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Palestine: economic ignorance underpinning preference for the one-state solution

July 19, 2016

There have been three major waves of Palestine peace talks since the Second Intifada. We are in the middle of a fourth wave, coinciding with several things in no particular order: the imminent departures of Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon from their offices, struggle against and around forces called “ISIS,” low oil prices making among other things trade with geographically closer Israel more attractive, war for control of the trade bottleneck Bab-el-Mandeb in the midst of continuing economic crisis and Arab and Muslim interest in trade with China and other non-Amerikans, and rapprochement or apparent pursuit of rapprochement of different countries such as Turkey with I$rael. With various actors supporting, or appearing to support, the two-state solution for Palestine, it is time once again to pronounce the death of the two-state solution.

It has become something of a grotesque ritual. Nothing else has been declared dead and then resurrected so many times. At the same time, the Amerikan model of attempted integration with a settler parasite colonial state analogous to the Chican@ or New Afrikan (Black) experience inside U.$. borders, in hopes of it turning into a “socialist,” or “just” or “egalitarian” “democratic,” empire in some fanciful future, is increasingly influential. This is particularly true in places and contexts where I$rael is perceived as economically more similar to the United $tates as an imperialist country, than like Azania (South Africa), or where the frame of reference may be the united $tates – as it is for many Chican@s thinking about their own situation in occupied Aztlán – and not Azania.

The three-state solution

With each past wave of peace talks, there was an increase in discussion of the so-called three-state or Egyptian-Jordanian solution in which Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank would become Egyptian or Jordanian citizens. It seems some of that was just an uptick in an overall downward trend, because this time – apart from comments mostly on social media – the present writer hasn’t yet seen much of a spike in discussion of the Egyptian-Jordanian three-state solution in the media despite Egypt appearing prominently in reports in connection with the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Egyptian cooperation with Israel in various areas, including restricting the movement of Palestinians, involves a renouncement of sovereignty over the Gaza Strip, but by the same token Egypt may have an interest in annexing at least part of the Gaza Strip and granting Egyptian citizenship to the Palestinians there to avoid the appearance of complicity in apartheid if I$rael does not submit to a two-state solution.

Nobody is declaring the death of the three-state solution, maybe because it was never that alive in the first place as a topic of discussion in the West. If John Kerry isn’t talking about an option openly, to some Amerikan lackeys and others there is no reason to consider it, even though they themselves pay lip service to the two-state solution or fail to do what they can – what they are able to do even in the current difficult economic and political climate – to circumvent Amerikan obstruction. The Egyptian-Jordanian solution is often regarded as a back-to-the-past proposal already rejected by all of the parties most-directly concerned, and the solution is treated as if it – frequently along with the two-state solution – were unattainable regardless of the economic issues of the one-state solution.

The “back to the future” characterization of the Egyptian-Jordanian solution is misleading in that the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip didn’t actually get Egyptian citizenship after the Nakba, while Palestinians in the West Bank got Jordanian citizenship but against the wishes of other Arab countries. Arab countries and even Israel may today have more interest objectively in pursuing the two- or three- state solution than the united $tates does, but few are addressing that.

With the dearth of substantial media discussion of the three-state solution at all now, renewed proclamation of the death of the two-state solution leads to more consideration of the one-state solution in which Palestinians would be part of a state that includes most of the non-Palestinian families currently inside the Green Line and in those settlements without. This is interesting in light of the fact the economic issues – those involved in a rich imperialist country absorbing a number of Gaza Strip and West Bank Palestinians almost half the size of Israel’s population – even basic economic facts, haven’t received sufficient attention from the public outside the Middle East, in this writer’s opinion. While there is much not to like about the three-state solution, preference for the one-state solution is largely based on wishful or fragmentary thinking ignoring economic realities.

