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Hotoveli: We Shouldn't Fear a 'Bi-National State'

Controversial comments made at Jerusalem conference discussing alternative "Two State Solution."
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 8/25/2013, 9:12 PM / Last Update: 8/25/2013, 8:30 PM

Tzipi Hotoveli (Likud)
Tzipi Hotoveli (Likud)
Flash 90

The prospect of a "bi-national state" - one in which Israel annexes Judea and Samaria and grants full citizenship to its 2.5 million Arab residents - has long been viewed as a danger to the very existence of the Jewish state. It is one of the few things which many anti-Israel activists and their pro-Israel rivals actually agree upon: with the former aggressively advocating for it and the latter desperately seeking to avoid it by pushing for territorial concessions and the establishment of a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria.

But at least one right-wing MK disagrees with that assessment.

On the contrary, Likud MK Tzipi Hotoveli insisted Sunday that such an eventuality is far more preferable to territorial concessions that would see the Palestinian Authority gain control of the historically and strategically important Judea and Samaria region. 

Hotoveli was speaking at a Jerusalem conference entitled "Two States for Two People, on Two Sides of the Jordan River." Hosted by Professors for a Strong Israel, the conference discussed alternatives to a "Two State Solution" entailing the establishment of a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria.

Her statements were made in response to calls at the conference for an alternative "Two State Solution" which would see Jordan - not Judea and Samaria - as a Palestinian State, based upon the country's Palestinian majority, among other factors. Hotoveli dismissed the plan as "a fantasy," saying that it made no sense to formulate a plan that "took the initiative out of the hands of Israel," by relying on Jordan's Palestinian majority to topple the Hashemite regime there.

She pointed out that David Ben Gurion had been willing to establish a state with 600,000 Jews and 450,000 Arabs - a proportionately similar demographic to what would occur following the granting of citizenship to the Arabs of Judea and Samaria, in addition to Israel's 1.5 million Arab citizens. There are currently just over six million Jewish Israelis, and Hotoveli insisted that the Aliyah (immigration to Israel) of millions of Jews in the Diaspora, coupled with the current Jewish birthrate, would offset such an increase in the number of Arab-Israelis, thereby protecting Israel's Jewish character and ensuring the continuation of Jewish self-determination.

She emphasised, however, that annexing Judea and Samaria would also entail the "full application of Israeli sovereignty," and that the granting of full citizenship rights to any person should be conditioned on the simultaneous acceptance of their obligations as a citizen - something she accused successive Israeli governments of failing to do. Illustrating her point, she claimed that the apparent inability of the Knesset Ethics Committee and Israeli courts to ban Arab MKs who actively work towards the destruction of the Jewish state was due to a lack of political will, as opposed to legal tools.

Hotoveli pointed to the banning of Rabbi Meir Kahane and his Kach party in the 1980s, asking why Rabbi Kahane could be banned for anti-Arab "incitement," whilst Arab MKs like Haneen Zoabi and other who incite against Israelis could not be similarly banned.

Not everyone agreed with Hotoveli, however.

Conference organiser and director of Professors for a Strong Israel Aryeh Eldad, pointed out that the Aliyah of the hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of Jews that would be needed to offset a massive rise in the country's Arab population is as much "out of the control" of Israel as the establishment of a Palestinian State in Jordan. Professor Eldad further noted that the left-wing initiators and advocates of the Oslo Accords and today's "Two State Solution" acted before they were assured of Palestinian Authority cooperation. Eldad explained that in his view we can't always expect for everything to be "within our control," and that regardless there must be a "Plan B" for the eventuality of the fall of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; namely, the establishment of a Palestinian State in Jordan.

Both sides of the debate agreed, however, that the very existence of such a discussion was crucial to shattering the "illusion" that a Palestinian State in Judea and Samaria is the only solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict. There was also a consensus that the dangers of handing over Judea and Samaria to the PA - including the risk of a subsequent Hamas takeover along the lines of what occurred in Gaza - rendered even the current status-quo as preferable.