Moment of Truth

In the wake of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s public praise for Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “unprecedented” attitude toward continued Israeli settlement expansion, Saeb Erakat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority, calmly rolled out a verbal bombshell at a November 4 press conference in Ramallah.

Erakat noted that now may be “the moment of truth” for the Palestinian leadership and raised the possibility that “the two-state solution is no longer an option and maybe the Palestinian people should refocus their attention on the one-state solution, where Muslims, Christians and Jews live as equals.”

This statement just might signal a turning point in the long, frustrating search for peace with some measure of justice in Israel/Palestine.

Throughout the long years of the perpetual “peace process”, deadlines have been consistently and predictably missed. Such failures have been facilitated by the practical reality that, for Israel, “failure” has had no consequences other than a continuation of the status quo, which, for all Israeli governments, has been not only tolerable but preferable to any realistically realizable alternative. For Israel, “failure” has always constituted “success”, permitting it to continue confiscating Palestinian land, expanding its West Bank colonies, building Jews-only bypass roads and generally making the occupation even more permanent and irreversible.

In everyone’s interests, this must change. For there to be any chance of success in any new round of negotiations, failure must have clear and compelling consequences which Israelis would find unappealing — indeed, at least initially, nightmarish.

The Palestinian leadership, with or without Mahmoud Abbas. should now announce its willingness to resume negotiations with Israel but only on the express and irrevocable understanding that, if a definitive peace agreement on a “two-state basis” has not been reached and signed by the end of 2010, the Palestinian people will have no choice but to seek justice and freedom through democracy — through full rights of citizenship in a single state in all of Israel/Palestine, free of any discrimination based on race or religion and with equal rights for all who live there, as in any true democracy.

The Arab League should then publicly state that the very generous Arab Peace Initiative, which, since March 2002, has offered Israel permanent peace and normal diplomatic and economic relations in return for Israel’s compliance with international law, will expire and be “off the table” if a definitive Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement has not been signed by the end of 2010.

At this point — but not before — serious and meaningful negotiations can begin. It may already be too late to achieve a decent two-state solution (as opposed to an indecent, less-than-a-Bantustan one), but a decent two-state solution would never have a better chance of being achieved. If it is, indeed, too late, then Israelis, Palestinians and the world will know and can thereafter focus their minds and efforts constructively on the only other decent alternative.

It is even possible that, if forced to focus during the coming year on the prospect of living in a democratic state with equal rights for all its citizens — which, after all, is what the United States and the European Union hold up, in all other instances, as the ideal form of political life — many Israelis might come to view this “threat” as less nightmarish than they traditionally have.

In this context, Israelis might wish to talk with some white South Africans. The transformation of South Africa’s racial-supremicist ideology and political system into a fully democratic one has transformed them, personally, from pariahs into people welcomed throughout their region and the world. It has also ensured the permanence of a strong and vital white presence in southern Africa in a way that prolonging the flagrant injustice of a racial-supremicist ideology and political system and imposing fragmented and dependent “independent states” on the natives could never have achieved.

This is not a precedent to dismiss. It could and should inspire.

JOHN V. WHITBECK, an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of “The World According to Whitbeck“.


More articles by:

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

March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography
Kathy Deacon
Me, My Parents and Red Scares Long Gone
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Rexless Abandon
Andrew Levine
Good Enemies Are Hard To Find: Therefore Worry
Jim Kavanagh
What to Expect From a Trump / Kim Summit
Ron Jacobs
Trump and His Tariffs
Joshua Frank
Drenched in Crude: It’s an Oil Free For All, But That’s Not a New Thing
Gary Leupp
What If There Was No Collusion?
Matthew Stevenson
Why Vietnam Still Matters: Bernard Fall Dies on the Street Without Joy
Robert Fantina
Bad to Worse: Tillerson, Pompeo and Haspel
Brian Cloughley
Be Prepared, Iran, Because They Want to Destroy You
Richard Moser
What is Organizing?
Scott McLarty
Working Americans Need Independent Politics
Rohullah Naderi
American Gun Violence From an Afghan Perspective
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Why Trump’s Tariff Travesty Will Not Re-Industrialize the US
Ted Rall
Democrats Should Run on Impeachment
Robert Fisk
Will We Ever See Al Jazeera’s Investigation Into the Israel Lobby?
Kristine Mattis
Superunknown: Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes
John W. Whitehead
Say No to “Hardening” the Schools with Zero Tolerance Policies and Gun-Toting Cops
Edward Hunt
UN: US Attack On Syrian Civilians Violated International Law
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Iraq Outside History
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: The Long Hard Road
Victor Grossman
Germany: New Faces, Old Policies
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
The Iraq Death Toll 15 Years After the US Invasion
Binoy Kampmark
Amazon’s Initiative: Digital Assistants, Home Surveillance and Data
Chuck Collins
Business Leaders Agree: Inequality Hurts The Bottom Line
Jill Richardson
What We Talk About When We Talk About “Free Trade”
Eric Lerner – Jay Arena
A Spark to a Wider Fire: Movement Against Immigrant Detention in New Jersey
Negin Owliaei
Teachers Deserve a Raise: Here’s How to Fund It