Leading Palestinian intellectual: We already have a one-state solution

I’ve read 3 of his books. In other words, when he speaks, I listen. So should you. I’ve highlighted the most pertinent parts of the interview for you. Haaretz: Hamas and the Palestinian Authority should unite, unequivocally renounce violence and jettison the U.S.-led peace process which is “a corpse that has had formaldehyde pumped into its veins for over a decade” – this is the diagnosis and prescription of Professor Rashid Khalidi, one of the leading Palestinian intellectuals in the world.

“Nobody believes that firing rockets and getting 1,400 people killed in response is ‘resistance’ that is going to liberate Palestine, and nobody believes that talking with the U.S., with Dennis Ross putting his thumb on the scales in favor of Israel, which is already overwhelmingly superior, is going to produce an equitable and just and lasting solution of the Palestine question. If you still believe that – you have to have your head examined,” the U.S.-born Khalidi said.

Khalidi, a member of the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid peace process in the early 1990s, and one of the first proponents of a two-state solution expressed grave doubts about the chances for its implementation, because of what he describes as the “inexorable work of the bulldozers” and Israel’s “settlement-industrial complex”. In any case, he added, the two-state solution was but a “way station” that would not mean end-of-conflict and would still necessitate agreement on Palestinian refugees and on Israel’s “Palestinian minority” before a comprehensive settlement could be achieved.

A “one-state solution already exists,” he added, because “there is only one state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, in which there are two or three levels of citizenship or non-citizenship within the borders of that one state that exerts total control.”

Laying much of the blame for their situation on the Palestinians themselves, he called on them to “re-imagine” the way a Palestinian state would work. “Why not have a Palestinian state in which Jews live? What’s wrong with that?” And in what might sound as an echo of Israeli complaints about the “Tel Aviv state”, Khalidi said that Palestinian leaders need to mobilize their people and “get them out their expensive Audis and Mercedes and out of their bubble in Ramallah where everyone is prosperous and there is no unemployment.”

Khalidi refused to discuss any aspect of his personal relations with U.S. President Obama, which featured so prominently in the 2008 presidential campaign and was used to criticize Obama’s attitude toward Israel. But Khalidi’s criticism of the President’s Middle East policies is withering: “I had low expectations and my low expectations were more than fulfilled. He’s done considerably worse than I would have expected.”

Khalidi said that Obama had squandered his chance of making meaningful changes during his first two years in office, when the Democrats still controlled Congress “and since they lost Congress a year and a half ago, Benjamin Netanyahu has more influence over these issues than the president does. Because he has a House and a Senate that will carry him on their shoulders as far as he wants to go. The President can’t do that.”

In a wide-ranging interview conducted in his office at Columbia University in New York, where he is the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Khalidi also dismissed Israel’s existential fears of Iran as “fantasy” and said that the leaders of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood are “pragmatic” and would not abrogate Egypt’s peace agreement with Israel.

On the other hand, Khalidi expressed grave concern about the extremist Salafi party’s performance in the Egyptian parliamentary elections, which “shocked” him, and suggested that its success may be connected to Saudi funding. “There are several scores of Saudi princes who have personal budgets as large as medium-sized states. So there are 20 or 30 Saudi ‘foreign policies,'” he said.

At the same time, Khalidi believes that Islamist parties will have a hard time maintaining their current popularity in the Arab world, a development that already be seen in what he described as the Gaza public’s growing disenchantment with Hamas. “It’s perfectly fine to come in with a slogan that ‘Islam is the solution’, but try to solve a housing crisis, or infrastructure, or unemployment, with ‘Islam is the solution’, he said.

“This is a process that’s going to fall through – if it’s not short-circuited by hysterical people from the outside,” he added.

On Iran, Khalidi believes that “Ahmadinejad is a technician who has no real role in security or foreign policy or where the military is concerned. You try to convince Americans of that – as far as they are concerned, he’s Hitler’s little brother.”

He said that Israeli leaders are “cynically and irresponsibly” drumming up fears of Iran in order to “maintain Israel’s dominance over the region” and that Jerusalem must change its attitude towards Teheran “which means layers of hysteria, and lies and exaggeration and propaganda are going to have to be peeled back.”