There is another, distinct three-state solution, discussed in the context of Fatah-Hamas struggle and reconciliation difficulties. That is the solution in which Palestinians would formally have two different states, one in the Gaza Strip and the other in the West Bank. This solution has many of the alleged problems of the two-state solution, with more complications. There is little reason, from the point of view of most anti-Israeli skeptics of the peace process, to think that particular three-state solution is more viable and desirable than the two-state solution. A couple things the two very different three-state solutions have in common is that Palestinians would be separated in terms of statehood, and Israel would continue to exist as a settler state. The Israel-Gaza-Strip-West-Bank so-called three-state solution is unlikely for various reasons, but the de facto reality of tripartite Israeli-Fatah-Hamas administration of Palestine is interesting in the context of the specious claim that Abbas could force a one-state solution by handing the West Bank over to Israel.

Other options would involve the whole of Jerusalem becoming a politically separate entity under joint international control, building on some existing agreements and institutions. This is interesting for a few reasons, but it’s hard to see how the united $tates would not dominate in that situation in the short term.

GDP differences

Economically and culturally at least, successful integration with either Egyptians or Jordanians seems much more possible than integration with Israelis. That is not to mention the long-term demographic concerns many Israelis have with any significant number of Arabs or Muslims. Even if Palestinians and non-Palestinian Israelis ended up having the same population growth as discussed in Israeli media,(1) nobody has persuasively explained why such a small increasingly secular imperialist country aspiring to the wealth of richer imperialist countries would – even under pressure – offer equal citizenship to millions of much-poorer people belonging to a Muslim oppressed nation, from or in adjacent, underdeveloped areas.

Employment, gross domestic product and wages of Palestinians are much lower than they would be without occupation, without a doubt, but Israel’s GDP per capita is about ten or more times greater than the State of Palestine’s currently for example (Gaza Strip and West Bank, exclusion/inclusion of settlements in GDP estimates not specified here). The Palestinian per-capita GDP in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank is much closer to Egypt’s or Jordan’s, though about half that of either of those countries. Reported per-capita GDP differences between East and West Germany prior to reunification are more like the difference between the State of Palestine (the limited area referred to here for statistical purposes) and Egypt or Jordan, than the difference between the State of Palestine and Israel. For further comparison, post-apartheid Azania – treated as a model by many supporters of the one-state solution despite great economic inequality continuing to exist between whites and Africans in Azania – has a per-capita GDP that is around China’s and many times closer to Egypt or Jordan’s per-capita GDP than to Israel’s. Israel is low among OECD countries and is (somewhat) comparable to the Czech Republic, Estonia, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, or Slovenia, among the OECD countries just in terms of GDP per capita – making Israel economically similar to the places many of the European Jewish settlers come from – but such great differences in productivity (as those between Israel and Azania, Jordan, etc.) are explained in terms of wage differences, borders, and repression. Any policy in which Palestinians become citizens of Israel suddenly or faster than Palestinians are born outside Israel would be perceived as threatening Israeli living standards and would probably be rejected by a large number of Israelis.

Per-capita GDP can indicate a country’s place in the world economy. A higher per-capita GDP and particularly GDP per hour worked can indicate a greater net inflow of value from other countries in Marxist terms, greater exploitation of other countries, when the country’s greater income does not necessarily represent more labor done. Per-capita GDP, specifically, has been discussed academically and in the media in the context of Korean reunification(2) and has been mentioned as a factor impeding the reunification process. It is supposed to be costly to narrow the underlying gaps, which will have long-term economic and political consequences if they are allowed to persist after reunification. Another way it is put is that if the per-capita GDP gap isn’t narrowed, southern Korea won’t be able to recover the cost of reunification regardless of other consequences. Though there are important differences in the situations, the economic conditions in both northern Korea, and the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, are caused by either occupation or conflict perpetuated by the Amerikans, whose interests are threatened by both Korean reunification and a Palestine two-state solution achieved independently of Amerikan interests. Yet, there has been much more discussion of per-capita GDP in the context of Korean reunification than in the context of the I$rael one-state solution – as if the supposed inevitability of the solution meant the economic details didn’t need to be discussed. The one-state solution is not discussed with the explicitness, frequency and level of seriousness Korean reunification has been discussed; instead, favoring the one-state solution over the three-state solution in the midst of wholesale or inconsistent disapproval of pursuing the two-state solution seems to almost require economic obliviousness.

