Matthew Yglesias (February 22, 2008) - Alternatives to Palestine (Foreign Policy)

I meant to blog this days ago:

I really don't think it's viable to support independence for every ethnic minority group everywhere around the world. So why Palestine? What makes the Palestinians so special that they deserve their own country when the Catalans and the Québécois and all the rest don't have them? The answer is pretty simple -- the alternative to independence is citizenship. The Québécois don't have an independent country, but they are citizens of Canada. Catalans are citizens of spain. Flemish and Walloons are both citizens of Belgium. Komi are citizens of Russia. When you see legal discriminatory treatment against citizens -- as with African-Americans in the United States until very recently -- that's a problem. People are owed equal citizenship.

It's clear, though, that granting Israeli citizenship on terms of equality to residents of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is incompatible with the idea of Israel as a Jewish state. Thus, Palestinian independence emerges as a reasonable, practical, and moral alternative. Basically, there are four things you could do with Israel-Palestine. One option is partition and independence. Another option is equal citizenship and the end of Israel. A third option is "transfer" and ethnic cleansing. And a fourth option is apartheid. I wonder which of the alternatives to Palestinian independence Peretz favors?

Unlike Matt, I'm quite happy with the notion of little polities getting to secede from the larger one. But I think in the next decade Israel is going to have to confront the fact that the occupation has gone on too long to keep calling it an occupation--i.e. a temporary solution. Unless Israel gets out of the West Bank, it's going to have to recognize that it is the government--and that it is therefore responsible for the health and welfare of the Palestinians. In a liberal democracy, that recognition is incompatible with the way things are currently run in the West Bank.