Dear Sirs,

In you timely edition, "Towards Statehood" (Volume VI, No. 2, 1999), both Mustafa Abu Sway and Jumana Abu-Zayyad, in their respective articles "An Islamic Perspective on Palestinian Statehood" and "Undefined Borders: A New Concept in International Affairs," observe that Palestinian statehood is long overdue. As someone who has been advocating the two-state solution - although we didn't call it that then - since the early seventies (and had confidently expected it to have come about by the mid-seventies), I would strongly endorse their sentiment. While the conditions are less auspicious these many years later, owing to detrimental developments on the ground, it now seems clear that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians, together with their respective political authorities, are at last preparing, after decades of denial, to face up simultaneously to the reality that statehood for the Palestinians is inescapably the next step forward.
The critical issues for the immediate future are thus the character, shape and stability of the incipient state and the nature of its relations with the neighboring Jewish state. A far-sighted Israeli government would view the Palestinians not as eternal enemies forever to be feared, encircled and suppressed, but as allies in the final end to more than thirty years of a military occupation that has brutalized the occupier as well as the occupied, and its peaceful replacement with a viable, albeit non-militarized, Palestinian state.
For their part, it is surely in the interest of the Palestinians to seize the opportunity - with all its apparent imperfections - that is finally almost within their grasp to establish their own self-determination, in their own image, and to create a state and civil society explicitly committed to the protection of human rights, democracy and peaceful neighborly relations. There are many examples around them to demonstrate how elusive these goals can be if they are not institutionalized from the outset. Difficult political and intellectual challenges lie ahead.
With this in mind, it is dismaying that someone of Professor Edward Said's intellectual eminence (cited by Ilan Pappe with apparent sympathy in his article "A Palestinian State in Zionist and Israeli Thought") should revert at this critical juncture to the argument for a one-state solution. In so doing, he displays a remarkable talent for taking the discussion about the future structure of the Israeli-Palestinian relationship and of Palestinian self-determination backward under the guise of moving it forward. There is a danger that he will succeed only in distracting attention from the immediate issues at hand by diverting the whole debate down a back alley.
Neither Professor Said's nor Dr. Pappe's doubts about the feasibility of the two-state solution mean, abracadabra, that a different solution is thereby more feasible, or indeed more acceptable. On the contrary, a one-state solution may be tantamount to the continuation of occupation and political and economic domination under another name. The compelling need to rectify the historical imbalance between the two national movements, whereby one people is still stateless and subordinate to the other, while the other enjoys all the benefits and self-esteem that self-determination brings, cannot be glossed over.
If the proponents of a one-state-for-all want us to believe that its creation will not in practice perpetuate and exacerbate the existing imbalances, they have a clear responsibility to address these questions squarely. How can one state be taken seriously as an authentic alternative to two states without the proposal being fleshed out and elaborated in detail? It cannot be left merely as a default solution, as a hypothetical idyll for all manner of critics of the two-state path. Would it be a unitary state? A binational state? A democratic secular state? A federal state? A confederal state? A cantonal state? These are quite different ideas and potential realities, yet they are often used interchangeably as if they are one and the same thing. If the supporters of a one-state solution were tomorrow to put it into effect, they may soon find that they agree on the nomenclature but little else. The article by Simcha Bahiri and Hanna Siniora, "Separation, Confederation or Binationalism," in distinguishing some of the options, illustrates the ambiguities and confusions within the one-state rubric.
In any event, binational states, by whatever definition, have not had an encouraging track record in recent years - witness Canada and Belgium, among others. And there is currently very little support for such a solution among either Israelis or Palestinians. But, as Dan Leon observes in his piece, "Binationalism: A Bridge over the Chasm," it need not be ruled out eventually, if, over time, it is the genuine wish of two independent peoples to progressively merge their sovereignties. If there is a shortcut, the case has yet to be persuasively made. Until then, it is to be hoped that Professor Said will yet have a change of heart, and that he will use his immense intellect and influence to further the cause of his people and the goals of peace and reconciliation. In this he can guide us all through the thicket of conceptual and practical problems which imminently confront the embryonic State of Palestine.

Dr. Tony Klug
London, U.K.