The Palestinian media has recently discussed the notion of a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as an alternative to a two-state solution. An article published by PLO Department for Jerusalem Affairs head and PLO Executive Committee member Ahmad Qurei', in which he called to renew discussions of a one-state solution, met with opposition from other senior officials in the PLO and Fatah.
Following were the article's main points, and excerpts from several responses to it:
In his article, Qurei' wrote: "Twenty-five years have passed since the Palestinian National Council's 1988 decision in Algeria to announce the option of an independent Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, with holy Jerusalem as its capital, and the [right of] return for refugees. It has been 21 years since the Madrid [Conference], and 19 years since the Oslo [Accords]. Ten years have passed since the international community adopted the term 'two states for two peoples.' This program, which has not seen the light of day, has lost its vitality and gradually died, following a long period of hope for a just solution and a comprehensive peace in the region..."
Qurei' accused Israeli prime ministers Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and Benjamin Netanyahu of systematically avoiding the implementation of the two-state solution by intensifying settlement building, noting that, even when progress had been made at the 2007 Annapolis Conference, no actual resolution had been reached. He accused Israel of Judaizing Jerusalem, altering its historical, cultural, and religious characteristics, and digging under the Al-Aqsa Mosque, while marginalizing the PLO "with an aim to gradually cause its collapse." All these facts, he said, had led Palestinian circles to realize that Israel "had essentially begun eliminating the program for a two-state [solution], renouncing all [its] previous formal commitments." Qurei' claimed that Israel had missed numerous opportunities to resolve the Middle East conflict, and that the Palestinians, instead of advancing toward a two-state solution, had fallen easy prey to the occupation, the indifference of the countries of the region, and "the hypocrisy of the international community."
He concluded: "We must seriously think about closing [the book on] the two-state solution and turning over a new leaf. This conclusion has perturbed the Israelis, some of whom see it... as concealing a threat to revive the one-state solution... Some extremist right wing [Israelis] have seen it as direct political extortion, and as support for the claim made by broad Israeli circles that not only is there no Palestinian partner for peace and no desire among the Palestinians to make peace, but the Palestinians actually oppose a peaceful resolution on principle, and are working to topple the Hebrew state from within. This, through the option of [establishing] a single democratic state for all its citizens – an option that was widely accepted for several decades before [the advent of] the two-state solution..."
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Qurei' opined that the peace process was dead in all but name, and that, in light of the recent changes in the world, the Palestinians must comprehensively and critically reassess their stance, including their stance on the two-state solution. He said that, although he was aware of the problems and dangers inherent in the one-state solution, "this solution allows [us] to expand our maneuvering room and to continue [our] comprehensive diplomatic campaign to take [back] the basic rights of freedom, independence, and human honor that we have been denied... We must expose Israel's systematic and organized activity toward eliminating the two-state solution and destroying all the foundations for the establishment of a Palestinian state. The unfeasibility of the two-state solution is a fact that can be presented to the Quartet, and especially the U.S."
In a similar vein, Dr. 'Abdallah Abu Samhadanah, a senior official in the Fatah leadership, claimed that Israel's occupation government had left the Palestinians with no alternative but the one-state solution, after all attempts to revive the peace process had failed, and called to step up efforts to achieve this solution.
Others in the PLO and PA were quick to repudiate or dissociate themselves from Qurei's statements. PLO Executive Committee member Hanan 'Ashrawi, for instance, said that "the one-state solution will greatly prolong the occupation and the plundering of [Palestinian] lands and resources, and will lead to a definite situation of racial discrimination."
Amin Maqboul, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, also expressed reservations over the statements by Qurei', whom he said had "expressed his personal opinion rather than the position of the PLO or of Fatah. Our position is [in favor of] the Palestinian national program that has been approved by both the PLO and the PLC: establishing an independent Palestinian state on the '67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital, and solving the refugee problem in accordance with UN resolutions."