A Vision For Palestinian Statehood That Is Not Trump’s

| Strategize!

Above Photo: An Egyptian buys a pin with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) logo during the launch of the campaign in Egypt on April 20, 2015 [File: AP/Amr Nabil]

We need to move away from the idea of a two-state solution and embrace the vision of one secular, democratic state.

It has been almost 15 years since the Boycott, Divestment Sanctions (BDS) movement was launched by the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).

The aim of the campaign is to force Israel and its supporters to recognise that the status quo in Palestinian lands and Israel is not tenable in the long term and that there can be no solution without respect for international law, civility and democracy. That means ending the illegal occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza, securing equal rights within Israel for its Palestinian citizens, and implementing the right of displaced Palestinians in the diaspora to return to their homes.

Today, the BDS campaign enjoys the support of the vast majority of Palestinian civil society. The tide is changing in the West as well, where Israel’s multitiered system of oppression, namely occupation, colonisation and apartheid are increasingly condemned.

International civil society seems to have reached the conclusion that, like South Africa‘s, Israel’s system of oppression cannot be brought to an end without ending international complicity and intensifying global solidarity, particularly in the form of BDS. Thus, the campaign is fast approaching its South Africa moment of maturity and impact.

I personally have been involved in BDS since its inception and wholeheartedly support it. I am also, however, one who is concerned about public attention being limited to the immediate demands of the campaign at the cost of developing a coherent plan for Palestine’s political future. In other words, as the campaign limits itself to ensuring the rights of Palestinians are respected, it is lacking a vision for the political reality within which such rights will be extended.

The BDS campaign has been purposefully ambiguous about the shape Palestinian statehood should take and there are tactical reasons for it – mainly to avoid disagreements within the movement.

However, I am of the view that opting for silence on important political questions about Palestine’s future is the wrong tactic. Focusing on the end of occupation, rights for Palestinians in Israel and the right of return has to be put within a political programme that endorses a one-state solution.

That is why I cofounded, with a group of academics and activists, the One Democratic State Group. The group, which is part of the One Sate Campaign, has put forward a programme which not only reaffirms the right of return, the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel, and the end of occupation, but also proposes a vision for statehood, economic development, social justice and responsible international politics.

The central premise is that the two-state solution is dead and should be pronounced as such, despite the attachment many groups, especially leftist ones, have to it.

It is time that all those who continue imposing the two-state solution on the public discourse in Palestine and outside realise that Israel’s strategy of colonisation of the West Bank and gradual expulsion of the Palestinian residents working towards a future annexation has rendered a two-state solution impossible.

At this point, sticking to the two-state vision – an impossible solution – simply means the continuation of occupation, colonisation and apartheid.

Even though I completely understand the position taken by defenders of the rights-based approach, I still think that there is an urgent need for a political vision that helps put a light at the end of the tunnel for those millions of people living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, and more than five million Palestinian refugees scattered all over the world.

In my opinion, the right to self-determination should not result in a racist solution in which there are two states, one of which violates the rights of two-thirds of the Palestinian people. That is, an Israeli state would continue to treat its Palestinian citizens as second class and it would continue to deny the right of return to Palestinian refugees.

It would be no different from white-ruled South Africa – a state which gave exclusive rights to one race while excluding all others. If we are to learn from the South African anti-apartheid movement, then we should heed its political vision: Democracy, racial equality and the end of segregation.

This strategy led to the creation of a secular, democratic state on the land of South Africa, which belongs to all South Africans – just as the Freedom Charter of the South African Congress Alliance envisioned.

What boggles the mind is how some people who supported the end of apartheid do not see the inherent contradiction in their support for an ethnic Palestinian state, which would fulfil the right to self-determination only of those Palestinians who reside in the West Bank and Gaza and deprive the diaspora and Palestinian citizens of Israel of this right.

This is the equivalent of supporting the “right” of the four infamous Bantustans – Transkei, Bophuthatswana, Venda and Ciskei – to “independence”.

