Today was our first of a three part series on the future of the state of Israel and the two-state solution.
Listen to our conversation with Prof. Chazan.
Naomi Chazan kicked off the conversation speaking frankly about the untenable and immoral nature of the occupation, and how it severely harms both Palestinians and the Israeli state.
Chazan argued that two peoples occupy the land in parity. The number of Palestinian nearly equals the number of Israeli Jews between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean sea. Chazan asserted that the best bet for co-existance would also support the national aspirations of both peoples – a two-state solution.
This problem isn’t a new one. It has existed since before the creation of the state in 1948. However, after 1967 it took on much greater urgency. Now that the Occupation nearing its 50 year mark, the current generation of Palestinians – the third generation to live under the Occupation – has no recollection of what it was like to live free of it – the urgency is that much greater.
Two things have harmed the image and implementation of the two-state solution. First, because of the failure of the Oslo peace process, the two-state solution is much maligned. Today people incorrectly equate the failure of Oslo with the two-state solution.
While some assert that the reality on the ground is an unequal single state, and therefore we should aspire to equality and create a fair and just bi-national state, Chazan believes that a one state solution remains the most difficult to implement. At the same time, she argued that to accept the continuation of the Occupation is to argue for apartheid levels of institutional separation and inequality and to advocate for protracted violence against the Palestinians.
Second, the prospects of the two state solution is harmed by people abuse the term. PM Netanyahu says he supports a two-state solution, but his support is contingent on so many factors, it renders the concept devoid of substance. The Palestinian state he speaks of would be very shrunken; the West Bank and Gaza alone are but 22% of the territory, and he wants control over more land. This renders his support for a two-state laughable.
A legitimate two states solution, according to Chazan, would rely on the 1967 boundaries. It would offer a real solution to the encroaching settlements, and land swaps that retain 100% of the value of the territory, viable security arrangements, and recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of two states, as well as a solution for the right of return for Palestinians. Detailed formula exist on all the issues outlined above to complete a viable transition to a healthy pair of states. Chazan then stated that in addition, one needs to address post-conflict reconciliation and the nature of the peace agreements – are the states to be walled off from each other, or should there be porous borders? She prefers the latter.
Chazan argued that the common excuse that “there is no partner for peace,” is nonsense, as is the excuse of the constant regional instability. She also rejected dithering over the difficulty of handling the number of settlers and settlements. Instead, she recognized that all long-term solutions will demand practical difficulties – and these are increasingly difficult. But the issue is more one of lacking the political will to tackle the issue consistently and persistently.
Chazan reminded us that the majority of the Israeli electorate favor the two state solution. But there is a disconnect between the solution they prefer, and what they think is likely to occur. They want a solution to happen, but they believe it is impossible.
The problem is one of leadership. Bibi is not the man to pursue the brave path to peace, and there doesn’t seem to be a contender in sight who can. Olmert claims he had deal worked out, but at that point he had already been indicted for corruption.
Chazan too believes that time is running short; there are those who say that within five to ten years, no solution will be possible, Israel will no longer be democratic, and the vision of freedom its founders fought for will be forever lost. The electorate must be the ones who push their leaders to take the reins on this issue, but this requires an electorate that isn’t rendered passive with despair and hopelessness regarding the future.