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A two-state solution for Israel and Palestine will forever be a pipe dream

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Oscar van Heerden is a scholar of International Relations (IR), where he focuses on International Political Economy, with an emphasis on Africa, and SADC in particular. He completed his PhD and Masters studies at the University of Cambridge (UK). His undergraduate studies were at Turfloop and Wits. He is currently a Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Fort Hare University and writes in his personal capacity.

What, if any, is the relevance and practicality of a two-state solution in the Middle East? With more than 700,000 Israelis living on the West Bank, the question is: Can one realistically talk of a two-state solution?

As we come to the end of yet another month of Ramadan, Muslims all over the world should be celebrating Eid Mubarak, but alas, their Palestinian brethren are not so fortunate, it seems. Protests and skirmishes in and around the Al-Aqsa Mosque have left many Muslims injured and hopeless. Hopeless that there will never be a solution to the ongoing suffering and struggles of Palestinians in that part of the world.

To me, it beckons the question: What, if any, is the relevance and practicality of a two-state solution in the Middle East? Listening to Haaretz journalist and columnist Gideon Levy taking on this topic made me realise that we have a serious problem.

Looking at the current war in Ukraine situation, with the Israeli foreign minister condemning the Russians, Levy stated that “this is not the end of the story. How will the Israelis now see the Ukrainian resistance? They see all those Molotov bottles being prepared and they salute them. Wow. What a brave people. Look at them standing in front of tanks and throwing those Molotov bottles. In the very same day [Palestinian] youngsters are shot dead, not less than shot dead, for throwing a Molotov bottle or even holding a Molotov bottle.”

How can they bridge this contradiction? Levy asks. He continues, “you are praising the Ukrainians for their moral and courageous position and behaviour. Very, very same method, moral cause to fight against an occupier for your freedom, for your human rights, for implementing international law. The very same one is being shot by you and nobody cares. Everyone justifies.”

Levy then states that “I guess 90% of the Israelis would say that anyone who throws a Molotov bottle at a tank or at a military vehicle should be shot dead. Nobody is there to try to show the contradiction, to try to show the denial. It all brings us, unfortunately, and it’s not easy for me to say so, but it all brings us again and again to the same point. And the point is the belief in Jewish supremacy. This is the core of Zionism. 

“This feeling of chosen people is still very deep-rooted in Israel”, he says. “The consequence is that everything which refers to any other country in the world does not refer to Israel. That we are a special case. That international law should be implemented everywhere, but we are a different case. That a Molotov bottle against a Jewish soldier is not like a Molotov bottle against a Russian soldier because we are different, because we are chosen, because of this damned Jewish supremacy.”

The governing party here in our country, the ANC, is also a strong proponent of a two-state solution as it pertains to the Israel and Palestine conflict, but can this still be a realistic expectation? After all, the US continues unabated under various Republican and Democrat presidents to support, finance and arm Israel.

With more than 700,000 Israelis living on the West Bank, the question is: Can one realistically talk of a two-state solution? European leaders, according to Levy, and I suspect here at home and on the African continent too, continue talking of the two-state solution knowing full well that this is no longer a viable outcome. But they harp on about it because any different course correction will mean resetting the clock to the founding of the holy State of Israel and it seems there is no appetite for such.

In the meantime, we deny what’s happening to the Palestinians and their endless plight and struggles. The US, one could argue given recent history, will offer no meaningful solutions any time soon, but what’s disappointing from the European Union member states is the fact that they too are choosing not to address this occupation with any meaningful interventions, unlike South Africa during the 1980s and 1990s. No meaningful sanctions and boycotts of any sort to force the Israeli government to its knees as was the case with the apartheid government then.

Instead, the project of occupation, colonisation, racism and Jewish supremacy on the part of Israel continues unchallenged. Human rights abuses are left unchecked, even in the midst of condemning Russia and its human rights abuses and killing of Ukrainians.

One of the most successful campaigns ever initiated by the Zionists in Israel has been to convince the world that any criticism levelled against Israel must and will be viewed as anti-Semitic.  Best you keep quiet and don’t involve yourself with the affairs of Israel lest you want to be known as an anti-Semite. 

