Issue Report: Two-state solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Is a two-state solution justified? Compared to a one-state solution?

For decades, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has revolved around one particularly pointed question and debate: should the Palestinian people be given their own state in a two-state solution to the conflict? Barack Obama explicitly supported a two-state solution, saying that “a two-state solution is the only solution”. While many in Israel and elsewhere oppose the idea, the two-state solution is considered the consensus solution under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference in November 2007. While alternatives exist (such as a one-state solution or forms of autonomy under the status quo) Palestinian, Israeli, and global leaders are primarily engaged in the debate surrounding a two-state solution. Benjamin Nentanyahu has supported a two-state solution publicly, but many question whether his actions, such as the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank, show that he is truly committed to such a solution. As Trump became President of the United States, the United States’ position on the matter has remained a point of contention. The pro and con arguments are considered below.

Peace: Can a two-state solution bring peace?

Palestinians/Israelis cannot live in peace in one state

While it is nice to believe that Palestinians and Israelis can live in peace and harmony in one state, with tolerance for each other and in keeping with democratic principals of inclusion, while nice, is simply naive. This idea has been made impossible by nearly a century of direct conflict between these people. While this might change in coming centuries, it is unacceptable to adopt a one-state policy now based on these naive ideas.

Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009:

“Establishing a single multinational country is a tenuous path that does not bode well for peace but, rather, enforces the conflict’s perpetuation. Lebanon, ravaged by bloodshed and instability, represents only one of many examples of an undesirable quagmire of this nature.”

A two-state solution is the least bad option

Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009:

“The difficulties of a two-state solution are numerous, but it remains the only realistic and moral formula to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

General statements in support of a two-state solution

US special envoy George Mitchell: “In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe that the two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace, is the best and the only way to resolve this conflict.”

A two-state conflict will not end conflict

Prof. Hassan Nafaa. "No Room for Two States". Global Research. February 12, 2008:

“The conflict between the Palestinians and the Zionist movement is not over disputed borders or material interests and, therefore, resolvable by merely coming to an agreement over permanent borders and a give-and-take over material interests. Rather, it is a conflict between two identities, each of which claims sole propriety right over a given territory. Such a conflict cannot be solved by the same means that are brought to bear on conventional international conflicts.”

Israelis/Palestinians can coexist peacefully in one state

Sandy Tolan. "George Mitchell and the end of the two-state solution". Christian Science Monitor. February 4, 2009:

“it was no less a man than Albert Einstein who believed in ‘sympathetic cooperation’ between ‘the two great Semitic peoples’ and who insisted that ‘no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it.’ A relative handful of Israelis and Palestinians are beginning to survey the proverbial new ground, considering what Einstein’s theories would mean in practice. They might take heart from Einstein’s friend Martin Buber, the great philosopher who advocated a binational state of ‘joint sovereignty,’ with ‘complete equality of rights between the two partners,’ based on ‘the love of their homeland that the two peoples share.'”

General statements in favor of a one-state solution

Edward Said, a famous Palestinian writer and activist, advocated for a one-state solution, arguing: “Two people in one land. Or, equality for all. Or, one person one vote. Or, a common humanity asserted in a bi-national state.”[1]

One state is more peaceful then a two state solution

“The Palestinians are like crocodiles, the more you give them meat, they want more.” — Ehud Barak, Prime Minister of Israel at the time – August 28, 2000. Reported in the Jerusalem Post August 30, 2000.

Democratic principles: Is a two-state solution consistent with democratic principles?

Two-state plan respects democratic will for separate states

Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009:

“The Jewish people want and deserve to live in peace in their rightful, historical homeland. The Palestinian people want and deserve their own land, their own political institutions and their right to self-determination. It is vital that this cause be based on the prospect of coexistence between Jews and Arabs, which translates into cooperation in fields such as the economy, tourism, the environment and defense. Achieving all this will be possible only by granting each people its own state and borders, to enable their citizens to pray according to their faiths, cultivate their cultures, speak their own languages and safeguard their heritages.”

