ICAHD endorses one-state solution, warns against “warehousing” of Palestinians

ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions has taken the significant step of positively endorsing a one-state solution.

A paper by Jeff Halper and Itay Epshtain titled “In the Name of Justice: Key issues around a single state,” lays out ICAHD’s new position:

with the two-state solution gone, apartheid unacceptable and a Middle Eastern economic confederation a distant vision, it seems time to seriously consider the only alternative available to us at this time: the creation of a single state between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. To be sure, the idea has been raised before, but it remains ambiguous. There are fundamental variations and disagreements even among one-state proponents themselves. Political clarity is vital, especially if such a solution is - or is not - inclusive of Israelis.

Indeed, does post-apartheid South Africa inspire our joint aspirations or is Algeria the model, whereby the Israeli “colonists” (if they are that) leave or are driven out when Palestine is liberated? If the state is to be inclusive, should it be a unitary democratic state, a bi-national one or a combination? Will the solution be one defined purely by politics, or will the rights and obligations of all parties be guided indeed by international law and human rights treaties?

“Warehousing” in its “final stages”

ICAHD concludes that with no prospect of a “two-state solution,” the only options are apartheid, “warehousing” or a single state.

Warehousing is entrenching of the status quo without declaring a political solution. As the paper explains:

Since apartheid, even dressed in the clothes of a “two-state solution,” is obviously unacceptable to the Palestinian people (and hopefully to people everywhere), the second, more likely option, is to merely normalize the status quo, which is the current process of “warehousing.” Indeed, with the Palestinians pacified, their leadership coopted and no political process in the offing, and with a successful Israeli campaign of deflecting international attention to Iran, the danger is that the Palestinians of the Occupied Territory will be warehoused. They will be permanently locked into Areas A, B, Gaza and the ghettos of “East” Jerusalem, the key thrown away, the inmates being fed by the international community, as they are today. Signs are that this strategy is in its final stages of implementation.

Right of return

Warning of the need for urgent action as Israel implements its preferred and dismal vision, the ICAHD paper lays out several principles for the group’s conception of one state, including affirming the rights of Palestinian refugees:

two conditions are critical if the refugee issue is to be resolved: the refugees’ unconditional right to return, as it is advocated by UN General Assembly resolution 194 related to the Right of Return of Palestinians, must be accepted, so that “goodwill” or “humanitarian” gestures do not replace the refugees’ alienable rights to repatriate, return to their homes and live at peace; and Israel must acknowledge its responsibility for driving out half the Palestinian people in 1947/48, as well as for the expulsions of 1967 and displacement ongoing since - a symbolic admission of responsibility crucial to reconciliation between the people and to eventual historical “closure.”


However, there are other areas – particularly the paper’s conception of the conflict as one between two “peoples” who “aspire to national self-determination, a right firmly embodied in international law” – that are problematic.

I have argued in a brief for Al-Shabaka why self-determination, as understood historically and in international law, cannot apply to Israelis as a separate group, due to the settler-colonial nature of Zionism.

In my Al-Shabaka brief, I cite Omar Barghouti’s response on this issue:

There can, Barghouti argues, be no “inherent or acquired Jewish right to self determination in Palestine that is equivalent, even morally symmetric, to the Palestinian right to self determination” as this would blur “the essential differences between the inalienable rights of the indigenous population and the acquired rights of the colonial-settler population.”

Settler-colonial groups do not acquire a separate “right” of self-determination, but can only exercise self-determination as part of the whole in the context of full decolonization and unmitigated equality – that’s the case I make in the rest of the brief (Also see The One State Declaration).

The source of the difference is that the ICAHD paper does not conceptualize the Zionist project, as a whole, as a settler-colonial invasion of Palestine.

These are significant distinctions with consequences for how we conceptualize the way forward, however they should not stand in the way of recognizing the leap ICAHD has taken and carefully considering the positions the paper advances.

As ICAHD appropriately puts it, “The work has just begun.”




I tip my hat to ICAHD, the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions! It takes tremendous courage to proclaim this position from inside the Zionist Paradise. The only solution has to be non-racial. Back in my university days, my Zionist colleagues used to scold my naive advocacy of the one-state solution.

The US and EU keep demanding reform and "freedom" from everyone except Israel. But Israel cannot and will not be allowed to continue in its present form.

The Zionist Paradise need not turn into a Jewish hell, but let's face it: the Zionist project is a total failure and a trap more than sixty years after the creation of Israel. There is some hope left for a decent exit out of the still-unfolding catastrophe in Palestine, a historic crime for which the European powers and the US bear full responsibility.


Since the two states already exist, the only way in which a one-state solution can be achieved is by a voluntary union of the two existing states of Israel and Palestine. They could only make such an agreement if Israel could retain its primarily Jewish character, and Palestine its primary Arab character.

