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Theonestate/twostatedebateisirrelevantasIsraelandtheUS

consolidateGreaterIsrael
NoamChomsky
Mondoweiss,October24,2013
On July 13, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin issued a dire warning to the government of Israel: either it will reach
somekindoftwostatesettlementortherewillbea"shifttoanearlyinevitableoutcomeoftheoneremainingreality
astate'fromtheseatotheriver'."Thenearinevitableoutcome,"onestatefortwonations,"willpose"animmediate
existentialthreatoftheerasureoftheidentityofIsraelasaJewishanddemocraticstate,"soonwithaPalestinianArab
majority.
On similar grounds, in the latest issue of Britain's leading journal of international affairs, two prominent Middle East
specialists, Clive Jones and Beverly MiltonEdwards, write that "if Israel wishes to be both Jewish and democratic," it
mustembrace"thetwostatesolution."
Itiseasytocitemanyotherexamples,butunnecessary,becauseitisassumedalmostuniversallythattherearetwo
optionsforcisJordan:eithertwostatesPalestinianandJewishdemocraticoronestate"fromtheseatotheriver."
Israeli commentators express concern about the "demographic problem": too many Palestinians in a Jewish state.
Many Palestinians and their advocates support the "one state solution," anticipating a civil rights, antiApartheid
strugglethatwillleadtoseculardemocracy.Otheranalystsalsoconsistentlyposetheoptionsinsimilarterms.
Theanalysisisalmostuniversal,butcruciallyflawed.Thereisathirdoption,namely,theoptionthatIsraelispursuing
withconstantUSsupport.Andthisthirdoptionistheonlyrealisticalternativetothetwostatesettlementthatisbacked
byanoverwhelminginternationalconsensus.
Itmakessense,inmyopinion,tocontemplateafuturebinationalseculardemocracyintheformerPalestine,fromthe
seatotheriver.Forwhatit'sworth,thatiswhatIhaveadvocatedfor70years.ButIstress:advocated.Advocacy,as
distinctfrommereproposal,requiressketchingapathfromheretothere.Theformsoftrueadvocacyhavechanged
with shifting circumstances. Since the mid1970s, when Palestinian national rights became a salient issue, the only
formofadvocacyhasbeeninstages,thefirstbeingthetwostatesettlement.Nootherpathhasbeensuggestedthat
hasevenaremotechanceofsuccess.Proposingabinational("onestate")settlementwithoutmovingontoadvocacy
ineffectprovidessupportforthethirdoption,therealisticone.
The third option, taking shape before our eyes, is not obscure. Israel is systematically extending plans that were
sketchedandinitiatedshortlyafterthe1967war,andinstitutionalizedmorefullywiththeaccesstopowerofMenahem
Begin'sLikudadecadelater.
The first step is to create what Yonatan Mendel calls "a disturbing new city" called "Jerusalem" but extending far
beyond historic Jerusalem, incorporating dozens of Palestinian villages and surrounding lands, and furthermore,
designatedasaJewishCityandthecapitalofIsrael.AllofthisisindirectviolationofexplicitSecurityCouncilorders.A
corridortotheEastofthisnewGreaterJerusalemincorporatesthetownofMa'alehAdumim,establishedinthe1970s
but built primarily after the 1993 Oslo Accords, with lands reaching virtually to Jericho, thus effectively bisecting the
WestBank.CorridorstothenorthincorporatingthesettlertownsofArielandKedumimfurtherdividewhatistoremain
undersomedegreeofPalestiniancontrol.
MeanwhileIsraelisincorporatingtheterritoryontheIsraelisideoftheillegal"separationwall,"inrealityanannexation
wall, taking arable land and water resources and many villages, strangling the town of Qalqilya, and separating
Palestinian villagers from their fields. In what Israel calls "the seam" between the wall and the border, close to 10
percentoftheWestBank,anyoneispermittedtoenter,exceptPalestinians.Thosewholiveintheregionhavetogo
through a highly intricate bureaucratic procedure to gain temporary entry. Exit, for example for medical care, is
hamperedinthesameway.Theresult,predictably,hasbeenseveredisruptionofPalestinianlives,andaccordingto
UN reports, a decrease of more than 80% in number of farmers who routinely cultivate their lands and a decline of
60%inyieldofolivetrees,amongotherharmfuleffects.Thepretextforthewallwassecurity,butthatmeanssecurity
forillegalJewishsettlersabout85percentofthewallrunsthroughtheoccupiedWestBank.
