Opinion: It is the end of the two-state solution that will bring peace to Gaza

Israeli children visit Palestinian village of Tuwani and participate in bilingual activities together - Some rights reserved by delayed gratficationThere are many times throughout history where man has stood by and allowed inhumanity to win the day. One of few positives that can be taken from these days is that human behaviour can be observed, patterns emerge and those that are left can begin to understand, to learn. But there are times when lessons are forgotten. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is humanity’s greatest forgotten lesson. It is time to face up to hard truths and if we fail to do so we legitimise the deaths of thousands more men, women, children, Israeli and Palestinian. Liberal Democrats were strong advocates for a two-state solution, long ago when the facts was shrugged off by Labour and Conservative administrations. We should not succumb to the same mistake.

For many the plight of the Palestinians was a reason to join the party, but facts are now at hand that challenge the two-state position. Firstly the increase of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory is now irreversible, even beyond the control of the Israeli government. It would appear that settled Israeli communities have established themselves amongst the tension and to force misplacement would create a new regional dimension to the conflict, one that could well result in Israeli division either politically or militarily. It has seemed that the impact of geographical changes has not yet filtered through to politicians either here in the west nor in Israel-Palestine. As Allegra argues “politics still struggles to come to terms with the reality on the ground… considering settlements as obstacles leading to a two-state solution”. Israel and the West Bank are now geographically inseparable, at least not without an imaginable amount of bloodshed.

Secondly the position of the Palestinian government in Gaza and the West Bank is continually undermined by Jerusalem, who will not accept its legitimacy as long as Hamas controls Gaza. Divided politically the Palestinian authority is unclear of its position, it continues to accept nothing short of absolute victory. Seeking an independent Palestine will only perpetuate the humanitarian crisis facing its people, alienate it in the eyes of the international community and ensure the continuation of what seems like an apartheid status of Palestinians.

Finally it is clear now that Israel has lost the conflict but that innocent people will continue to lose their lives as long as a two-state solution is preferred. Israel has lost the support of its young people, even its support base in America is beginning to question it’s actions. The Jewish people are not blind to the humanitarian crisis that is apparent within their own borders. Netanyahu is aware of Israel’s position which is why extending the conflict is his prime concern. As long as Hamas threaten his people and he can continue to prolong the conflict he knows that the Jewish state will continue to exist. The moment that Abbas gives Israel the West Bank and Gaza Israel will face destruction. It will be left with a humanitarian disaster to deal with and be forced to accept voting rights for Palestinians which will bring an end to Israel as we know it.

In short the only way for real peace in Israel is for Abbas to accept military defeat, give his territory to Jerusalem; by doing so Abbas will force Netanyahu to chose between one state which grants equal voting rights to all citizens may they be Israeli or Palestinian or he faces trying to justify apartheid to the international community. Philip Hammond’s first actions as foreign secretary brings his appointment into question, yesterday he failed just as John Kerry has by not facing up to these facts. A promise of ‘settlement freezes’ means nothing, it may have done 30 years ago but now it is an empty gesture; that surely is not beyond the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State to understand. Our party should be discussing this position, provide the leadership it once did over the two state solution. One state, one vote, where citizens are equal in the eyes of the law is the only workable solution to bring an end to the bombing of hospitals, schools, homes on either side of border.

* Richard Kilpatrick is the Chair of Campaigns for Manchester Withington Liberal Democrats and the Liberal Democrat Council Candidate for Didsbury West, Manchester City Council in May 2018.

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  • nope – it is when Israel stops blocking ships coming into gaza, and allow the palestinians their own airport which will bring peace to gaza – combined with hamas ceasing fireing missles into Israel.

  • barney rubble 25th Jul '14 - 9:54am

    interesting article, Richard
    but when you say “the Palestinian authority is unclear of its position, it continues to accept nothing short of absolute victory.”
    I’m not sure that a state on just 22% of historic Palestine (ie the 67 borders) is absolute victory – I think igiving up 78% of a territory where the Palestinians have prehistoric roots and were 55% of the population prior to the unilateral declaration of Israel is quite a compromise.
    I’m also not sure what is meant by Abbas giving up his territory to Jerusalem – is “Jerusalem” a shorthand for Israel here ? that is controversial giving Jerusalem’s status !
    In general won’t your proposal just lead us back to the pre Oslo situation of the Occupied Territoreis being well occupied ? Israel would never off er the vote to Palestinians in a one state solution and can’t transfer them to eg Jordan (certinalynot without Jordan’s permission which the may advocates of that policy don’t seem to address) There will just be limbo.
    I can see a two state solution working – its not impossible to uproot the settlements at all or transfer them to Palestinian sovereignty – or failing that there can be real land swaps not an attempt to compensate Palestine with a few worthless border scraps eg Ashkelon, originally a Palestinian city, can be made part of palestinian gaza. at the moment there is zero pressure on Israel to make any realistic concessions which has led to the ludicrous Israel stance of demanding not just 78% of Palestine but the settlements on top, Palestine to be demiltarised, wit h the Jordan valley under Israeli control, Israeli troops in Palestine, no control of airspace etc

  • Daniel Henry 25th Jul '14 - 10:05am

    I pretty much agree.

