Israeli President Shimon Peres discusses the one-state solution with Atlantic journalist Jeffrey Goldberg. To dismiss the idea is expected, but how to ignore the ever-growing occupation? Both men achieve that mission well:
JG: You hear this more and more, people talking about the one-state solution. It used to be a radical idea to suggest a two-state solution, now we’re moving toward a discussion — at least on the left, obviously — of a one-state solution. Do you think that the Palestinians and their supporters would ever agree to an end of claims —
SP: There is not a one-state solution; there is only one-state conflict instead of two-people conflict. Look, you have a conflict in Iraq; it’s one state. You have a conflict in Lebanon; it’s one state. You have a conflict in Sudan; it’s one state. Who says that one state puts an end to the conflict? On the contrary, it makes it more dangerous. You have one state in Pakistan. You have one state in Afghanistan.
JG: But what I’m asking you is this: If you came tomorrow to the Arabs and said, “Fine, you want 100 percent of the West Bank and East Jerusalem as your capital, fine here it is, and Gaza too.” Do you think that the Palestinian/Muslim side would ever say, “that’s enough,” and stop making claims?
SP: It will make a difference on the Arab side. I don’t think all of them without exception, no. There will be exceptions, but it will clearly change the proportion of Palestinians (ready to compromise) once we shall have it.
JG: It will tip over —
SP: Tip over and not only that. You know, there is an Arab poet that I admire very much, Nizar Qabbani. He said, “The time has come for the Arabs to get rid of the yoke of imperialism. Thousands of years we live under the imperialism of words. We are victims of our words.” So I wouldn’t understand the Arab position by words alone. So I think, to be fair, I wouldn’t judge everything said as though it is everything they think. I think many of them are sick and tired of war, of backwardness, of stagnation. I think there is a young generation, that watches television — even their television — and they see there is a different world.
You know, today, we have in Israel close to 1.1 million Arab citizens. Sixty thousand of them are university graduates. Where are they? Many of them are doctors. There is no hospital today in Israel that doesn’t have Arab doctors and Arab nurses. Now look, an Israeli who would be reluctant to employ an Arab is not reluctant to enter the hospital, to lay on the bed and an Arab doctor will come with his knife and open his stomach. And he’ll say, “Thank you.” My hope is that what happens in a hospital with sick people will happen in the land with healthy people.