One-state would see Israeli minority ruling over Palestinian majority

"Is the two-state solution in danger?". Haaretz. May 21, 2009:

“The left in Israel has long warned that if settlement construction continues and Israel does not separate from the Palestinians, the country will eventually slide into an apartheid-like reality in which a Jewish minority rules over an Arab majority. The result, they contend: the end of a democratic, Jewish state.”

Leon T. Hadar. "Only one solution to Israeli-Palestinian conflict". CATO. March 23, 2004:

“a bi-national state would only produce an explosive situation in which Jews would dominate the economy and most other aspects of the new state, creating a reality of exploitation. At that point in time, a bi-national state would be a new form of occupation that would only set the conflict on a more violent track.”

Inclusive one-state solution adopts democratic principles

Prof. Hassan Nafaa. "No Room for Two States". Global Research. February 12, 2008:

“The single, bi-national democratic state solution has the advantage of conforming to modern liberal democratic principles officially espoused in the West and in Israel itself.”

Israelis/Palestinians are too intermingled for two state-solution

Mohammed Khaku. "The Case for One-State Solution for the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict". Cross-Cultural Understanding. May 2008:

“The only solution for the Palestinians is the creation of a single state in Palestine-Israel. Since the Palestinian and Israeli populations are so intermingled and a million Palestinians live throughout Israel the feasibility of a bi-national state, with the two peoples living in a kind of federation, seems workable. Given this ‘reality’ on the ground, the most practical solution seems to be a united democratic state offering equal citizenship for all: One Person, One Vote.”

Two-state solution gives Palestinians unequal rights

"The One State Declaration". Issued by participants in the July 2007 Madrid meeting. November 29, 2007:

“A two-state solution is] predicated on the unjust premise that peace can be achieved by granting limited national rights to Palestinians living in the areas occupied in 1967, while denying the rights of Palestinians inside the 1948 borders and in the Diaspora. Thus, the two-state solution condemns Palestinian citizens of Israel to permanent second-class status within their homeland, in a racist state that denies their rights by enacting laws that privilege Jews constitutionally, legally, politically, socially and culturally. Moreover, the two-state solution denies Palestinian refugees their internationally recognized right of return.”

Jewish state: Does a two-state solution uphold the idea of a Jewish state?

One-state solution would end Israel as a Jewish state

Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009:

“A minority of Middle East pundits have recently emerged as advocates for a one-state solution, which would undermine Israel’s legitimacy and internationally recognized right to exist as a sovereign Jewish state in the land of my forefathers. […] From Israel’s perspective, it is not possible for the Jewish people to accept an arrangement that signifies the end of the existence of a Jewish state.” [The reason for this is that it could not be considered a Jewish state if it housed a very large Palestinian population].

Idea of Jewish state, in two-state solution, is undemocratic

Todd May. "The Emerging Case for a Single-State Solution". Counter Punch. September 9, 2004:

“A first objection might appeal to the motivation for recognizing […] a Jewish state in the first place. […] That the Holocaust proves that European Jews deserve protection against the history of hatred against them is undeniable. It does not follow from this that they deserved a state where they would be privileged vis-à- vis another people. That idea has more to do with nineteenth-century nationalism than with the internationalism more characteristic of the contemporary world. Moreover, history has shown the effects of this privileging.”

Israel will not relinquish Judea, Samaria in two-state solution

The two-state solution would have Israel relinquish Judea and Samarra. Yet, these are historic regions to the Jews. Israel will not undermine its identity by relinquishing these territories, so it will not and should not accept a two-state solution.

Two-state solution would alienate Palestinians in Israel.

A two-state solution, particularly one that enables a Jewish state, will alienate Palestinians living in Israeli territory. At best, they would be second class citizens. At worst, they would be pushed out, directly or indirectly.

Two-state solution would prevent return of Palestinian refugees.

