There then comes the inevitable South Africa comparison:I am no politician but it seems that there are only three options with respect to a resolution of the present untenable state of affairs.The option most commonly promoted is that of a two-state solution, in which a Palestinian state would be formed from Gaza and from what is left of the West Bank after withdrawal of the Israeli occupation. This, however, has been seriously compromised as a result of the remorseless increase in Israeli settlements since 1967. As a result of this there are now approximately 500,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, most of whom would strenuously resist being resettled within Israel’s internationally recognised borders. Another serious problem with the two-state solution is the future of Jerusalem. That the whole city should become the capital of Israel has been regarded as “non-negotiable” by the Israelis, whereas Palestinians see East Jerusalem as their capital of a future Palestinian State.A second option and one favoured by many Zionists, is that Israel should eventually incorporate the whole land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. This implies that Palestinians living in the West Bank would either have to be displaced to neighbouring Arab countries such as Jordan, or accept living in a Jewish state as second class citizens. The injustice of such an outcome hardly bears scrutiny and I cannot believe the international community would ever allow this to happen.The third option and one that I think should be given more serious consideration than it is receiving is that of a single democratic, pluralistic, bi-national state. The concept of one state shared equally by the two peoples might seem unacceptable if not impossible to most Israelis and Palestinians living in the region. However, as the two-state solution becomes progressively more problematic and impractical there is a need to look critically at a bolder and potentially more lasting solution.
Growing up in South Africa I had difficulty in imagining how transformation to a post-apartheid democratic state could ever be achieved without bloodshed. However the country was then blessed with two great leaders in Mandela and de Klerk, who managed to persuade their respective constituencies that this was the only way forward. It is similar leadership that is now so desperately needed in Israel and Palestine.Now look what comes next:
Leaders who, from the Israeli side, can recognise and put an end to the injustices of the present situation and reiterate sentiments once expressed by Golda Meir in a speech to the Knesset in May 1970 when she declared, “We did not come to dispossess the Arabs of the land but to work together with them in peace and prosperity, for the good of all”.She said that? Sheesh! I don't think the word hasbara was used to describe that kind of thing back then but who knows? It could have been. It should have been.