FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Partitioning the “Two-State Solution”

by JOHN V. WHITBECK

Words matter. They shape perceptions and understanding, both of past and present events and of future possibilities, and, thereby, can shape future events.
The UN General Assembly’s vote of November 29 overwhelmingly recognizing Palestine’s “state status” and President Mahmoud Abbas’ decree of January 3 absorbing the former “Palestinian Authority” into the State of Palestine have established the State of Palestine on the soil of Palestine. It has become both a legal and a practical “fact on the ground” which cannot be ignored.
The words “two-state solution” have been recited together for so long that it is widely assumed that they are inseparable and that one cannot have one without the other. Indeed, Israel and the United States argue relentlessly that a Palestinian state can only exist as the result of a negotiated “solution” acceptable to Israel. Were this the case, the occupying power, which has never shown any genuine enthusiasm for a Palestinian state and has barely feigned any pretense of interest in recent years, would enjoy an absolute and perpetual veto power over Palestinian statehood.
During Kuwait’s seven-month-long occupation by Iraq, Kuwait did not cease to exist as a state under international law and no one argued that it could exist as a state only as the result of a negotiated “solution” acceptable to Iraq. Similarly, Iraq did not cease to be a state while under American occupation. It was simply an occupied state, like Palestine today.
Furthermore, the U.S. government might usefully recall that, during the 50 years prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States continued to recognize the three Baltic states which had been effectively absorbed into the Soviet Union by the end of World War II and permitted the prewar flags of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to fly at fully accredited embassies in Washington.
In fact, “two states” are separable from any “solution”. Two states now exist, even though one remains under varying degrees of occupation by the other. A “solution” which ends the 45-year-long occupation of the Palestinian state and permits Israelis and Palestinians to live together in peace and security – with, ideally, a significant degree of openness, cooperation and mutual respect – does not yet exist.
The existence of two states certainly does not guarantee the achievement of such a solution. However, the near-universal recognition and acceptance that two states, “on the basis of the pre-1967 borders” and with the “State of Palestine on the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967” (to quote the UN General Assembly Resolution), do already exist should greatly facilitate – eventually if not immediately – the achievement of such a solution.
The near-universality of international acceptance that Palestine already exists as a state may be appreciated by a close examination of diplomatic recognitions and votes on November 29. Prior to that vote, the State of Palestine had already been recognized diplomatically by 131 of the 193 UN member states. During that vote, a further 28 states which had not yet accorded diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine voted to accord it state status at the United Nations. Only 34 states have not yet pronounced themselves, in either manner, in favor of Palestine’s state status.
It is instructive to take a close look at these 34 states. They are Andorra, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Estonia, Fiji, Germany, Guatemala, Haiti, Israel, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Moldova, Monaco, Nauru, the Netherlands, Palau, Panama, Samoa, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States.
With a few notable exceptions, the members of this group are most impressive for their insignificance. Only 12 of the 34 states (Israel among them) have populations over 5,000,000, while nine have populations below 120,000. By contrast, of the world’s 20 most populous states, 16 have extended diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine and two others (Japan and Mexico) voted to accord it state status.
Friends of justice, peace and the Palestinian people – and, indeed, true friends of the Israeli people – must now revise their language when speaking and writing about Palestine. The only legally, politically and diplomatically correct ways to refer to the 22% portion of historical Palestine occupied in 1967 are now “the State of Palestine”, “Palestine” and “occupied Palestine”. “Palestinian Authority”, “occupied territories” and “occupied Palestinian territories” are no longer acceptable.
If governments and international media – including, most importantly, governments and media in North America and Europe – can be convinced or shamed into using the correct terminology, the long-term impact on public perceptions and understanding should be profound and constructive.
The issue is no longer whether and how a Palestinian state will ever come into existence – or even whether it is still possible. It exists. The issue is when and how the occupation of the State of Palestine will come to an end. Describing this challenge properly is essential to understanding it, and this understanding is essential if Israelis are to turn back from the suicidal cliff toward which their metastasizing illegal settlement project has been driving them in recent years.
Israelis, Palestinians and the true friends of both must now see clearly, raise their sights and pursue a compelling vision of a society so much better than the status quo that both Israelis and Palestinians are inspired to accept in their hearts and minds that peace is both desirable and attainable, that the Holy Land can be shared, that a winner-take-all approach produces only losers, that both Israelis and Palestinians must be winners or both will continue to be losers and that there is a common destination at which both peoples would be satisfied to arrive and to live together.

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has served as a legal advisor to the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who as advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Martha Durkee-Neuman
Millennial Organizers Want to See An Intersectional Understanding Of Gun Violence
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
December 08, 2016
John W. Whitehead
Power to the People: John Lennon’s Legacy Lives On
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail