August 6, 2015 Special Dispatch No. 6126

Fatah Member Calls For 'Two States In One Space,' Separated By A Virtual Border

August 6, 2015
Palestinians | Special Dispatch No. 6126

In a July 13, 2015 article titled "Two States In One Space - Why? and How?" on the website of the independent Palestinian agency Ma'an (, Fatah member 'Awni Al-Mashni, from Bethlehem, presented his perceptions on a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. This solution would, he said, be based on following principles: an independent sovereign Palestinian state will be established, in the June 4, 1967 borders with no border adjustments; the border between the two states will be open, allowing Palestinians and Israelis to move, reside, and work in either of the two countries; Jewish settlements will be brought under Palestinian control; Israeli citizens residing in Palestine and Palestinian citizens residing in Israel will have full civil rights in their countries of residence, but political rights only in their respective home countries.

As for Jerusalem, Al-Mashni proposes to unite East and West Jerusalem under a joint municipal council in which Palestinians and Israelis will have equal representation. The united city will have its own governmental and security apparatuses and will serve as the capital of both states.

Regarding the Palestinian refugees, Al-Mashni proposes what he calls a "creative solution": the refugees in the Palestinian diaspora will have the right to become Palestinian citizens and to return to the Palestinian state; their rights will be restored to them in accordance with the international law, and they will have their property restored to them and compensation paid. Like any other Palestinian citizen, they will have the right to live in Israel.

According to Al-Mashni, this solution represents a vision under which both sides benefit, though neither is completely satisfied. It includes all principles of the two-state solution, including the right of return, while leaving the door open for a future single binational state, if both parties wish it. He rejects the two-state solution because, he says, it is based on the existing balance of power, which favors Israel and disadvantages the Palestinians. He also rejects the one-state solution (a single binational in which Israelis and Palestinians have equal rights) as unfeasible at the present time.

'Awni Al-Mashni is active in an Israeli-Palestinian group supporting a "two states, one homeland" solution. The following is a translation of his article's main points:

'Awni Al-Mashni (Source:, July 13, 2015)

The Two-State Solution Has Been Issued A Death Certificate By Netanyahu, The One-State Solution Is Unattainable

"Political discourse over the past two years has revolved around the preferred possible solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The mainstream maintains that the two-state solution is the preferred possible solution to this conflict, while a minority characterized by pessimism, the long view, or both maintains that the two-state solution is the worst possible recipe for dealing with this conflict and that the ideal solution is one democratic state. This discourse now may have completely changed, because Netanyahu, when he won the Israeli election, issued a death certificate to the two-state solution. [Since then,] the discourse has taken a new direction, based on two issues: the content and form of the state that will be established within the context of a one-state solution, and the possibility of, and tools for, actualizing such a solution.

"Even if the discourse has been conducted in whispers, and [only] in certain circles, it lays the foundation for a stage in which the aim will be just such a solution [of one state]. Nobody doubts that the issue is complicated, and therefore there is apprehension about... the obstacles that have prevented the two-state solution... and the lack of practical tools for actualizing this [one-state] solution...

"The one-state solution is an option that is not available and not attainable; the path to arriving at it is far more complicated and protracted than the path to the two-state solution - to the point where most are convinced that it is doomed to failure.

"Additionally, there is a chance that the two parties to the conflict will fail to reach a joint understanding about it, because there are various perceptions of the one-state issue that are both completely contradictory and highly utopian. Furthermore, some people who have adopted the one-state idea aim essentially at achieving a victory that wars have not managed to achieve... Therefore, any apparent agreement on the one-state concept [by various elements] also conceals absolute contradictions.

"The Zionist racism will remain a wall against attempts to arrive at this solution, and until both sides of the conflict reach mutual understandings and a common vision about it... much time will pass. This means that [more] victims, suffering, and wars [can be expected], and maybe an all-out regional conflagration, indicating that there will be something far graver than a conventional war.

"Therefore, we are facing a situation in which the two-state solution has failed; the one-state solution, under these circumstances, is closer to a dream than reality; and the continuation of the conflict [will be a dangerous] adventure for the entire region."

