Liberation requires more than resistance, protest and activism. It requires a political plan that replaces political structures of oppression with a new polity and society based on justice, egalitarianism and inclusiveness, but also on respect for the country’s diverse national, ethnic, religious and communal identities. Since Israel has eliminated the two-state solution in its relentless campaign to colonize all of Palestine, the idea of a single democratic state as the best political solution for the peoples inhabiting historic Palestine has gained increasing support in recent years. It is not a new idea. The Palestinian liberation movement, before the Nakba of 1948 and after, had promoted this vision. And the goal of establishing a single, secular, democratic state was ensconced in the PLO’s National Charter.

The One Democratic State Campaign (ODSC), founded in 2018 by Palestinians and their anti-colonial Israeli Jewish comrades, has forged a detailed 10-point program for the founding of just such a state. It begins by asserting that only through a thorough process of decolonization can the Zionist colonial structures of domination and control be dismantled. That prepares the way for a single constitutional democracy based on the principle of equal citizenship – one person, one vote – that will ensure individual civil liberties.

But the new polity will also be a diverse one. Thus the ODSC program also recognizes and safeguards the collective rights the country’s national, ethnic and religious groups, allowing their languages, cultures and communal lives to flourish.

Absolutely essential to any just future in Palestine is ensuring the right of refugees and their descendants. They will be aided in returning to their country and to the places from where they were expelled, as well as to rebuild their personal lives and be fully reintegrated into the country’s society, economy and political life. This is a natural right also recognized in United Nations’ Resolution 194. The new State will not only welcome its refugee-citizens, it will endeavor to restore to them the private and communal property they lost.

Looking towards the future, the new State will nurture a shared civil society. We recognize that only a shared civil society comprised of shared civil institutions will overcome the divisions and suffering fostered by the Zionist colonialism over decades. Only a new civic identity will enable a new generation to move on to a collective future, although, again, that civil identity will in no way conflict with people’s other national, ethnic or religious identities.

While the ODSC is taking a leadership role in building a one-state political movement, it realizes that the process of state-building must be as participatory as possible. There are many issues on which Palestinians disagree, which must be fully aired and incorporated into any political program. What will be the role of religion in what we conceive of as a non-sectarian state? How will Palestinian nationalism, not to mention Israeli nationalism, be reconciled with the sovereignty of the shared civil state? Not wanting to replace colonial inequality with neoliberal class inequality, can we institute a socialist economy in a world of global capitalism? How can we use our progressive program to empower other progressives throughout our region so as to liberate all our peoples from autocracy and capitalist de-development?

Ways must also be found to bring as many Israeli Jews into the political process as possible. Though we understand that, as in South Africa, the vast majority of Israelis will resist decolonization, we also understand the key role that our anti-colonial Israeli comrades will play in ending Israeli apartheid and building a new political community.

The Palestinian question is not merely a local or national one, of course. Our movement for liberation from external domination, colonialism, internal dictatorial and unjust rule, and economic de-development must extend throughout our region and globally. The Palestinian issue is increasingly seen as emblematic of all our peoples’ struggles against Western imperialism and neoliberalism – a kind of Global Palestine. The political, economic and military support Israel receives from the United States and Europe derives, in no small degree, from the key role Israel plays in supplying military weapons, surveillance and other technologies of repression necessary for enforcing the hegemony of the Global North. Israel’s occupation is being globalized; the peoples of the world are being Palestinianized. The struggle to liberate Palestine is, indeed, a key element in the struggle to liberate us all.

We of the ODSC call on you, our international comrades, to actively support and promote our one-state campaign. All our current actions, whether they be BDS, promoting the Palestinian narrative, lobbying, advocacy, protesting, campaigning – must be linked to a political program, an end-game, if they are to have any political impact. In our view, the one-state concept is the only just basis for such a political program.

As the Palestinians have been abandoned by governments, you, the progressive international grassroots, represent their only major ally. Your intervention is critical to our success. Join us in our struggle for liberation and a just future for all the people between the River and Sea.

Awad Abdelfattah, ODSC Coordinator


Facebook: One Democratic State Campaign

A partial list of ODSC members:

Awad Abdelfattah, Haifa area, Coordinator of the ODSC
Haider Eid, Gaza, Professor of Literature and activist
Ilan Pappe, Haifa, Professor of History, author and activist
Nadia Naser-Najjab, Ramallah, Professor of Political Science
Gada Karmi, London, Physician, author, and activist.
Mazin Qumsiyeh, Bethlehem, Director Palestine Museum of Natural History
Munir Nusseibeh, Jerusalem, Professor; Director of Al Quds Human Rights Clinic
Jamil Hilal, Ramalla, an independent sociologist and writer.
Moamer Orabi, director of Ramalla-based Wattan TV.
Jeff Halper, Jerusalem, Professor of Anthropology and Director of ICAHD
Saleh Hijazi, Ramallah, Human rights activist
Rafah Anabtawi, Haifa, Director of Kayan Women’s Center
Sari Bashi, Jaffa, Founder of Gisha; Civil society and community organizer
Umar al-Ghubari, Galilee, Educator at Zochrot
Dareen Tatour, Galilee, Poet and activist
Leila Farsakh, USA, Professor of Political Economy
Adnan Sabbah, Tulkarim/London, Soliciter and activist
Radi Jarai, Ramallah, Lecturer in Political Science
Ramzi Baroud, USA, Journalist and Editor of the Palestine Chronicle
Areen Hawari, Haifa, Director of the Gender Studies Program at Mada al-Carmel
Hazem Qawasmi, Jerusalem, Economist and activist .
Haim Bresheeth, London, Professor of Film Studies; Founder, Jewish Network for Palestine
Bana Shughry, Galilee, Lawyer and civil society activist
Mustafa Sheta, Jenin, Director of Jenin Freedom Theater
David Sheen, Haifa, Journalist
Diana Butto, Haifa, Lawyer and activist
Naji El Khatib, Paris, Researcher and activist
Einat Weizman, Tel Aviv, Actress and playwright
Wehbeh Badarneh, Galilee, Lawyer and unionist
Eitan Bronstein, Brussels, Co-founder of De-Colonizer
Ronen Ben Ari, Haifa, Lecturer in Political Science
Goerge Bisharat, USA, Professor of Law
Daphna Baram, UK, Comedienne
Mahmoud Meari, Galilee, Professor of Sociology
Asaad Abu Sharkh , academic from Gaza, and former representative of the PLO in Ireland.
Dawoud Alghoul, Jerusalem/UK, Graduate student and activist .
Neve Gordon, UK, Professor of Political Science
Ali Haider, from Haifa district, a lawyer and a visiting faculty member for leadership.
Bilal Yousif, Nazareth, Film director
Rachel Giora, Tel Aviv, Professor of Linguistics .
Samah Bsoul, Nazareth, Media coordinator .
Jamal Jumaa, Ramallah, Coordinator of the Palestinian Grassroots Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign