« A Modest Proposal for the World Council of Churches | Main | The Washington Post Omits Novelist’s Antisemitism »

July 27, 2011

One-Way Musings on One-State Solution


Eric Alterman's July 15 column in the Forward argues that Israeli intransigence is, in effect, the sole reason a peace agreement hasn't been reached with the Palestinians.

The CUNY professor quotes a pro-Palestinian Israeli activist pinning responsibility for the stalemate on a land-hungry version of Zionism:

[I]f all that was necessary were to work out the details of the end of the occupation and the creation of two states based on the finality of the 1947 borders — that is, of the Zionism that liberates people rather than real estate — "[Palestinian academic Sari Nusseibeh] and I could conclude a peace agreement before lunch."

The Israeli activist suggests that Palestinians will be "liberated" only if their borders follow the 1947 lines. This is self-contradictory: If he believes the liberation of people should be valued over the liberation of land, why does he argue that a peace agreement must hinge on specific borders? If Palestinian insistence on those lines has prevented an agreement leading to their "liberation," it is Palestinian leaders, and not Zionism, who deserve blame for valuing real estate above liberation. (Never mind that a majority of Palestinians recently rejected the concept of two states for two people under any borders.)

This passage's focus on "the finality of the 1947 borders" is also misleading since the '47 lines were never considered a border, let alone "final." On the contrary, the Jordanian-Israeli General Armistice Agreement specifically notes that the lines were "agreed upon by the Parties without prejudice to future territorial settlements or boundary lines." And UN Security Council Resolution 242 was drafted with language underscoring that, in the words of the its chief author, "the boundaries of '67 were not drawn as permanent frontiers, they were a cease-fire line of a couple of decades earlier... . We did not say that the '67 boundaries must be forever."

Most notable, though, is the disconnect between Alterman's quote and the reality of recent negotiations. Palestinians have repeatedly been offered "liberation" — not only in the distant past, as the author acknowledged, but also multiple times in recent years. At Camp David, Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat rejected peace agreements, and Palestinian statehood. And his successor Mahmoud Abbas rejected the same during his negotiations with Ehud Olmert.

Perhaps Sari Nusseibeh would be able to conclude a peace agreement "before lunch." But his leaders clearly have other priorities above liberation.

Posted by at July 27, 2011 11:56 AM


Perhaps 1947 in the article is not a misprint for 1949 - as in "1949 armistice lines". More and more "pro-Palestinian" propagandists, claiming to favour peace, now seem to be indirectly pushing for a form of the UN partition plan which would leave Israel even more indefensible than it was without the territories captured in 1967.

Posted by: Paul at July 27, 2011 06:33 PM

I use a red flag system whenever an 'expert' lectures Israel on making peace. Do they factor in Radical Islam, in this case Hamas. If they don't even consider them they don't understand the problem well enough to have a useful opinion.

Alterman clearly doesn't even understand the Fatah position. Land is only the 'first' non-negotiable condition. The others include return of 'refugees' or compensation, ethnic cleansing of all Jews in the New State together with protection of the rights of non-Jews in Israel; Jerusalem as capital; a land corridor between Gaza and the P.A., etc.

I don't want to run-down Sari Nusseibeh. He may be the most reasonable Palestinian. However he has no power outside the 'borders' of Al Kuds university, if that. Nusseibeh will not be conducting negotiations and represents an insignificant number of Palestinians. What he will or will not accept is irrelevant to the larger picture.

Posted by: David Guy at July 30, 2011 02:53 PM

Guidelines for posting

This is a moderated blog. We will not post comments that include racism, bigotry, threats, or factually inaccurate material.

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)