Shlomo Avineri
Haaretz (Opinion)
August 4, 2010 - 12:00am

Some people are surprised at recent expressions of support on the right for a one-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, through what appears to be a readiness to grant Israeli citizenship to Palestinians living in territories that would be annexed. I'm surprised they're surprised, because that has been the right wing's position since 1967. It's just that it hasn't been easy to openly advocate an explicitly annexationist stance. It has been much easier to speak of our right to the land, of the right of Jews to settle everywhere in the Land of Israel, while ignoring that this involves not only territory, but also people - millions of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza.

Now the cat is out of the bag, comfortably out. For more and more Israelis, it's becoming clear that the chance negotiations with the Palestinians will produce an agreement to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel is not great. If U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy George Mitchell has not gotten the parties to the negotiating table after a year and a half of trying, it's clear, despite the American president's good intentions and commitment to solve the conflict, that his efforts do not look as if they are bound to succeed.

What's easier than announcing the failure of the vision of two states for two peoples, which the right has always opposed and is now using to propose its annexationist intentions, which have been its inner truth all along? It's just that now it is wrapped in flowery rhetoric supported even by champions of human rights. So when someone like former Likud politician Moshe Arens, with his American background, supports it, it even appears as if it has been inspired by the non-ethnic civil concepts of American democracy.

The annexationist truth now being revealed for all to see is accompanied by a lie hiding behind it. What is apparently offered by some right-wing spokesmen seems a commitment to civil equality, without a hint of nationalism. What is better than offering the Palestinian population of the territories Israeli citizenship? But if you examine carefully the pronouncements of right-wing spokesmen in the media, it turns out that no one is talking about granting automatic citizenship and the right to vote to the residents of the territories to be annexed to Israel. They speak of a "process," and some say it would take a generation.

What would happen in the meantime is clear. The Arab residents of the territories to be annexed might be offered citizenship, but it would be subject to conditions. They would be required to declare loyalty to Israel as a Jewish (and democratic ) state. It can be assumed they would have to undergo a security check. It is reasonable to assume they would have to sever all ties, legal or otherwise, with their relatives in Jordan and other countries. It can further be assumed that those who are refugees from the 1948 War of Independence and their descendants would be required to declare they are forgoing both their right of return to Israel proper and their property claims.

In short, the annexation of the territories would take place, but equal citizenship wouldn't really be granted. No one on the right speaks of equal citizenship here and now. From a realistic perspective, it's clear Israel cannot possibly annex the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It's simply impossible from the standpoint of its foreign relations. Israel is not an apartheid state, but it turns out this is the dream of right-wing spokesmen who speak of one state from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. Self-righteous sweet talk cannot obscure either the inner truth or the lie that is associated with these ideas.


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