The legacy of Gaza will be a one state solution, with all that entails

by Atul Hatwal

The carnage has ceased for the moment in Gaza. The guns are silent. We’ve been here before: the anguish on both sides, the depths of bitterness and the certainty that at some point in the next few years, we’ll be here again.

However, while it has been a visceral and traumatic few weeks, in terms of the underlying politics, Gaza has not fundamentally changed the situation in Israel and the occupied territories. Rather, it has accelerated existing trends and entrenched current positions.

The Israeli public, which has consistently voted for governing coalitions that cannot deliver a two state solution, will be even less likely to countenance the compromises needed. The pain of tens of thousands of settlers being forcibly removed by the Israeli army, in the West Bank, is now inconceivable. No coalition could deliver it, even if somehow enough politicians could be persuaded, because the public do not want it.

The Palestinians will be equally hostile to compromise. The concessions needed to rebuild any confidence within Israel that the first acts of new Palestinian state would not involve more tunnels, rockets and terror, will not be forthcoming from any Palestinian government that wants to hold onto any legitimacy in the eyes of its people.

Gaza has finally killed the two state solution. There can and will only be one state, which raises an existential question for Israel. One for which military superiority alone cannot provide a ready answer: what will be this state’s nature?

Currently in Israel and the occupied territories, there are roughly 12.5m people, just over half are Jewish Israelis, just under half either Arab Israelis or Palestinian.

At the moment, while the vague hope for a two state deal nominally flickers on, the Palestinian population of the occupied territories are not considered part of Israel.

But as the legacy of Gaza unfolds, when Israeli and Palestinian politicians admit the truth about a one state solution, as prime minister Netanyahu came very close to doing in this press conference given in Hebrew a few weeks ago, then the calculus will change.

The public mood in Israel that has ruled out a two state solution and supported the expansion of settlements, is unlikely to allow somewhere in the region of 4 million new Palestinian voters to take part in an Israeli election any time soon.

Yet with two states off the table, how long will that be sustainable? A few years? Decades maybe? But in the long run?

Israel is not on a par with South Africa, but if the government’s policy is for a one state solution without equal rights for almost half the population living within those boundaries, then the comparison will become less dissonant.

Yet with an electorate where the numbers of Palestinians and Arab Israelis are projected to exceed Jewish Israelis in the next few years, wither a Jewish state?

Something has got to give. Either the Jewish nature of Israel or its democracy will have to be compromised. Its hard to see how these two essential aspects of Israel can continue, as envisaged by Israel’s founders.

In one sense, the Palestinians are better equipped for this next phase: with few economic resources and little in the way of hope, removing the prospect of an independent state will likely make comparatively little difference to their everyday lives.

But even then, the prospect of many years without rights – economic or democratic – punctuated with regular Israeli military interventions, is a wholly depressing future. Even by the standards of Palestinian history.

Now, after Gaza, the leaderships of both sides are about to discover that the compromises which could have once created two states in the either the late 1990’s or early 2000’s, that they thought so unpalatable, maybe weren’t so bad after all.

Could have, would have should have.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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5 Responses to “The legacy of Gaza will be a one state solution, with all that entails”

  1. swatantra says:


  2. Tafia says:


    Not quite the word I’d have used.

  3. swatantra says:

    Not quite the ‘One State’ I had in mind.
    Mine would be Jew and Palestinian, co-habiting, power sharing in One Palestine.

  4. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Nice thought swatantra………

    It would probably end up North Palestine and South Palestine.

  5. Mr Akira Origami says:

    An alternative to the solution could be a 3 state system:

    An Arab state

    A Jewish state

    A Christian state (albeit a small one)

    Firstly, the religious leaders from the three religions in the area could sit round a table at the Temple Mount, chillax, tell some jokes and begin to discuss a way forward to a non-violent solution. The ideas generated by this tripartite coalition could filter into the education systems of the three groups giving the next generation some hope.

    As Tony said: “Education, etc……

    PS Interesting article from the Saint James Vicariate:

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