Leading Palestinian and Israeli scholars and activists will be among the speakers at an unprecendented conference to explore a one-state solution, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London on 17-18 November.
Organized by the London One State Group and the SOAS Palestine Society, the conference, “Challenging the Boundaries: A Single State in Israel/Palestine,” will explore new models for a just peace including binationalism, secular democracy, a ‘state of all its citizens’ and federalism.
The London conference comes as prominent politicians including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and UK Foreign Secretary David Milliband have recently warned that the window for implementing a two-state solution is fast closing. Israel has continued to block the establishment of a Palestinian state by accelerating its colonization of the occupied West Bank and tightening its starvation siege of the occupied Gaza Strip, even as Rice makes last ditch efforts to implement a partition.
“Unquestioned support for the two-state vision” among international elites “remains firm despite the disastrous failure of the peace process,” a statement from the London One State Group notes, thus necessitating efforts “to broaden the discourse regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict towards consideration of a One State vision as a desirable and achievable alternative.” The statement adds that the “birth of the non-racial democracy in South Africa and the implementation of the power sharing arrangement in Northern Ireland have strengthened the belief that partition is not the inevitable, nor necessarily the most desirable resolution to the conflict.”
Over the past several years the failure of the two-state approach has led to a resurgence of interest in a one-state solution and the London conference brings together many who have written or spoken in favor of it.
Those scheduled to participate include Nur Masalha, Ghada Karmi, Ilan Pappe, Joseph Massad, Ali Abunimah, Haim Bresheeth, Ghazi Falah, As’ad Ghanem, Leila Farsakh, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Nadim Rouhana, Omar Barghouti, Tikva Honig-Parnass, Louise Bethlehem, Kathleen O’Connell, Gilbert Achcar, Sumantra Bose, Haidar Eid, Eitan Bronstein, Eyal Sivan, Yousef Faker el Deen and Rajaa Omari.
The two-day conference includes sessions on aspects of a one-state solution including its rationale and historical context, geography, geopolitics, citizenship and identity, and rethinking the nation-state. Speakers will provide a comparative perspective on conflicts in Ireland, India-Pakistan, South Africa and Lebanon.
Sessions on grassroots activism will bring together one-state advocates from all over Palestine and the Diaspora including the One State Group based in Gaza, according to the published program.
Conference organizers cite as one of their inspirations the late Palestinian scholar Edward Said, who wrote in 1999, “The beginning is to develop something entirely missing from both Israeli and Palestinian realities today: the idea and practice of citizenship, not of ethnic or racial community, as the main vehicle of coexistence.”
The full conference program and details can be found at http://onestate.net.