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The One State Paradigm Shift: Emerging Realities and Growing Discrepancies in Israel/Palestine

Session I-11, 2022 Annual Meeting

On Thursday, December 1 at 3:00 pm

Panel Description
When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict there has been a seismic shift in the questions both experts and activists ask, the expectations they hold, the hopes they harbor, and the plans and strategies they consider. This shift is occasioned by the disappearance of a negotiated two-state solution as a credible object of policy by major actors and by the consolidation of a one-state reality between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. This paradigmatic shift affects the ways we should analyze and perceive the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This panel explores the emergent one-state reality—a state of affairs that most individuals and groups do not considers a solution, but which is now the structure within which, and against which, politics occurs. It fleshes out the implications, dynamics, discrepancies, opportunities, and dilemmas associated with the destruction of so many assumptions and ontological priors that have structured the academic debate. We further look at different forms of contestation between multiple actors: between Jewish-Israelis and Palestinians, within those communities, between communities and the state, and in the international community. The papers in the panel examine the foundations of the Israeli inclusive-exclusion techniques of government and their transformation from ontological securitization into a continuous state of exception; the growing gap between academics and local actors and international policymakers on the preferred and/or realistic solution to the conflict; the unification of the carceral systems and creation of mass incarceration in a single carceral state despite the formal political and legal separation between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories; and Jewish right-wing discourse on formal annexation and imposed sovereignty, and their implications for the Palestinian-Arabs and others in the annexed territory. The paradigmatic shift that is demonstrated in each of these arenas has theoretical and comparative implications that could be of great relevance for the study and resolution of protracted conflicts.
Political Science
  • This paper argues that underneath the dual legal system in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), lies one carceral state. Legally, in order to maintain international legitimacy in accordance to international law, Israel has operated under international law in refraining from annexation of the OPT and maintaining a separate legal system. However, while initially the carceral system also followed international law’s separation imperative - imprisoning Palestinians inside the OPT - that has changed dramatically. Between the Oslo Accords and the aftermath of the Second Intifada, more and more prisons and prisoners have been transferred into Israeli territory. Ultimately, by 2006, all prisons but one were physically transferred into Israel, and the responsibility for all prisons was reallocated from the military to the Israeli Prison Service (IPS), rebranded as the “National Prison Authority”. This shift represents the growing gap between the performative and the actual, the legal and the administrative. On the administrative level - opaque to the international community - the carceral system in the entire territory of Israel and the OPT is managed by a single system, and the one carceral state has become a reality. The paper outlines some of the implications of the one carceral state, by analyzing administrative documents of the IPS, the Knesset, and Supreme Court decisions, spanning 50 years. First, in the one carceral state, the mass incarceration of Palestinians is not exceptional but endemic. Since 1967, Israel confined over 800,000 Palestinians from the OPT, approximately 20% of the population and 40% of the male population. When the prisoner population is looked at as a whole, any given time Palestinian prisoners from the OPT comprised between one third to a half of the total prisoner population, and they are held and managed together with Palestinian citizens defined as “security prisoners”. The scale and demographics of incarceration, its disproportionate growth, and the immense share of a particular ethno-national group lacking citizenship and voting rights, are all troubling features of mass incarceration. Second, despite their non-citizen status, incarceration functions as a form of inclusion, when Palestinian prisoners become entitled to prisoners’ rights under Israeli law, like education and parole. Subsequently, authorities have been contending with prisoners claiming these entitlements. Israel has thus established “carceral citizenship” for Palestinian prisoners, placing them in a liminal position, while the content of carceral citizenship is subject to ongoing negotiation between prisoners and prison authorities of the one carceral state.
  • In recent years, many academics as well as local actors have started to question the feasibility of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. Activists as well as politicians on the left as well as on the right of the political spectrum, have with quite differing logics started to propagate a future one-state solution as a way to move beyond the current stalemate in Israel-Palestinian relations. This has led to renewed considerations with regards to a future where some sort of one- state solution could materialize in the region. However, international policymakers, most prominently in the EU and the US, still cling on to the previously dominating narrative, where a future two-state solution was the only game in town. Also, international organizations like the UN continuously propagate for renewed efforts at invigorating the two-state solution, which has been the common position on the conflict in correlation with previous consensus in international