The Two State Ending to the Israel-Palestine Conflict

PPI supports a two-state resolution of the conflict: the creation of a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli state, on the basis of a negotiated agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.  Israel would remain within its 1967 borders, with agreed upon land swaps.  The creation of a Palestinian state would bring an end to a brutal occupation that has lasted far too long.  Israel was founded as a Jewish and democratic state, with equal rights for all its citizens, Jewish and non-Jewish; the occupation, and the second-class status of Palestinians within Israel, has belied this aspiration.  The creation of a Palestinian state would enable Israel to move toward this goal.  It would reduce hostility toward Israel from its Arab neighbors, and it would enable Israel to repair its standing in world opinion.  The creation of a Palestinian state would bring risks for Israel: Palestine could become a base for attacks on Israel.  But continued obstruction of negotiations with the Palestinians, and a continuation of the occupation, will bring increasing antagonism from the Arab world and increasing international isolation.  The risks of maintaining the status quo are much greater, for Israel, than the risks entailed in the creation of a Palestinian state.

Opposition to a two-state resolution comes primarily from the right inside Israel, and largely from the left elsewhere.  The Israeli right is committed to the goal of Greater Israel, of an Israeli state stretching from the sea to the Jordan, and also insists that this will be a Jewish state, despite the fact that the population within this territory is approximately 50% Palestinian.  Some on the Israeli right propose solving this problem through the forced transfer of Palestinians to Jordan.  Some propose denying the vote to Palestinians.   An officially Jewish Greater Israel with a Palestinian near-majority population would lose even the façade of democracy, and would be, in effect, segregated state in which Jews dominated Palestinians and other non-Jews.

Many on the left outside Israel support a one-state arrangement in the assumption that state would be multi-national, secular, and democratic.  They oppose a two-state agreement because it entails the continued existence of Israel as a Jewish state.  Given the decades of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians it seems unlikely that a merged state would be stably and peacefully multi-national.  The vast majority of Palestinians want a Palestinian state; the vast majority of Jewish Israelis want to continue to live in a Jewish state.  PPI supports the right to national self-determination of both peoples.

A state based on a particular ethnic identity and tradition need not discriminate against ethnic minorities living within its borders.  Israel could treat Palestinian Israelis as full citizens, with equal rights to those of Israeli Jews.  Jews living in a Palestinian state could also become citizens of that state and be granted equal rights.  Many of those who press for one state see it as a chance to model the vision of a post-national, borderless world on a small scale.  But if one state were to come into existence in Israel/Palestine extreme nationalists on both sides would try to gain control of it.   The Israeli right assumes that it would win any such contest and this does seem most likely.  Such an outcome would be a disaster for the Palestinians, for the Israeli left, and for Israel’s relation with the rest of the world.