Northwestern University School of Law Professor Eugene Kontrovich visited the village of Shdema on Friday, and spoke about the importance of preventing a two-state solution at an events sponsored by Women In Green (Nashim B'Yarok).
Kontrovich, who is also Senior Fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum, stated that the "bottom line" is that “we [Israelis] can live with Arabs, but they [the ‘Palestinians’] can’t live with Jews."
The professor was straightforward with the audience about the true intentions of the Palestinian Authority, which has been involved in ongoing talks with Israel over the past year.
“Their singular demand is not just for an independent state, but a state without any Jews," he stated. Kontrovich noted that demands for ethnic cleansing in a modern setting “has never been made in any context anywhere else around the world.”
About 150 people attended the talk, titled “Who is Afraid of the One State Solution?", which is part of the Friday Morning Lecture Series. The lecture series is organized both by Women In Green (WIG) and the Forum for Sovereignty. The weekly lectures are held at the refurbished Shdema Military Base, located atop a strategic junction overlooking the road between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion.
Kontorovich opened his remarks by stating that while “most Israelis now realize that the notion of ‘land for peace’ has almost disappeared,” certain Israeli leaders and Obama administration officials are capitulating to Palestinian threats that if Israel doesn’t give into Palestinian demands, “they [the Arabs] will impose a One State Solution,” which [they threaten] will eliminate the Jewish majority in the Land of Israel.
“This is the argument that Minister [Tzipi] Livni, and [President] Obama make,” said Kontorovich. “They are saying that you have to do this [make land concessions to the Palestinians], and if not they will demand to become citizens of the state of Israel, and that is a disaster. This helps explain why the Palestinian demands are so great.”
Kontorovich stated that the idea of a one-state solution is being exploited by the Arabs “as if it was a nuclear bomb or if guns were being held to our heads. Those who believe [in the threat] are willing to give more, and the greater the extent to which Israeli leaders are willing to make concessions, the demands [of the Arabs] will only increase.”
Kontorovich believes that many of those who promote the two-state solution are sincerely afraid of a one-state solution due to fears that Israeli Arabs will eventually outnumber Israeli Jews, thereby scrapping the idea of a Jewish State of Israel.
The professor turns the notion on its head. “The Palestinians who should be afraid of the One State Solution since while for us [Israel] it will be costly, for the Palestinians it would be a disaster, an impossibility” which is the reason they haven’t tried to implement it, despite “threatening this forever.”
He elaborated that “the notion that the Palestinians would embrace a one state solution is based on the myth that we are ruling over them and subjecting them to our will. If that were the case, then surely for them being a minority in a democratic Israel would be acceptable."
"But in reality," he continued, "they have their own government, and they have a (sort of) democratically elected leadership – with a seat at the UN, diplomatic immunity, television stations, banks, their own civil service, etc. And they receive billions from the EU in financial aid to support them, so for them [to embrace a one-state solution] they would go from being 100% decision makers down to 40%," as based on their new demographic reality being citizens of the State of Israel.
Kontorovich insists that Israel approaches the issue backwards, hurting itself in the process.
“We, Israel, should be using the threat of implementing a one-state solution as diplomatic leverage – as a credible strategy, because the terms of the deal would be a lot better if we don’t think [and act] that we have a gun to our heads," he continued. "We should say “if you don’t give us what we want, we’ll give you the one-state solution," increasing Israel's bargaining capacity.
In a one-state solution, Palestinian citizens would presumably vote in Israeli elections and participate in national decisions.
But what is less discussed is that the Jewish majority would also decide major issues in Palestinian Arab life, as the majority does for all citizens - school curriculum, army service, and other civil issues included.
The Palestinian Authority might soon prefer a formalization of the status quo, where the govern their affairs without Israeli legislative control, and themselves not vote in national elections.
Kontorovich pointed out that there are certainly precedents for such permanent autonomy arrangements. The US has several non-state territories, including Puerto Rico - an ambiguous entity under US sovereignty whose residents are US citizens but do not vote in elections for the federal government. (In compensation for not voting, they have various special tax breaks.) Other territories with similar status include the US Virgin Islands, Guam, and Samoa as well as UK controlled territories such as the Cayman Islands and Gibraltar.
While in 2012, a referendum was held in Puerto Rico in which 54% of its residents indicated that they did not want to continue as a non-state colony under US control, those demands were ignored by the international community - including the US.
He concluded his remarks by suggesting that Israel must implement certain electoral reforms if a one-state solution were to be implemented, thereby causing the country’s Arab population to rise to 40%.
Those reforms include absentee ballet voting, the elimination of proportional representation and implementation of geographic representation, which would lead to a system by which elected officials would be held accountable by their voting constituencies.
During the question and answer session, Kontorovich admitted that while the one-state solution has its problems, the two-state solution would be a disaster for Israel. Rockets would be flying from the Palestinian State aimed at Tel Aviv, and Jews with foreign visas would be fleeing en masse, according to the professor.
The full talk is available in the video above.