New Palestine for All

A future One-State Solution, a New Palestine, seems to be the best solution.

I have read many articles, and written some, too, about the tragic Israel-Pal­estine War in Gaza following Hamas’ terrorist attack on Israel on 7 October 2023 where more than twelve hun­dred people were killed, many in­jured, and more than a hundred taken hostage, including for­eigners, and few have been freed till now. Israel’s overkill revenge has led to huge numbers of Pales­tinian casualties in Gaza, with over thirty-three thousand civilian chil­dren, women, and men killed. Everyone of the 2.3 million living in Gaza has suf­fered and many have had to flee from the bombings, and move to areas they have thought were safer. They have become in­ternally displaced people (IDPs) with no­where to go as borders are closed and no one can leave. Israel has blocked interna­tional aid organizations from distributing needed humanitarian aid. That also in­cludes the UN Refugee and Works Agen­cy for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA), designated to help all Palestinians since it was established in 1949. Also, other aid organisations like the Red Cross and the Red Crescent have been blocked from carrying out their work, even in hospi­tals. Currently, some aid is allowed in to avoid the worst effects of outright fam­ine and starvation. A reluctant temporary cease-fire was approved by the UN Secu­rity Council last week, but implementa­tion is awaited. This week, seven foreign and local aid workers, working for the or­ganization World Central Kitchen, were killed by Israelis while transporting food aid from a ship.

Now during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting – and Lent, the Chris­tian month of fasting, which ended with Easter last week, and the Jewish Pass­over, which is coming in a few weeks – many people pray for peace in the Mid­dle East. We know that religions have differences, but we must also remem­ber that God is one and the same for all. I hope that we will still continue to pray and that we can find space in our hearts for forgiveness and hope for a fu­ture without revenge and bitterness. The latter is perhaps too much to ask for, but at least we can pray for tolerance and the ability to live together as neigh­bours, if not necessarily as close family and friends; over time, people maybe we can learn that they are all alike and the same. Many theological scholars say that this is how we should understand Jesus/Isa’s words when he said: “Love your en­emies” (Matt. 5:43).

In any case, rebuilding Palestine and Israel will take prayers and a change of heart, and it will take many types of ef­forts and actions on the people of the two lands, with international support. Describing the horrors of the war, and all that is wrong, is one thing, but we must also discuss and describe the tasks ahead, uphill, yes, but with hope and prosperity, too. At the outset, we can establish that injustice has been done against the Palestinians, at least since WWI, and against the Jews, at least since WWII. The ill-planned establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, on Palestinian land, which was decided by the UN and the international community a year ear­lier, was an injustice against the Palestin­ians, but also against the Jews, in lands with no permanent borders, leading to conflicts and wars.

The injustice that has been done should be realized, formal apologies should be made, and corrective measures put in place. The issues are local but they are also international. People talk about a Two-State Solution, which was outlined in the Oslo Agreements of 1993, but nev­er followed up seriously. Had Israel been created today, not in 1948, it would have been unacceptable to create a country on religious and ethnic borders. It would have had to be a One-state Solution, a one Palestinian state, with internal Jew­ish provinces with a high degree of au­tonomy for orthodox and other Jews who would wish to live separately. However, in future, I envisage that the majority of the people will live in one unified state. Even in today’s Israel, there are about a fifth of Palestinians who are Israeli citi­zens, but not always with entirely equal citizen rights. In future, the larger state will be a New Palestine for all, taking ad­vantage of the diversity of people.

A future One-State Solution, a New Pal­estine, seems to be the best solution. Yet, I believe that the current Israel will still exist as a separate state. However, it is likely that security and military would have to be controlled by the internation­al community. Also, in the initial years and decades, the New Palestine would need international assistance to build a state with truly democratic institu­tions and reduced corruption. Wheth­er Gaza, or parts of it, and parts of the West Bank should be integrated in Isra­el, must be negotiated. And also if some parts of Israel should become integrated in the New Palestine. The current Israe­li settlements on the West Bank would certainly have to be under the New Pal­estine rule, and the settlers (whether or­thodox or liberal) should have the op­tion of moving back to Israel proper or stay in the New Palestine.

I believe that until we begin discus­sions of alternatives like this about a New Palestine, we will not be able to find permanent solutions. Remember that the Two-State Solution has not been im­plemented, not even described in any de­gree of detail, also not at this time of deep crisis in the Israel-Palestine relations. To refer to the Two-State Solution be­comes more like claiming one is consid­ering it without really doing so. Hence, I find that a One-State Solution, the New Palestine for all, is the most honest and true solution I can foresee. We should re­call, too, that a few countries voted for it when Israel was created in 1948 on Pal­estinian land, alas, based on Western, co­lonial thinking of the time. It is now ev­erybody’s duty proactively to search for a new and durable solution, such as the one I have proposed.

And then, the way I ended last week’s article about the Russian War in Ukraine, I would like to end today’s article About the Israel-Palestine War in a few lines from Bob Dylan’s song ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ from 1963.

‘How many years can some people ex­ist before they are allowed to be free? Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see? And how many ears must a man have before he can hear people cry? Yes, and how many deaths will it take ‘til he knows that too many people have died?’

Atle Hetland
The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist with experience from university, diplomacy and development aid. He can be reached at

The writer is a senior Norwegian social scientist with experience in research, diplomacy and development aid

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