One-state solution goes mainstream? CBC interviews Ali Abunimah and Daniel Gavron

Just a couple of years ago, virtually no one in mainstream media wanted to talk about a single democratic state – a one-state solution – in Palestine. That was true even though it was already widely a topic of discussion, debate and indeed acceptance among many Palestinians, within the solidarity movement and beyond.

Now things do seem to be changing. This morning the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) carried a 30 minute interview with me and Daniel Gavron, an Israeli supporter of a single democratic state, on its flagship radio news program The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti.

The program summary:

We started this segment with how US President Barack Obama characterized the fight over the Palestinian National Authority’s bid for statehood. And to some extent, he has a point. Despite the diplomatic battles of the last week, both the Palestinian leadership and the Israeli Government say they are committed to the same goal – two states existing side-by-side in peace. And yet, the two sides don’t seem close to that goal.

So, a handful of Palestinians and Israelis have come to a radical conclusion, saying a two-state solution isn’t going to work and that it’s time to try something different. They argue a single country shared by both Israelis and Palestinians is a better, or at least a more practical, goal. Our next two guests both believe that one state may be a preferable solution – although they came to that conclusion for different reasons and from very different perspectives. Daniel Gavron is an Israeli writer who lives near Jerusalem. And Ali Abunimah is a Palestinian writer and activist who lives in Chicago.

It looks like the ideas captured in the One-State Declaration are finally getting a mainstream hearing.

Worldview looks at Palestinian UN statehood bid

While I am sharing radio interviews, last week I was on Chicago Public Radio’s Worldview, discussing the Palestinian bid for membership of the United Nations as a “state.”

The Worldview interview was prompted in part by my 19 September article in Foreign AffairsA Formal Funeral for the Two-State Solution.”




Great interview!!

I have always wondered why the world community is promoting two race based nation states when the obvious solution is one contiguous democratic multi ethnic society.



One state is the most obvious solution to the whole problem, and its creation would eliminate SO MANY current problems, especially ethnic & religous ones, as well as perhaps the greatest: the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants. The battle for all of us is pursuing this goal in the face of Armageddon, which don't forget, stems from Har Megidah, in northern Israel.


During the old day in South Africa, when the predominantly black society was ruled by a tiny white minority, the South African leaders bragged about their Apartheid system. At least two of them met with Israeli leaders and told them, cheerfully, that Israel obviously had the same Apartheid system in place. Anyone who has not developed a huge moral blind spot can see this at once. The good news is that the new South Africa is a majority rule nation in which blacks, whites, "coloreds" (descendents of a people who lived there centuries ago), and Indians all share in voting, buying land, and carrying on their daily activities. As in any society, there are some conflicts, but they occur within the context of democracy and orderly governance. Mr. Abunimah has pointed this out, as well as the successful integration of Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, where there used to be constant bloodshed. If the majority of Israelis (as they are the ones with massive arsenals of modern US-made weapons) come over to the one-nation point of view, it can happen. When Palestinians see the Apartheid Wall come down, (as the Berlin Wall came down), one country will be possible.


In South Africa the separate development concept i.e. Bantustans, was a non starter since the ethnic groups were already integrated socially and economically. Can Israel force the relocation of 1.5 million Israeli Palestinians into Bantustans somewhere? This would destroy their already crumbling myth of 'only democratic state' in the Middle East. As S.Africa discovered, learning to live and thrive together was the only solution. Clearly for this to come about Israel should suck it up and plead with Desmond Tutu to come to Jerusalem and conduct a 'Truth and Reconcilliation' commision of inquiry in an attempt to heal the wounds inflicted by both sides. Clearly compensation would be necessary to Palestinian refugees, much the same as Jewish victims of the Holocaust received compensation from Germany.
I hope the Israeli cliche 'they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity' is not directed at Israelis this time. The only alternative for Israel is they have to decide to Holocaust all Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in order to achieve Eretz Yisrael. This of course would be a Pyrrhic victory leading to the destruction of the State of Israel. What price are you prepared to pay Bibi?


In reply to Brusky, above, I respectfuly suggest that Brusky should think again about the tone of his comment. I too support a single state solution. To achieve that will require the agreement and much self examination by Jews and Palestinians. So we must be aware that advocacy of a single state has two possible contexts in the eyes of those we wish to convince; a positive and a negative.

The first (positive) is that it's a genuine position that, in the end, mutual tolerance, religious freedom, and a secular, democratic, inclusive state, is the only workable plan. But the second (negative) is that, it's a cheap opportunist debating ploy to turn such advocacy into more hostility towards Zionists.

Now, do you think that a single state can be achieved by force, or do we agree that a single state can only happen if a lot of Jews (and Palestinians) can be persuaded to change their present unhelpful opinions?

Of course, the two state solution is mired in contradictions. This analysis leads us to the single state solution. But, surely, a serious advocate of a single state solution will avoid any tone of intellectual triumphalism such as "crumbling myth", "suck it up"," Holocaust ", "what price are you prepared to pay Bibi?" That sort of language is hardly a reassurance that what we seek is a genuine solution rather than more of the same path of mutual destruction.

So please let us all get serious, and rise to the sober needs of the situation. A lot of lives, and quality of life, depend on this discussion. Thanks and good wishes.


I have never believed that a creation of two states, 'peacefully co-existing' is going to be a viable solution. Alread in the '30s and '40's British and American statesmen predicted that such a solution is unworkable. The Arab world would never accept. It would only lead to perputual violence between Arabs and the foreign immigrant colonist intruders. Anyway the present situation on the ground and the contuinued annexation of Palestinian land makes such a solution now completely impossible. Ironically by their continued settlement expansions in the West Bank the Zionists in some way are already working towards that single state, where Palestinians will be confined to 'Bantustan-like' reservations, as we have seen in South Africa under the Apartheid regime. That may work for some time but will create in the long run an untenable situation. In order to create a genuine democratic one unitary state the populations and in particular the Israelis, will have to be re-educated or to to speak with Naom Chomski and Finkelstein the world corporate news media first and foremost have a task here by 'manufacturing consent' in intense propaganda campaigns of reconciliation in an effort to end feelings of animosity and hatred and bring the two foes together. I see the mainstream news media, overwhelmingly supporting the current US/Israeli policies, as the greatest obstacle to a just and lasting peace in the ME.


I jump up and applaud when I read that more and more people are seeing the light - that a single state, a secular, democratic one, is the only practical, and the most just, solution to this problem that has been festering for close to a century.
To achieve this goal two things must happen. One, the Jews will have to give up the notion of a "Jewish state" and be willing to integrate more fully with the Arab community. Two, the Palestinians will have to give up their claim to sole possession of the land, and hopefully their anger and resentment, justified though it may be that their land was taken away from them. Both of these are "big deals", especially difficult for the extremists on both sides to accept. But, I think most reasonable people will be willing to live with this compromise.
After so many years, it is time for Israel to demolish its "iron wall". It is also time for the Palestinians to be let out of their "iron cage". It is time for the Israelis to realize they cannot live in a ghetto forever, and for the Palestinians to realize that Israel will not go away. It is time to grow up.


Ali and Daniel, with whom I have both corresponded and have great respect, had a quite valuable conversation! A wonderful next step would be to brainstorm important ingredients for a successful new unified Israe/Palestine, such as: (1) measures to guarantee that the minority population(s) will not be dominated by the majority; (2)
arrangements for return of refugees (and/or compensation) without causing injustice to present inhabitants; (3) measures for sugroup populations to have considerable
autonomy, if desired, yet to integrate comfortably within the nation and region.