Look East, Ghada Karmi, not west, for your ‘One-State Solution’

A guest post by AKUS

For years British academic and self-styled Palestinian (and ‘Comment is Free’ contributor) Ghada Karmi has been a staunch supporter of the idea of a “unitary” Palestinian state of Gaza, Israel and the West Bank.  That is, she supports a Palestinian state comprising all the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Notably, she does not include what is today known as the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. “Trans-Jordan” was also originally part of the British Palestinian Mandate until Churchill ceded it to the Hashemites as the counter weight to the Jewish Homeland pledged by Lord Balfour that would exist between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Karmi’s position represents a full version of the  “the one state solution”, including the supposed Palestinian “Right of Return”, and restoration of “stolen land” to ensure what she believes is the appropriate balance of demographic, economic and therefore political power  in this “unitary state”. There would be an Arab majority evidently agreeing to allow a Jewish minority to exist on whatever small area of land they are not forcibly “returned” to those claiming to be descendants of pre-1948 owners.   

She apparently believes – in the face of all evidence to the contrary – that this would be a secular democracy and Jews could live safely among the democratic and enlightened Arab majority.

For good measure, she believes it is the ‘racist Israeli public’ that prevents such an obvious and beneficial solution to the conflict.

In July 2002 she wrote the following, in an article titled ‘Bi-nationalism and the right of return‘, which accurately sums up her views:

“In the context of a unitary state solution, the bi-national state proposal is obviously less unacceptable, since it can be designed to mimic closely a two-state solution tipped in favor of the stronger side. But from a Palestinian viewpoint, for bi-nationalism to be equitable and not just a re-hash of the present formula of Israeli hegemony, it must provide for the right of return of Palestinian refugees to the state and for restitution of the land and resources which were stolen from them. The Jewish law of return must be cancelled and the bi-national state should be configured along non-Zionist lines, since it was the exclusivist and discriminatory nature of Zionism, which created the original problem. The prominent Israeli sociologist, Sami Smoocha, who conducted several surveys of Jewish society since the 1970s, has observed that the Jewish public in Israel was ‘both racist and rigid’ and it was this which was the cause of the persisting Jewish-Arab conflict.”

On September 20th, 2012, in a ‘Comment is Free’ piece, Palestinians need a one-state solution, she castigated the Palestinian Authority and its attempt to get UN backing for a Palestinian State (perhaps including Gaza with the West Bank, or perhaps not) that wouldn’t include the incorporation of Israel’s population and territory. Once again she took pains to point out the huge advantage, in her eyes, of a single cis-Jordanian state with a large Arab population:

“This situation demands a new Palestinian strategy, a Plan B that converts the Palestinian struggle for two states into one for equal rights within what is now a unitary state ruled by Israel.  …..

The first step in this plan requires a dismantlement of the PA as currently constituted, or at least a change of direction for the Palestinian leadership. The PA’s role as a buffer between the occupier and the occupied should end, along with the illusion of a spurious Palestinian autonomy it has fostered….

… The PA should lead the campaign to prepare Palestinians for the abandonment of the two-state idea and the struggle for equal rights instead. … At one stroke, Plan B shreds these fig leaves, and removes the chimera of a Palestinian state that has diverted attention from the reality on the ground.

The 2.5 million potential new Arab citizens of Israel would be able to challenge its much-vaunted democracy, and upend the old order in the Palestinians’ favour. Will they have the courage to grasp the challenge?”

Now, there are several weaknesses in Karmi’s theories that should surely have put an end to the belief in a cis-Jordan “one state solution”:

1. Karmi continues to believe, against all evidence to the contrary, in a “Plan B” that assumes that Israelis will agree or can be persuaded by “a struggle for equal rights” (mainly by the Palestinians and, presumably, various tiny pro-Palestinian groups in Israel, plus the fly-in rent-a-protest Westerners such as ISM) to create a single state which will have some 4 million Arab citizens at its inception, out of a population of approximately 10 million.

Given the birthrate of Arabs in Gaza and the West Bank this is a crudely disguised demographic time bomb with a delayed “Right of Return” explosion to be set off when an Arab majority is achieved.  

Israelis will never agree to this. The idea is simply a non-starter, no matter how many articles she writes about it.

