Young Palestinians eye a one-state solution

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas

:: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has reawakened a desire in many young Palestinians to scrap the two-state solution in favor of a single state shared by Israelis and Palestinians.

In his speech last week at the UN General Assembly in New York, Abbas made his strongest argument yet for an alternative to the political consensus. He referred to Israel military rule in Palestine as “occupation” 28 times, and criticized US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for his use of the term “alleged occupation.”

Abbas mentioned the two-state solution 13 times, but warned the world community of what would happen if this vision were to “be destroyed due to the creation of a one-state reality with two systems — apartheid — from the unchecked imposition of this occupation that is rejected by our people and the world.”

Abbas concluded by saying that if the two-state solution were to fail “we will have no choice but to continue the struggle and demand full, equal rights for all inhabitants of historic Palestine.”

Sami Awad, executive director of the Holy Land Trust and a non-violence activist, told Arab News that Abbas’s speech was music to his ears. “I have been against the two-state solution for some time, because I am worried that the Palestinian component of this state will be totally undemocratic, as Israel and the US will give importance to security over democracy.”

Rameh Mismar, from Nablus, told Arab News he was in favor of the one-state concept, but it would require a new strategy. “We will need to review and reformat our own thinking in terms of our relations with Israel and Israelis.”

Mismar said Abbas’s speech had changed the rules of the game. “Now Palestinians are challenging Israelis to three possibilities: Two states, one state, or the rocket and bearded state of Hamas.”

Vivian Rabia, a left-wing activist from Ramleh in Israel, attended a workshop on the need to humanize Palestinians in the media narrative. “The two-state solution is impossible with the current situation on the ground. One state allows Palestinians who live in Israel to join their brothers and sisters without needing to move to the new Palestinian state.”

But Alaeedine Ibrahim, also from Nablus, said the two-state solution should continue to be the goal of the Palestinian strategy. “The idea of one state requires support from and engagement from the other side. If Israelis don’t want the one state we might be wasting our time and sending our people on the wrong track again.”

A report published in June by the Carnegie Endowment for International Studies, entitled Revitalizing Palestinian Nationalism, investigates bi-nationalism as an alternative to the two-state solution, while conceding its ultimate weakness.

“Public support for bi-national proposals, in which Palestinians and Israelis would share a single state, remains relatively low, and advocates have yet to articulate a viable strategy to achieve that vision,” the report says.

“However, given the emerging Palestinian demographic majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, bi-national options may become more appealing in the years ahead.”

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