THEN THERE are the problems of the political structure.
Of course, there will be universal and free elections. How will citizens vote -- according to their class interests or along ethnic lines?
Experience in many countries indicates that the ethnic identity will take precedence. In today's Israel, that is the rule. During the British Mandate, there was only one joint party: the Moscow-line Communist one. On the eve of the 1948 war, it split between Jews and Arabs. In the new State of Israel, they reunited (as ordered by Moscow) but then split again. Now it is in practice an Arab party, with a few Jewish followers.
In 1984 I took part in the foundation of a new party, the Progressive List for Peace, based on strict parity: our Knesset list was Arab, Jew, Arab, Jew, up to 120.
In two successive election campaigns we entered the Knesset. But a curious thing happened: almost all our voters were Arabs. Soon after, the party disappeared.
I strongly suspect that in USIP the same will happen. In Parliament, two blocs will face each other in a climate of perpetual mutual animosity. It will be extremely difficult to form a working government coalition composed of elements of both sides. Look at Belgium, another problematic bi-national state.
Some One-Staters admit that the project is only feasible if both peoples change their basic attitudes completely, and a spirit of mutual love and respect displaces the present nationalistic hatred and contempt.
Some 50 years ago I had a conversation with the then Indian ambassador in Paris, Kavalam Madhava Panikkar, a very respected statesman and scholar. We talked, of course, about Israeli-Palestinian peace, and he said: "It will take 51 years!"
Why exactly 51, I asked, surprised. "Because we need a new generation of teachers," he said. "That will take 25 years. These new teachers will educate a new generation of pupils, who will be able to make peace, That will take another 25 years. Making peace will take one more year."
Well, 51 years have passed, and peace is further off than ever.
Matchmakers tend to say: "They don't love yet, but once married and having children, they will come to love each other."
Perhaps. How long will it take? A hundred years? Two hundred years? Long before that, we shall all be dead.
The main argument against the One-State vision is that it will soon become the battlefield of a perpetual conflict, like Lebanon. There will not be a day of internal peace.
The greatest danger is that in such a state, with a growing Arab majority, affluent and highly educated Jewish citizens will slowly leave (as some are already doing now). In the end, only the poor and ill-educated will be left --a small Jewish community in another Arab state.
I have a lurking suspicion that some of the Arab One-Staters embrace the idea for this reason alone: to put an end to Israel.
Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs are two of the most nationalist nations in the world. One has to be an extreme optimist -- even more extreme than I -- to believe that it will work.
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