Left-wing author: Time to give up on Palestinian statehood

Long-time advocate of two-state solution adopts 'Bennett plan' proposed by Jewish Home.

Ben Sales and A7 Staff,

A.B. Yehoshua
A.B. Yehoshua
Gali Tibbon/AFP/Getty Images via JTA

JTA - For years, left-wing Israeli author A.B. Yehoshua has been fighting for a Palestinian state. For years, Education Minister and Jewish Home chief Naftali Bennett has been fighting against one.

But now they agree, if not on the reasons, at least on the practicalities.

Speaking to Israel’s Army Radio on Monday, Yehoshua made a shocking shift after nearly 50 years of peace activism, saying “It doesn’t make sense to talk about two states.”

“This solution is made more and more difficult, more and more problematic, and after 50 years it has become even harder because of what’s happening on the ground,” Yehoshua said in an interview marking his 80th birthday. “The solution was made impossible first because of the huge 'settlements' that now require evacuating 450,000 people, which is completely delusional.”

Instead, Yehoshua took a page from the playbook of the Jewish Home party.

Bennett has pushed Israel to annex the portion of Judea and Samaria that includes all Israeli communities and only 4% of the total Arab population over the Green Line, estimated by different sources to be between 50,000 and 80,000.

Called Area C, the region makes up about 60 percent of Judea and Samaria, but includes no Arab cities. Bennett’s plan would offer Israeli citizenship to Area C Palestinian Arabs.

Unlike Bennett, Yehoshua did not call for formally annexing the area. But he did suggest cementing Israeli control over the area, and perhaps granting citizenship to the Arabs who live there.

Given that Jews who live in Area C already are full Israeli citizens, Yehoshua’s proposal ends up sounding a lot like Bennett’s.

“They conflict day and night with the Jews living there, and they suffer the issue of occupation in the hardest way,” Yehoshua said of Area C Arabs. “I say to give them residencystatus, like the [Arab] residents of Jerusalem … or even citizenship. That way, you upgrade their position. From the perspective of Israel’s demographics, there’s no problem.”

Yehoshua said his about-face “is not despair. It’s a specific solution to a substantive problem.” He said granting Israeli residency to Area C Arabs means giving them benefits like unemployment insurance, Social Security and Israeli wage benefits.

Bennett responded on Twitter, claiming that “A.B. Yehoshua has adopted, in practice, the sovereignty plan I proposed in 2010.”