IsraelisalsotakingovertheJordanValley,thusfullyimprisoningthecantonsthatremain.Hugeinfrastructureprojects
link settlers to Israel's urban centers, ensuring that they will see no Palestinians. Following a traditional neocolonial
model,amoderncenterremainsforPalestinianelites,inRamallah,whiletheremaindermostlylanguishes.
TocompletetheseparationofGreaterJerusalemfromremainingPalestiniancantons,Israelwouldhavetotakeover
theE1region.SofarthathasbeenbarredbyWashington,andIsraelhasbeencompelledtoresorttosubterfuges,like
buildingapolicestation.ObamaisthefirstUSpresidenttohaveimposednolimitsonIsraeliactions.Itremainstobe
seen whether he will permit Israel to take over E1, perhaps with expressions of discontent and a wink of the eye to
makeitclearthattheyarenotseriouslyintended.
ThereareregularexpulsionsofPalestinians.IntheJordanValleyalonethePalestinianpopulationhasbeenreduced
from 300,000 in 1967 to 60,000 today, and similar processes are underway elsewhere. Following the "dunam after
dunam" policies that go back a century, each action is limited in scope so as not to arouse too much international
attention,butwithacumulativeeffectandintentthatarequiteclear.
Furthermore,eversincetheOsloAccorddeclaredthatGazaandtheWestBankareanindivisibleterritorialunity,the
USIsraelduohavebeencommittedtoseparatingthetworegions.Onesignificanteffectistoensurethatanylimited
Palestinianentitywillhavenoaccesstotheoutsideworld.
IntheareasthatIsraelistakingover,thePalestinianpopulationissmallandscattered,andisbeingreducedfurtherby
regularexpulsions.TheresultwillbeaGreaterIsraelwithasubstantialJewishmajority.Underthethirdoption,there
willbeno"demographicproblem"andnocivilrightsorantiApartheidstruggle,nothingmorethanwhatalreadyexists
within Israel's recognized borders, where the mantra "Jewish and democratic" is regularly intoned for the benefit of
thosewhochoosetobelieve,oblivioustotheinherentcontradiction,whichisfarmorethanmerelysymbolic.
Exceptinstages,theonestateoptionisanillusion.Ithasnointernationalsupport,andthereisnoreasonwhyIsrael
anditsUSsponsorwouldacceptit,sincetheyhaveafarpreferableoption,theonetheyarenowimplementingwith
impunity,thankstoUSpower.
TheUSandIsraelcallfornegotiationswithoutpreconditions.Commentary there and elsewhere in the West typically
claimsthatthePalestiniansareimposingsuchpreconditions,hamperingthe"peaceprocess."Inreality,theUSIsrael
insistuponcrucialpreconditions.The first is that negotiations must be mediated by the United States, which is not a
neutralpartybutratheraparticipantintheconflict.ItisasifoneweretoproposethatSunniShiiteconflictsinIraqbe
mediated by Iran. Authentic negotiations would be in the hands of some neutral state with a degree of international
respect. The second precondition is that illegal settlement expansion must be allowed to continue, as it has done
withoutabreakduringthe20yearsoftheOsloAccordpredictably,giventhetermsoftheAccord.
IntheearlyyearsoftheoccupationtheUSjoinedtheworldinregardingthesettlementsasillegal,asconfirmedbythe
UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice. Since Reagan, their status has been downgraded to "a
barriertopeace."Obamaweakenedthedesignationfurther,to"nothelpfultopeace,"withgentleadmonitionsthatare
easily dismissed. Obama's extreme rejectionism did arouse some attention in February 2011, when he vetoed a
SecurityCouncilresolutionsupportingofficialUSpolicy,endingofsettlementexpansion.