  • A Social Liberal 25th Jul '14 - 10:08am

    ” Israel has lost the support of its young people, even its support base in America is beginning to question it’s actions”

    I would be interested in how you came by this opinion as none of the news organisations are reporting this. Indeed, they are telling us the opposite, that the Israeli people are fully behind the IDF action, given that a substantial portion of their people have lived in fear of palestinian rockets for many years.

  • Interesting perspective from James Kilpatrick. I fear that the so-called “two-state” solution was always just a time- consuming tactic used to divert attention from the ever- expanding Zionist aims.

  • Geoffrey Payne 25th Jul '14 - 1:25pm

    Every solution brings many problems it seems. You say that if there is one state and a democracy, that will be the end of the Jewish state. However what many Israelis believe in is “population transfer”. As many of them see it, there is a huge amount of land surrounding Israel that is thinly populated by Arabs, so they can go and live there.
    That might sound rather brutal but it depends on what price they are determined to maintain Israel as a Jewish state. One the questions I would like to know the answer to is what do the Israelis see as the long term future for the Palestinians? Ethnic cleansing is one option, mass starvation another, and a humane solution I have got come across yet. Maybe there is one, but I do not know what it is.
    I think a key part of the equation has been overlooked in this article. Israel absolutely depends on the support of the US. The US could threaten to withdraw its support. That would be a game changer, but it does not look like happening.

  • A Social Liberal – I suspect the answer to your question is ‘straws in the wind’; see for example

  • Robert – I think it would very difficult to persuade Palestinians to give up their desire for their own state although you are right to suggest that Israel has effectively absorbed too much land to leave a viable state. The simple step that the UK and other countries could take is to tell both sides that from a certain date we will recognise Pallestine as a state within 1967 borders and it’s up to Israel to negotiate land swaps with the new government.

    Social Liberal – I suggest you start getting your information from social liberal sources rather than extreme right wing publications. I recommend the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz which has good Lib Dem values and seeks to be fair to all races. In particular see today’s article by Gideon Levy http://www.haaretz.com/mobile/.premium-1.597462?v=B013FC25E7767E4E111BA5EE7FFE77A0

    John Kelly is Vice Chair of LDFP

  • Joshua Dixon 25th Jul '14 - 3:16pm

    A ceasefire will mean nothing unless Israel are serious about putting forward an agreement that can deliver peace. A sovereign state for the Palestinian people is the only way we will achieve the desired peace the people so desperately want.

  • Michael Parsons 25th Jul '14 - 7:58pm

    Yes: I suggest that the way forward is to start to insist on democratic majority rule in Israel and indeed in all Palestine. I understand that the Jewish population is increasingly a minority in Israel itself, let alone Palestine as a whole; such “Knesset” rule cannot survive pressure for an equal voting right democratic society.
    The question is what are the pressure points to bring that about? The Gaza and other border disputes and bombings only distract from these: perhaps a first step is to pressure UK Government to withdraw its support for US middle-east policy, especially regarding Israel, backing this up by vigorous opposition to the proposed “free trade” rights of major US companies to overthrow our national health and standards legislation; and to start pushing for the removal of US bases from UK. It is by ‘off-scene’ struggles such as this that democracy will come to Palestine, not by yet more blood-letting in the sand. Support for the new BRICS international development fund, and for an end to US control of our foreign payments system and web messaging – moves which would have world majority backing – there lies the power to centre US attention on ending the suffering of unequal Palestinian citizenship which after all is not a US strategic interest anyway..

  • Stephen Donnelly 26th Jul '14 - 12:04am

    What is our role in this disputer. Limited at the best I would suggest. Support civil liberties for all, and give help where possible. Never take sides.

  • Jonathan Brown 26th Jul '14 - 12:44am

    As John Kelly suggests, recognising a state of Palestine within the 1967 borders (with the Lib Dems leading the way in Britain, and Britain leading the way in Europe) could be a practical way to inject life into the prospects of a ‘final status’ deal resulting in peace. Although I agree that a single democratic state is the best outcome, I recommend looking at the LDFP proposal. After doing so I wrote about it here: https://www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-violence-and-peace-in-the-middle-east-there-is-something-we-can-do-jonathan-brown-41571.html

    Here is what I concluded: “I remain of the opinion that a single democratic state that protects and promotes the rights of its Israeli and Palestinian citizens alike is not only by far the more worthwhile goal to aim for but also not hugely harder to achieve in practice than a just two-state solution will be. However – and this is why I can nevertheless support this peace plan – this goal is not mine to decide. To my knowledge no polling of Palestinians living within the Occupied Territories has shown majority preference for a single state over two states (although I believe this is slowly changing). I hope that a unified and free Israeli/Palestinian state will become a reality one day. But in the meantime I will support this plan that is realistic, practical, hopeful, powerful and supportive of the repeatedly demonstrated wish of most Palestinians living within the Occupied Territories to live in peace alongside their Israeli neighbours.”