Azania – a former British colony – is viewed as a model for Palestine because of some historical and political similarities, ignoring the fact that post-apartheid Azania is still a Third World country and lost its direct imperialist rule and brazen settler dictatorship under economic circumstances that basically don’t exist in contemporary Israel, which is an imperialist country richer than Russia per capita and similar to New Zealand in that measure. Azania ended up having a per-capita GDP close to the per-capita GDP of Jordan, another poor country that is formally independent of but dominated by Western neo-colonialism. The comparison of a future, post-apartheid unified state called “Israel” to post-apartheid “South Africa” would thus scare Israelis economically, but more-accurate economic comparisons involving Azania point to an Arab country of similar wealth as the economic destiny of Palestinians. This suggests the two- or three- state solution.

Annexation issues in the modern world

There is little reason to think the European-descended citizens of the Israeli state would be more likely to accept oppressed nation people as migrants (actually refugees in their own land) or citizens than Amerikans are likely to accept Mexicans in similar (percentage-wise) numbers. In the early 1800s, when the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed – and even in the early 1900s – the world’s nations were more similar economically and a relatively small difference gave an advantage. Direct control over land was considered more important, and there was less trade between sovereign states to profit from by unequal exchange, the main form of international exploitation today. In today’s world, where neo-colonialism predominates, where democracy plays a larger role and where privileged imperialist country workers exercise influence, annexing land and making its inhabitants imperial citizens is a much different proposition. In other words, it’s not just land and resources that matter. Despite discrimination against themselves, even some Arabs in Israel may worry about how new citizens pursuing their own interests will behave and vote. Even non-imperialist countries in Latin America have difficulty accepting migrants from each other, and even if Brazil could annex Bolivia it’s not that it would. Likewise, the economic divergence of northern and southern Korea has contributed to reunification difficulties where reunification is now unappealing to many in southern Korea for economic reasons, as alluded to above. That is despite Korea being one distinct nation – like Palestine, and unlike the Palestinians and non-Palestinians currently on Palestinian land. Why Israelis – or Egyptians or Jordanians – would have a different attitude toward so many proposed new citizens in much-poorer areas is unclear.

The united $tates has a high GDP per capita and seems to accept Mexicans more than Israel accepts Palestinians. It would be a mistake to conclude from that, that Israel has the potential to accept more Palestinians as citizens. The united $tates is much larger than Israel, and even if most Mexicans claimed a right to live anywhere in the united $tates as citizens – which they don’t – Mexicans as a percentage of Amerikans are still a bit smaller than Palestinians as a percentage of Israelis. The fact that the united $tates has an extremely high GDP per capita, high even among OECD countries, may actually make it unusual in terms of how much money it has to go around. Israel is an exploiter-majority country, but has a GDP per capita (and a GDP per hour worked) only three-fifths of the united $tates’. Many other OECD countries are in between, which would make acceptance of the two-state solution in exchange for improved trade relations attractive for Israelis but may also make Israelis feel vulnerable now about Palestinians as new citizens.

Egypt has a per-capita GDP more than twice that of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, but only a third of the per-capita GDP of Israel. And the size of Egypt’s population is more than ten times the size of Israel’s. For Egypt to absorb two million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip would be easier than Israel (or Jordan arguably, population almost ten million) absorbing three million Palestinians in the West Bank, but if that idea isn’t viable then neither is the one-state solution.