Two Sovereign States, No Division Of Historical Palestine

"In light of this impasse, only sophisticated diplomacy is capable of finding a creative solution that will keep the region and its peoples away from the disaster of continued conflict, lay the foundations for strengthening mutual trust, and keep the door open to more positive developments in the lives of these two peoples. Is such a solution possible? The answer is yes, for the following reasons:

"There is no such thing as conflict that is eternal and infinite; the broad margins between the two-state and the one-state options allow [room] to maneuver. Both parties to the conflict are undoubtedly convinced that military solutions have failed; and - I think this is the most important reason - the option of removing the other side from the region is no longer valid, neither practically nor morally... If the two-state solution includes the elements of its own failure, then the [binational] one-state solution is [merely] a beautiful dream for most Palestinians... And because an endless continuation of the conflict is pointless, then there must be another solution, different and unusual.

"Before getting into the details, let us explain the principles on which [this other solution] must be based - which I think are more important than the details of the solution itself:

"1. Most important is changing the philosophy on which the solution should be based. The two-state solution is based on a philosophy of a balance of power, and assumes that, when the quest for justice is based on a balance of power, it is the balance of power that determines the solution's scope, borders, and conditions. [Therefore,] this solution is short on justice, even relative [justice]; it is unstable and is not by nature permanent, because the balance of power changes and every change can cause the party that is disadvantaged by the solution to rebel against it and annul it. This is political logic, and this is how history develops: the balance of power shifts, and how it is perceived shifts as well.

"2. The two-state solution is based on splitting the loss between the two parties, with all the bitterness that that entails. The partition of the country causes each side to feel a sense of loss. Giving both sides of the conflict a way to regard the entire country as [a single] homeland is a shared benefit. This is a great thing. Both sides will feel that peace has given them more, and has taken nothing from them. This will be made possible by some creativity, and a deeper look at the essence of the conflict. Turning back history will not promote the solution, but taking into account each party's version of history will help satisfy both. Under every stone, at the bottom of every riverbed, and behind every building in the Holy Land there are two narratives. We will never be able to interrogate 'history' in the search for the true narrative, but where there are disagreements, we will let each side cling to its own narrative.

"3. Stability is achieved when both parties to the conflict have an interest in preserving security. The talk about 'Israeli security' as something separate from the security and freedom of the Palestinian people is illusory, and has been disproven over decades of Israeli attempts [at attaining stability], during which Israeli military superiority, whether qualitative or quantitative, has not produced stability. What guarantees Israel's security is the actualization of relative justice for the Palestinian people, which will bring with it a Palestinian interest [in preserving] security - because then, the Palestinians [also] will have something to lose from insecurity. As long as [they are] under the shadow of occupation and suppression, the Palestinians are gladdened more than anything else by insecurity and instability within the occupation.

"4. Peace is an exchange of interests. There is no peace in which one side receives without giving, and no peace is built on concessions by only one side. Just as the Palestinian should feel that he has actualized himself, the Israeli should feel the same; there can be no freedom for one side but not the other. One side cannot have a right while the other does not, and there can be no future and assurance of continued existence for one side but not the other. A peace that is based on terms that are forced on one side while giving the other a free hand is deception and a huge lie; it is more like terms of surrender forced on one side while the other is crowned victor.

"[The four principles] above are neither terms nor principles of peace; they are general concepts that will, if taken into account, lay the foundation for a genuine peace, for a peace with scope and possibilities, a peace that does not disregard the crisis of confidence [that exists between the sides] and that strives to anchor the foundations of genuine confidence.

"The most dangerous model of peace is one whose peace plan is based on the principle of laying the foundations for the next war - as in the case of a two-state solution that includes [the following]: borders under Israeli control, early warning [stations], crossings under Israeli oversight, disarmament, strategic hills under Israeli control, and thousands more conditions of various kinds. All these conditions are suitable for preparing for war, not for building peace and confidence; [they are suitable for] a peace that perpetuates [Israeli] superiority, that imposes oppressive terms, that disregards the interests of one party to the conflict, and, ultimately, that is nothing but a temporary hudna [truce]... [Such a peace] ultimately ends in terrible disasters, wars, destruction, and victims. This is no prophecy; these are logical conclusions. It is only a matter of time [until this happens].