  • Lib Dem Candidate 26th Jul '14 - 12:19pm

    The Clinton Parameters – on which basis Israel and the Palestinians came so incredibly close to peace under American tutelage in 2000, before Arafat shocked his own side by changing his Yes to a No at the last minute – gave the Palestinians 98% of the West Bank and Gaza, with Iand swaps to make up for the other 2%, and with Israel keeping the major settlement blocs on its 1967 border in which 80% of the settlers actually live. It also proposed an imaginative solution re:- Jerusalem and its holy sites. It was a great, rational deal, and it very nearly succeeded.

    When Lib Dems come a brilliant second in a previously safe Tory seat, do we take that ‘failure’ as a signal that we should give up trying, or as a signal that the seat is winnable if we have another try? Surely the latter, and that is what the world must do in Israel/Palestine, given how close we have come before to achieving a reasonable two-state solution.

    By the way, the British took 75% of Palestine in the 20s and turned into what is today the Arab Kingdom of Jordan. Today’s Israel/Palestine is the remaining 25% of Palestine. So please can we drop all this stuff about Israel having 78% of Palestine and the Arabs only having 22%?

    Also, if you want to suspend the EU’s Association Agreement with Israel for reasons involving human rights, do you also want to suspend the EU’s Association Agreement with the Palestinian Authority (PA) when the PA abuses Palestinian human rights?

    Palestinians deserve a state rather than to be left in limbo in No Man’s Land.

    If you wish to replace Israel with another country, then what is your intended fate for the millions of people (Jewish and non-Jewish) who currently live there? If you are proposing a one-state solution, I would ask what sort of state would it be? If you lived in Israel (be you Jewish, Arab or anything else), you would want to know with what sort of state people are proposing to replace the country in which you live.

    Would it be a state in which the government and parliament are freely, universally elected and then required to seek re-election a few years later? Would it be a state in which women and LGBT people are fully equal? Would it have a free press (and no state media) and freedom of worship, not to mention equality before the law and an independent judiciary? I know of one (and only one) country in the entire Middle East in which those things hold true, and it is the current State of Israel. Can anyone name a second?

  • Michael Parsons 26th Jul '14 - 3:05pm

    If Kerry Hutchinson, and Geoffrey Payne are right (as I think they are) then our contribution to the solution (admittedly small) is to agitate for a change in US policy by indirect means, since a frontal approach fails. Time to withdraw support for US middle-eastern policy, support the BRICS development bank and support moves away from dollar IT payments system; attack US control of SWIFT and US interference with the web; agitate for a removal of the 16 or so US bases here etc. We would have most of mankind agreeing with us, and once US starts to pay a real price for its policy that policy might change. Blood in the desert won’t, and hasn’t made one jot of difference to a US drugged by its vision of its own righteousness and the profits of its growing energy resource monopoly. In short, add our pennyworth to the general drift away from a one-power world.

  • Adam Corlett 29th Jul '14 - 1:23pm

    Excellent article, Richard. I don’t know enough about the subject to properly comment, but this is at least a very thought-provoking way of looking at the situation.

  • The fifth national council of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in February 1969 passed a resolution confirming that the PLO’s objective was “to establish a free and democratic society in Palestine for all Palestinians whether they are Muslims, Christians or Jews”. The PLO was not successful in building support for the binational solution within Israeli society, however, which lay the groundwork for an eventual re-scoping of the PLO’s aim toward partition into two states.
    While there may have been some recent discussion about about a one-state solution it has little support among Israelis.

  • Jonathan Brown 30th Jul '14 - 11:42pm

    @Manfarang – I think the point is that the two state solution has little practical support among Israelis either. I mean, majorities tend to say they support it in polls, but they don’t seem to vote for parties that actually want to make the compromises necessary to bring it about.

    The illegal West Bank settlements, and indeed so much of the Israeli economy is now so deeply enmeshed in the West Bank that it’s hard to see how a Palestinian state could now come into being. (The Lib Dem Friends of Palestine have a proposal – see my article a couple of weeks ago – on how it might.) For me, the point of Richard’s article is that rather than continuing to pretend that we are pushing for a two state solution while not actually doing what is needed, we ought to abandon the fiction and go straight for a more idealistic alternative: a single democratic state which guarantees the rights of all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish.

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