Levy states that “so, on one hand, the war in Ukraine exposed, in my view, the real nature of Israel, the real nature of us Israelis. It’s not only the state. It’s each of us because we all believe in it even if we don’t admit it. We get it with the milk of our mothers. We are different. We are better. They are worse. They are not human beings like us. They were born to kill and they want to kill us.

“The very same arguments serve the Russian propaganda and the Israeli propaganda. They deny a Ukrainian people. Israel denies the Palestinian people, or at least part of the Israelis deny a Palestinian people. They are just Bedouins who came from the desert. Who are they at all? Just for 500 years here. We are, obviously, here for 2,000 years.”

These are indeed strong views from Levy. He goes further: “At the same time, maybe the world will also wake up and realise that there is no difference between the Russian occupation of Ukraine and the Israeli occupation of Palestine. There is one difference, in terms of time. This is an occupation of 10 days now, or one week. And this is an occupation of 50 years. Or if you want, 70 years. Or if you want, 100 years. But both are occupations. Maybe this will be a wake-up call for the world. Maybe also this hypocrisy and double standard that Israel adopted will somehow also be exposed about the world — which allows one occupation and condemns another one.”

Finally, Levy says, “it was already mentioned that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is already on the road to investigate crimes of war in Ukraine after one week. How long have we waited for this court to wake up and to investigate the much more simple and obvious crimes of war, daily crimes of war which are taking place in a very routine reality for over 50 years? So maybe the world will also say, no, no, we have another occupation to deal with. It’s not only the Russian occupation. This combination of Israel betraying, in a way, the West, together with the realisation that occupation is wrong here and there. Occupation is against international law here and there. Occupation cannot last here and there.”

Optimistic as Levy may want to be, I’m afraid such a realisation will not happen any time soon and that the mirage of the two-state solution will continue to be flogged for as long as there is no real imperative to end the suffering of the Palestinian people — or, perhaps sadly put, until we see the Palestinian people as human beings too. As we do the Ukrainians.

I think we must all agree for the sake of the Israeli and Palestinian people, that a two-state solution is a fantasy. Thus, it is time to act more meaningfully, good people. DM

 

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  • Your article is based on the false premise that that Russia /Ukrainians and Israel/Palestinians situations are the same when there is no valid comparison whatsoever. Russia is condemned for invading a sovereign country on the pretext it was a danger to it ( which was laughably false) while Israel has to contend with an enemy in who, words and actions, does not accept its existance and whose written policy is to take the territory “from the river to the sea”. The military actions taken against Hamas has been short, targeted and only after years of actual (not perceived) attacks and security action in the West Bank is in the context of murderous terrorist events in Israel. Not to say that lives are not ruined and lost on both sides by violence and brutality, but to compare the two is either uninformed or dishonest.

  • Thank you Oscar. Most of us take a very one-sided view of the tragic Palestinian-Israeli situation. We tend to decide, despite the terrible suffering and sacrifices on both sides, that one side is right and the other is wrong, ignorant of the fact that this only adds fuel to the fire of polarisation. Because so much seems at stake, it’s really hard to find anyone ready to have a genuine discussion on the matter. I suppose it’s mostly because there is so much to it and every account seems to come from an already polarised perspective. Please continue to write more on this. Quoting one journalist is clearly just a start, but this one is interesting as it shows aspects of Israeli opposition to Israeli action. I’d love to see an article from a Palestinian journalist in opposition to Palestinian action, and then a debate by moderates on how to really understand the realities of all sides with our humanity. I am really tired of only ever reading journalistic accounts that mimic the blame, hatred, intolerance and violence that regularly flares up. Please act on your final comment of ‘time to act more meaningfully’ by having this debate with compassionate reason. The folk in the middle east are too close to the action where lives are lost. I hope that we are far enough away to free ourselves from enemy images of the ‘other’ and to see the human realities more empathically. Oscar, you have started this thing brother… now make good on your closing remarks.

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