So why, if all sides are calling for a two-state solution as the final outcome in Palestine-Israel, has 21 years of a “peace process” failed to achieve an agreement? This is the question Josh Ruebner posed to an audience recently at Drake University.

Ruebner is the national advocacy director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation of Palestine. He has a long been involved in these issues, having founded Jews for Peace in Palestine and Israel (now merged with Jewish Voice for Peace), and having worked for the Congressional Research Office providing policy analysis to members of Congress.

The “failure” Ruebner maintains lies in the different meanings of “state.” For Palestinians, as for every other nation in the world, a state of their own means to have certain rights, such as to “import and export…, raise an army, have an independent foreign policy, to enter into treaties…, to control one’s borders, control one’s airspace….”

Ruebner says this is far different from the Israel-US intent, which is “for something much, much less than a sovereign state as was intended at Oslo. The Israel-US proposal is for an ‘entity’ that does not control its borders, is hemmed in and surrounded by Israel. The apartheid wall in the West Bank, the siege and blockade of Gaza remains. The illegal settlement blocks would be annexed to Israel….”

Ruebner says there would be no Palestinian presence in Jerusalem, which is “every bit as important to the Palestinians as it is to the Jewish people.” Instead, a Palestinian capital would be in a far off place, behind the apartheid wall and difficult to access.

This, Ruebner asserts, “is not a sovereign state.” And this is why the so called “peace process” fails.

Ruebner offered a brief history lesson to understand how Israel –US arrived at this position. It is a continuation of the ethnic cleansing policy upon which Israel was founded. The intent, as documented by Benny Morris, “a right-wing” Israeli historian, was to drive as many Palestinians from as much of historic Palestine as possible. (Morris is author of The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem.)

The Zionist militia was successful in driving 750,000 Palestinians—90% of the indigenous population—from the land now called Israel. It is these people, plus their descendants, who today number five million in refugee camps throughout the West Bank and Gaza. The refusal to allow Palestinian refugees back into their homeland violates Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and violates Israel’s pledge upon admission to the UN.

Under the 1947 UN partition plan, the Jewish population, which equaled about 1/3 of the population of historic Palestine, was granted 55% of the land. The Palestinians, who owned 93% of the land and made up 2/3 of the population, were given 45% of their land.

Inter-communal warfare between Zionist militias and Palestinian nationalists followed the partition; massacres and forced displacement of Palestinians ensued. Having driven 90% of the indigenous population out, Israel declared itself a state in 1948, and by the end of the fighting in 1949 Israel claimed 78% of the land of historic Palestine.

After the 1967 wars, Israel occupied the remaining 22% of the Palestinian lands.

Today Israel continues to construct Israeli settlements—actually cities—on the occupied lands set aside for the Palestinian state and denies the internationally recognized  “right of return of refugees.” These policies continue the plan as documented by Benny Morris to ethnically cleanse Palestine of the Palestinian people and colonize it with Jewish Israelis.

The Israel – US two-state solution is simply a charade, presenting to the Palestinians only a mirage.

Josh Ruebner is author of Shattered Hopes: Obama's Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace. Ruebner’s talk in Des Moines was organized by AFSC Iowa’s Middle East Peace Education Project and co-sponsored by the Iowa Chapter of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and Drake’s Middle East Peace and Prosperity Alliance. To view more photos from the event, click here.