Pulse Media


Binational state

I remain convinced, that binationalism is the only long-term solution for peace and democracy in Israel-Palestine. Some may say, while supporting the idea, that right now, the only way forward is a two-state solution, but as we can see in the link below and in recent news, there is no true support even for a viable and just soverigh palestinian state coming from Israel or the West. On the palestinian side there is corruption and frustration at the ongoing occupation and this inevitably leads to anger and violence. Hamas, whatever we may think of their methods and/or religious beliefs, represent this anger. In any case, Hamas came to power in a democratic election which has never been fully recognised and now has been downright trodden on.
So, it is easy for us, far from the scene, to call for patience. Yet, I continue to believe violence will lead nowhere. There must therefore be a radical solution. As far as I can see, the only radical solution is a binational state.

Leila Farsakh

There have been a number of recent publications proposing a one-state solution as the only alternative to the current impasse. Three years ago Meron Benvenisti, Jerusalem’s deputy mayor in the 1970s, wrote that the question is “no longer whether there is to be a bi-national state in Palestine-Israel, but which model to choose” (2). Respected intellectuals on all sides, including the late Edward Said; the Arab Israeli member of the Knesset, Azmi Bishara; the Israeli historian Illan Pape; scholars Tanya Reinhart and Virginia Tilley; and journalists Amira Haas and Ali Abunimeh, have all stressed the inevitability of such a solution.

The idea of a single, bi-national state is not new. Its appeal lies in its attempt to provide an equitable and inclusive solution to the struggle of two peoples for the same piece of land. It was first suggested in the 1920s by Zionist leftwing intellectuals led by philosopher Martin Buber, Judah Magnes (the first rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem) and Haïm Kalvarisky (a member of Brit-Shalom and later of the National Union). The group followed in the footsteps of Ahad Ha’am (Asher Hirsch Ginsberg, one of the great pre-state Zionist thinkers).


The failure of the one-state option has often been attributed to the idealism of its cause and its failure to come to terms with local realities. Nevertheless, as Magnes pointed out, the option offered significant advantages in demographic and territorial terms in 1947 to the Jewish cause (4).

In fact, the idea failed because the political actors of the time rejected it: the Zionist organisations were not interested, the British were unsupportive and the Arabs too suspicious. Between 1948 and 1993 the only significant change in these positions came from the Arabs, who finally came to terms with the existence of Israel.