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Israel/Palestine: Two States?

Martin Sullivan

THE DECLARATION reproduced below ["We Shall Not Continue to Fight this War of the Settlements"] has been signed by over 300 Israeli reservists. It combines an uncompromising defence of the state of Israel with a no less fierce opposition to the repression of the Palestinian people by the Israeli government.

If the Israeli right enjoys mass support – and the main beneficiary of the growing disillusionment with Sharon would appear to be Netanyahu – this is because the majority of Israeli Jews see in them the political forces most committed to the defence of the state of Israel. The importance of the reservists’ declaration is that it argues that the best way to maintain a Jewish state is to recognise the rights of the Palestinians. If Sharon, Netanyahu and Co are to be isolated and defeated, then it seems to me self-evident that the reservists’ position should be supported.

This will find no favour among those leftists who reject a "two state" solution and insist on retaining the agitational demand for the abolition of the state of Israel and its replacement with a democratic secular state of Palestine. But the problem with this demand (now dropped by the Palestinians themselves) is that no more than a handful of Israeli Jews support it. The overwhelming majority retain their belief in, and loyalty to, a specifically Jewish state. By calling for an end to this state, leftists only assist the right, by reinforcing the latter’s claim to be the true defenders of Israel, and thereby help to perpetuate the sufferings of the Palestinians.

The reservists’ declaration supports the withdrawal of Israeli troops to the 1967 borders, the evacuation of illegal settlements and the right of the Palestinians to control their own territory. Nobody on the left could possibly disagree with this. Yet, if these demands were to be realised, what would the result be but the de facto existence of two states?