Keinon asked West about what he planned to say to Palestinian leadership he was about to meet with. West responded by downplaying the importance of a Palestinian state, saying it has “never existed before” and that Palestinian statehood would be like carving out part of North Carolina and declaring it an Appalachian state:
KEINON: You are meeting tomorrow with the Palestinian Authority leadership. What is your message to them?
There is one very simple question I would ask: Do you really believe you are a credible peace partner? Because I think with the reconciliation pact with Hamas, that is a very telling thing. The fact is that they are trying to back-door the process by going to the UN for a unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, when we don’t have a firm recognition of Israel, we don’t have the renouncing of terrorism. I would also ask, what is a Palestinian state? It is something that never existed before. And even the word Palestine. You take it back to Palestina – which comes from Philistia – which was nothing but a declaration by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 73 AD. This is a region, it is not anything tied to a certain group of people; it would be just the same as saying we should have an Appalachian state, separate from North Carolina. It’s those questions I’d like to ask.
West does not appear to understand the basic facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The analogy he uses — of the Appalachian region of North Carolina trying to secede — assumes that the Palestinians are simply a part of Israel and enjoy the full rights of Israeli citizenship just as those living in Appalachia enjoy the rights of living in North Carolina.
This is not the case. Palestinians are not granted citizenship by the Israeli government (they are not to be confused with Arab citizens of Israel) and are regularly submitted to mistreatment and human rights abuses that they cannot challenge through a democratic process.
In fact, if one takes West’s analogy seriously, then it would seem that he is actually a proponent of a one-state solution — namely, forging one state where Palestinians and Israelis could live side-by-side with the same rights and privileges. Surely, West would likely object to this as well, if he understood what he was proposing.