Mar 20, 2011 4:26 AM GMT
Palestinian negotiators are more frequently threatening to abandon the goal of a two-state solution in their conflict with Israel and are pushing for a one-state option instead.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) is very well aware that a one-state solution constitutes a threat to Israel, and has used the threat during half a dozen meetings documented in The Palestine Papers.
The two-state solution remains the conceptual basis for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. However, as it has failed to accomplish a final agreement, Palestinian interest in a one-state solution has seemingly grown.
The one-state solution is generally presented as a nightmare scenario for Israel. The likelihood that Palestinians might one day constitute an electoral majority in a bi-national state - which is seen as inevitable - is viewed by many Israeli Jews as a threat to the 'Jewish character' of the country.
Quoted in a post-Annapolis interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz in November 2007, Ehud Olmert, the then-prime minister, warned of the implications of a one-state solution.
"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished."
The Palestine Papers reveal that from the run up to the Annapolis talks in 2007 onwards, the PA has increasingly used the one-state solution ‘threat’ during negotiations with Israeli and American officials.
In an April 2008 meeting between Tzipi Livni, the then-Israeli foreign minister, and Ahmed Qurei, the former PA prime minister, Israel proposed land-swaps that, according to the Palestinians, did not abide by the 1967 borders. When met with the one-state solution threat, Livni was quick to change her tone:
Qurei: I agreed to listen to your propositions because I thought you would come with realistic propositions. In light of these circumstances and these unrealistic propositions, I see that the only solution is a bi-national state where Moslems, Christians and Jews live together […] Is our demand for 1967 borders too much for us?
Livni: I did not say it is too much for you.
Round after round of failed peace talks and a simultaneous increase in illegal Jewish settlements have left the Palestinians desperate for an alternative solution. The one-state approach has therefore evolved from a mere threat to a serious option for many Palestinians.
At the end of 2009, an internal Palestinian memo urged the PA to develop the one-state option as a "credible alternative to the traditional two-state solution".
On October 2, 2009, during a meeting at the State Department with George Mitchell, the US Middle East envoy, a clearly frustrated Erekat, the chief PA negotiator, began referring to the one-state solution as a so-called BATNA, or best alternative to a negotiated agreement, should settlement construction continue in the West Bank. The US, a long-time ally of Israel, urged the Palestinians to continue direct negotiations with Israel despite the continued settlement activity.