Only by Implementing Rabin's legacy can we Avoid a Bi-national State

by Gilly Harpaz, nrg

The violence is not necessarily the result of Israeli building in East Jerusalem, but it is clear that the building is leading to chaos which will not allow Israel to continue to exist as a Jewish and democratic  state
"Violence is not the result of building in Jerusalem," said Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the opening of the winter session of the Knesset (Israel's parliament). The Prime Minister was not being precise. It would be more accurate to say that the building in Jerusalem is not the only cause of violence in the city. Since the murder of the youth Mohammed Abu Khdeir last July, riots, stone throwing and violent acts have turned into a daily occurrence in the city. The attempted murder of the right wing activist Yehuda Glick last week is also a serious crime and a sign of an additional escalation in the city. In recent days, senior members of the Israeli security forces have described the situation as explosive and are warning against incendiary acts that could ignite the entire West Bank.
The 'eternally united Jerusalem', as the Prime Minister defines it, is actually a bi-national city which exists in the shadow of an ongoing conflict between its Jewish and Palestinian residents.  In reality, it is a divided city with two totally separate modes of living for its residents: education, health and transport amongst others. The Palestinian residents of the city do not vote in municipal elections. Certain Palestinian neighborhoods that are included within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries are in fact located outside the barrier, despite the fact that their residents hold blue (ie. Israeli issued) identity cards. The vast majority of the Israeli public has never visited Palestinian neighborhoods such as Jabel Mukaber, Kfar Akev or Isawiya, and it is doubtful that they realize that these are Palestinian villages that were annexed to Israel in 1967 and make up a part of 'United Jerusalem'.
Bi-national Jerusalem demonstrates what life in Israel would like be if it became a bi-national state. Even if the violence is not the result of the building in Jerusalem as the Prime Minister claims, the building over the green line will bring other disastrous results in the diplomatic field. As long as the building by settlers in the Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem and in isolated settlements continues, the window of opportunity for the two state solutions continues to close.  Our relations with our allies in the world will continue to deteriorate, and the international isolation alongside the irreversible reality in the field will turn Israel in practice into a bi-national state. Whoever insists on continuing to rule over Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and builds outposts between Nablus and Jenin, is leading us there.
There are voices on the radical right and left in Israel that object to the division of the land into two nation states and support turning the State of Israel into one state in which live two nations. The extreme left intends to create a state of all its citizens with an Arab majority that is a democratic, but not Jewish state. The extreme right aspires to a Jewish state that is not democratic, in which a minority of Jews rule over a majority of Palestinians. There are those who call this the 'One state solution', as opposed to the 'Two state solution'. A reality of one states for two peoples is perhaps a realistic scenario, but it will certainly not solve the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. 
This month we will mark 19 years since the murder of Yitzhak Rabin z"l in two different memorial ceremonies. One ceremony, with the participation of former President Shimon Peres, one the initiators of the Oslo process who touted a 'New Middle East' and an agreement with the Palestinians, highlighted the need to promote a peace agreement through diplomacy. This Saturday night an additional ceremony will take place which will focus on 'defending democracy' and will condemn racism and violence with the participation of the current President Reuven Rivlin, who promotes the annexation of territories to Israel.
Educating all sectors of Israeli society to respect free speech, equality and to reject violence, in order to prevent a recurrence of the murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir or the attempted murder of Yehuda Glick is an important lesson of the incitement which led to Rabin's murder. However, only a fulfillment of the diplomatic legacy of Rabin: ie. a division of the land and a separation from the Palestinians, will prevent Israel from becoming a bi-national state riven by conflict and promise genuine peace and security for both nations. 
The author is the Spokesperson of the Geneva Initiative