Law and a long array of UN Security Council resolutions emphasizing a two-state solution as the only ethically sound way to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Thus, we witness a growing gap between international academics and local actors on the one hand and international policymakers on the other, on the preferred and/or realistic solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. This article takes its starting point with the above prevalence of a gap between the normative imperative of a two-state solution and current realpolitik where the creation of two states in the area is becoming near-to impossible, due to changing facts on the ground. We explore the gap between the two positions through semi-structured interviews with EU officials and negotiators, thereby contributing increased knowledge on what it would take to rock the internationally established norm of a two-state solution to the conflict and adjust it to current facts on the ground.
  • Since 1967 there has been no formal and explicit act of official annexation of lands under Israel’s control beyond the Green Line. This includes, contrary to popular belief, the Golan Heights and expanded East Jerusalem. The Basic Laws passed concerning those territories neither declare Israeli sovereignty over them, nor declare them as officially joined to the State of Israel. Instead, the one-state reality of rule (effective or not, democratic or not) by Israeli governments of all the land and people between the river and the sea has been accomplished by what has traditionally been referred to as “de facto annexation.” But after more than half a century of this gradually consolidating condition, anomalies arise in the status of the one in eleven Israelis who live beyond the Green Line. Difficulties, contradictions, and confusions also emerge between ordinary practices and understandings and the ideological commitments of those who have always favored Israel’s permanent rule of the whole land. In this context, campaigns to formally annex or declare or impose Israeli sovereignty over lands occupied in 1967 have intensified. Unlike diehard two-state solution supporters, or those who prefer an ambiguous status quo to struggles over whether a “Jewish state” encompassing a majority of non-Jews can be a democracy, those advocating formal annexation must and do discuss exactly how that should be done, what its implications will be or could be for Palestinian Arabs and others in annexed territories, and how and why the challenges associated with annexation could be met. The journal Ribonut (Sovereignty) was founded in 2013 by Women in Green and other far-right settler activists as a vehicle for advancing the cause of official annexation and the formal imposition of Israeli sovereignty over the whole Land of Israel, but in particular over Judea and Samaria/the West Bank. Based on a careful reading of all issues of the journal published since its founding, this paper will analyze positions within the annexationist camp regarding exactly what would be entailed by official annexation or the imposition of sovereignty, why it is necessary, what problems it will solve, what problems it will produce, and, in particular, how its implementation would change the status of Arab inhabitants, both in the short run and the long run.
  • This article argues that extending Agamben’s theorization of inclusive inclusion, to include discursive strategies of ontological desecuritization allows us a better understanding of how sovereignty is constituted as a sphere of legitimate power in colonial contexts. Agamben viewed inclusive inclusion as a manifestation of “the paradigm of security as the normal technique of government”. Notwithstanding, he has not paid sufficient attention to the unique discursive power of colonial narratives in justifying the transformation of ontological securitization into a continuous state of exception. The article utilizes the Israeli population and territorial policies as an exceptional form of ontological security, aiming to ban the Palestinian inhabitants of the land from sovereignty. Therefore, exploring the reasoning and ethical foundations of the Israeli inclusive exclusion techniques of government help us reveal the continuous racial constitution of the Israeli sovereign, while differentially subordinating Palestinians and ontologically and existentially securitizing their presence in their homeland. Israeli inclusive exclusion policies do not only silence the Palestinians and prevent them from contributing to the debate over how the land and its inhabitants should be ruled and developed, but also define the conditions under which their presence and behavior are securitized. This theorization is achieved by addressing the following interrelated dimensions of the Israeli inclusive exclusion of Palestinians: 1) The potential inclusion of all Jews over the world in the national political community, while differentially excluding Palestinian inhabitants of the land; 2) The inclusion of the entire territory between the river and the sea, while justifying the securitization of Palestinians through exclusive Jewish decision-making; 3) Justifying Israeli law-making through majoritarian democratic procedures, while promoting exclusive Jewish securitization policies inside and beyond the Green Line; 4) Guaranteeing Jewish hegemony based on a unique combination of the internationally recognized right for self-determination, the exclusive Zionist narrative of the land, and past traumas that justify extensive security measures; 5) Silencing Palestinians from bearing witness to their exclusion and oppression by depicting their efforts to protect their rights as illegitimate -anti- Semitic. Notwithstanding, these patterns of inclusive exclusion render the separation between Jews and Palestinians untenable. Therefore, any reconciliatory measures to meet the expectations of both peoples must be based on the categorical imperative of shared sovereignty in the entire territory, which is considered by both parties to be their respective homelands.