A two-state solution, and the establishment of a Jewish state, would kill the idea of the return of Palestinian refugees that were expelled from Israel during various wars and conflicts.

Israeli security: Does a two-state solution offer sufficient security for Israel?

Two-state solution offers peace, the most important factor

Shimon Peres. "One Region, Two States". Washington Post. February 10, 2009:

“Those not committed to this solution argue that, after the creation of a Palestinian state, Israel’s waist would be too narrow — some six miles — to ensure security for its citizens. […] Indeed, six miles will be too narrow to guarantee full security, which only reinforces our belief that Israel’s safety is not embedded only in territorial defense but in peace. Peace provides breadth of wings, even when the waist is narrow.”

Palestinian state would be base for terrorism

"Gaza and the two-state solution". The Recliner Commentaries. May 16, 2009:

“Gaza was the perfect test case for Palestinians to prove they were ready for “the two state solution” which everyone seems to think is the best solution to peace in the mid-east–everyone but Muslim hardliners who want nothing less than Israel’s destruction, that is. […] And yet the Gaza experiment has failed miserably. The people elected a terrorist government which has spent so much of its money, not on the welfare of the Palestinian people, but on attacking Israel! […] How can Israel be expected to support a two-state solution when Gaza has only turned out to be a base for attacking Israel?”

A two-state solution makes Israel too narrow, vulnerable.

A two-state solution would make Israel only 6 miles wide at a number of points where the West Bank juts into Israeli territory. This creates a number of vulnerabilities, particularly the risk that Israel become divided during a war (a not unlikely prospect).

Israel loses strategic West Bank mountains in two-state solution

Giving control over the West Bank to the Palestinians would deprive Israel of the strategic asset of the mountains in the West Bank, which provide a natural barrier to foreign invasions as well as a good vantage scouting invaders or nefarious activities.

Israel will simply not accept a two-state solution

There are many indications that, despite the rhetoric, Israel will not accept a two-state solution. The most important factor is the growth of settlements, which would have to be removed under a two-state solution, which many believe would be met by violent resistance by Jewish settlers. Territorial vulnerabilities from a two-state solution, and the inability to control the borders of the Palestinian state are also problems that make Israel unlikely to accept a two-state solution.

Palestinians: Do Palestinians want their own state? Can they govern themselves?

Palestinians want two-state solution, assuming settlements stop.

Jerusalem – PLO Executive Committee Secretary Yasir Abd-Rabbuh replying to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statements that he is ready to negotiate immediately with the Palestinians by affirming that no negotiations will take place before the suspension of the settlement activities. “Abd-Rabbuh said in statements to Al-Ayyam: There can be no negotiations unless the Israelis stop the settlement activities and we no longer wish to meet with the Israelis on the same table to exchange views and ideas while they change the facts on the ground in Jerusalem and all the West Bank. This is a policy that represents the highest forms of deception.”

Palestinians do not want peace and a two-state solution

Jeff Jacoby. "Peace isn't Arab goal". Boston Globe. May 20, 2009:

“International consensus or no, the two-state solution is a chimera. Peace will not be achieved by granting sovereignty to the Palestinians, because Palestinian sovereignty has never been the Arabs’ goal. Time and time again, a two-state solution has been proposed. Time and time again, the Arabs have turned it down.”

Palestinians are too divided to constitute a state.

MJ Rosenberg. "Loving The Two-State Solution to Death". Huffington Post. December 22, 2008:

“we are further from implementing the two-state solution today than we were in 2001. In fact, it can’t be implemented because the Palestinians themselves constitute two states. Without Palestinian unity — unity that ended with the Hamas election and then full seizure of power in Gaza–the two-state solution is simply not achievable.”

A Palestinian state would be dysfunctional

"Why plans for a two-state solution in the Middle East have failed.". International Journal on World Peace. March 1, 2008:

“The plan for a Palestinian state failed to comprehend that the Palestinians, unlike the Jews, had not created an apparatus for self-government.”

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