A Way To Force Change, Part 2

Can two states be forced by pushing for one?

In Haaretz today, Akiva Eldar wrote an opinion piece about the misapplication of the Oslo Accords.  The Oslo Accords were meant to be a platform from which an independent Palestinian state could be formed; however they have become, Eldar argues, a means to continue the Israeli occupation of Palestine.  Eldar suggests that if no progress is made towards peace, the PA should declare the Accords ‘null and void’ and move on.  Perhaps not a bad idea.  Yet something a bit more interesting caught my eye.  At the end of the article, Eldar mentions Sari Nusseibeh, the president of Al-Quds University, who proposed in 2008 that the PA be dissolved if no peace agreement was finalized by the end of that year:

“That’s an ultimatum. Unless a major breakthrough happens by the end of this year, in my opinion we should start trying to strive for equality. Back in the 1980s, before the first intifada, I was saying there was schizophrenia in the body politic of the Palestinian people. It was like the head was going in one direction, which was the direction of seeking independence, national identity – but the body was slowly immersed in the Israeli system, and I said it can’t last because it looks like it will snap. Either the body will join the head so that there will be a civil disobedience campaign, or the head will have to join the body, so that there will be a civil rights campaign, to become part of the Israeli system.”

What do you make of the growing support among Palestinians for the dismantlement of the PA?

“The PA has no use. If we fail to reach a peace agreement by the end of this year, I believe it would be best to go back to the period when we were living happily under occupation. We had a small civil administration, they were paying back some $20 million a year to the Israeli treasury, so they were making money off us. Today, we are creating, year after year, bigger deficits. We are spending billions, we have 160,000 employees, half of them are security personnel, who give us no security whatsoever, we are spending masses of money on guns, which we only use against each other and which provide us no security. The whole thing is a mess.”

[tweetmeme] Several days ago I wrote that a potentially powerful means of change would be to dissolve the PA and openly encourage peaceful integration into Israeli society, with the understanding that Israel and its intense focus on its Jewish foundations would be hesitant to incorporate 4 million Arabs into Israel.  The crux of the argument rested on an ultimatum of sorts: make peace now or lose the Jewishness of Israel:

I find it much more likely that these talks continue to stall.  With this crooked path to peace, it looks as though Palestine has no alternative but to continue to live under the occupation.  However, I believe, would be to force Israel to make peace by disintegrating the Palestinian government and offer Israel a choice: truly make peace with a Palestinian state or incorporate all of Palestine, and the 4 million Palestinian Arabs who live there, into the only democracy in the Middle East ®.

Perhaps a radical idea, but Israel has been opposed to taking in the Arabs of Palestine ever since the occupation began in 1967.  After the ’67 war, Israel was greatly split on the question of Palestine.  Many Israelis wanted to keep the West Bank, but, like now, not the Arabs that came with it, leading then-Prime Minister Levi Eshkol to quip “The dowry pleases you, but the bride does not” to soon-to-be PM Golda Meir.

That post received mixed reviews with some arguing that the damage done by dissolving the PA would be too great while others believed that integration into a bi-national state would be treasonous to the Palestinian cause.  I maintain, though, that the only way that negotiations with Israel can result in any sort of viable Palestinian state is if Palestine can muster any kind of leverage over Israel.  Currently, Israel has all of the leverage, making the fledging direct talks more of an imposition of will rather than negotiations.  The demographics of Palestine represent that leverage and the Palestinian negotiating team must find a way to harness this power.

Nusseibeh said in 2008 that there were two choices for Palestine: the struggle for civil disobedience (two-states) or the struggle for civil rights (one state).  Palestine has more options in its relationship with Israel.  Renouncing the harmful Oslo Accords and dissolving the PA puts legal responsibility for the well-being of Palestinians on Israel.  A Palestinian struggle for equal rights within Israel/Palestine forces change upon a state that only desires the continuation of an untenable status quo.

Photo from Tablet

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