 2. Karmi refers to the “chimera” of a Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank (including everything that was “east” of the Green Line) and Gaza – but for all the wrong reasons.  She believes that Arafat’s acceptance of “Palestine” as the West Bank and Gaza (the “chimera” she refers to) has diverted attention from the possibility of creating a Palestinian state consisting of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

In reality, when the world’s powers acquiesced to Arafat’s creation of the Palestinian people as those living in Gaza and the West Bank, and to the Arab states’ Khartoum “3 no’s”, they prevented a settlement between Israel and Jordan soon after the 6 Day War.  That agreement would have created a Palestinian state that would have included most of the West Bank and all of Jordan, under the leadership of King Hussein. Gaza would have either remained as it is today, or eventually been returned into the reluctant hands of the Egyptians.

 3.  Karmi, like other presumably left-leaning observers of the conflict, has an enormous blind spot that allows her to consistently ignore the fact that Jordan is the only Palestinian state that exists and it is run as an anachronistic monarchy ruling over a majority Palestinian population.

Created over tea in Jerusalem by Winston Churchill and handed to the Hashemites in 1923, it has a population estimated variously as between 60% – 70% Palestinian. During the 1948 war, King Abdullah of Jordan seized and occupied the West Bank, which remained under Jordanian control until 1967. The West Bank and Jordan functioned quite well as a single economic and political entity during that period. With the exception of Jordanian sniper fire targeting Jews in “West” Jerusalem, Israel and Jordan preserved a fairly peaceful status quo during that period.

King Hussein eventually washed his hands of the West Bank in 1988, or, more precisely, its Arab occupants, realizing that it would be more trouble than it was worth to incorporate them into Jordan. The addition of the West Bank Palestinian population would further have imperiled his rule. But that has not really changed the facts on the ground – that the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan is, in fact, a predominantly Palestinian state.

I would maintain that what really drives Palestinians and their supporters to the idea of a “one state solution” is not the desire to achieve a workable and practical Palestinian state. It is really a desire for revenge – a desire to forcibly take back from Israel and Israelis what was lost during several wars and developed by Israelis over the last 100-plus years.

Karmi and those supporting her ideas are driven by a true chimera – a dream of returning to an idyllic period (which never actually existed) when Palestinians supposedly lived, not mainly as feudal serfs working the lands of absentee landlords, but having a sort of noble, gracious village life or one of great intellectual achievement in a few of the tiny towns in what was in fact the dusty and wretchedly poor corner of the Ottoman Empire known as Southern Syria, while enjoying the confiscated wealth of the Israelis they would dispossess.

If Karmi really wants to create a viable Palestinian state she should develop a more positive vision – one which doesn’t take away Israelis’ land, prosperity, economy, industries, and agriculture through a forced incorporation of the West Bank, Gaza and Israel into a “unitary state”.

She should look east across the Jordan River. There she would see one of the few countries in the world still ruled by a monarchy of sorts.  Sixty to seventy percent of the population is ruled over non-democratically by a branch of the Saudi Hashemite dynasty whose position is supported by loyal Bedouin forces in the Jordanian military.

If Karmi is as left-leaning as she claims to be, surely this anachronistic situation should be swept away with a democratic federation of most of the West Bank and Trans Jordan?

Ironically, a Guardian contributor, Samer Libde, asked the question, ‘Is Jordan heading for chaos?‘, in a Comment piece a few days after Karmi’s latest article.

The problems of dynastic rule in Jordan in a modern interconnected world have been obvious for some time. It was interesting to read Libde’s analysis of the tensions arising from the attempt to perpetuate a non-democratic, monarchical trans-Jordanian state that has a Palestinian majority controlled by the trans-Jordanian Hashemites – a situation that seems not to bother Ghada Karmi and many others like her:

“As the impact of the Arab spring continues to be felt across many parts of the Middle East, the Jordanian regimes unwillingness to heed calls for meaningful political reform, greater press freedoms and democratisation is antagonising political and civil society activists alike.


The royal court has a difficult balancing act to perform. First, the protesters are divided. Transjordanians, who have been traditionally loyal to the Hashemite regime, are opposed to political reform that challenges their inherited privileged status and position, and are resisting calls to increase the representation of Palestinian-Jordanians in parliament.

While the king will have to respond to the demands of the IAF and the Palestinian-Jordanians, he will also have to remain sensitive to the needs of the Transjordanians. This will not be an easy task.


Unfortunately, it does not appear as if Jordan’s king has the vision or the courage to follow this path – but failure to learn the lessons of the Arab spring may mean that the Jordanian people will make that decision for him.”