The two-state solution will not guarantee democracy, end of segregation and full political rights for all Palestinians. It will not provide self-determination for all Palestinians. In fact, it will exclude millions of Palestinians living in Israel and in the diaspora from Palestinian statehood and rights recognition.

We have to move beyond the one- vs two-state solution debate, and try to pursue the more accurate approach – the rights-based struggle coupled with a clear-cut political vision that can be realised within the framework of a unitary state with guaranteed equality for all its citizens regardless of religion, ethnicity or gender.

For now, the BDS campaign may be delaying taking a stance, but at some point in time, it will have to.


    I have the solution. The solution has been around forever, but all manner of groups have their own saws to grind and keep muddying the waters.

    1.- Israel’s borders go back to 1967
    2.- Gaza is connected to the other side of Jordan via railway, tunnel, whatever.

    3.- Two states solution.
    4.- No right of return, but all Palestinians may live rent free in the occupied territory buildings now occupied by Israelis.

    5.- Each country signs nuclear free acts, has total sovereignty over their own territory.

  • subcomandante Felix

    Your so called “solution” only serves to further legitimize the illegal partition of Palestine and ethnic cleansing and theft of land by Zionist settlers – crimes against humanity.

    1. The U.N. (at the time a U.S. puppet organization) partition of Palestine was implemented to replace the Middle East colonial order with a state run by white-European men. The Nakba insured that the Zionist criminal regime would always be beholden to the U.S. for its existence and protection.

    2. The partition of Palestine was a continuation of the Nazi final solution by other means. The Western European governments did not want the surviving refugees to return and reclaim their property or file claims against them for their role in perpetrating and condoning the Holocaust.

    3. At the end of WWII, Palestine was occupied by Great Britain under a League of Nations mandate that required the self-determination of ALL the peoples living there. The partition and creation of the State of Israel were imposed on the Palestinian people in violation of their right to self-determination (another crime against humanity)

    4. One Palestine respecting the human rights of all people who live there now and those who were forcibly displaced by ethnic cleansing IS THE ONLY SOLUTION!

    P.S. With justice for those who have committed crimes and the victims of the partition.

  • squanto pilgrim

    What should be done with the 800,000 Jews who were expelled from their homes in Arab nations on 1948?

  • chetdude

    Well you could recognize that those were mainly voluntary migrants who were invited by the Zionist, Apartheid government of Israel to head for Israel after 1948 so they could be used as shock troops to push out the native population and “settle” in the rest of Palestine.

    Or that the catalyst for those migrants was giving the Zionist terrorists the Apartheid State of Israel carved out of Palestine.

    Or is that just too much Truth for ya’?

  • chetdude

    Alas, any “solution” to the Zionist Apartheid State of Israel and its brutal occupation of Palestine must begin in Washington, DC.

  • Derek Skinner

    To devise a solution you have to understand what caused the problem. To do this you have to read the Torah. Written 2500 years ago which lays out the Plan which is being implemented today. Chapters Genesis, Exodus and Leviticus should be enough. They repeat over and over The god Yahweh’s covenants with the Jewish people.
    As long as the People revere only Yahweh and have their male children circumcised, then Yahweh would treat the People as special, their seed would multiply as the dust of the earth and the sands of the shore and he would give them the land of the Canaanites, a land of milk and honey that stretches from the River Nile to the River Euphrates.
    This essentially covers Palestine, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon with Iraq thrown in for good measure and some oil.
    The Plan is being implemented as Israel uses the USA to carry it out.
    It will take more than a one state Palestine/Israel to solve this one. I don’t have a solution.

  • dan

    Sorry but I disagree with all these comments. The only truly just solution is in the article above!

  • Vera Gottlieb

    And what should be done about the 700,000+ Palestinians displaced by israel? And what about the 400+ villages that were burnt at that time? Only the Jewish suffering counts – Palestinians be damned?

  • Vera Gottlieb

    A one-state solution will never work – there is much too much animosity on both sides. And racism plays a major role too.