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What is the alternative to a two-state solution?

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate at Susya in the Negev. (Hillel Maeir/TPS)

Pro-Palestinian activists demonstrate at Susya in the Negev. (Hillel Maeir/TPS)

JERUSALEM — If you ask Member of Knesset Yehuda Glick, the official annulment of the two-state idea and the application of Israeli sovereignty over the whole land of Israel is not only based on practical or historic considerations, but on moral ones as well.

“My whole outlook for one state is based on a moral demand,” he said.

“The whole ‘demographic argument’ means that I don’t mind having other people suffer, as long as I have my Jewish state. How is that moral? We can’t justify oppressing other people because it isn’t convenient for me,” Glick said.

Speaking at a lecture series entitled “Lightning Round on Peace Process Alternatives,” sponsored by The Israel Project and held at the Jerusalem Technology Park, Glick said his model to resolve the political challenges facing Israel and the Palestinians is based on just one word — peace — and rejected the notion that a political arrangement could be attained, let alone sustained, by destroying homes and evicting residents.

“I want to minimize home demolitions and evictions as much as possible,” Glick told TPS.

“We passed the Legalization Bill, and that sort of model can apply also to unauthorized Jewish and Arab building all over Israel, not just in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. Of course, the other side of that is that once we’ve legalized the issue, created clear guidelines and decided to enforce the law fairly and equally, there must be a commitment to obey the law.”

Glick also told TPS that he was “willing to consider” other political options for resolving the Israel-Palestinian conflict, including a Swiss-like federation model that would ensure freedom and provide suffrage, rights and economic growth for both Jews and Arabs (presented at the conference by another group, the Federation Movement).

He also criticized the traditional “peace camp” for refusing to listen to alternate ideas.

“Any time somebody says ‘everybody knows that’ or ‘the only way to,’ it is a signal that they aren’t listening anymore. I come to this discussion with ideas, but I want to listen. That is the only way to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past,” Glick said.

Some proponents of the traditional two-state model, including Geneva Initiative CEO Gadi Baltiansky, left after Glick’s presentation. Others, including Commanders for Israel’s Security and the Israeli Regional Initiative, stuck around to listen to other presentations, even as they ultimately spoke about the “threat to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.”

One idea, tabled by the Federation Movement, is for Israel to annex the West Bank, and grant Israeli citizenship to all its residents — as it did when it annexed eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights — and at the same time transform itself from a centralized state to a federal republic based on the Swiss model.

According to this plan, Israel would be divided into 30 Swiss-style cantons, 20 Jewish majority ones, 10 Arab majority ones, reflecting the overall demographic balance, with a comparable level of self-government.

“It is clear that the two-state solution is no longer on the table for the foreseeable future, because of the current unrest and instability of the Arab world,” said Federation Deputy Chairman Yonatan Schwartz.

“Therefore we have to start thinking creatively, since insisting on only a two-state solution is akin to maintaining the current status quo, which is a disaster for both Israelis and Palestinians.

“All the talk of Israel becoming a bi-national state is nothing but fear-mongering. We already are a bi-national state, with a non-Jewish minority of 25%. After annexing the West Bank, we would have a population of 10 million, two thirds Jewish, one third non-Jewish — not too different from the current situation.”

He said that Switzerland and Israel are comparable in terms of physical size and population.

“If the Swiss model has enabled German and French speakers, two distinct national groups with a long history of destructive wars and bloodshed, to successfully live together within a single political entity, I think that model of a decentralized federal republic can be successful here, too.”

He said their proposal could be initially implemented as an interim arrangement, to break the current status quo.

“Subsequently, when the Arab world is in a different place, each side could hold a referendum to decide whether to make the federal arrangement permanent, or negotiate a two-state solution.”

Elias Cohen, an Orthodox settler and member of Kibbutz Kfar Ezion, together with Nasri al-Barghouti, a Ramallah businessman, presented the “Two States in One Homeland” proposal, a plan they said they have developed over the past four years and have presented to hundreds of groups on both sides of the Israel-Palestinian conflict line.

The plan calls for complete sovereignty for both Israel and Palestine, a porous border with free movement between the countries and guaranteed access to holy sites for both sides.

While the plan does not call for Arab citizens of Israel to trade their blue ID cards for Palestinian citizenship, it does provide for Israeli Jews to retain their citizenship and voting rights in Israel, even while living under Palestinian administration, as well as Palestinians living under Israeli jurisdiction to do the same in the other direction.

But while Cohen spoke passionately about “recognizing the connection of both peoples to our joint homeland” and the need to re-define the terms of engagement when talking about local conflict resolution, Barghouti struck a rather different tone.

“For me, the Palestinian state is a place of equality and people living side by side,” Barghouti told the conference, but later blasted Israel for “achiev[ing] its goal for the Oslo process,” which he said was subduing the Palestinians and continuing to rule over them.

“From that perspective, the peace process has been a complete success for Israel. But unless the Israelis change their mentality, they cannot talk about peace,” Barghouti told TPS.

Barghouti, 58, said that both Yasir Arafat and current Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas have been “excellent partners for peace,” and criticized Israel for taking advantage of their goodwill in order to create a limited autonomy, oppress Palestinians and maintain the “occupation.”

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