Will the two-state solution go the way of the defunct peace process?

Binyamin Netanyahu’s proposals are likely to be nothing more than a rehash of approaches that have f

In the last week, press reports have suggested that the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is preparing to give a key speech on the peace process in the next few months, and many have flagged up as the hook his planned visit to the US in May. Claims of an imminent bold proposal have met with a good deal of scepticism from Palestinians and Netanyahu's domestic political opponents alike. Analysts have described the talk of a new plan as a "trial balloon" and a "public relations exercise aimed first and foremost at Washington".

Netanyahu's new plan, should it materialise, is rumoured to be based on "the establishment of a Palestinian state within temporary borders" as part of an "interim peace agreement with the Palestinian Authority". Other reports have been even vaguer, claiming that Netanyahu is proposing "a phased approach to peacemaking", but leaving open whether this includes temporary borders.

Such an approach is similar to proposals previously put forward by the foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and ex-defence minister Shaul Mofaz, both of whom emphasised the need for a long-term interim agreement. Lieberman's plan is said to entail Israel holding on to at least 50 per cent of the West Bank, while Mofaz would have Israel keep 40 per cent of the territory.

Last week, the senior Fatah official Nabil Shaath claimed that five months ago Netanyahu told the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, that Israel would demand control of 40 per cent of the West Bank for "an extended period".

These percentages correspond to the major settlements built by Israel in the West Bank since 1967, and the wider infrastructure of colonisation and de facto annexation. As the human rights group B'Tselem has described, 42 per cent of the land area of the West Bank is controlled by settlements. Human Rights Watch's report Separate and Unequal detailed how the 60 per cent of the West Bank known as "Area C", where Israel has "full control of security, planning and building", contains "substantial amounts of water resources, grazing and agricultural land", as well as the "land reserves" required by Palestinian towns for development and growth. UN officials have estimated (PDF) that 44 per cent of the West Bank has been "largely designated for the use of Israeli settlements or the Israeli military".

If Netanyahu is indeed preparing a proposal along these lines, then it is nothing more than a rehash of approaches that have repeatedly failed. This "new" way forward by the Netanyahu/Lieberman coalition brings together the essence of Oslo ("phased transition") with Israeli intransigence (unilateral definition of "borders" and imposition of conditions). Remember that it was the former PM Yitzhak Rabin who in 1995 stressed that "the country's final borders" would include "a united Jerusalem" and key settlement blocs.

There are other recent indications of Netanyahu's intentions, such as his visit to the Jordan Valley, where he reiterated Israel's aim of maintaining a presence along the West Bank's eastern flank. The PM has appointed a radical right-winger to lead the National Security Council, while talking with the far-right National Union party about joining the coalition. Even as he promises to demolish unauthorised settlement outposts built on private Palestinian land, Netanyahu is legalising "settlements and homes built without permission on state land".

Perhaps one of the more revealing comments this month came from an interview with Israel's strategic affairs minister and deputy PM, Moshe Ya'alon. Responding to a question about a Palestinian state, Ya'alon said that the "intention is to leave the situation as it is: autonomous management of civil affairs, and if they want to call it a state, let them call it that". The government, he said, will "keep what exists now" and let the Palestinians "call it whatever they want".

In other words, the Israeli government has nothing to offer except the same tired messaging while apartheid is consolidated. It is a short-term strategy that is taking the entire "two-state solution" the same way of the defunct peace process.

Ben White is a freelance journalist specialising in Israel/Palestine.

Ben White is an activist and writer. His latest book is "Palestinians in Israel: Segregation, Discrimination and Democracy"

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Let's face it: supporting Spurs is basically a form of charity

Now, for my biggest donation yet . . .

I gazed in awe at the new stadium, the future home of Spurs, wondering where my treasures will go. It is going to be one of the architectural wonders of the modern world (football stadia division), yet at the same time it seems ancient, archaic, a Roman ruin, very much like an amphitheatre I once saw in Croatia. It’s at the stage in a new construction when you can see all the bones and none of the flesh, with huge tiers soaring up into the sky. You can’t tell if it’s going or coming, a past perfect ruin or a perfect future model.

It has been so annoying at White Hart Lane this past year or so, having to walk round walkways and under awnings and dodge fences and hoardings, losing all sense of direction. Millions of pounds were being poured into what appeared to be a hole in the ground. The new stadium will replace part of one end of the present one, which was built in 1898. It has been hard not to be unaware of what’s going on, continually asking ourselves, as we take our seats: did the earth move for you?

Now, at long last, you can see what will be there, when it emerges from the scaffolding in another year. Awesome, of course. And, har, har, it will hold more people than Arsenal’s new home by 1,000 (61,000, as opposed to the puny Emirates, with only 60,000). At each home game, I am thinking about the future, wondering how my treasures will fare: will they be happy there?

No, I don’t mean Harry Kane, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker – local as well as national treasures. Not many Prem teams these days can boast quite as many English persons in their ranks. I mean my treasures, stuff wot I have been collecting these past 50 years.

About ten years ago, I went to a shareholders’ meeting at White Hart Lane when the embryonic plans for the new stadium were being announced. I stood up when questions were called for and asked the chairman, Daniel Levy, about having a museum in the new stadium. I told him that Man United had made £1m the previous year from their museum. Surely Spurs should make room for one in the brave new mega-stadium – to show off our long and proud history, delight the fans and all those interested in football history and make a few bob.

He mumbled something – fluent enough, as he did go to Cambridge – but gave nothing away, like the PM caught at Prime Minister’s Questions with an unexpected question.

But now it is going to happen. The people who are designing the museum are coming from Manchester to look at my treasures. They asked for a list but I said, “No chance.” I must have 2,000 items of Spurs memorabilia. I could be dead by the time I finish listing them. They’ll have to see them, in the flesh, and then they’ll be free to take away whatever they might consider worth having in the new museum.

I’m awfully kind that way, partly because I have always looked on supporting Spurs as a form of charity. You don’t expect any reward. Nor could you expect a great deal of pleasure, these past few decades, and certainly not the other day at Liverpool when they were shite. But you do want to help them, poor things.

I have been downsizing since my wife died, and since we sold our Loweswater house, and I’m now clearing out some of my treasures. I’ve donated a very rare Wordsworth book to Dove Cottage, five letters from Beatrix Potter to the Armitt Library in Ambleside, and handwritten Beatles lyrics to the British Library. If Beckham and I don’t get a knighthood in the next honours list, I will be spitting.

My Spurs stuff includes programmes going back to 1910, plus recent stuff like the Opus book, that monster publication, about the size of a black cab. Limited editions cost £8,000 a copy in 2007. I got mine free, as I did the introduction and loaned them photographs. I will be glad to get rid of it. It’s blocking the light in my room.

Perhaps, depending on what they want, and they might take nothing, I will ask for a small pourboire in return. Two free tickets in the new stadium. For life. Or longer . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 16 February 2017 issue of the New Statesman, The New Times