E1 doesn’t matter: One-state reality is here

Those who think that E1 is the nail in the coffin of the two-state ‘solution’ are willfully blind to the fact that a one-state outcome is already on the ground and that the Zionist militias started building it before there ever was an Israel.

I know this is a little late. The big brouhaha about E1 was, what, a few weeks ago? I wasn’t paying that much attention because, as someone who spends a lot of time traveling between Jerusalem and the West Bank–and noticing the one unequal state already on the ground–I didn’t quite get the fuss about E1. It’s just more of the same; it’s part of the process that began in 1947.

Every day, I take a Palestinian bus from East Jerusalem to Abu Dis, in the West Bank. We go through Sheikh Jarrah and then through the tunnels, popping out in the Palestinian land next to the Israeli settlement Maale Adumim. We pass through Azzariya and then take a winding road to Abu Dis.

People were up in arms about construction in E1 making a contiguous Palestinian state impossible. As though there were any possibilities left. The West Bank has been carved up already. Israeli settlements dot East Jerusalem and the West Bank and the Palestinians are confined to separate bus line that connects their Bantustans. I see it on my commute every day as the Palestinian bus passes Israeli bus stops full of settlers. As we pass Maale Adumim. As we share the road with all the yellow-plated Israeli vehicles traveling to and from settlements that are even deeper in the West Bank than Maale Adumim neighboring E1.

Of course, it’s awful that Israel will expropriate privately owned Palestinian land for settlement in E1. It’s shameful that the Palestinians who live in the areas surrounding E1 will find their (already non-existent) ability to expand to accommodate for natural growth further limited. But those who think that the tiny piece of land known as E1 is what will make or break a Palestinian state don’t realize that the Palestinian state was broken from day one; those who think that E-1 is the nail in the coffin of the two-state “solution” are willfully blind to the fact that a one-state outcome is already on the ground and that the Zionist militias started building it before there was an Israel.

Zionist militias started breaking the Palestinian state in 1947 right after the UN Partition Plan was approved. As Salim Tamari writes in Jerusalem 1948: The Arab Neighborhoods and Their Fate in the War:

The Zionist forces conducted thirteen operations for the capture of Jerusalem. The objectives of these operations was twofold: (1) to clear the Tel Aviv-Jaffa-Jerusalem highway for the free movement of Jewish forces; and (2) to clear Arab villages on the western flanks of Jerusalem from their Palestinian population to provide demographic depth and linkages between the proposed Jewish state and the city of Jerusalem, in the framework of Plan Dalet. (emphasis mine)

Israel’s plans for E1 are just more of the same. It’s part of the same demographic war that Israel was waging from the get go, it’s part of an attempt to link Jewish settlements from the river to the sea, creating one state in the entirety of the territory shared by two people.

Tamari points out that the Zionist forces “conducted seven military operations in Jerusalem” from December of 1947 up until Israel’s independence on May 15 and that “[a]ll of those operations were conducted inside the boundaries of the UN proposed Arab State…”

Today, these same conquered areas are considered part of “West Jerusalem.” But, as Tamari points out, West Jerusalem is “a post-1948 term.” On a personal note, I feel the continuity between the West Bank and “West Jerusalem” in my bones when I go hiking in Ir Ganim’s hills–which were Palestinian agricultural terraces before 1948–and I stand listening to Battir’s call to prayer. Even though I can see and hear Battir, I can’t reach it. The continuity between Jerusalem and the West Bank was broken six decades ago.

This is what my students, many of whom are refugees from areas that are now part of “West Jerusalem,” talk about when they talk about Palestine. They talk about their grandparents’ villages—Ein Karem, Deir Yassin, and Malha, to name a few—which they consider their villages. They talk about the right of return. They talk about 1947 and 1948—the nakba—and everything that has come since. Those who have foreign passports and East Jerusalem IDs talk about getting arrested at Ben Gurion International Airport—which stands on Lydda, they remind me—because they dared to try to enter their country. They talk about checkpoints and green and blue IDs; they talk about being attacked by a Jewish mob during the holiday that celebrates the “reunification” of Jerusalem; they talk about being assaulted by soldiers.

They are talking about their human rights and all the ways Israel violates them every day. They are not talking about the 1967 lands. And they are definitely not talking about E-1. They’re talking about Palestine.