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Fatah In the Headlines: "Unreformed" and "Hard-Line" or ... "A New Generation"

August 07, 2009

Two States for Which People??

Today's editorial in Ha'aretz, about the Fatah convention that's taking place in the West Bank, leaves readers with a bit of a riddle.

In one sentence the editorial writer insists, "From Bethlehem, [Fatah] sent Jerusalem an unequivocal message: The Palestinian national movement's strategic choice is still two states for two peoples."

But a mere three sentences later, there's the following admission: "The convention rejected the demand to recognize Israel as the 'state of the Jewish people.'"

So there's the riddle. If Fatah supposedly accepts "two states for two people," but rejects the "state of the Jewish people," then who exactly are the two people that Fatah accepts having a state??

To their discredit, much of the media have glossed over the Abbas's open rejection of Israel as the Jewish state, even while, paradoxically, reporters continue to recite boilerplate language casting Abbas's "moderate" Fatah movement as accepting a two-state solution.

As made so clear in the self-contradictory Ha'aretz editorial, the question journalists need to start asking in light of Fatah's position is: Two states for whom?

Posted by at August 7, 2009 02:44 PM


I think its pretty clear why Abbas wont accept Israel as the state of the Jewish people - That condition is like asking Fatah to become Zionists - If one understands Palestinian political culture and they way they view history - they understand themselves as having been dispossessed and done a great injustice by the establishment of Israel - and Fatah publicly took the approach that despite all of this - due to the reality of Israel's strength - it is now in the best interests of the Palestinians to work out an accomodation with Israel. It dosent mean they wont stop yearning for Haifa and Jaffa just like Jews wont stop yearning for Hebron and the Temple Mount whether these areas end up being part of Israel or not. Asking a Palestinian leader to publicly stand up and declare the land that his family was from "Jewish" is just adding insult to injury. It would be equivalent to demanding Netanyahu publicly declare that Hebron is Palestinian or Muslim.

Posted by: xxx at August 9, 2009 02:32 PM

Thanks for the comment. It's a thoughtful attempt to explain how some Palestinians surely feel. But it doesn't change, and essentially concurs with, the essence of the blog post: Abbas and Fatah don't accept "two states for two people," despite inaccurate media representations to the contrary. Whatever the reasons for Fatah's position, the Ha'aretz editorial is wrong.

And on the other side, yes, many Jews will always yearn for Hebron and the Temple Mount in any event, just as many Palestinians will continue to dream of control over Haifa and Jaffa. But the key point is that, despite any yearnings, Israel has agreed to make what it sees as the "painful concession" of accepting a state for the Palestinian people on land that has always been part of the dreams of Jews and Zionists. It is as clear as ever that the Palestinians have not reciprocated in this most central of core issues.

(Also, let's be fair with the analogy — the Temple Mount and Hebron are two of the holiest places in Judaism, whereas Haifa and Jaffa are cities that before 1948 had a much higher percentage of Palestinians. A slightly more apt analogy, then, would be to refer to Haifa/Jaffa vs. Gush Etzion/Bethlehem/Binyamin-tribal-area. I recognize that this analogy isn't perfect, either, but then, there probably isn't a perfect analogy for this.)

Bottom line: Whatever the Fatah and Abbas accept, it is clearly not two states for two people.

Posted by: GI at August 9, 2009 04:58 PM

GI, GI, GI, Fatah accepts "two states for two people" on much the same terms as many entities here in the US (some of which simultaneously endorse Palestinian right of return). It's really very simple. There will be one state for Palestinians and another for Israelis (religion/ethnicity intentionally unspecified).

You know how mainline American church leaders are often calling for a two-state solution? Well, from now on just pay attention to how some of these leaders parse their words, like with this statement by the head of the Episcopal Church.

And if the word "Jewish" can be managed to be coughed up, then notice the times the call is for "Israel as a Jewish homeland," but not "a Jewish state." In other words, Israel can be the one state of the two where Jews can live, but don't count on some of these leaders to try to keep it Jewish. That is the sad state of affairs, here and among Fatah.

Posted by: [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 15, 2009 12:55 AM

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