Babylon & Beyond

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WEST BANK: Many Palestinians would agree to Israeli citizenship

July 26, 2010 |  8:56 am


A poll on the Palestinian Ma’an news website that ended Monday showed that more than 56% of Palestinians support a former Israeli defense minister's idea to annex the West Bank and grant Israeli citizenship to its 2.5 million residents.

For Moshe Arens, the former defense minister, Israel has less to lose from incorporating the West Bank and its population than any other solution for the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
Apparently, Arens' idea seems to have struck a chord among Palestinians. What the poll indicates is that a slim majority of Palestinians in the occupied territories have given up on the idea of two states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side by side in peace and security. Many now prefer the one-state solution, which means Israel would incorporate the remaining parts of historic Palestine, excluding the Gaza Strip, which Arens seems to have ignored.

However, the Palestinians’ reasoning for their decision is totally different from that of Arens, a right-wing Israeli politician. Whereas Arens dismisses the general Israeli concern that granting West Bank Palestinians Israeli citizenship would change the demographic and Jewish structure of Israel, Palestinians believe they would eventually become a majority in Israel in light of their higher birth rate, which means they could eventually take control through democratic and peaceful means.
The idea of a one-state solution gradually has been gaining Palestinian support as the Oslo process, started in 1993, has failed to bring about an independent state for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Strong advocates of the two-states idea also now are talking about one state. Recently, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suggested the one-state solution if negotiations to bring about an independent state failed.
The Ma’an poll, although not very scientific, reflects the general Palestinian mood in the occupied territories after efforts to give them a state have stalled and hopes pinned on the Obama administration have faded. Palestinians still carry the one card that can either make or break peace in the Middle East: their presence on the land. Israel will have to deal with that reality sooner or later.

-- Maher Abukhater in Jerusalem

Photo: A Palestinian man throws stones at Jewish settlers close to the northern West Bank village of Burin on July 26, 2010. The violence began when Israeli troops removed two mobile homes set up near the Bracha settlement, sparking protests from settlers, who hurled rocks at Palestinian vehicles at a nearby checkpoint, Palestinian witnesses said. Credit: Jaafar Ashtiyeh / AFP/Getty Images