London Review of Books,
There are different kinds of minorities. The notion of an Egyptian state for the Egyptians, a Jewish state for the Jews, simply flies in the face of reality. What we require is a rethinking of the present in terms of coexistence and porous borders.For some years, most people sympathetic to Palestinian national aspirations – or simply alert to their durability and the political dangers they pose – have assumed that a stable resolution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would require the formation of a Palestinian state in the (dwindling) areas not yet annexed by Israel, in what is left of British Mandate territory. This old staple of the Palestinian national movement was even belatedly approved by Bill Clinton and then George W. Bush. The Palestinian Authority itself was set up by the Oslo process as a pre-statal entity, intended to establish by stages an independent Palestinian cabinet and parliament, as a prelude to sovereignty over (a disarmed, landlocked, dependent) Palestine. Most recently, a courageous coalition of Israeli and Palestinian professionals has tried to imbue the two-state solution with new energy by formulating a detailed agreement – the so-called Geneva Accords. All these efforts have referred, vaguely or specifically, to the withdrawal of Jewish settlements, without which a Palestinian state would make no territorial sense.
Edward Said, 1999
Yet at some point in the past decade, this foundational precept became an obfuscating fiction. As many people privately acknowledge, and as Tony Judt has now proposed in the New York Review of Books, the conditions for an independent Palestinian state have been killed off by the inexorable and irreversible advance of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an idea, and a possibility, whose time has passed, its death obscured (as was perhaps intended) by daily spectacle: the hoopla of a useless ‘road map’, the cycles of Israeli gunship assassinations and Palestinian suicide bombings, the dismal internal Palestinian power struggles, the house demolitions and death counts – all the visible expressions of a conflict which has always been over control of land. ... more