“The idea that Israel is under any existential danger is fantasy. The idea that the Iranians would incinerate a 3,000-4,000 year old civilization for some apocalyptic reason and destroy themselves as a government, as a regime, and as individuals – is irrational,” Khalidi said.

Khalidi, who lived for many years in Beirut, also warned of an outbreak of “civil war and sectarian violence” in Syria, which would be “catastrophic for the whole region”. He accused the Gulf countries of stirring the pot in Syria and of drumming up sectarian animosity.

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4 Responses to Leading Palestinian intellectual: We already have a one-state solution

  1. Three State Solution! says:

    One state solution:

    sorry! Never gona happen.

    We need 3 state solution: Israel, Westbank, Hamas!
    Israel already cleaned out Gaza, now time to pull back the outposts and small settlments out of the West Bank and come behind the wall.

    Let them do whatever they want and elect whoever they want. Treat them like a sovereign nation and if they commit acts of war, return the favor with an actual war.

    Hamas and PLO WILL NEVER EVER COME TO TERMS WITH EACH OTHER. Hamas has too much ties with the dictator in the region who needs Israel as an enemy for internal problems. Therefore, Hamas should have its own country. I firmly believe sooner or late Palestinians themselves will get rid of Hamas.

  2. PB says:

    While I enjoyed reading the piece, what was missing in it was the human rights records of Israel. I think it is wrong to blame the unarmed palestinians for their problems. Rockets are fired at Israel, usually after the Israeli’s have attacked or closed some supply route. Rockets put pressure on the Israeli government, and they are the only pressure Israel ever feels. Let us recognize that the only people who ever freed themselves from Israeli occupation and are living in their neighborhood were the people of Southern Lebanon. And that was not achieved through Washington, or that the Lebanese people blamed themselves. It came through rockets fired at the Israelis.
    There is such a concept of balance of power. The only reason the palestinian issue has gone on for so long it is because only one side had all the weapons. Once the Israelis face a truly armed Palestinians force, and truly see an existential threat (not the fake one they keep pulling on Iran), then the Israelis will come to table and will negotiate. And we will all see that the settlement build ups will magically stop. It’s sad, but true.

  3. Three State Solution! says:


    You must be kidding yourself?! Were you in Israel about 25-30 years ago and are you in Israel now? Were you in West Bank 25-30 years ago and are you in West Bank?

    In case you have not, please ask some Palestinians from Ramalah about their standard of living and how much it has changed. It was not achieved through armed struggle rather negotiation. Yes, it did fall apart and yes it is very shaky, however I believe they are more properous than Southern Lebanon. Next war with Lebanon and the show down with Iran will turn that place into a Parking Lot. Oh yeah, don’t forget billions of dollars of Iranian money were spent there too.

  4. PB says:

    Thanks for your response.

    I am sorry to see that you rejoice in the idea that Southern Lebanon could turn into a parking lot. That is evidence by itself the tremendous loss and pain warmonger Israelis feel. That is exactly why there is only one language they understand and only one path to peace with them. It is not exactly war that I refer to, again, I am talking about a balance of power. When the Israelis feel the futility of war, as many have felt it in repeated wars with Southern Lebanon, the idea of cutting a deal will sink in.

    There is essentially not much of a difference between Israelis who think “God gave us this Land” and those Wahabis who believe they hold the truth on what God says. God is not in the business of real state. That is principally why there is no peace. Until there is a balance of power in the region, and the prospects of real death is felt by those who are uncompromising, there will not be peace. That is human nature.

    Yes, I am sure there is prosperity in Ramalah. Ofcourse life comes back, and money returns where ever the Israelis stop dropping their bombs. It allows the grass to grow back too. But as we all saw, Israel walked over all its treaties and attacked Ramalah, destroyed it, when Sharon attacked it a few years ago. He had his reasons, and as executor and judge he turned the city into ruble. Oh, yes, that’s security agreement with the Israelis when there is a lack of balance of power.

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