Our position on Palestine cannot be formed unilaterally

BY:Cameron Orr| April 2, 2024
Our position on Palestine cannot be formed unilaterally

This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

This contribution is an abridged version of Palestine and the right to self-determination.

The right to self-determination is a basic democratic principle. As a Marxist-Leninist institution committed to working-class internationalism, the CPUSA is obligated to consult with its fraternal parties who are active in working-class movements on the ground to understand the struggles taking place in other countries and how we can best support them.

While immigrant populations are an important part of the struggle for peace and democracy here in the U.S., and can be a resource regarding circumstances in their home countries, they also tend to come from relatively higher income groups, and bring with them the politics corresponding to their social position.

Our fraternal parties, then, are our best resource for understanding what is taking place in other countries from a working-class perspective.

Shifts in the balance of forces, new information, and lessons learned through collective experience often lead to necessary strategic and tactical changes in our political objectives. Up until 1947, the CPUSA, Soviet Union, and Palestinian Communists were struggling for a single, independent, democratic state of Palestine, with full equality among Jewish and Arab people, and exposed the role of imperialism in sowing conflict. Following WWII, however, circumstances changed.

In May, 1947, two months after the U.S. unleashed its Truman Doctrine, Soviet representative to the United Nations Andrei Gromyko outlined the four options being variously promoted, namely:

  1. A single Arab–Jewish State, with equal rights for Arabs and Jews
  2. Two independent states, one Arab and one Jewish
  3. An Arab state in Palestine, without equal rights for Jewish people
  4. A Jewish state in Palestine, without equal rights for Arab people

Gromyko stated that “an independent, dual, democratic, homogeneous Arab–Jewish State,” was the best option but that “if this plan proved impossible … it would be necessary to consider the second plan.”

Six months later, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, establishing the state of Israel. CPUSA leader Hyman Lumar pointed out in a 1967 Political Affairs article that this was done with the “support of the Soviet Union, and in the face of opposition from Britain and the United States,” which had previously proposed different partition plans. Today, the U.S. mouths support for the two-state solution, while undermining it in practice.

Forerunners of the Palestinian People’s Party (PPP), our fraternal party in Palestine which has a seat on the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, initially opposed the partition plan, but soon approved it after further study, describing it as the “best of the bad solutions,” seeing that it was no longer a question of two states vs. one democratic state, but of two states vs. one Zionist state.

A (Google translated) article on the PPP website by Daoud Talhami argues the change in the Soviet position was a tactical decision in the context of the Cold War.

A PPP leader wrote in 2013 that had Palestinian Communists’ position been accepted by other Arab forces in 1947, “the Nakba would not have occurred,” and the Palestinian people could have built their state on half of historic Palestine, instead of today demanding less than a quarter of the land.

Not satisfied “to let Israel become a cog in the … Anglo-American imperialist war machine” as CPUSA leader Alexander Bittelman would later write, it became necessary to struggle for an independent, democratic Israel, bringing progressive forces into the fight. Bittelman argued in 1947 that economic unity and political cooperation between the two states, as much as possible “approach[ing] the status of one state consisting of two equal nations,” would be essential. The CPUSA has since defended the existence of Israel, while opposing the policies of its government.

“The central question,” noted a draft resolution for the 18th National Convention, “is the struggle against … U.S. imperialism,” which “allies itself with and arms the forces of reaction in the Arab world … and seeks to use Israel as a pawn, … This imperialist policy, which fans the flames of war … for the sake of the profits of a handful of monopolies, is equally opposed to the interests of the American people.”

“The issue,” Hyman Lumar wrote in 1967, “is oil.” U.S. policy was also aimed at militarizing and destabilizing the region surrounding the Soviet Union, and continues to frustrate the peaceful and independent development of the region.

The Israeli Communist Party (CPI), which today is majority Palestinian, was formed in 1948, after Israel’s founding. Together with the PPP, the CPI fights for a just Israeli–Arabic peace, to end the Israeli occupation, for “a Palestinian State, whose capital is Eastern Jerusalem, alongside the State of Israel whose capital is Western Jerusalem, and the resolution of the Palestinian refugee problem based on the relevant UN resolutions.”

Today, leaders of the PPP say that, due to the current balance of forces in the region and generally, any attempt now to return to the one state solution will not result in a single democratic state, but in an apartheid state, and that support from the international community is needed to force Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders and abide by the relevant UN resolutions.

When asked in a 2020 CPUSA interview about declining support for the two-state solution, CPI leader Aida Touma-Sliman responded, “I would differentiate between losing support for the two-state solution … and the fact that more people are losing hope.”

At the CPUSA’s November peace conference, PPP leader Aqel Taqaz said, “All Palestinian organizations … [are] fighting for a Palestinian independent state on the basis of the UN resolutions … within the borders of 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of refugees to go back home.” Taqaz stressed the importance of an international conference to solve the Palestinian issue “with the participation of the United Nations and other powers — regional and international — and not to leave the mediation under the U.S. hegemony.”

It is our responsibility to help achieve this result. The first step is forcing our own government to accept and support an immediate and permanent ceasefire.


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