Geneva Initiative Annexes
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Amos Oz: Two-States is the only Solution

By Michael Felsen, Jerusalem Post
At the J Street plenary session, Oz didn’t pull any punches. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a tragedy “in the purest sense,” because it’s a clash between “right and right,” between one very powerful claim to the land and another no less powerful claim over the same land. Palestine is the homeland of the Palestinians in the same way Greece is the homeland of the Greeks, he said, and Israelis are in Israel “for exactly the same reason.”
So, what to do? Oz has little patience for the “sentimentalist Western” idea that the conflict is just a matter of misunderstandings that can be cleared up with “a little group therapy.” “Rivers of coffee drunk together cannot extinguish the tragedy of two peoples rightly claiming the same land as their one and only homeland.” Instead of coffee, what he calls for is a “liveable compromise.” Compromise means life. The opposite of compromise is not idealism and integrity, but “fanaticism and death.” Needless to say, this truism cuts both ways. That is, alas, it’s readily applied to extremists on both the Israeli and Palestinian side.
To this Israel Prize laureate, one state isn’t an answer. Jews and Arabs can’t live like one happy family because, Oz says, we’re two unhappy families. Idealists on the left will no doubt find this assertion disconcerting; it’s surely not the case that all Jews and Arabs in the region are hostile toward, and alienated from, one another. But for the majorities, at this historical moment, the unhappiness with the other rings true. And those on the Israeli right need to come clean too: given the demographics, one state from the river to the sea will either be an apartheid state - as former presidents Olmert and Barak have acknowledged – or it will lose its Jewish majority. A non-starter.
Oz insists that what Israelis and Palestinians need is a “fair, if painful, divorce.” It will be a “funny” divorce, because each member of the couple is staying in the same house, a house that will require creative dividing. But instead of the current arrangement – one characterized by submission and domination – the divorced parties will live side by side, and not one on top of the other. For my money, we’re talking about creative dividing a la the Geneva Accord: smart, fair, negotiated, comprehensive.
Oz told J Street that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians are ready to accept – albeit reluctantly – the divorce: a two-state solution, ’67 borders with modifications, two capital cities in Jerusalem. The polls bounce around on this point, but if the leaders of both sides presented a done deal to their people, would they reject it? To hold out for what? As Oz sees it, “the patient, Israeli and Palestinian, is unhappily ready for painful surgery; the doctors are cowards.” Agreed. Both sides need brave and skilled surgeons to perform the complex operation on these Siamese twins. How much longer can the patient wait to realize its two independent, sovereign identities?
Prominent Israeli author and activists, Amos Oz
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