"The important question is: What kind of peace will overcome the sins of the two-state solution and the dreams of the one-state [solution], and will take all the above principles into account? How will it be formulated? What magical equation will produce such a peace? How will the two sides be satisfied - and is there anything that will satisfy them both?

"The answer to these questions lies exclusively in the principles on which this solution will be based. These include the establishment of two fully independent sovereign states in the June 4, 1967 borders, with no border adjustment; an open border between the two states; freedom of residence, movement, and work for both peoples in the entire country - i.e. in historic Palestine; Israeli citizenship for [the Arabs of 19]48, with all social, political, and civil rights of Israeli citizenship, and the annulment of all racist laws against them; the right to Palestinian citizenship for the Palestinian refugees in the diaspora, and the right to return to the state of Palestine - they will therefore [also] be entitled to live, stay, and move through all of parts of historic Palestine.  Israeli citizens residing in Palestine and Palestinian citizens residing in Israel will be subject to the law of the state in which they live and enjoy [that state's] civil rights, but will be able to exercise their political rights [only] in the state of which they are citizens. East and West Jerusalem will be [combined into] a united city under a joint municipal council, in which Palestinians and Israelis will be equal in number and hold equal positions. This council will be subordinate to a system of governance and a security apparatus unique to this region - that is, a united Jerusalem that will be the capital of two states. Joint institutions will be established... for joint issues, such as a supreme court for human rights, committees for economic development, environmental committees, and security committees... Public institutions for joint issues such as development, human rights, and the environment will be set up... The Palestinian refugees' rights will be restored to them, such that there will be no more wrongs."

Palestinian Refugees' Rights Will Be Restored, Israeli Settlers Will Be Subject To Palestinian Law

"A quick glance at these ideas shows that they meet all the demands of anyone who believes in the two-state solution - taking into account that the two states are fully independent and sovereign, and within in the 1967 borders. Nevertheless, maintaining freedom of crossing, movement, and residence - that is, an open border between the two states - leaves the door ajar for a single future [binational] state, once the trust and the relationship [between the two peoples] have developed.

"These principles ensure a creative solution for the issue of the Palestinian refugees - a solution that brings them back and restores their rights to them, while removing the Israelis' demographic fears. Likewise, it solves the issue of the settlers, by making them subject to Palestinian law... These principles do not actualize full justice, but relative justice, that neither relies on a balance of power nor disregards it, and does not erect closed borders but sets out a virtual border, that does not maintain a single state but opens a path to it, and does not eliminate the uniqueness of either of the two peoples, but deepens what they have in common...

"These are the foundations and general principles of the solution. They undoubtedly represent a new vision, in which the two parties to the conflict share the benefits instead of splitting the loss. This vision leaves no explosive issues to threaten the region's stability and bring down the peace and the agreements. It makes the [concept of] the homeland broader than the concept of citizenship, and establishes two states and a single homeland... This vision is open to all future options that herald a promising future; it does not surrender to reality, but is based upon it, so as to provide scope and possibilities for the future. Many details are [still] needed... but if the principles are clear, it will make it easier to arrive at these details. Thus, we will end a difficult era, in which we were captive to classic, hackneyed concepts that could not break through the fortified wall.

"We stand before a creative concept for breaking through a bitter and prolonged conflict. This concept of peace consolidates a new vision, that distinguishes between nationality and citizenship... and assures the right of [self-]determination to two peoples, with full sovereignty [for each]. I do not claim to have found a magical solution. My point of departure was reality...

"This solution does not constitute an automatic response to reality, but it dismantles reality and reassembles it so that it guarantees the two people's partnership in benefit, not in loss. This is much more than an arrangement - it anchors stable, robust, and permanent principles of peace. It is a solution of minimal loss, maximum partnership, and maximum [preservation] of uniqueness. It does not actualize exactly everything needed for both peoples, but it does actualize each one's main objective, in a way that does not contradict the wishes of the other.

"Ultimately, this solution reflects the desire of all who support the traditional two-state solution - it includes all the principles of the two states, as well as the actualization of the right of return. It [also] constitutes a giant step towards a single state, if the two peoples want to reach it - because it strengthens what they share, and thus opens the way to this direction."

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