If the largely Palestinian population does make that decision, I would propose that they approach Israel with a plan to create a Jordanian (or Palestinian) federation of the West Bank and Jordan. After nearly 50 years of frustration dealing with the West bank, Israel is likely in any event to finally fence in the bits of the West Bank it wants to keep, and, as with Gaza, simply withdraw from the rest. This would leave 95% of the West Bank in a non-viable limbo, something as likely to be as dangerous for Jordan as it is for Israel, as we have seen with the rising conflict between the Gazans and Egyptians.

It is not difficult to see the Jordanian option as a workable solution to the chaotic situation that would otherwise arise on the West Bank. Karmi and those like her should be looking east at what was, in fact given to them by Great Britain, not peering vengefully westwards Israel, the country they cannot have. They should be working on a proposal for a Palestinian state that includes most of today’s West Bank and Jordan, not the chimera, to borrow her word, of a “unitary [cis-Jordan] solution”

41 replies »

  1. And what will you get in place of Israel but another backwards islamic failure with Jewish and Christain peoples forced out forever rattling the begging bowl in the west’s face due to endemic incompetence, corruption and cronism and and no doubt decending into a hamas/fatah/hezbullah etc civil war

    • Yes, it’s not enough to throw each other off the roof, there won’t be peace and justice in the world until they throw the Jews off the roof too. That’s the narrative behind the one state solution – der ein staat endlosung.

    • I finally had time to watch this very interesting clip. I think it is interesting to see what how shocked some of the interviewees were by the idea after being prepped for so long on the idea that one day Israel will be theirs, even in a sort of federation. But the question I would ask is whether, if the same effort had been put into promoting a Jordanian-West Bank confederation the response would have been more positive? One person at least was quite positive, and one or two others seemed open to the idea as they thought about it..

      No one wants Gaza, however.

      Not even the Palestinians on the West Bank, according to the selection of those interviewed here. The first person in the clip seemed to be saying that he preferred to join with Israel because it is modern and civilized, unlike Gaza ( and, I think he also meant Jordan. Hard to understand some of them.

    • What a truly warped suggestion.

      And besides: I get the impression that AKUS and many others here do not want the Palestinians having a home for themselves.

      • Pretzel, you’re an idiot. Israel’s most famous dove, Shimon Peres, was pushing the idea of a federation between Israel, the West Bank and Jordan before you were even born son.

        • He is an idiot. They do have one for themselves – Jordan – and for 20 years Jordan and the West Bank got along very nicely. So having the West Bank and Jordan as one state would be a far better Palestinian state than the little handkerchief Pretzel is so nobly wishing upon them.

          • CiF claims that denying the Jewish people the right of self-determination is anti-Semitic.

            What does that make people like AKUS, who deny the Palestinians that right?
            Apart from hypocritical, of course …

        • That is hardly addressing my point.

          So being intellectually bankrupt, you resort to insults. And you’re not the only one here.

          • “So being intellectually bankrupt, you resort to insults. ”
            This must be the comment of the week.

            • … says the scumbag known for racist and homophobic comments and for calling other posters Nazis!

              What a hoot you are!

    • Open Democracy? I didn’t find much democratic in it, Fritz, except the word democracy enclosed in quotes. And when was Joseph Massad ever eloquent? He’s just a s.b. I couldn’t get through it all because it’s BORING boiler plate communist b.s. mixing fluids with M.E. totalitarian strains.

  2. The one-staters have no real counter to the merger of Jordan and the West Bank.

    If the Palestinians are now saying they don’t insist on a state of their own, Jordan+West Bank is the only option that makes sense. They’ve really shot themslves in the foot.

  3. Karmi and those like her should be looking east at what was, in fact given to them by Great Britain, not peering vengefully westwards Israel, the country they cannot have.

    Karmi and those like her should be suggesting to the Palestinians that a future united Israeli/Palestinian state could be helped along when the Palestinians bring forth a modern constitution that would be comparable to the outlandishly liberal unwritten Israeli constitution.

    Starting with clearly stated equality of the sexes before the law. A judicial system as independent of political pressures as possible. legalising homosexual relationships. Clearly outlawing laughingly called ‘honour killings’, a demonstrably free press, (free to print any cartoons it wants to and to deny the holocaust too).

    If they managed that, then there may be some future for the idea of a United people in ‘Palestine’.

    I think that hell will freeze over first.

  4. ………as the counter weight to the Jewish Homeland pledged by Lord Balfour that would exist between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.”

    Pardon ? You just made that up.

  5. Look East, Ghada Karmi, not west, for your ‘One-State Solution’

    I just knew this was penned by AKUS! For ages he’s been plugging a solution that the Palestinians do not want.

