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Former US President Jimmy Carter recently penned an Op-Ed in which he accused Israel of working for a "one-state solution" and threatened that an increasing number of Palestinian Arabs also are beginning to favor a one state solution, in which they would eventually be a majority. Carter claims he got these insights while touring the West Bank and Gaza with a group styling itself "The Elders." The group includes Carter, Desmond Tutu and Mary Robinson. Only half tongue in cheek, it might be called, "The Elders of Anti-Zion."

Carter writes that, "A two-state solution is clearly preferable and has been embraced at the grass roots." We have heard about this "one state solution" that is supposedly coming to be preferred by Palestinians because the Israelis will not agree to the Palestinian version of the two state solution. But, as many have shown, including Benny Morris, there is serious doubt that in fact Palestinians want a two state solution in which a Jewish state lives side by side with an Arab Palestinian state. Chiefly, that would require that Palestinians give up the right of return of refugees to Israel, in fact if not in name. If Israel is flooded with Arab refugees, it would no longer be a Jewish state of course, and the "two state solution" would degenerate into the farcical creation of two Arab states. New poll data demonstrate that in fact, the two state solution has not been "embraced at the grass roots." Perhaps there is not enough grass in the arid land of Gaza and the West Bank.

"Everyone says" and "everyone knows" that the Israelis and the Palestinians "support a two state solution." Indeed, a June survey showed that about 60% of Israelis and Palestinians support a "two state solution." But when the "solution" is broken down into details, it is evident that there is no agreement on what a two state solution entails.

"Everyone says" that "everyone knows" what the outlines of a permanent status agreement for a two state solution must be. What they have in mind apparently, is something like the Geneva Accord or the Clinton Bridging proposals. Briefly, the main points are:

Refugees - Palestinian refugees could settle in the Palestinian state but only a limited number could "return" to Israel.

Jerusalem - Jewish parts of East Jerusalem would remain under Israeli sovereignty. Arab neighborhoods would be incorporated into the Palestinian state. A special status might obtain in the Temple Mount ("Holy Basin") area.

Demilitarization - The Palestinian state would be demilitarized.

Air Space - The Palestinian State would allow Israeli overflights in its air space and would have a multinational force to ensure security, at least initially.

Territory - Large blocs of Israeli settlement would remain under Israeli sovereignty; Palestinians would be compensated by a land swap.

End of Conflict, Mutual Recognition - Palestinians would recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people, Israelis would recognize the Palestinian state and an end to the conflict would be declared.

A poll taken in 2006 showed that 52% of Israelis and 48% of Palestinian supported a comprehensive settlement along the lines indicated above. About 70% of Israelis and 62% of Palestinians supported mutual recognition of both states, including recognition of Israel as the state fo the Jewish people. 61% of Palestinians supported a territorial swap, but 54% opposed a solution for the refugees that included only minimal return to Israel. 70% of Palestinians opposed a demilitarized Palestinian state and about 60% of both Israelis and Palestinians opposed division of Jerusalem with Israel retaining sovereignty over Jewish neighborhoods.

From the above, we can already see that what "everybody knows" is not acceptable as a solution by either side. The sides might be considered to have barely accepted "the solution" globally" but were opposed to it in detail. Grass roots support for the two state solution was not very strong among Israelis, but among Palestinians there was active opposition. What "everybody knows" is not true.

More recently, an August survey done by the same Palestinian PSR organization put the individual questions to respondents. The choices were described fairly and in laborious detail.

Overall, 60.8% of Palestinian respondents rejected the solution, either disagreeing strongly or disagreeing. This is a deterioration since 2006. 64.4% rejected Israeli use of airspace and the multinational force; 60.7% rejected the solution to the refugee problem that did not include implementation of "right" of return, even more than in 2006;68% rejected Israeli sovereignty over Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, again, even more than in 2006; 75.5% opposed a demilitarized state and exactly 50% disagreed with 1967 borders with a swap of territories. In contradiction to the declared policy of the Palestinian Authority, 54.7% of the Palestinian sample agreed that the agreement would include recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. They didn't see the contradiction with opposition to the solution to the refugee problem evidently.

