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  February 17, 2017

Trump and Netanyahu Acknowledge the Death of the Two-State Solution

Electronic Intifada's Ali Abunimah says there should be no territorial partition and forced segregation between Israelis and Palestinians, but instead a single democratic state that equally protects the rights of everyone
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Ali Abunimah is co-founder of the award-winning online publication The Electronic Intifada and author of One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. His latest book is titled The Battle for Justice in Palestine. Based in Chicago, he has written hundreds of articles on the question of Palestine in major publications including The New York Times, The Guardian and for Al Jazeera.


SHARMINI PERIES: It's the Real News Network. I'm Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, met with President Donald Trump on Wednesday, to discuss the occupation, the settlements, and Iran. The evening before the meeting, the White House floated the idea that the U.S. will no longer insist on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

Senior members of the Palestinian government, including Hanan Ashrawi, criticized the White House statement, by objecting to the White House remarks as a departure from decades of U.S. foreign policy. But when Trump was asked about whether the U.S. is still pursuing the two-state solution, he has this to say.

DONALD TRUMP: ...state, and I like the one that both parties like. I'm very happy with the one that both parties like. I can live with either one. I thought for a while the two-state looked like it may be the easier of the two. But honestly, if Bibi, and if the Palestinians, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best.

SHARMINI PERIES: And Prime Minister Netanyahu was equally non-committal when he said this.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: ...That if you ask five people what two-states would look like; you'd get eight different answers. But Mr. President if you ask five Israeli's, you'd get 12 different answers.

SHARMINI PERIES: On to talk about all of this with me, is Ali Abunimah. He is the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, and the author of, "The Battle for Justice in Palestine," and also, "One Country, a Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse." Thanks so much for joining us Ali.

ALI ABUNIMAH: Thank you, Sharmini.

SHARMINI PERIES: So, Ali, the biggest news here, in terms of this meeting and the press conference, is really the issue of the one-state solution, or the two-state solution, and U.S.'s departure from this two-state solution, which you ironically call the two-state delusion.

Give us a sense of what actually happened in this meeting, and does this mean that this is the end of the two-state solution?

ALI ABUNIMAH: I think it is the formal acknowledgement of the end of the two-state solution. The so-called two-state solution has been on the table for decades, and there's been absolutely no progress towards it. Even though it's become, kind of a religious mantra for governments, including the Obama Administration previously, and various European governments, and Arab governments, and so on. But they did nothing to push for it, other than just spout slogans.

So, I think, this is a recognition that it's really over, that it's not going to happen. But you know, there are two kinds of critique of the two-state solution. There's the extremist right-wing critique that comes from Israel, and the people around Trump, people like, you know, his ambassador designate to Israel, David Friedman, which is that all of the land belongs to Israel, and it should all be a Jewish state.

And there's the critique that comes from people like me that says that there should be no territorial partition, and forced segregation between Israelis and Palestinians. And it should be a single democratic state that protects the rights of everyone on an equal basis. So, you know, two very, very different conceptions of a one-state solution.

SHARMINI PERIES: And what is the likelihood that the international community will continue to pressure the Trump Administration? And have they issued any statement after this, you know, the statement that was released just before the meeting, just testing the waters, I think, in terms of departing from the two-state solution?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Right. Well, you're referring to a statement that was attributed to a senior U.S. official, the night before the Netanyahu-Trump meeting. Who said, well, you know, "Basically we're not tied to a two-state solution any more. It could be a two-state solution but you know, that's not necessary." And Trump affirmed that in fact on Wednesday, when he said, you know, "Two states or one state, it doesn't bother me. You know, whatever the two sides choose is fine with me."

And that sent shock waves, you know, for those who have invested a lot in a, so-called two-state solution -- the Palestinian authority, for example -- whose whole raison d'etre is to go along with this charade of a peace process that leads to a two-state solution. The Europeans and others, but you know, I mean, all of these people have also been saying now for years, that the two-state solution is practically dead. It's practically impossible. I mean John Kerry said it a few days before he left office, as Secretary of State.

So, you wonder why they're so shocked that Trump is coming out and saying it. I mean, any serious analysis shows that the two-state solution is impractical, that it's politically unachievable. And that it's unjust and unfair, because it requires the vast majority of Palestinians to give up their rights, in order to maintain Israel as a so-called Jewish and democratic state. The two-state solution isn't about peace, and isn't about justice. It's about racial gerrymandering, to maintain Israel as a Jewish state. And it's important to say that openly.

But you know, to me, there's no reason why a Palestinian should be concerned about maintaining a Jewish majority. Palestinians should be concerned about their rights, and living in a system that affords equal rights to everyone, and creates a livable future for everyone. And for me, that's a single democratic state. That is as possible in Palestine, as it is in South Africa, or indeed in the United States, where we had formal apartheid for so many decades, and sadly some people want to bring that back.

But you know, I don't think Israeli Jews are that different from racist whites in the South of the United States, or the apartheid rulers in South Africa, in the sense that they can come to the realization that the game is up. That apartheid isn't viable, and they can make the transformation to a non-racial democracy.

I think it's insulting to Israelis to say that they're not capable of doing that. They're people just like anyone else.

SHARMINI PERIES: Right. And in terms of the Palestinian government's reaction to all of this, one senior government official, Hanan Ashrawi, had criticized this departure from the so-called two-state solution.

Why are they doing that, because I mean they said, the Americans have invested in this policy for so long, but why would the Palestinian Authority be objecting to this?

ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, because the Palestinian Authority is an unelected and unrepresentative body that is made up of an old guard. Who were hoping, you know, their dearest wish was to become the ruling elite of a state. And you know, that's what they have been aiming for for decades. And so, for them this would be the loss of everything they bet on.

But the interests of the Palestinian Authority, and the small unelected unrepresented elite that runs it, are not the same as the interests and rights of the Palestinian people. That's a critical distinction that often fails to be made.

SHARMINI PERIES: All right, Ali, I am sure you'll be keeping an eye on this, as we will be. Thank you so much for joining us.

ALI ABUNIMAH: My pleasure, thank you.

SHARMINI PERIES: And thank you for joining us here on The Real News Network.




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