The Bailey Mail
February 26, 2008
I just read something about the Israel/Palestine conflict that had never occurred to me. Olmert told Haaretz: “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
So that is why Israel’s government is always so quick to say they want a two-state solution, and the Palestinians best chance of getting their own state is to start applying pressure for equal voting rights.
Israel could never grant the Palestinians equal voting rights because the Arab population far outweighs the Jewish population. And with South Africa as a precedent on which to base their argument, equal voting rights could be a far more achievable aim. In Olmert’s words “The Jewish organizations, which were our power base in America, will be the first to come out against us, because they will say they cannot support a state that does not support democracy and equal voting rights for all its residents.”
But I doubt it would ever get to that stage, I believe a little pressure for equal voting rights would force Israel to do whatever it took to bring about a two-state solution. I believe this because: Israel maintaining its legitimacy as a primarily Jewish state, with more Jews in Israel than Arabs, is the most important thing to the Israeli government — and most Israelis. The very thought that Arab’s voting could end some of their Jews supremacist laws would terrify them, and I believe a Palestinian state would be a reality in a very short space of time.
I don’t think the Palestinians should stop calling for their own state, because I believe they thoroughly deserve it and are entitled to it, but their campaigners would be wise to adapt their message to say “either give us our own state, or make us a complete part of yours with equal voting rights.” While I truly believe Israel will create the long desired Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital long before it has real fears of having to grant Palestinians equal voting rights, if I’m wrong, even equal voting rights would allow Palestinians the chance, firstly to end their day to day misery, and then to start to make their lives better:
To vote away some of the check-points and otherwise de-restrict their movements allowing them to find work, to vote for an end of Israel’s sneaky annexation and Judaisation of Jerusalem and eventually even to claim back Jerusalem in a peaceful way, to vote some of the innocent prisoners including children out of Israeli jails where they are being tortured and de-humanised, and to vote for a halt to construction of the massive wall Israel is building through what should rightly be their territory, according to the UN and every proposed peace deal for more than 20 years.
Like I said I don’t think it will ever happen because Olmert is right, equal voting rights for Palestinians would mean the end of Israel. What would be left would be a Palestinian state with a Jewish population, and the Palestinians would have their own state all the same. It is a win win situation for the Palestinians, and at worst Israel will succumb to the two-state solution to prevent the demise of the Jewish state.