Palestinian support for a two state solution has indeed eroded, as Jimmy Carter and the Elders of anti-Zion reported. Actually, it is more correct to say that Palestinian opposition to key features required for a fair two state solution has become more vehement. The polls do not simply show less confidence in the possibility of a solution, but rather a hardening of attitudes and increased demands. That cannot be explained by "despair" as Carter maintains. People who are desperate don't make more stringent demands, do they? The reason for this change is most likely the constant reiteration by the Fatah and the Palestinian Authority that Palestinians will never give up right of return of the refugees, won't settle for a demilitarized state and will not allow any part of East Jerusalem to remain in Israeli hands. Coupled with this, is the increasing belief by the Palestinians that western countries can be induced to support demands such as right of return and total denial of Jewish rights in East Jerusalem.

The one state "solution" of the Arabs has been on offer since the 1930s, and was proposed to the United Nations as well. The true nature of this solution was always clear. The Mufti, Hajj Amin al Hussayni, reportedly was planning a death camp near Nablus to help implement this "solution." The Arabs, like Jimmy Carter, did not and do not take into account one small difficulty with the one state "solution" - the Jews will not allow it. So it is only an empty threat and a rhetorical device used to falsely claim that Israel is opposed to an equitable settlement while Palestinians are eager for it. As for the "binational state" that Carter claims Israel wants, there is only support for that among Israeli Arab followers of Azmi Bishara perhaps and some quixotic Zionists who adhere to the program of Brit Shalom.

Ami Isseroff

Original content is Copyright by the author 2009. Posted at ZioNation-Zionism and Israel Web Log, http://www.zionism-israel.com/log/archives/00000712.html where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Disributed by ZNN list. Subscribe by sending a message to ZNN-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by e-mail with this notice, cite this article and link to it. Other uses by permission only.

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Replies: 6 Comments

I agree totally with Howard Wolf's comment. No "good" action by Israel will bring peace or even approval. Israel's enemies only want to dissolve AND conquer Israel, especially since it's now an oasis artwork out of the the grains of sand it was before 1948!

Unfortunately, liberal Israel is giving the image of weakness by over generously giving out territory which never should have gone to them...

As to the 2-state situation...Israel started as a small country, and after shedding out territory it has shrunk much, BUT, as a 2-State, it will be a dot in the map...that is, if the Palestinians' harassment allows them to remain there.

The blacks in America are finally enjoying a dignified life because of their strong, continuous fight to acquire AT ANY RATE the respect they wanted and deserved. They appropriately ignored criticisms even when they used fatal violence to get what they felt they needed, thereby proving their strength to the world.

Adela, Saturday, September 19th

I think it is better to distinguish between the ones who are opposed to the existence of Israel, support the Palestinians uncritically, and demonize Israel completely (Chavez), and others who are not against the existence of Israel, but who tend to view Israel thorough a one sided, simplistic, politically biased, ignorant, self righteous, hypocritical, naive, down right stupid and false prism. They are the majority of people we have a problem with, but I wouldn't call them anti-Israel.

It is clear that Carter and Tuto force our conflict into an ill fitting framework biased by their own political experiences, and that they accept without criticism Palestinian propaganda. It is possible that they do so because deep down they harbor a irredeemable hostility toward Israel, I don't know. But I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt. If for no other reason then because the numbers of people who are actually anti-Israel is big enough as it is, but also because the tendency to force the conflict into a simplistic framework is quite common even among people who are certainly not anti-Israel. (I had to explain to an American that Gaza has nothing in common and is in fact the complete opposite of Chechnya. He was not anti anything, but from America, and starting with certain biases, all conflicts look alike).

