PEACE AND JUSTICE IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE: BEYOND THE TWO STATE SOLUTION?

One of my best students decades ago, Jonathan Kuttab, has just published a provocative book BEYOND THE TWO STATE SOLUTION.

An evangelical Christian born in Bethlehem, Kuttab is a brilliant lawyer who has worked for decades in Israel-Palestine to use non-violence to bring peace and justice to that troubled, seemingly impossible situation.  (He has argued  cases --in Hebrew! --before the Israeli Supreme Court.)

For decades, Israelis, Palestinians and the global political community said that the only possible solution to decades of terrible conflict was a two state solution. The Palestinians would have to give up the “right of return“ to the land from which they were expelled or left when Israel was founded in 1948. And the Israelis would have to give to the new Palestinian state most of the West Bank and East Jerusalem which they seized from Jordan in the 1967 war.

But year after year, decade after decade, the Israeli  government allowed (even quietly encouraged) more and more Jewish settlers in the occupied west bank – – even though that was contrary to publicly stated official Israeli policy and illegal according to international law.

Until now, the official position (both of Israel and the international community including the United States) has been that most of the Israeli settlers in the West Bank would have to be removed to allow a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank

But Kuttab points out that it is now totally impossible to remove the 700,000  Israeli settlers now living (some for decades)all over the West Bank. Any decision to remove them would prompt the immediate fall of any Israeli government. And any serious attempt to do that would almost certainly lead to civil war in Israel.

So if the two state solution is no longer viable, what is to be done?  Kuttab thinks the only possible solution is one democratic state for the whole area where Israelis and Palestinians are both full citizens. He would embed the rights of minorities (whether that minority is Jewish or Palestinian) in the constitution. He describes constitutional mechanisms that would guarantee that no democratic majority (whether Jewish or Palestinian) could trample on the basic rights of the minority.

Is that vision viable? My sense after reading the book is that Kuttab’s solution is approximately as unlikely as the two state solution which he says is impossible. But read Kuttab’s book, BEYOND THE TWO STATE SOLUTION, and decide for yourself.

If you conclude that Kuttab’s solution is impossible, then please show why the present policy does not look more and more like apartheid – – which is both fundamentally unjust and fundamentally contrary to the long Jewish prophetic tradition of justice.

You can get the book on Amazon or at www.nonviolenceinternational.net/beyond2states.

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