Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Interview with Leila Farsakh - The Two State Solution is Dead
A single State for Jews and Palestinians: A new Palestinian Heresy is born in Madrid
by Michelangelo Cocco
il Manifesto 7 July, 2007
The seminar “Palestine-Israel, one country, one state” ended yesterday in Madrid with the approval of a document in which the promoters, amongst which are the Israeli historian Ilan Pappe, as well as American, South African, Israeli and Palestinian scholars and activists, will commit to giving voice to the single democratic State solution as sole, pressing way out from the negotiation deadlock the Palestinian question has been undergoing for years. We talked about it with one of the lecturers, Leila Farsakh, professor of Political Science at Massachusetts University (Boston) and author of “Independence, Cantons or Bantustans. Wither the Palestinian State?” and of a series of publications about the Palestinian-Israeli economy.
You asserted that Palestinian nationalism is dead.
I didn’t say that. I just say that the struggle of our people for achieving an independent state is over. We must start again by resisting the occupation and colonialism, while formulating a new strategy relying upon the concept of citizenship not being fastened any longer to the idea of historical Palestine’s partition. Do forty years of struggle since the occupation of the Territories in 1967 deserve perhaps a State which would be nothing but a set of Bantustans in Israeli territory without any territorial continuity?
What is the difference between bi-national State and single State?
In the bi-national one, the groups, in our case, Israelis and Arabs, keep a set of institutions separated, e.g. the educational system. Separate and guaranteed by the constitution. The single State, instead, means a secular and democratic one where, by law, no particular identity is favoured or protected. That means recognizing that the State isn’t homogeneous, yet it revolves around the citizen rather than any ethnic identities. Amongst those who, like us, find Palestine’s partition by now impossible, there are differences of opinion about which of these two patterns, or even their variations, would be convenient to adopt.
Do you not think that the single State proposition is too far away?
The territorial, demographic and economic reality on the ground proves that we have never been as close to this solution as we are now. The West Bank’s territory has never been as fragmented as it is today, there are already de facto Bantustans; the Palestinians, in order to get from one place to another, depend totally on Israel and have no sovereignty on their land. The West Bank’s workforce relies on the occupying State. In a demographic point of view, the Palestinians number almost as many as the Israelis. Within five years the Palestinians will be the majority. The two State solution is dead, it will probably take at least one generation to implement the one State but there remains no other alternative.
What if what you call Bantustans should work?
Israel didn’t mean to give rise to the apartheid policy we see today, it aimed at the transfer (expulsion) of Palestinians. It carried it out to some extent in 1948, but it took over the Palestinian land in 1967 and exploited its workforce without, meanwhile, annexing the land. The Bantustans we see today can’t last: what is unbearable is both the policy of granting the Palestinians permits to work in Israel and the financial aid, from the EU, of hundreds of millions of Euros every year to cater for PA wages which the Jewish state, as occupying force, is supposed to pay it in compliance with international law.
Right, but these are the objective elements. What do the subjective ones, starting with Israel’s view, where the vast majority of the parties are Zionist?
They are still anchored to the two state vision in Israel. The Palestinian leadership, both for the necessity to last and since it’s loyal to the strategy of the last 40 years, is still in favour of the two States. What I’m more concerned about is the international dimension: starting with UN’s 181 resolution, the prevailing vision has been that of historical Palestine’s partition. And, for the first time, from the White House Rose Garden speech, President Bush, in 2003, spoke of the necessity of a Palestinian State - to be set up with temporary borders - thus trying in this way to justify the Bantustans.
Is it possible to do without this international context?
This conference embodies the first step towards elaborating academic and political strategies. It’s about explaining to the world that the two State idea is dead. The next step will be a much more important meeting - which we’re working on - that will be held in some European capital within a few months. It will be the worsening of the reality on the ground that will help us. The West, along with the so-called Egyptian-Jordan “moderate front”, is pushing for the proclamation of a Palestinian puppet state, whose temporary borders it expects to establish in a few months. But it will be something, when looking at the reality on the ground, that neither Mahmud Abbas nor any Palestinian can ever accept. At that point, the cards will be on the table and “our” proposal will come on the scene.
Translated from Italian by Diego Traversa and revised by Mary Rizzo, members of Tlaxcala, network of translators for linguistic diversity. This translation is on Copyleft and may be reprinted, as long as the content is unaltered and the source, translator and reviser are cited. Italian: http://www.osservatorioiraq.it/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4699