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Editorial: One State, Two States or No States?

Talks have started between the Israeli State and the Palestinian ‘Authority’. In a world where might is right, it will be an unbalanced negotiation between a well-armed occupying power and its virtually unarmed opponent whose population has been quite literally beaten into submission. All the Palestine side has going for them is US pressure on Israel, its client state which it has maintained and armed over the years and which acts as its proxy in the Middle East, an area of strategic importance as well as containing most of the world’s more easily-extractable oil.

Israel was set up after the last world war by Jewish nationalists, the Zionists, as a ‘homeland’for people of Jewish background. It is an entirely artificial state based on the religious myth that Judaism’s tribal god gave the land of Palestine to the Jews to live on. Formally, Israel is a European-type parliamentary democracy and there is more freedom of speech and of organisation there than in any other state in the Middle East. But is also a sectarian state –‘A Jewish State for Jewish People’–where its non-Jewish subjects, mainly native Arab-speakers who make up 20 percent of its population, are second class citizens. Its rulers, with the support of most of their Jewish subjects, are not going to consent to ending its sectarian character as it is the basis of their power.

This is why one proposed solution –a single, non-sectarian, democratic state made up of the present Israel and the west bank of the river Jordan –is not on the agenda. The most likely outcome of any negotiations is the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one. This state will be weak and will have to accept that there are limits as to how far it can be independent. But at least its subjects will no longer be subject to direct Israeli rule and oppression.

There is another way of looking at the question. At the end of July Gary Davis, who in 1948 famously renounced his US citizenship and declared himself a ‘world citizen’, died. Arguing that ‘the nation-state is a political fiction which perpetuates anarchy and the breeding ground for war,’he spent the rest of his life campaigning for one world without frontiers with a world government.

He was wrong, but on the right track. It is capitalism, with its built-in competitive struggle for sources of raw material, markets, trade routes and investment outlets, that is the breeding ground for war, but so-called ‘nation’-states are part of this. They are instruments of force, acting in capitalist interests, through which this struggle is waged, sometimes by threats explicit or understood (‘might is right’), sometimes by military action.

The solution is indeed one world without frontiers and without states, but not a world government presiding over a world capitalist economy. It is world socialism, where the resources of the planet have become the common heritage of all, to be used for the benefit of all Earth’s people. A Palestinian state will be one more such instrument of capitalist competition at the service of its ruling class.