If Jeremy Corbyn really cares about Palestine why does he keep talking about a two-state solution, asks Roshan Muhammed Salih.
The vast majority of Palestinians I know think that the two-state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict is dead. Religious Palestinians think it’s dead; secular Palestinians think it’s dead; even many of those who publicly support it because they’re part of the “peace process industry” will privately admit it’s dead.
What’s more, a majority of Israelis think it’s dead, including members of the cabinet.
Since the Oslo Accords of 1993 the “peace process” and the “two-state solution” have been the mantras of the so-called international community which has lamentably failed to deliver either. A mythical peace deal would include a demilitarised Palestinian state; an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines with territorial swaps; repatriation of 100,000 Palestinian refugees; west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and east Jerusalem as Palestine’s capital; the Old City’s Jewish Quarter and Western Wall under Israeli sovereignty, and Muslim and Christian quarters and the Haram al Sharif under Palestinian sovereignty.
But the truth is that Israel killed the Oslo peace process and the two-state solution by launching wars and implementing a brutal occupation. They killed it by building more and more settlements on Palestinian land and populating them with Jews from all over the world. They killed it by constructing the Apartheid Wall. They killed it by separating the West Bank from Gaza. They killed it by isolating Palestinians from the world and from each other and by making them economically dependent on their oppressors.
This means that if a two-state solution were implemented today a Palestinian state would simply not be viable. After all, how can a state be viable when it has no contiguous territory, when it is under siege, when it has no control over its borders or its economy, or when it is not allowed to have an army?
Not to mention the fact that while millions of Palestinians and their deceendants who were ethnically cleansed from their towns and villages will not be able to return to their ancestral homes, any Jew living in any country in the world can go there any time.
Yet “pro-Palestinian” Jeremy Corbyn still talks about the two-state solution (code for the destruction of the Palestinian cause) virtually every time he speaks about Palestine.
Just last week he said the UK would swiftly “recognise Palestine as a state” under a Labour government, and would take steps towards “a genuine two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict “very early on” if Labour won a general election.
Now we all know that Jeremy Corbyn has been a friend of Palestine throughout his life. I’m not disputing that. He has visited the region several times and has constantly condemned Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians. I have personally interviewed him many times about Palestine and can testify to his detailed knowledge of the country and its people.
Moreover, I believe he is genuinely concerned about the dire predicament of the Palestinians and would be far more equitable to them than any Prime Minister in British history. And the Zionist lobby in the UK are well aware of that and that’s why they have targeted him relentlessly with false accusations of anti-semitism.
So deep down I believe Corbyn knows that a two-state solution is nonsense, but let’s face it he’s running to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom so he has bigger fish to fry.
My feeling is that Corbyn talks about a two-state solution because he has bigger issues on his plate than Palestine and doesn’t want to cause further divisions in his party because of it. After all, there are many members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who would prefer to see the Tories continue in power than Labour win under Corbyn. And many of these people are die-hard supporters of Israel.
But Corbyn is at his best when he’s at his most radical. I’m talking about the Jeremy Corbyn who was allowed to be himself in the run-up to last year’s general election, not the Jeremy Corbyn who has at times bent over backwards to appease his party’s right-wing.
The people who will vote for Corbyn are those who want to see his radicalism come to the fore – the Corbyn who will nationalise the railways, who will tax the rich, who will reinvigorate the NHS and the education system, who will cut arms sales to Saudi and Israel, who will not launch wars. And yes, a Jeremy Corbyn who stops talking nonsense about a two-state solution and who calls for one state and for everyone to share the land – one person, one vote.
The truth is there is no solution
But one or two-state solution, the truth is that there is no solution to the Palestine issue at the moment. There is no military solution because Israel is much more powerful in this regard, and there is no political solution because the countries that supposedly support Palestine are divided and weaker than the countries that support Israel.
So the only thing the Palestinians can do is sit and wait for a better historical moment and not leave the land. I know I have no right to say this living in the comfort of the West, but maybe the highest calling of a Palestinian today is to literally give up any hope for a better future by staying where they are and not emigrating. I would never condemn Palestinians who choose to leave Palestine for a better life, but I only have the upmost admiration for those who choose to stay in Palestine despite the fact that they know they’re signing away their lives.
Let me end with a sign of hope – Israel may be sitting pretty now but will it be in in 50 years time? It’s facing a demographic timebomb with a rapidly rising Palestinian population, and also a rapidly rising ultra-orthodox Jewish population which doesn’t serve in the army and doesn’t contribute much to the economy.
Will Israel’s main backer – America – still want to support a Western colonial outpost in the Middle East when the whole region becomes less strategic with the end of the energy age? Will America still have the same cultural affinity with Israel as internally it inevitably becomes a more Hispanic and non-white nation?
With the advent of a multi-polar world and rising Muslim powers, will Palestinians finally get the financial, military and political backing they deserve?
None of us know the answers to these questions but I do know that time is against Israel and an argument can be made that they need a deal more than the Palestinians do.
But non-Palestinians should not tell Palestinians what to do; our role is to simply support them. Whatever the Palestinian consensuses is I’m fine with that. If the consensus is to fight Israel with arms I support that because an occupied people has the right to resist an occupation militarily. If they want to struggle by peaceful means through cultural boycotts or politics then I also support that. And if they want to do a combination of both then that’s great too.
But like the majority of Palestinians I do not support a two-state solution. And neither should Jeremy Corbyn.