As long as these preconditions remain in force, diplomacy is likely to remain at a standstill. With brief and rare
exceptions, that has been true since January 1976, when the US vetoed a Security Council resolution, brought by
Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, calling for a twostate settlement on the internationally recognized border, the Green Line,
withguaranteesforthesecurityofallstateswithinsecureandrecognizedborders.Thatisessentiallytheinternational
consensus that is by now universal, with the two usual exceptions not just on Middle East issues, incidentally. The
consensus has been modified to include "minor and mutual adjustments" on the Green Line, to borrow official US
wordingbeforeithadbrokenwiththerestoftheworld.
The same is true of the negotiations that may take place soon in Washington. Given the preconditions, they are
unlikelytoachieveanythingmorethantoserveasaframeworkinwhichIsraelcancarryforwarditsprojectoftaking
over whatever it finds valuable in the West Bank and Syrian Golan Heights, annexed in violation of Security Council
orders, while maintaining the siege of Gaza. And doing so throughout with the critical economic, military, diplomatic
and ideological support of the state running the negotiations. One can of course hope for better, but it is hard to be
optimistic.
Europe could play a role in advancing the hopes for a peaceful diplomatic settlement, if it were willing to pursue an
independentpath.The recent EU decision to exclude West Bank settlements from any future deals with Israel might
beastepinthisdirection.USpoliciesarealsonotgraveninstone,thoughtheyhavedeepstrategic,economic,and
culturalroots.In the absence of such changes, there is every reason to expect that the picture from the river to the
seawillconformtothethirdoption.Palestinianrightsandaspirationswillbeshelved,temporarilyatleast.
IftheIsraelPalestineconflictisnotresolved,aregionalpeacesettlementishighlyunlikely.Thatfailurehasfarbroader
implicationsinparticular,forwhatUSmediacall"thegravestthreattoworldpeace,"echoingthepronouncementsof
President Obama and most of the political class: namely, Iran's nuclear programs. The implications become clear
whenweconsiderthemostobviouswaystodealwiththeallegedthreat,andtheirfate.Itisuseful,first,toconsidera
fewpreliminaryquestions:Whoregardsthethreatasofsuchcosmicsignificance?Andwhatistheperceivedthreat?
Answersarestraightforward.Thethreatisoverwhelminglyawesternobsession:theUSanditsallies.Thenonaligned
countries, most of the world, have vigorously supported Iran's right, as a signer of the Nonproliferation Treaty, to
enrich Uranium. In the Arab world, Iran is generally disliked, but not perceived as a threat rather, it is the US and
Israelthatthepopulationregardsasathreat,byverylargemargins,asconsistentlyshownbypolls.
Inwesterndiscourse,itiscommonlyclaimedthattheArabssupporttheUSpositionregardingIran,butthereference
is to the dictators, not the general population, who are considered an irrelevant annoyance under prevailing
democratic doctrine. Also standard is reference to "the standoff between the international community and Iran," to
quote from the current scholarly literature. Here the phrase "international community" refers to the US and whoever
happens to go along with it in this case, a small minority of the international community, but many more if political
standsareweightedbypower.
What then is the perceived threat? An authoritative answer is given by US intelligence and the Pentagon in their
regularreviewsofglobalsecurity.TheyconcludethatIranisnotamilitarythreat.Ithaslowmilitaryexpenditureseven
by the standards of the region, and limited capacity to deploy force. Its strategic doctrine is defensive, designed to
resistattack.TheintelligencecommunityreportsnoevidencethatIranisdevelopingnuclearweapons,butifitis,they
conclude,thatwouldbepartofIran'sdeterrencestrategy.