    A huge shame – but sadly not surprising – to see CiFWatch publishing this post. It makes CiF very hypocritical – turning down calls for a one-state solution encompassing Israel and the POTs (understandable, as neither people wishes it) while at the same time supporting calls for a one-state solution encompassing the latter and Jordan (which likewise neither people wishes).

    • The problem is, pretzel, that if we go by what each “people” want, we will never find a solution to this mess, as their expressed desires are mutually exclusive.

      It is the task of those in a position to influence to try to bring about some sort of peaceful solution, even if it is not a perfect one that satisfies everyone.

      Personally, I just don’t see that it will ever be possible for a merged Palestinian/Israeli entity to exist without either a radical shift in policy from the Palestinians or a suicidal shift from the Israelis. It’s simply a non-starter.

      So we have to look for a more workable solution. Peace between Israel and a Palestinian/Jordanian neighbour would not be straight-forward. It would be painful, but no solution in this is pain-free. To me, however, it at leasts sounds plausible. Wouldn’t that be better than the constant state of terror and “occupation” that currently exists?

      • Agreed. Actually, the people on the West Bank have never been asked what they want – not by the Ottomans, the British, or the Jordanians. But perhaps if they were offered the option by Jordan they might rather like it.

        Israel is the only country, strangely enough, that has actually offered them what Pretzel mistakenly thinks they want – and they have repeatedly turned it down flat with an endless variety of excuses.

        • But perhaps if they were offered the option by Jordan they might rather like it.

          You wish!

          Neither the Jordanians nor the Palestinians want such a solution.
          But hey – who cares what some Arabs want, eh?

          • “Who cares what some Arabs want, eh?”

            You clearly haven’t read either of the posts in response to yours. As the Rolling Stones put it “you can’t always get what you want…but if you try sometimes you might find you get what you need.” And I have no idea, but if they were given the choice of continuing to live under Israeli “occupation” ad infinitum or sharing/obtaining independence in a trans-Jordanian state, how do you KNOW that the Palestinians would choose the former? Have you asked them?

            • Surveys show that a clear majority of Palestinians do NOT want the “Jordanian option” that the likes of AKUS are so keen to see realised.

              • Hey Pretz. I “want” to be paid £1 million to go to all the world’s major sporting events, an Aston Martin or two, world peace and no child to die of war, disease or hunger, but I know that none of these is at all likely, so I set my goals at a more realistic, acheivable level.

                I believe it’s called life.

                • Surely you’re not saying that Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own are unrealistic or unachievable?

                  • Pretzel:

                    Which part of “After dismissing the King of Jordan, and renaming it Palestine, and incorporating the West Bank into it, the Palestinians would have a large, viable state called Palestine with a majority Palestinian population – a state of their own” don’t you get?

                    And why do you think that:

                    “After destroying Israel, and renaming it Palestine, and incorporating the West Bank into it, the Palestinians would eventually have have a large, viable state called Palestine with a majority Palestinian population – a state of their own”

                    is an idea that Israelis are enthusiastic about?

                    • a) I “get” it. So you can shut up right there, suggesting something that isn’t true. My point is – as if you didn’t know – that the Palestinians do not want such a solution.

                      And why do you think that … is an idea that Israelis are enthusiastic about?

                      There you go again – putting words into my mouth that I never said!
                      I think nothing of the kind – as well you know.

                      You may retract.

                      Of course, it doesn’t stop the usual mental midgets here supporting such a nonsense post!

    • If people like Ghada Karmi invested the same effort in explaining why a union with Jordan would be beneficial to both, perhaps people’s ideas would change.

      Instead, she and Ben White and others promote the vengeful dog in the manger proposition of taking everything from Israel.

      It is amazing how in this one special case the loony left fall over themselves to support a monarchy in Jordan.

    • Pretzel:

      By the way – if your point is that there should be a tiny non-viable Palestinian state on the West Bank, something no-one wants, why don’t you just say so?

      And why is suggesting a union with Jordan any “worse” or “hypocritical” than the endless proposition by Karmi and others like her bent on the elimination of Israel? I’ve never seen you oppose that idea, oddly enough!!

      • Pretz, hyporcrisy is your middle name. You love to dish it out, but are uber-sensitive when you get it back. One rule for you, another for everyone else.

        • You love to dish it out, but are uber-sensitive when you get it back.

          Are you being dishonest there – or are you really so deluded?

          I “dish it out” when posters are either bigoted or attack me personally.

          How would you like to be called a Nazi? Be honest.

          I am one of the few people here who are not hypocritical, i.e. I condemn ALL forms of bigotry and prejudice.