Young Palestinians eye a one-state solution

Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during the UN General Assembly at the UN on Wednesday in New York. (AFP)
Updated 24 September 2017

Young Palestinians eye a one-state solution

BETHLEHEM: 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.”

Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

Updated 17 min 38 sec ago

Iran must stop supporting militias for peace offer to be taken seriously: Expert 

  • Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias
  • Among these are the Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen

JEDDAH: Iran needs to dismantle its proxies and end its interventions in Arab affairs before seeking to normalize relations with its Gulf neighbors, a political expert told Arab News on Sunday.

“The Gulf countries have been calling for normal relations with their neighbors for years, but their calls have fallen on deaf ears on the Iranian side,” Hamdan Al-Shehri, a political analyst and international relations scholar, said.

Accusing Tehran of “playing games,” Al-Shehri described Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif’s suggestion that Iran wanted to improve relations with its Gulf neighbors as worthless “as long as it continues meddling in the affairs of other countries, and fails to halt its evil militias from sabotaging and destabilizing regional security.”

Iran has for long pursued a policy of outsourcing its meddling to external militias, which indirectly supports, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen. 

Zarif, who is on a two-day visit to Iraq, told a joint news conference in Baghdad with his Iraqi counterpart Mohammed Al-Hakim that Iran wants to build balanced relations with its Gulf Arab neighbors and had proposed signing a non-aggression pact with them.

However, Al-Shehri said that Tehran needs to address three key issues — its nuclear program; its terrorist militias, which have been spreading chaos in the Gulf region and beyond; and its ballistic missile program — before making any such proposals.

“The question is, would Iran be ready to give up all three files? If they want their neighbors to accept them and normalize relations with them, they have to be honest and stop playing games,” he said.

Al-Shehri described Zarif’s regional tour as an attempt to rally support and send a false message that Iran has friends and allies who would stand by them in their crisis with the US.

“Where were these countries when Iran’s terrorist proxies in Yemen, the Houthi militias, launched missiles and drones attacking the holiest Islamic site in Makkah and other Saudi facilities?” Al-Shehri asked.

Zarif said Iran will defend itself against any military or economic aggression, calling on European states to do more to preserve a nuclear agreement his country signed.

“We will defend (ourselves) against any war efforts, whether it be an economic war or a military one, and we will face these efforts with strength,” he said.

Strains have increased between Iran and the US following this month’s sabotage attack on oil tankers in the Gulf. Washington and other regional allies have concluded that Iran is most likely behind the attacks. 

Tehran has distanced itself from the bombings, but the US has sent an aircraft carrier and extra 1,500 troops to the Gulf, sparking concerns over the risk of conflict in the volatile region.