ItishardtothinkofacountryintheworldthatneedsadeterrentmorethanIran.IthasbeentormentedbytheWest
without respite ever since its parliamentary regime was overthrown by a USBritish military coup in 1953, first under
theharshandbrutalregimeoftheShah,thenundermurderousattackbySaddamHussein,withwesternsupport.It
was largely US intervention that induced Iran to capitulate and shortly after, President George Bush I invited Iraqi
nuclear engineers to the US for training in advanced weapons production, an extraordinary threat to Iran. Iraq soon
became an enemy, but meanwhile Iran was subjected to harsh sanctions, intensifying under US initiative to the
present.ItconstantlysubjectedtothethreatofmilitaryattackbytheUSandIsraelinviolationoftheUNCharter,if
anyonecares.
It is, however, understandable that the USIsrael would regard an Iranian deterrent as an intolerable threat. It would
limit their ability to control the region, by violence if they choose, as they often have. That is the essence of the
perceivedIranianthreat.
That the clerical regime is a threat to its own people is hardly in doubt, though regrettably it is hardly alone in that
regard.Butitgoeswellbeyondnaivettobelievethatitsinternalrepressionismuchofaconcerntothegreatpowers.
Whateveronethinksofthethreat,aretherewaystomitigateit?Quiteafew,infact.Oneofthemostreasonablewould
betomovetowardsestablishinganuclearweaponsfreezoneintheregion,asstronglyadvocatedbytheNonaligned
movement and particularly by the Arab states, and indeed most of the world. The US and its allies voice formal
support,buthavehardlybeencooperative.Thatisonceagainclearrightnow.UnderNPTauthority,aninternational
conferencewastohavebeenheldinFinlandlastDecembertoadvancesuchplans.Israelrefusedtoattend,buttothe
surprise of many, in early November Iran announced that it would take part, without conditions. The US then
announced that the conference was cancelled, repeating Israel's objections: that a conference is premature before
regionalsecurityisestablished.TheArabstates,Russia,andtheEuropeanParliamentcalledforimmediaterenewalof
theinitiative,butofcourselittleispossiblewithouttheUS.
Detailsaremurky.Littledocumentaryevidenceisavailable,andallofthishaspassedwithoutinquiry.Inparticular,the
US press has not inquired, or in fact even published a single word on the most reasonable and practical efforts to
addresswhatitreportsas"thegravestthreattoworldpeace."
It is quite clear, however, that Arab states and others call for moves to eliminate weapons of mass destruction
immediately,asasteptowardsregionalsecuritywhiletheUSandIsrael,incontrast,reversetheorder,anddemand
regionalsecuritymeaningsecurityforIsraelasaprerequisitetoeliminatingsuchweapons.Inthenotveryremote
background is the understanding that Israel has an advanced nuclear weapons system, alone in the region and is
aloneinrefusingtojointheNPT,alongwithIndiaandPakistan,bothofwhomalsobenefitfromUSsupportfortheir
nucleararsenals.
TheconnectionofIsraelPalestineconflicttotheallegedIranianthreatisthereforeclear.AslongastheUSandIsrael
persist in their rejectionist stance, blocking the international consensus on a twostate settlement, there will be no
regionalsecurityarrangements,hencenomovestowardsaestablishinganuclearweaponsfreezoneandmitigating,
perhapsending,whattheUSandIsraelclaimtobethegravestthreattopeace,atleasttodosointhemostobvious
andfarreachingway.
It should be noted that along with Britain, the US has a special responsibility to devote its efforts to establishing a
Middle East NWFZ. When attempting to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of Iraq, the two aggressors
appealedtoUNSCR687of1991,claimingthatSaddamviolatedthedemandtoendhisnuclearweaponsprograms.
The Resolution also has another paragraph, calling for "steps towards the goal of establishing in the Middle East a
zone free from weapons of mass destruction", obligating the US and UK even more than others to undertake this
initiativeseriously.
These comments naturally only scratch the surface, and leave out many urgent topics, among them the horrifying
descent of Syria into suicide and ominous developments in Egypt, which are sure to have a regional impact. And
indeedalotmore.Thisishowsomeofthecoreissuesappear,tomeatleast.