Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Israel, we have a democracy problem

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Adam Horowitz over on Mondoweiss has done his maths. There are now, according to the US 2009 International Religious Freedom Report, more Palestinians than Jews living between the Mediterranean and the River Jordan. That gives Israel one big headache if it wants to portray itself as a 'western' style democracy and also continue to occupy the Golan and West Bank.
State’s International Religious Freedom Report 2009 doesn’t say it that way, but if you skim the report and do the math you’ll see there are more Palestinians than Jews between the river and the sea. 5.735 million to 5.6 million. We have a democracy problem here. It’s the huge elephant in the room. (And I think J Street knows it.)
Israel really only has three options: ethnic cleansing, apartheid or democracy. Philip Weiss observes,
Bob Simon's 60 Minutes piece on the two-state solution finally aired and it was a doozy. If Abe Foxman was pissed at Bill Moyers he surely had a coronary after watching this.

Like a child with its hand stuck in a sweet jar, Israel wants three but can only have two.

Option 1: The One State Solution
Israel can annexe the Occupied Territories and give all Palestinians equal rights with Jewish Israelis but it would have to amend its constitution and cease being a Zionist State (its important to distinguish between Judaism which is a religion and Zionism which is a political system – the two are not synonymous). That is not going to happen in the short term but its possible in the long term that by mutual agreement some kind of ‘federation’ may emerge between Israel, Palestine and Jordan, for example, of the kind that has occured in the European Community.

Option 2: The Two State Solution
Israel can remain a Zionist State and a democracy but to enjoy both it must give up the aspirations of Eretz Israel – the ‘greater’ Israel and withdraw from the Golan Heights, Gaza and the West Bank to the internationally recognised borders (The 1949 Armistice line, aka the green Line assumed in UN Resolution 242). This is the position favoured by the international community as expressed in the Roadmap for Peace, Annapolis Agreement and latest Quartet Statement and UN Resolution 1850.

Option 3: The Apartheid State Solution
Israel can remain a Zionist state and build yet more settlements on confiscated land in the Occupied Territories and Golan. To do so, however, it must also continue to control the lives of Palestinians by military force. But accepting or justifying the present status quo is incompatible with being a Western-styled democracy, something Jimmy Carter has warned of.