herzl, enough would be when Jews become the dominant ethnicity in the territory designated for the state. He recognized that this would mean not only gathering Jews, but also removing or otherwise reducing the non-Jewish population. Later Zionist leadership defined it as a desired ethnicity proportion of 80% or more and an undesired ethnicity ratio of 20% or less of the population. This is never workable in the long run without perpetual ethnic cleansing, because whenever the Jewish state is in danger of including too many non-Jews, it must find a way to reduce the number. In practice, this means that even the smaller remaining non-Jewish minority must also be repressed, so as to limit both their numbers and their power within the Jewish state.

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How does this fit into the two-state solution? The answer is that it doesn’t, no more than a “separate but equal” white state was a solution for apartheid South Africa. Or, as articulated by US president Abraham Lincoln in 1858, such a state “…cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” A supremacist state cannot endure anywhere; not in South Africa, not in the US, not in Ireland and not in Palestine. It will always regard the non-members of the preferred population as a threat.

Israeli proponents of the two-state solution have always required the Palestinian state to have less sovereignty than the Jewish state. To the extent that it was acceptable at all, it needed to be disarmed and controlled, and its territory severely compromised. But in fact, Israel never accepted a Palestinian state. The most it accepted was a “road map” to a state, which allowed Israel to pay lip service to the idea while gobbling up Palestinian land, moving Zionist settlers onto it, strangling Palestinian movement and development, and stealing the natural resources. The negotiations were merely a ruse to displace Palestinians while gradually taking more of everything.

Of course, even that wasn’t enough. Although the land held by Palestinians was being confiscated, their population kept increasing, eventually motivating the current Israeli genocide. Israel was simply unable to control Palestinian numbers any other way. As Arnon Sofer expressed it in 2004, ” …if we want to remain alive, we will have to kill and kill and kill.  All day, every day.”

This will not change with a two-state solution. If one of the two is a supremacist state – which is central to the ideology of political Zionism – then there will never be equality between the two, because the Zionist state will not permit it, and the non-Zionist Palestinian state and its citizens will always be considered a threat. But Israel has become more honest. It now openly rejects a Palestinian state of any kind, while the UN and most of its member states continue to pursue the fantasy, the only function of which is to prevent any solution at all, and to continue to enable Israel to implement its conquest of the rest of Palestine, as well as all or parts of Lebanon, Syria, the Sinai (Egypt), the East Bank (Jordan), and even parts of Saudi Arabia.

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The two state “solution” is a worse than useless quest for a fantasy that cannot be maintained because none of the concerned population really wants it. There are no Palestinians who would not prefer a one-state solution without Zionism, only some willing to accept half a loaf for fear of losing the other half. The Zionists, on the other hand, would prefer no state except theirs, and no Palestinians at all.

If this is reminiscent of South Africa, there is good cause, and the solution is the same: one state with equal rights for all, and restoration to Palestinians of all that was taken from them. The October 7, 2023 armed initiative by Hamas and the rest of the Palestinian resistance is the most important step in that direction, despite the enormous sacrifices of the Palestinian people. In fact, it is hard to imagine how this is not the beginning of the end for the Zionist dream. The genocidal horrors that Israel is committing will isolate it from most of the world for the foreseeable future, and even much of the world Jewish community will abandon it, if it has not already. A racist supremacist Jewish colonial state is an anachronism that belongs to the past. Only the restoration of a Palestinian state for all who consider it their home and are willing to respect its laws and standards can be part of the future.

* Paul Larudee is a retired academic and current administrator of a nonprofit human rights and humanitarian aid organization.

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