Jeff Goldberg suggest that Palestinians should ask the UN not for greater recognition of independence, but to concede their nationalist aspirations for the right to vote in Israel instead. He suggest it as a strategy, not a sincere change of direction, and believes that it will yield a two-state solution:
Reaction would be seismic and instantaneous. The demand for voting rights would resonate with people around the world, in particular with American Jews, who pride themselves on support for both Israel and for civil rights at home. Such a demand would also force Israel into an untenable position; if it accedes to such a demand, it would very quickly cease to be the world’s only Jewish-majority state, and instead become the world’s 23rd Arab-majority state. If it were to refuse this demand, Israel would very quickly be painted by former friends as an apartheid state.
Israel’s response, then, can be reasonably predicted: Israeli leaders eager to prevent their country from becoming a pariah would move to negotiate the independence, with security caveats, of a Palestinian state on the West Bank, and later in Gaza, as well. Israel would simply have no choice.
But would it? Perhaps another outcome would result? What if Israel found itself unable to turn the clock back to a 2-state solution, for all the same reasons that a 2-state solution hasn’t worked thus far: an implacable Hamas, a corrupt and inept Fatah, a distrustful Israeli Right and a powerless and directionless Israeli Left.
Can we imagine an alternate future, where Israel found itself unable to avoid a transition of some kind into a civil state for all of its citizens? I wonder… would the masses of Diaspora Judaism in-gather themselves to defuse the demographic Palestinian time bomb? Would secular, American Jews arouse themselves to come to Israel and struggle for its liberal democratic soul? Would comfortable Orthodox Jews be seduced by the dream of the Biblical Land of Israel, to go along with the more prosaic temptation of affordable housing and religious education? And perhaps Palestinians would find that with voting rights and equal citizenship, political alliances across the religious and ethnic divide could yield better results than insurrection and resistance. To say nothing of the right, at long last, to move out of Gaza and out of refugee camps, and out of the indignity of border checkpoints and work papers.
If all this sounds familiar, it’s because I wrote about it in almost exactly the same terms three years ago, prior to the last election in Israel. Three years later, not much has changed.