Media Analysis

Palestinians are ‘happy’ to pursue equal rights in one state, and European and Arab countries will sign on, says Obama’s ambassador

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Daniel Shapiro, Obama’s former ambassador to Israel, yesterday explained that if Israel’s annexation of the West Bank goes forward it will hasten a one-state scenario in which Palestinians are “happy” to pursue full rights of citizenship from Israel, including the vote. And European countries and Arab countries will also advocate for that outcome.

Shapiro told the Israel Policy Forum:

What you hear from younger Palestinians– and when I say younger, I mean pretty much anyone under 40 and maybe a bit older than that these days–is they believe that two states is pretty much a pipedream, their parents’ or grandparents’ dream, they’re very critical of their own leadership who have of course made it very difficult for the next generation to rise into politics but also haven’t delivered.. on the promise of two states…

Most of them say, You know what, if two states is impossible, what we just really want is the rights of citizenship. And they’d be happy to pursue those rights in a one-state scenario and again, seeing a unilateral annexation executed I think would very much strengthen that trend. It may be five years or ten years or fifteen years, but I think that a lot of countries including a lot of the Arab states who are quite friendly to Israel and other countries as well certainly in Europe and in other places, would over time drift in the direction of advocating for that. They would say, You know what, if two states is impossible, Here’s an alternative, where everyone would have the right to vote and representation in a parliament, one democratic state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

We often criticize Shapiro for being an ardent Zionist (who went right to work for an Israeli semi-official thinktank) when he was supposed to be an evenhanded ambassador for the United States. At least in this case he represents Palestinian views in a fair manner. Though yes, he then reverted to Jewish nationalism:

That to me is something that puts the Zionist cause in great jeopardy. Because Israel is a Jewish state, it must be a Jewish state to fulfill that vision, and it has always been able with some tension but nevertheless successfully be both a Jewish and a democratic state with a very strong and stable Jewish majority and full civil rights for all of its non-Jewish minorities. That I think is what the risk is of those two trends, of unilateral annexation and Palestinian — West Bank Palestinian anyway– interest in one state with full equal rights could lead to.

Imagine the pursuit of equal rights as a danger to your state!

Shapiro said that keeping Israel a Jewish democratic state is in the American interest, because the U.S. needs Israel as an ally and a democracy. Democratic Reps. Ted Deutch, Eliot Engel, Nita Lowey, and Brad Schneider have all opposed annexation for that reason.

“All of them have made clear on multiple occasions in the past couple of years that unilateral annexation which makes it that much harder and potentially impossible depending on its scope to proceed with the two-state solution in which Israel can remain a Jewish and democratic state is deeply damaging to American interests, deeply damaging to the future of the strong bipartisan support for this relationship and have called on Israel not to take that.”

I’ve never understood that argument. What difference does it make to American realpolitik if another country has chosen apartheid? We can choose other friends. The accurate statement is that it’s not in liberal Zionists’ interest to have Israel choose apartheid, and alienate America.

Evan Gottesman at the Israel Policy Forum also says that Palestinians are going to want equal rights.

If Israel annexes the West Bank, it can probably hold down the Palestinians for at least a few more decades through raw military strength, though we should not discount the cost in lives and treasure this kind of system could impose. However, for the last thirty years on the diplomatic front, Israel has only had to deal with an internationally accepted Palestinian leadership that supports a two-state solution. When annexation is implemented and the narrative among Palestinians shifts more decisively away from a nationalist struggle for statehood to a rights-based campaign for civil liberties and citizenship, Israel’s only recourse will be to explain why some of its subjects get rights and many don’t, and that is no defense at all.

And meantime the Palestinian call to boycott Israel for denying them their rights is called antisemitism by much of the Democratic Party and liberal Zionists.

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We know what’s coming, let’s do some anticipatory hasbara: But 20 years ago Hamas said on its website they wanted an Islamic state from Jordan to the sea! And what about the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem? Huh?

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