Of course, it is often said by Amerikan workers and pseudo-feminists that non-Western-European migrants are threatening to turn the united $tates into a “Third World” or especially patriarchal country. But if one reads many favorable discussions of the one-state solution and even some of the more well-known arguments for the three-state solution published around the time of the Annapolis Conference, the world appears amazingly flat economically and nations often appear not to differ in terms of size. That is except for when desirability and viability are conflated and the size of Palestine’s population is thought to favor, in the eyes of certain alleged opponents of Israeli colonialism, the one-state solution with Israel as an Arab-majority country potentially. In that case, the fact that adding Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Israel’s population would make it an Arab-majority country proves the correctness of the one-state solution rather than being evidence of how ferociously the settlers, privileged workers and other exploiters in Israel would reject the solution. Or instead of recognition of the fact that Egypt is huge both area- and population-wise compared with Israel, one hears about how the Gaza Strip and the West Bank are collectively and individually so small spatially as to make the two-state solution impossible. The “Swiss cheese” geography of the West Bank due to Israeli settlements and outposts is supposed to favor the one-state solution despite the fact that settlers and settlement policy evidence a hardened desire to exclude Palestinians from citizenship, if not remove them from the land, rather than make Israeli citizens out of millions of Palestinians.

It is almost as if Palestinians were facing the prospect of being an unmarried outcast relegated to second-class status (keeping the status quo) or being married to one of two (or two of three) other individuals, considered desirable or undesirable for purely political, cultural, historical, ideological, linguistic, religious or ethnic/national identity reasons, or because of reasons of past abuse, grudges about verbal provocations, relatives objecting to the relationship, or short-term sorts of strategic concern. Even the unlikelihood or drawbacks (from the point of view of avoiding prostitution) of marrying a prospective spouse so much richer (Israel) is basically ignored. One hears about economic connections/ties between Palestinians and Israel, Egypt, or Jordan, but much less about the general economic differences that made governing the Palestinians in the long term, in all of the territory seized by Israel, unattractive to many Israelis in the years after the 1967 war.

The long, difficult and only way forward, frustrated by the Amerikans and pseudo-left delusions

At the time of this writing, Netanyahu has just put an open video message on social media addressed to Mahmoud Abbas.(3) Misleadingly described as a message of peace, the obvious purpose of the video is to blame Abbas for any future failure to negotiate a two-state solution. As a result of what Netanyahu said in the video, Abbas will look bad no matter what Abbas does, either weak or obstinate. The two-state solution’s prospects look dismal right now, but the solution continues to be interesting from the point of view of being wary of the negative aspects of integrating or combining with imperialist empire, maintaining an anti-Amerikan orientation by pointing out problems with calling for the destruction of Israel but not the Amerikan parasite settler state, avoiding the economic ignorance and delusions involved in supporting the one-state solution, persevering in diplomacy with an understanding that a reasonable two-state solution has not been reached because the Amerikans are actually against it, and continuing to construct international relations with Palestine instead of pursuing one-state dreams that are as unrealistic as they are problematic. As long as it is taking for it to be realized, the two-state solution is in fact a necessary step. Economic and international factors are precluding alternatives right now.

The two-state solution arguably involves some of the same economic issues in that it might be difficult for a fully recognized State of Palestine to exist alongside Israel without conflict if Palestinians remain much poorer and many Palestinians continue to make claims to land inside Israel’s borders. But the Mexican experience with the united $tates suggests a two-state solution could be sustained until an actual socialist revolution – not some one-state or global fantasy of socialist revolution ignoring the extent of international exploitation and global polarization – arrives to deal with the Amerikan and Israeli settler states and with imperialist countries more aggressive and exploitive than Israel.

Israeli settlement expansion doesn’t mean Israel would want to annex all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and give the Palestinians there citizenship. If more Palestinians are ultimately forced to leave the Gaza Strip and the West Bank because of settlement expansion, there will be fewer Palestinians to get Israeli citizenship. These things should be obvious. Yet, among supporters of the one-state solution, settlement expansion is oddly claimed as evidence of the inevitability of that solution by both anti-Israelis and many who are pro-Israel. The idea of some is that Israel is somehow allowing itself to be forced by the settler “tip of the spear” into a situation ensuring the one-state solution is the only way forward, against Israel’s larger interests. There are conflicting views – which have the effect of getting a larger number of people to back the one-state solution – about whether the single state would continue to exist as a settler state. It has to be admitted that any two-state solution would preserve Israel as a settler state in the short term. It is clear what the two-state solution is in that sense. There is less room for deception or confusion. By contrast, the one-state solution has both anti-Israeli and pro-Israeli commentators who have wildly different ideas about what a future single state would look like in terms of power and privilege of Arabs. Some seem to envision Israel becoming like Amerika, with Palestinians in the place of Chican@s, First Nations and New Afrikans as having lower socioeconomic status than whites, but higher status than oppressed nations outside the imperialist country’s borders. Others see Israel becoming like some future Amerika in which non-whites outnumber and dominate whites or have replaced whites as both exploiters and oppressors. Many coconuts in the united $tates say the most angry-sounding things about whites (Euro-Amerikans) but cling to the Amerikan flag because of such demographic fantasies. Such people inspire too much imitation internationally.

