Jerusalem should be the capital of a free Palestine in the future

"Zionism is a settler colonial movement and Israel is a settler colonial state," said Professor Ilan Pappe who believes that one state solution is the best option to resolve the issue of Palestine.

03 Februari 2021 15:14

As an Israeli Jew, Professor Ilan Binyamin Pappe often give harsh critics against Israel. He has labelled Israel as an apartheid and colonial state.

Professor Pappe, will be 67 year-old this year, strongly believe that one state solution is the best option to resolve the issue of Palestine.

"Only one democratic state for all, which is based on social equality, rectification of past evils and respects the Palestinian refugees' right of return," said Professor Ilan Pappe in an exclusive interview with Faisal Assegaf from Albalad.co via email yesterday. "I do not believe in the two states solution, Jerusalem should be the capital of a free Palestine in the future."

Professor Pappe was born in Haifa in November 7, 1954. Before moving to the UK, he was a senior lecturer in political science at the University of Haifa. His family in the UK include his partner and two sons.

He has been living in exile in the UK after a concerted campaign against him which included death threats. He has been a resident in the UK since 2008.

He is a professor with the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. He is a historian and social activist.


I wrote a thesis in 2008 about Palestine an illusion state because one of the most complicated issue to be resolved is the status of Jerusalem. Do you agree on that hypotesis?

I do not think the main problem is Jerusalem. The main problem is the nature of the Zionism and the regime in Israel. Zionism is a settler colonial movement and Israel is a settler colonial state. Which means it views the Palestinians as aliens and as an obstacle for building a prosperous Jewish state over much of Palestine with as few Palestinians in it. This is the heart of the problem to my mind.

The debate about Jerusalem is just a symptom since this is not a religious conflict but between settlers and indigenous population.

According to you, what is the best solution for the issue of Palestine? One or two state solution?

Only one democratic state for all, which is based on social equality, rectification of past evils and respects the Palestinian refugees' right of return.

Why the international community never support the referendum for Palestinians to decide their aspiration?

Because Zionism is also a Christian and a western project. It means that a Jewish state was seen in 1948 as the best solution for anti-Semitism. Later Israel was seen, and still is seen today as a western bastion within the Arab world and this cultural and strategic view on Israel means that its basic positions are preferred to those of the Palestinians.

During this time which country give fair supports for Palestine?

Countries as a whole do not provide much of support (with some exceptions such Syria and Egypt in the past, Venezuela and Bolivia, South Africa and hopefully Malasia and Indonesia. The support comes from the civil societies all over the world but not from governments.

With the trend of normalisation between Israel and Arab/muslim country, to which country Palestine should rely on its aspiration for independence?

Well, this relates to the previous question. Palestinians can only rely on civil societies which hopefully would have the power to change the policies of their governments.

The issue of Palsstine will be marginalized because human beings will face threats against civilization like mass destruction weapons, disease pandemic, climate change. What do you think about that?

Yes it is a problem. However, in every age we have one particular issue of injustice the symbolizes injustice in general. It was the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa, the dictatorships in Argentina and Chile, the American invasion of Vietnam. Today, there is no doubt that solidarity with Palestine occupies this role.

So despite all the pressing issues you mention, I think there is still a lot of will and energy on behalf of Palestine.

The Palestinians struggle facing dilemma: armed resistances called terrorist but through negotiation never get best result. How do you see about that?

There is a strong popular resistance in Palestine which is non-violent and there is a new movement, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) that offer non-violent struggle which may prove more effective than the armed struggle in the past.

Why did you choose one state solution to resolve the issue of Palestine as we know the Israeli regime is apartheid and discriminative?

Because the two states solution will not change it. Most of Palestine will be Israel, many Palestinians would be either under Israeli rule (including in half of the West Bank) or refugees. So only changing the apartheid regime all over Palestine and for all the Palestinians is the way forward.

If the main problem is the nature of Zionism and Israel as a colonial state, do you believe that Palestine is an illusion state?

No, I think decolonization is possible, but it is a long term project, and it needs a united Palestinian leadership that could show the way. So it might still be happen, but we need unity and more work outside Palestine.

There are many chronic problems in the issue of Palestine. Which one should be resolved step by step?

First of all unity in the Palestinian camp. Then a change in the world's approach, moving from PAX AMERICANA to more involvement by non-Western countries and a more successful Arab spring in the future. This will enhances the progressive Jewish community inside Israel and in the world to support a genuine process of reconciliation.

