'Recognition of Palestine means a return to partition plan, under which Zionist state was founded'
The British Parliament made a clear pro-Israel decision last week: A symbolic recognition of a sovereign Palestinian state. The reactions to this decision in Israel were divided between the political right, which scornfully rejected it, and the political left, which saw it as a slap in the face of the government's policy.
But the meaning of this decision cannot be found in the domain of the usual leftist-righting dispute. It belongs in the area of a different international debate, which is more important for Israel and its future: What is the essence of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Is it a conflict over borders between two political entities, one of which occupied significant parts of the other, or a conflict between two national communities, one of which controls the other?
The more the political world perceives the conflict as a control battle between two national communities in one land, it will increase its demand that the Jewish community in the "Greater Land of Israel" cease the apartheid against the Palestinian community and grant it full and equal civil right in order to bring about the "cancellation" of the Jewish state sooner or later, and probably sooner.
Diplomats respond to British parliament's vote to recognize a Palestinian state, with former Israeli ambassador to US saying Israel sticking head in sand instead of leading its own diplomatic front: We prefer fighting rockets than boycotts.
On the other hand, the approach which sees the division of the land between a Jewish state and a Palestinian state as an established fact, and requires the Jewish state to reduce its size, withdraw and make room for a durable Palestinian state – matches the Zionist message from time immemorial.
The occupation of territories can be solved with an acceptable border. The oppression of a minority can be solved by giving the minority full rights. The first solution can preserve Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The second solution can't, and the growing support for this solution endangers our actual existence.
The change in the approach towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict began in the notorious 2001 Durban Conference in South Africa, in which Zionism was defined as an apartheid movement. Although this was not reflected in the conference's official decisions, this perception freely dominated the discussions and statements.
The second intifada, which intensified at around the same time as the Durban Conference, was interpreted by its participants from non-governmental organizations as a Palestinian revolt against the Jews' oppression rather than as stage in the Palestinian struggle for the establishment of an independent state.
The full withdrawal from Gaza led by late prime minister Ariel Sharon, his meetings with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his speeches at the United Nations silenced the voices accusing Israel of apartheid for several years, but these voices of criticism resumed and grew stronger in the late 2000s.
The demand that Israel must accept the principle of territories for peace and withdraw to the 1967 borders nearly disappeared from blogs, websites and publications of the Western left and young Palestinians. It was replaced, as I mentioned earlier, by the demand to "end the apartheid" in its political meaning – by establishing a bi-national state.
At the same time, the state of mind among the Palestinian public is changing. There was no burst of joy there following the British Parliament vote. The young elite on the top and the Muslim masses on the bottom no longer see the fulfillment of the right to self-determination as the long-awaited goal.
The educated people in Ramallah and the worshippers in Gaza are pinning their hopes on other solutions. The former are hoping for a state of two people in which the Jews will become a minority, while the latter are dreaming of an Islamic kingdom from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean.
And in Israel? Here the battle over pudding prices has replaced the battle for peace. But even when the politicians are drowsy, the political clock keeps ticking. The one-state idea is spreading and sinking into the Palestinian and international consciousness. And so we should welcome any further recognition by another country of a sovereign Palestine which is separate from Israel: It means a return (not a historical one but a fundamental one) to the partition plan, under which the Zionist state called Israel was founded.
We have no reason to be concerned by the British Parliament's decision, even if its motives are dubious. On the contrary, the more decisions the merrier. We should not fear the opening of a Palestinian embassy in London. It's in our best interest for Palestine's embassy to take its place near the Israeli embassy – just not in its place.