If Palestinians want to go a whoring after imperialist and white idols as many Chican@s and New Afrikans have done in the united $nakes, there is a point at which imperialist bribery would mean Palestinians are no longer oppressed economically in certain aspects relative to other oppressed nations. Such successful integration with imperialism would have to be seen as progress, in a sense, from a Palestinian point of view though it could mean Arabs and Muslims fighting for the united $tates as part of a secular country. And there was no realistic threat of invasion and occupation of the united $tates by an imperialist country in the 1860s or the 1960s, conditioned on failure to resolve New Afrikan national questions, but people calling themselves progressives or peacemakers in the united $tates with big military and spying budgets express dissatisfaction and impatience with all states and leaders in the Middle East and see new alleged terrorist threats around the Israeli-Palestinian issue. A one-state solution would be a good thing if it led to less u.$. involvement in the Middle East or made involvement more complicated for the united $tates. For one, aid to Israel would be harder to justify by reference to Arab-Israeli discord over Palestine. So, if imperialist countries were to offer Palestinians bribes enough to make the one-state solution work, there is only so much the world could be against that. Yet, if enormous economic differences are barely even acknowledged (or only obliquely acknowledged by saying settlements are too developed to be eliminated) it is harder to address the amount of bribery that would be necessary to stabilize the one-state solution, whose feasibility is already highly questionable due to the same economic issues.

Many supporters of the BDS campaign support the two-state solution, so much so that an Amerikan commentator recently suggested the whole purpose of the movement was to pressure Israel to accept the two-state solution.(4) Officially, the BDS movement itself is intentionally unspecific. The movement has both supporters who are for the one-state solution, and supporters who support dismantlement of the Israeli settler state but not the Amerikan settler state. Confusingly, some of those talking about “intifada” support both the one-state solution and the BDS campaign as a substitute for diplomacy. Whether they realize it or not, many of the opponents of the two-state solution – particularly those treating Israel as if it were potentially (or already) a Western secular multicultural democracy closer to socialism than Muslim or Third World countries are – are influenced by the Amerikan model or a belief that revolution will happen before the world deals with u.$. dominance. Underlying are false ideas about the global and First World economies, a lack of attention to concrete economic realities, and both.

In the context of the two-state solution and Amerikan obstruction, it is not that all Amerikan diplomats are to be despised in particular. Low-level idealists may be found anywhere. No doubt there are some people whose job it is to be perpetually in favor of diplomacy and a two-state solution acceptable to a majority of Palestinians. That is to say, not all Amerikan diplomats should be regarded with particular hostility compared with decadent people who support a secular one-state solution because they are too anti-Islam, too antisemitic, too bourgeois-atheist, too secure or too unconcerned about internal national oppression or the dangers of joining in imperialist exploitation, for example, to allow or pursue the two-state solution. Diplomats’ bosses can have other priorities, or constituencies who don’t really care. A majority of Jewish Amerikans can support the two-state solution and some diplomats can work on it with what they have (including lack of support in other departments, and negotiation parameters designed or evolved to benefit Amerikan interests), but less than a majority of Amerikans may support the two-state solution, perhaps because to not support it is perceived to be the opposite of what Jews and some elites want. The result is predictable: getting nowhere.

