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Hain raises possibility of one-state Palestine deal.

Byline: David Williamson Political editor

PETER Hain yesterday warned that the long-term goal of a two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians may no longer be achievable and claims that a one-state solution is now "back on the agenda".

The former Welsh Secretary and Middle East minister at the Foreign Office did not endorse calls for the creation of a binational state but asked: "Instead of living in constant fear of the enemy within as well as without, might it be more fruitful for Israel to seek a settlement legislating for the rights of Palestinians and Arab-Israelis within a new common state to end the conflict?" In a speech for a public lecture at Swansea University, the Neath MP he said he has favoured a two-state solution but is "increasingly unsure about whether it's still achievable" because "the land earmarked for a viable Palestinian state has been remorselessly occupied by Israeli settlers."

Claiming that support is growing for a single state, he said: "Palestinians on both sides are now questioning the two-state strategy to an even greater degree. Negotiations have so far failed... The two-state option was itself originally conceived as a compromise and one likely to be particularly painful for the Palestinian refugee community.

"All of which explains why, in academic and activist circles, the onestate option is back on the agenda. There are now a number of different campaigns for the creation of a single democratic, secular state for Jews and Arabs, made up of Israel, Gaza and the West Bank."

Mr Hain, who as Northern Ireland Secretary helped persuade Ian Paisley's DUP and Sinn Fein to share power, asked: "Is that solution now the only one capable of stopping the cycle of violence and preserving Israel's potential to become a force for unity and peace... And if the window for the two-state solution is indeed closing, then should the EU, the US and the UK make it plain to Israel that a one-state alternative may be the only one available to ensure its security?" Asking if a "common state solution" could "resolve the deadlock," he said: "I remain uncertain. But I ask because I do not see how either the Israelis or the Palestinians can secure their legitimate objectives by perpetuating for still more decades their unsustainable and unstable predicament, with a two-state solution slipping away while violence and terrorism lurks constantly."

Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok, Professor Emeritus of Judaism at the University of Wales, the author of The Palestinian State: A Jewish Justification, said the Neath MP was correct to recognise the opportunity for a two-state solution was receding.

He said: "Peter Hain is right. This is slipping away."

However, he did not think a onestate model would work and described the situation as a "tragedy," saying: "There has to be a Palestinian state and a Jewish state... There will never be peace otherwise... I think there has to be painful compromise on behalf of both Israel and [Palestinians] to reach some kind of solution." Jonathan Freedland, writing in the Jewish Chronicle, said: "I believe it absurd to ask two peoples who cannot agree to divorce, to get married instead. But if Israel refuses to make two states possible, then it will eventually be stuck with the alternative: a single state in which Jews will fast become a minority. And no-one will be able to say we weren't warned."

Former Democrat US President Jimmy Carter said in an interview with Total Politics: "In order to have peace, Israel has got to withdraw to the '67 borders with some manner of adjustments, and let the Palestinians have a state of their own in East Jerusalem and in the West Bank."


Peter Hain
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jan 31, 2014
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