Oslo peace partners agree western states use PA to shield their inertia
For Yossi Beilin’s open letter plus comment see Put this creature out of our misery says PA co-creator
Former PA PM says two-state solution lost momentum, one-state solution should be considered despite “endless problems.”
By Khaled abu Toameho, Jerusalem Post
Former Palestinian Authority prime minister Ahmed Qurei, who was one of the architects of the Oslo Accords, on Saturday called on Palestinians to consider a one-state solution with Israel instead of a two-state solution.
Voicing frustration and disappointment with the peace process, Qurei, who played a major role in secret and public negotiations with Israel over the past two decades, said that the “one-state solution, despite the endless problems it embraces, is one of the solutions that we should be contemplating through an internal dialogue.”
The Palestinians should be talking publicly about the one-state solution, putting it on the table as an option and throwing it in the face of Israel as “burning embers,” he said.
Qurei’s call for a one-state solution came in an article he published on Saturday in the pan-Arab London-based Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper.
Qurei said that the two-state solution, which was first endorsed by the Palestine National Council (the PLO’s parliament- in-exile) in 1988, has lost its momentum.
He blamed Israel for “burying” the two-state solution by building settlements and creating new facts on the ground in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. It was relevant “before Israeli bulldozers buried this project,” he said, likening efforts to achieve a two-state solution to “ploughing the sea and a long political comedy.”
Israel has managed to “decapitate” the two-state solution through its actions and measures in Jerusalem and the West Bank, he charged.
Qurei accused the US and Western countries of failing to fulfill their promises to help the Palestinians achieve statehood.
He also blamed the Arab world for being preoccupied with other matters instead of focusing on the Palestinian issue.
Some Palestinians and political factions have begun talking seriously about the one-state solution, Qurei added.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has come out against the one-state solution, emphasizing over and again that the two-state solution remains the first and last option for the Palestinians.
Qurei’s call for a one-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians came shortly after large posters promoting the idea appeared on billboards in various parts of the West Bank.
It was not clear who was behind the posters favoring a one-state solution. However, Fatah activists were quick to remove the posters.
Former Israeli minister Yossi Beilin and ex-Palestinian PM Ahmed Qurei question usefulness of two-state plan they drew up
Harriet Sherwood, guardian.co.uk
JERUSALEM—Two of the architects of the Oslo accords, which were intended as the basis of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict almost 20 years ago, have radically changed their position following the long-term impasse between the two sides.
Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli minister who worked in secret on the accords before the historic signing ceremony at the White House in September 1993, has called on the Palestinians to dismantle their governing body, which was set up under Oslo, saying it had become a fig leaf and a farce.
Ahmed Qurei, the former Palestinian prime minister who was one of the key negotiators in the Oslo process, said the two-state solution was defunct, and the option of one single democratic state for both Israelis and Palestinians must now be considered.
Both men reflect a view held by many observers of the stalled peace process, that the window of opportunity to create a Palestinian state has closed or is about to close. The alternatives to two states, they say, are a continuation and entrenchment of the status quo, or one state which denies equality to a large and rapidly growing minority, or one binational state of equals which would no longer be Jewish in character.
Beilin, who served in the Israeli parliament for both Labour and the leftwing Meretz parties, wrote an open letter to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, this month urging him to dissolve the Palestinian Authority. The Oslo accords, he said, had become “a device that has allowed the parties to block a two-state solution”.
The agreement, which had been “a tremendous victory for the peace camps on both sides”, had been thwarted by its adversaries who did not want to advance two states for two peoples.
“I feel a responsibility,” he said. “I pushed for something in 1992.” But Oslo was intended to be an interim process, a “corridor” to a permanent agreement. “The extremists on both sides were very much against it until they learned that this idea might not be a corridor but a living room – and the most convenient living room in the world – to continue the settlements or not to divide the land. I feel the responsibility for the perpetuation of my corridor.
“No one thought the PA would be there for 20 years. It should have ended. So I find myself in a bizarre situation in which I am actually asking to put an end to it. But the bottom line is that, paradoxically, all those who cursed Oslo are now cherishing it.”
Despite pressure from Barack Obama, Abbas included a veiled threat to dissolve the PA in the final version of a letter delivered last week to the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu. If there was no breakthrough in peace talks, the letter said, the Palestinians would “seek the full and complete implementation of international law as it pertains to the powers and responsibilities of Israel as the occupying power in all of the occupied Palestinian territory”.
In other words, according to Beilin, they would “end the farce” and deny Netanyahu a “fig leaf” for the occupation. “It is implicit, but it is very clear,” he said.
Despite Beilin’s dismay at the long-term outcome of Oslo, he insisted the two-state solution was “in trouble but not dead”. A one-state outcome “is not an option because it means a Jewish minority dominating a Palestinian majority in a few years from now, and this is something that neither Israelis and for sure not the world will accept”. He added: “Or is it possible to have one state in which a Palestinian will be the prime minister or president? No, Israelis will not accept that.”
In contrast, Qurei said a two-state solution had been killed by Israel’s policy of settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and that a “one-state solution, despite the endless problems it embraces, is one of the solutions that we should be contemplating”.
In an article published in the Palestinian media, [Al-Quds Al-Arabi] he wrote: “We must seriously think about closing [the book on] the two-state solution and turning over a new leaf.” A one-state solution would allow Palestinians “to expand our manoeuvring room and to continue [our] comprehensive diplomatic campaign to take [back] the basic rights of freedom, independence and human honour that we have been denied”.
Other prominent Palestinians have also recently espoused the idea of a one-state solution. Sari Nusseibeh, president of al-Quds University in Jerusalem and former advocate for a two-state solution, now argues for a Palestinian-Israeli federation between the Jordan river and the Mediterranean, rather than separation.
There is support – albeit limited – for the one-state idea among both Palestinians and Israelis, and from the right and left. Some rightwing pro-settler Israelis are in favour of annexing the West Bank and forcing Palestinians who stay to live under Israeli rule. Some on the left see a state in which an eventual majority of Palestinians have equal rights as their only chance for self-determination, even if it is at the expense of a Jewish homeland.
According to Beilin, there is another possible scenario, in which a rightwing Israeli government unilaterally withdraws from the West Bank to the separation barrier in a move comparable to the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. “It’s not totally unrealistic, but it will not happen tomorrow. The Palestinians would not accept it as a peace plan, but they will take whatever is given. If Israel says it is yours, what will they say?”
A trigger for this could be the point when the Palestinian population in Israel and the Palestinian territories outstrips the Jewish population. “Then the whole world will say now there is a minority of Jews dominating a majority of Palestinians, and the South African example will be raised again. Under such international pressure, someone like Netanyahu might take this decision. Like [Israel's withdrawal from] Gaza, the world will not love it but they will say it is better than the previous situation. And this would also be the reaction of somebody like myself. I will not love it but I will say at least Israel got out of 92% of the West Bank.”