The Israel-Palestine two-state “solution” is melting away.
For a half century negotiating a relationship between the Jews of Israel and the
Moslem and Christian Arabs of Palestine has been a major diplomatic preoccupation.
But without ever finding the formula, reality is wiping away the concept of creating two states in the old British League of Nationals Mandated Palestine.
The fundamental reason is clear: An Arab Palestine is no match for Israeli Jews’
dynamic economy and society which is making it — despite its size [8.5 million] — a world power.
The question posed, of course, is what kind of one-state solution will evolve from
fast moving events.
There had to be a two-state solution, it was argued, for otherwise a Jewish Israel
would be swamped by an Arab majority. Israel could not be, it was argued, a democratic and Jewish state if it had to live with a majority of Arabs. Israel’s Declaration of Independence after all had called for a Jewish state with equality of social and political rights, irrespective of religion, race, or sex.
And, indeed, Arab citizens of Israel have been elected to every Knesset, and
currently hold 17 of its 120 seats.
But Israel’s overwhelming victory against the Arab forces in the 1967 Six Day
War added the contiguous occupied areas of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. A 2013 estimate counted 6.2 million Jews and others in Israel, 1.7 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and 2.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank [and East Jerusalem].. There were 1.6 million Israeli Arabs [not including Druze who have largely chosen Israeli citizenship.]. Thus there were 5.8 million Arabs and 6.2 million Jews between the Jordan and the Mediterranean.
Higher birthrates [including plural marriage] among the Arab Bedouin [momads] increasingly redress this balance it was believed with a majority of Arabs.
The current population distribution already demonstrates that potential problem.
Yousef Munayyer, an Israeli Arab citizen argues the 1.5 million Israel Arabs
are second-class citizens while four million more are not citizens at all. Although
Palestinians make up about 20 percent of Israel’s population, he argues they are allocated less than 7 percent of the budget He recalls that a Jew from any country can move to Israel under“The Right of Return Law” but a Palestinian refugee, with a valid claim to property in Israel, cannot.
It is clear that Israel will have to produce new formulas for living as a democratic
state [that is one with electoral processes] and a Jewish state [with special privileges for its Jewish citizens].
Some problems may be less difficult than at first glance with a blurring of
formulas. For example. Israel as “a Jewish state” may not be a greater problem than England, the epitome of democracy, with an established state religion.
There are some indications that as Arabs move to higher economic status,
especially the Israeli Arabs, they have fewer children, thus reducing the future disparity. And earlier “catastrophic” demographic predictions; for example, in the 1960s, predictions suggested that Arabs would be the majority in 1990, have been way off. That study also demonstrated that Christian Arab and Druze birth rates were actually below those of Jewish birth rates in Israel.
But the phrase “demographic bomb”, famously used by Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu in 2003 when he noted that if the percentage of Arab citizens rises above its current level of about 20 percent Israel will not be able to maintain a Jewish demographic majority, is still appropriate.
A new Israel is again emerging without illusions about its demographic problems
– and that does not include another state carved out of the current complex.