It is Amerika as a whole that is an obstacle to the two-state solution. Even when they pay attention to international affairs – which is not often for most – ending the oppression of Palestine is not a priority for Amerikans. They want strong allies in the Middle East, but antisemitism, anti-Arab chauvinism, anti-Islam sentiment (to which liberal or lifestyle-focused Democrats have made their own special contribution) and increasing hostility to religion in general including Judaism make the idea of having an even-more-Jewish Jewish state alongside another Arab Muslim state unappealing to many. Whether through active intervention, or passivity and ignorance by choice, Amerikans are responsible for the parameters their diplomats are given, the instructions and bargaining constraints that lead to interfering with international pressure on Israel and to interfering with other countries’ developing relations with Palestine. Amerikan foreign policy is what it is because Amerikans are who they are as economic exploiters and national oppressors, no “Jewish” money or Israel lobby of exaggerated influence necessary. Understanding that is also a matter of acknowledging and understanding economic issues – not just within the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – properly instead of just talking about culture, memories, ideas, identities, statements etc. floating around in the superstructure.

Among the “Left,” strident arguments against the two-state solution are accompanied by radical-sounding rhetoric in favor of the one-state solution, in some cases even in conscious collusion with u.$. obstruction of the two-state solution as if failure were a good thing. It is clear that, instead of pushing for countries to recognize and build their relations with the State of Palestine, many – some by their own admission – want the situation in Palestine to deteriorate further. Israel would be forced, supposedly, to take responsibility for all of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and either achieve equality or reveal itself to be an apartheid state – as if the intolerable oppression of Palestinians weren’t already obvious, and as if Amerikan lackeys in Arab countries weren’t already also being attacked (in various ways) for their role in Palestinians’ conditions. A secular state in the Middle East with an ethnically Jewish minority and a non-Jewish majority may sound good to many Westerners, but that doesn’t make such an Israel likely. Ignoring what real radicals have said about the pitfalls of seeking equality inside rich imperialist countries makes the one-state solution more attractive, but not easier to achieve.

Relative independence of non-Amerikan interests

In different ways, the status quo in Palestine and most of the movement for the one-state solution reflect Amerikan interests. It is true that Israelis have self-interest of questionable character in the two-state solution in that it wants to avoid appearing more as an apartheid state with de facto or de jure sovereignty over all of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and persistent political or economic inequality, but that is a fact that should be taken advantage of in pursuit of the two-state solution, and it is a fact that shows independence of Israeli interests from Amerikan interests and vice versa. Being known as an apartheid state doesn’t help Israel with trade, and the united $tates doesn’t care about Israel’s economic growth or trading ability/flexibility in particular as long as it remains a strong and effective ally like other countries with known problems. Israel’s independent, objective interest in the two-state solution should be supported to the max as should other countries’ interest in expanding relations with the Palestinian state with or without Israeli and Amerikan approval.

There is no socialist power in the world at this time to support genuine revolution in a secular Arab-Jewish bi-ethnic country in the Middle East. But various capitalist countries – including some Amerikan allies, and neo-colonies influenced by more internal pressure from proletarians and toilers than First World countries are with their oppressor-exploiter majorities – have their own economic and political interests in relation to Israel and the Palestinian nation. They can simultaneously pursue the two-state solution and struggle against and weaken Amerikan dominance. They need not be overly influenced by false economic and political assumptions supporting the one-state solution. ◊

• “Boycott the United Snakes: Amerika standing in the way of the two-state solution,” 2016 July.
• “Level of GDP per capita and productivity.”
• “5. Report for Selected Countries and Subjects.” (
• “GDP per capita (current US$).”
• “GDP per capita PPP.”
• “Israel.”
• “State of Palestine.”

1. “Jewish, Arab birthrates in Israel now almost the same,” 2015 November 18.
2. “The economic costs of Korean reunification.”
“North Korea’s per capita GDP and comparison with South Korea,”
“South Korea says economic cost of unification would be $500bn,” 2014 November 19.
“The dream of a Korean unification,” 2014 November.
3. “Watch: Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu sends message of peace to Palestine leader,” 2016 July 18.
4. “Egyptian national security at the heart of rapprochement with Israel,” 2016 July 18.

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