Sharon’s Binationalism

Meron Benvenisti (who will be speaking in NYC on Nov. 10) has a great op-ed in Ha’aretz, that should be read in the context of the re-emerging (ôòí ùìéùéú âìéãä) public discussion in the States and Israel regarding the binational and the one-state solution. As usual, Benvenisti offers a unique perspective on the topic:

[I]n effect, the fence and the evacuation create total dependence by defenseless Palestinian cantons. Thus a de facto binational state is being established, which contains many deceptive indicators that enable us to nurture the illusion that it is not such a state, and even to make us feel that the worst of all evils – a binational state – has been prevented. The Palestinians, who correctly understand the significance of the processes – and who are unable to enjoy the luxury of fooling themselves – sense that Israeli activity has in fact made the two-state option impossible, and therefore there must be a return to a one-state strategy.

It must be mentioned repeatedly that a binational regime is not a prescription, but a description of the existing situation. The trouble is that the binational danger is being treated only as a possible future problem… Just as a “Palestinian state” is the vessel into which the Israelis throw all the injustices of the past, so a “binational state” is a refuge for all those who fear the future, an empty threat whose purpose is to present undefined dilemmas and theoretical constitutional constructs. In the conditions prevailing today, what difference does it make whether a person supports two states or one? This preoccupation is only an escape from genuine and immediate problems that stem from the injustices of oppression, from the damage to basic human rights and from racism. How easy it is to fall into the trap of slogans.

The expanding settlements in the west bank together with Dov Weisglass’s remark that “[t]he significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process” make it obvious that not only isn’t the disengagement a progress towards a two-state solution, but it is a dangerous illusion created by a political genious. The right wing is playing its role enthusiasticly; the declarations of refusal and violent resistance among the religious right wing is beginning much earlier than expected, and the message is clear: If this is the fuss we are doing for the sake of a few settlements in Gaza, wait and see what will happen when its time to evacuate the west bank. Sharon needs this pressure from the right in order to show that “at least he is trying.” It is evident then that either Sharon is willing to give up Gaza for the sake of a greater Israel in the west bank, or he is relying on the right wing in order to avoid even letting go of the strip.

In any case Sharon is gaining (or at least wants to gain) the image of a second Rabin; a General who has transformed from a “bone-breaking” militarist to a peace-seaking wise leader. If he fails, Sharon can blaim the right wing; if he succeeds, he knows he has done what every right wing pragmatist would have done – give up a few settlements in the most densely populated place in the world for the sake of the west bank.

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