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A one-state solution? From a ‘struggle unto death’ to ‘master-slave’ dialectics

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An observer of the debates conducted amongst Palestinian intellectuals over the one-state solution in Palestine/Israel, will have perceived a surge of interest in these discussions in recent years. This article investigates the reasons for the mounting interest, and attempts to introduce a number of distinctions and parameters into the debate in order to create some order within it – an increasingly imperative task if these discussions are to proceed in a constructive manner.

In the first section of the paper, the author seeks to ascertain the source of the impetus for a revival of the one-state solution (OSS); the article also outlines a typology of the arguments commonly evoked in favor of the OSS, exploring its allure for Palestinians. The second section aims to determine what, if the OSS is indeed ‘the solution,’ is the problem that it purports to solve, and in what sense it constitutes a solution to that problem. In this section, the author claims that many of the arguments deployed in support of the OSS are misplaced and do not truly represent an answer to the actual problems facing the Palestinians. The author's main line of reasoning is that the existing criticisms of the Oslo Accords and its perceived failure should not inexorably lead the Palestinians to abandon the two-state solution (TSS) and adopt the OSS, as this solution is not necessarily more just (although it might be), nor is it incontrovertibly more realizable. The third section argues that support of the OSS nevertheless represents a compelling option for the Palestinians, but for reasons other than those usually put forward by its advocates. Its value lies not in the disputable fact that it is a better ‘solution’, but rather in that it provides the means for altering present relations between Palestinians and the Israeli state, empowering Palestinians and supplying them with tools for their struggle. Understood in this way – as a means rather than a final solution – the OSS has the potential to change the fundamental parameters of the problem, reformulating the present by perceiving it through the prism of an imagined future. The evocation of the OSS shifts the Palestinian position from a struggle unto death against the Israelis to a master-slave dialectics with them. This shift turns Palestinian weakness into strength, puts limits on Israeli power, and furnishes the Palestinians with a plan and agenda for struggle, which they currently lack.
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Keywords: Israel; Palestine; bi-nationalism; one-state solution; two-state solution

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Minerva Humanities Center, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Publication date: November 1, 2011

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