Saree Makdisi, recent visitor to Australia, speaks to Democracy Now! on a Palestinian threat to unilaterally declare statehood:
I think it would be a mistake for the Palestinians to declare statehood, because, first of all, they’ve already done that, and you can’t declare statehood twice. They did it in 1988. And the second thing is that a declaration of statehood in the Occupied Territories would do nothing to help the majority of Palestinians. Most Palestinians actually live in enforced exile, because they were expelled from their homes in 1948. And also, there’s a considerable Palestinian minority inside Israel itself, so the creation of a Palestinian state in the Occupied Territories would benefit, to a certain extent—actually, it’s quite limited how much it would benefit them—those living under occupation, but it would actually sell out the majority of the Palestinian people. That’s one of the major problems with the two-state solution. It always has been a problem with the two-state solution. It focuses on the minority of the Palestinian people and on actually a very small piece of historic Palestine.
I think that the only practical way out and the only just way out at this point is to create a single state, a democratic and secular state, in which Israeli Jews and Palestinians live as equal citizens, the ones under occupation, the ones who have been in exile for sixty-plus years, and the ones who are now living as second-class citizens inside Israel itself. I think that the only way—that the idea of trying to break up a very small piece of land into ethnic islands, first of all, it can’t work. I mean, just practically speaking, it can’t work. Second of all, it’s inherently unjust to try and divide people that way and to exclude people from their ancestral homeland because they don’t fit into the criteria of the state, which is essentially what the situation is now. And there’s no reason why people can’t live together as just—you know, in justice and as equal citizens.
South African writer and activist Virginia Tilley also argues against a unilateral move, arguing it would lead only to “Bantustans”.