The way to achieve this is to have two self-governing nations within the united state. The model for this is the Scotland/England relationship, where two distinct nations are united within a single state, the United Kingdom. Please see my article at http://religion-science-peace.... for more details of how this could work.


Well, as dead as current power politics can make it. Israel would not democratically choose a real 2SS, abandoning the West Bank and much of what it calls Jerusalem. The USA (with its manipulated media and politicians) ditto. Even the EU would not act to end the occupation.

Perhaps the so-called non-aligned nations? They could at least speak if not act decisively, but they have not done so.

In my naive and therefore still hopeful view, the NANs will issue a ukase to Israel, probably via the UNGA, demanding permanent removal of all settlers and demolishment or dismantling of all settlements (stress on "all") fro all territories captured by Israel in 1967 and still occupied (thus, Golan and East Jerusalem included) as required by international law, UNSC 465 (1980), ICJ July 2004 decision. They would ask all nations to join them in a program of gradually increasing sanctions, beginning with withdrawal of ambassadors and cessation of commercial air traffic with Israel, the program to continue -- and increase -- until the demand as to settlers and settlements is met. Other nations would be invited to join the program or to explain why not -- given the broadly recognized illegality of Israel's settlements.

This pressure would not work immediately -- even if it somehow grew to be effective to work over a period of time, a year or decade. In that time, much might change, and Israel might even negotiate with the PLO (if any at this late date).

So this dream is very unlikely to occur. IMO, until it does occur, 2SS is dead, but until it does occur, any 1SS other than today's undemocratic, apartheid, prison-based system is also unlikely to occur.

I doubt that internal Israeli leftist support for a 1SS that destroys the Israel of today is going anywhere, however noble its dreamers are.


An American Jew moves to Palestine on the basis of laws rooted in the Zionist claims to own the land. Now he expects to be treated by the indigenous population as a rightful native inhabitant. If he wants to be taken seriously as someone working for peace he should catch the first plane back to NY or wherever he comes from. Short of that he is just another Zionist that thinks he is entitled to the land on the basis of his religion and no conversation is possible with Zionist racists.


If you really want a one-state solution, as I do, you have going to have to make some mental breakthroughs before it can happen.

Israel shouldn't have been created, but it was created. The Jews won their place on the land by conquest. Forget the 20th century rhetoric about colonisation, conquest is the way that most of the nations of the Earth acquired their land. The Arabs should have defeated Israel early on, but they failed. Military failure has consequences for peoples who are defeated. Military failure was the start of the Jewish diaspora after all - you presumably do agree that the Jews lost some rights to the land in the 1st century?

How long do you think it takes before a claim to land becomes meaningful? 500 years? 1,000? 1,500? 2,000? If 500, you are advocating the deportation of getting on for a billion people from the Americas. If 1,000 you are arguing that the Turks have no rights in Anatolia. If 2,000, you are arguing that the English have no right to live in England and the Palestinians have no rights in Palestine because 2,000 years ago it was Jewish!

If you are not also bold enough to show a full willingness to reconcile based on current realities rather than past wrongs, you aren't really making a serious bid to end the conflict. It is absolutely essential to recognise that the Western powers (which have three vetoes on the UN Security Council) will never accept the expulsion of the Jews from Palestine. Settling them there in the first place was against Western principles, but that was a long time ago. Expelling them would be against Western principles, and it would be in the present. You are wasting your time unless you are willing to recognise this. There will be one-state solution until the Western powers have full confidence that the Palestinians will allow the Jews to remain forever. Like it or not, that is how it is.


It has been clear since 1973, or even since 1948, that there is going to be an Israel, with a Jewish majority, and there is going to be a Palestine, with an Arab majority. There is no conceivable political, or even military, process that could produce any another solution. Israel has built its Jewish homeland within the pre-67 borders, and there it will stay, apart from mutually agreed adjustments. That leaves Palestine consisting of the West Bank and Gaza, and they are not going to go away either.

It is also clear that Israel and Palestine will be mutually dependent on each other in terms of economy, natural resources, transport and other infrastructure, and security. This calls out for some sort of federal structure or union. This is why I avoid talking about a one-state or two-state solution: the exact nature of the relationship between the two entities needs to be worked out as part of the process. I have already given my own ideas (religion-science-peace.org/?p=278).

Philip, you seem to believe that the obstacle to peace is a lack of confidence that the 'Palestinians will allow the Jews to stay for ever'. The PLO has clearly stated in the Oslo process that it accepts the right of Israel to live in peace and security, within the pre-67 borders. Its objection is to the occupation and settlement of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The main obstacle to peace is that the government of Israel will not reciprocate: it has not even recognized that Palestine exists, or that the Palestinians have a right to self-determination in their own land.

The present process is a sham. Netanyahu does not speak for Israel, because a majority of Israelis support a two-state solution; and Abbas does not speak for all of Palestine, because Hamas controls Gaza. Until and unless there are governments in both Israel and Palestine with a mandate for peaceful co-existence, talks will be fruitless.