Ilan Pappé: Blueprint for a One-State Movement





[Ilan Pappé is professor of history at the University of Exeter in the UK, where he is also co-director of the Exeter Center for Ethno-Political Studies, and director of the Palestine Studies Centre. He is author of the bestselling The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, A History of Modern Palestine, The Israel/Palestine Question, and is a long time political activist.]

<em>An excerpt from <a target="_blank" href="http://www.gazaincrisis.org/">Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel&rsquo;s War Against the Palestinians</a>, by Noam Chomsky and Ilan Papp&eacute;, edited by Frank Barat</em>

The demise of the Oslo Accord at the very beginning of the twenty-first century gave special impetus to the old/new idea of a one-state solution. It seems to be with us again and the interest in it grows by the day. And yet it does not appear as an item on the agenda of any actor of significance on the Palestine chessboard. Neither major powers nor small political factions endorse it as a vision or strategy, let alone as a tactic for the future. Its attractiveness, however, is undeniable given the failure of the alternative solutions.

A Troubled History

The one-state solution has a troubled history. It began as a soft Zionist concept of Jewish settlers, some of whom were leading intellectuals in their community, who wished to reconcile colonialism and humanism. They were looking for a way that would not require the settlers either to return to their homelands or to give up the idea of a new Jewish life in the "redeemed" ancient homeland. They were also moved by more practical considerations, such as the relatively small number of Jewish settlers within a solid Palestinian majority. They offered binationalism within one modern state. They found some Palestinian partners when the settlers arrived in the 1920s, but were soon manipulated by the Zionist leadership to serve that movement's strategy and then disappeared into the margins of history. In the 1930s, notable members among them, such as Yehuda Magnes, were appointed as emissaries by the Zionist leadership for talks with the Arab Higher Committee. Magnes and his colleagues genuinely believed, then and in retrospect, that they served as harbingers of peace, but, in fact, they were sent to gauge the impulses and aspirations on the other side, so as to defeat it in due course. They existed in one form or another until the end of the Mandate. Their only potential ally, the Palestine Communist Party, for a while endorsed their idea of binationalism, but in the crucial final years of the Mandate, adopted the principle of partition as the only solution (admittedly due to orders from Moscow, rather than out of a natural growth of its ideology). So by 1947, there was no significant support for the idea on either the Zionist or Palestinian side. Moreover, it seems that there was no genuine desire locally or regionally to look for a local solution and it was left to the international community to propose one....

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