Micha, Thursday, September 10th

Unfortunately the questions you appropriately raise here, you fail to address and return to the old mantras of the past: it’s either my way or no way.
Now we know that Carter and Tutu have done a great deal of damage in stirring up ferocious anti-Israel sentiment whether by intention or not. Carter’s apartheid analogy while widely applauded has also been widely criticized and Tutu has fixated on Israel with prejudicial bias as his terms of reference conveniently bypass Darfur and take the direct route to Israel-Palestine as the new apartheid.

In this case however, Carter has raised a very relevant issue and while we may squirm and throw abuse as to the “who” behind these questions, glean some transient satisfaction from our momentary self-aggrandizement and ignore the issues, it does not absolve us from the “whys” that the questions present.

The first why is: why is Israel that has affirmed the road map to a two state solution still building new settlements? Barak has just signed authorization for 500 new units of construction in occupied territory – and this in the framework of a “compromise”. There was a time when territorial aspirant Israelis and their governments believed that divine intervention or luck would bring enough Jewish immigrants to Israel to create a demographic majority in the land between the Mediterranean an the Jordan river. I think we can now safely assume that G-d is not on our side on this one. So the illegal process of colonizing occupied territory runs not only against international law, international consensus, a majority of opinion of Jews in Israel and the diasporah, but against demographic realities. The only answer that springs to mind is that this government, that argues in its platform in favor of settlement in the West Bank, believes and carries out its ideology: a greater Israel which, as we speak, metamorphoses into a binational state as Carter suggests. So the Netanyahu government still lives in the Begin time-warp of a one state solution whereby the Jews will be a majority for about 5 minutes. And after that? They will dominate a disenfranchised Arab majority and, by their own hand fulfill the prophesy of an apartheid state which Israel’s accusers foresee.

The second why is: why is Israel dispossessing Palestinians of their homes and land? Well, they built there illegally you will surely say. Law and order must be respected. The government of Israel has a policy which no doubt will be well received by compassionate people around the world: first we shall dispossess the Palestinian families of their illegal assets and then we will think about dismantling the illegal construction in occupied territory by emboldened armed settlement youth. How does that go down?

The third why is: why is the government of Israel not embracing the two state solution but fighting against it? Netanyahu’s refusal to accept it at the outset and his demands for some kind of reimbursement for the charity of freezing settlements only underscores an Israel that pursues no real solution. Rather than embracing the opportunity given here and thus influencing the process back towards the Geneva Accord or the Clinton Proposals by engaging, Israeli leadership does all in its power to distance itself from the process.

Let me tell you something: this is no time to play hard to get. Israel is on the fast track to becoming a pariah state: demographics are running against it, world opinion is hardening against it including within the USA and a growing number of friends and Jews worldwide are losing the ability to empathize.

jayzed, Wednesday, September 9th

Desmond Tutu has a long record of anti-Israel statements and actions. Saying Palestinians paid for the Holocaust is one of the milder statements. In addition to condemning Israel Apartheid, he has called on Israel to engage Hamas.

Carter wrote a book that was chock full of fabrications - intentional inventions and distortions. I detailed quite a few of them at the time. When a person goes out of his way to lie, we have to conclude he is anti-Israel.

Ami Isseroff, Wednesday, September 9th


Although it makes a nice wordplay, I don't think it is fair to describe the Elders as Anti-Zion. We should be happy that Carter supports the two state solution.

It seems to me that he problem with Carter and Tuto is not that they are anti-Israel as but that they are anti complex situations. Faced with the complexities and contradictions of the Middle East they prefer simple fictions over daunting realities. It's easier to say that the Palestinians are victims of the Holocaust who want peace and the Israelis are white people who failed to learn from the Holocaust and are unwilling to make peace than to track all the mistakes and failures and fears and contradicting ideas on both sides that brought us to this point.


Micha, Wednesday, September 9th

It goes without saying that one cannot worry about what the enemy finds acceptable or objectionable when the enemy's objective is to cut your throat. The Elders of Anti-Zion have bought all the slanders and calumnies of Fatah and Hamas.

Howard Wolf, Tuesday, September 8th

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