Do you think Palestine has a right of East Jerusalem as their capital city?

I do not believe in the two states solution, Jerusalem should be the capital of a free Palestine in the future.

How could you believe international communities can help Palestinians to achieve their independence if the structure in the UN Security Council unfair because of the existence of the veto right?

The struggle for recognition in Palestine, not necessarily in the areas under the Palestinian authority control is important because the UN has historical responsibility towards the Palestinians. It is not effective body and therefore it will not be the one that would change the reality. What is needed in a change in politics from above and this would be reflected in the UN eventually.

By one state solution, there will be continuously enmity and war between Israelis and Palestinians. What do you think about that?

A lot of reconciliation in history was between enemies, not friends and therefore a lot of efforts will have to be invested. This is not about a happy marriage, but living in one state, with equal rights and dignity. People who fought each other for longer time and in far more cruel way found a way of living together. This is historically proven. So the past animosity should not be an obstacle for imagining a different kind of future.

How could be Jerusalem as a whole belongs to Palestine if Israeli Jews made a similar claim?

Only a de-zionised historical Palestine can offer a truly international Jerusalem, respected by all three monotheistic religions.

The conflict has a religious sentiment because Muslims will maintain the existence of Al-Aqsa mosque and Jews are willing to remove it for establishing their Holy Temple. What is your comment about that?

It is only a small part of the conflict. There are many Christians Palestinians. There are many Jews who are anti-Zionists and unfortunately there are some Palestinians who are Zionists. No holy building should be removed, and the old city is a beautiful, sacred place for all religions and each one can practice their faith in a win-win situation and not a zero-sum game one.

I do not think Israel will ever remove al-Aqsa, you never know of course, but it is bad enough the way it treats those who pray there and disrespect the Muslim heritage in the city and its importance for millions of Muslims.

Reality in Israel, there is a discrimination between Sephardi, Mizrahi, and Ashkenazi Jews, between white Jews and colored Jews, and between Jews and Palestinians. How could you be sure one state solution can be a prolong state and run smoothly?

The whole idea is to build a democracy not based on any discrimination. For that reason, we established the one democratic state campaign in historical Palestine, hoping to convince the PLO to return to its original idea of building a democratic state all over Palestine.

It probably run smoothly to begin with, as people of privileges do not like to give them up, and oppressed people take time to accept their oppressors as equal citizens. But this is a worthy price to pay for a better future for all.

Do you think that one state should use name the State of Palestine?

I leave it to the people to decide.

What is your recommendation for the name of the state in Palestine?

No, the name will be decided by the people who live there!

As a colonial state, for sure, Israel will maintain Jewish domination in a one state for all. What do you think about that?

We are talking about a regime change, I also doubt whether the name Israel will remain. The whole idea to create a new reality. As happened in post-Apartheid South Africa, the political institutions and laws of discrimination totally disappeared.

Until this time, there is no international support from international community and even Palestinians themselves against one state solution. Why do they think this concept impractical to resolve the conflict?

There are lot of supports in the Palestinian public, more than ever before. But yes the leadership still endorses the two states solution. We hope to convince it to change its mind. Similarly, there is a growing support in the global civil society for the idea, and if the Palestinian leadership will change its position it will affect the international position on that question.

What is clearly impractical is the two state solution. For more than 50 years, with great support, all it brought was more colonization, occupation and misery to the Palestinian people.

Why are you so critics against Israel though you are a Jew? Have you got deat threats?

Yes, I get death threats and hate mail all the time being called a self-hating Jew. But for me Israel is not a Jewish State. For me a Jewish state is one that would respect human and civil rights as part of our faith and would turn a religion into a national identity. Judaism is a religion and Zionism are an ideology as Islam is a religion and the Islamic state or al-Qaeda is an ideology.

Do you feel so sorry for your anti-Zionist position that make you can not visit Israel again?

I can visit Israel, the only thing I am denied is the right to work in Israeli academia. So far so good, I am still a citizen and visit the country regularly.

As a Jew, do you think the State of Israel in the historical Palestine has a right to exist?

States do not have rights or not. There is no such thing as a state that has right, or a state the does not have right. The question is different is a regime of a state acceptable or should one strive to change it. And I would like to turn Israel into a genuine democracy for all.

As I said before, states do not disappear and will not disappear. Regimes can change as we have seen in South Africa (and indeed in Iran in 1979). Jews are already part of historical Palestine, and it is the Palestinians who are excluded from Palestine.



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