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Two-state solution

A peace movement poster: Israeli and Palestinian flags and the words peace in Arabic and Hebrew. Similar images have been used by several groups proposing a two-state solution to the conflict.

The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference in November 2007. It is supported by other international figures and agencies, such as Pope Benedict XVI.[1]

A two-state solution envisions two separate states in the Western portion of the historic region of Palestine: With Israel remaining a Jewish state, and the establishment of another Arab state to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the idea, the Arab inhabitants would be given citizenship by the new Palestinian state; Palestinian refugees would likely be offered such citizenship as well. Arab citizens of present-day Israel would likely have the choice of staying with Israel, or becoming citizens of the new Palestine.

It is contrasted with other options, most notably the binational solution, which could either be a twin regime federalist arrangement or a unitary state,[2] and the Allon Plan, also known as the 'no-state solution'.

The New York Review of Books reported in a 2008 review of the middle east situation that "throughout the years, polls consistently showed respectable Israeli and Palestinian majorities in favor of a negotiated two-state settlement."[3] A 2007 poll reported that, when forced to choose between a two-state solution and a bi-national state, over one quarter of the Palestinian respondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip preferred neither, 46% of respondents preferred the two-state over the bi-national solution, and 26% preferred the binational over the two-state.[4] The solution enjoys majority support in Israeli polls as well although there has been some erosion to its prospects over time.[5]


[edit] History

Variations on the basic idea have a long history.[6]

The Peel Commission report of 1937 envisioned a partition of the British Mandate of Palestine area into three sections: Arab, Jewish, and a small continued Mandate area (effectively under international control), containing Jerusalem.

Partition was again proposed by the 1947 UN Partition plan for the division of Palestine. It proposed a three-way division, again with Jerusalem held separately, under international control. It too was rejected by the leadership of Arab nations and the Palestinian leadership at the time, although this plan was accepted by the Jewish inhabitants.

The first indication that the PLO would be willing to accept a two-state solution, on at least an interim basis, was articulated by Said Hammami in the mid-1970s.[7][8]

Security Council resolutions dating back to June 1976 supporting the two state solution based on the pre-1967 lines were vetoed by the United States.[9] The idea has had overwhelming support in the UN General Assembly since the mid 1970's.[10]

Many Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the Arab League[11], have stated that they would accept a 2-state solution based on pre-1967 lines. According to a 2002 poll conducted by PIPA, 72% of both Palestinians and Israelis supported at that time a peace settlement based on the 1967 borders so long as each group could be reassured that the other side would be cooperative in making the necessary concessions for such a settlement.[12]

However no government on either side could possibly agree to a dividing line that yielded the Temple Mount to the other side and so no two state solution can exist. The absurdity of the situation led President Clinton to propose splitting the site vertically, which was unacceptable to both sides.[13]

[edit] Recent events

Map of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 2007. Agreeing acceptable borders is a major difficulty with the two-state solution.

In the 1990s the pressing need for a peace in the area brought the two-state idea back to centre stage. At one point in the late 1990s, considerable diplomatic work went into negotiating a two-state solution between the parties, including the Oslo Accords and culminating in the Camp David 2000 Summit, and follow-on negotiations at Taba in January 2001. However, no final agreement was reached.

Variations include a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip or some portion thereof. In some proposals raised in talks with the Palestinians there would have been territorial adjustments involving some small sections of current Israeli territory.

Some argue that the two-state solution was implemented in 1922 when Britain split off the eastern 75% of the Mandate to create Transjordan which became Jordan, a state with an Palestinian Arab majority population.[citation needed]

Some Israeli politicians, such as prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, argue for a form of two-state solution in which a Palestinian state is granted most of the attributes of an independent state but denied certain aspects of sovereignty that might allow it to threaten Israel. Netanyahu argues, for example, that the future state's ability to import arms should be restricted. The Palestinian leadership does not view such proposals as being in the true spirit of the two-state solution concept.

Possible two-state solutions have been discussed by Saudi and US leaders.[14] In 2002, Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed the Arab Peace Initiative, which garnered the unanimous support of the Arab League. President Bush announced his support for a Palestinian state, opening the way for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397,[15] supporting a two state solution. Christian communities in Israel also back the solution.

In a 2007 poll of adults in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre, 46.7% of respondents favored a two-state solution, followed by 26.5% for a binational state.[16] However support is lower among younger Palestinians; U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted: "Increasingly, the Palestinians who talk about a two-state solution are my age."[17]

At the Annapolis Conference in November, 2007, the three major parties'Palestinians (Fatah but not Hamas government in Gaza), Israelis, and Americans'agreed on a two-state solution as the outline for Israeli-Palestinian conflict negotiations. Nevertheless the problems of such a solution are in the details of mainly three topics with great differences of view between the participants, namely the status and borders of Jerusalem and its Temple Mount, the borders of the future Palestinian state, and Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the return of the Palestinian refugees.

Among Israelis, main objections are fears about security without the Jordan valley and full Israeli airspace and frontier control,[citation needed] the Jewish historical religious adherence to the Judean Hills (the name for the mountain range of the Judea region upon which Jerusalem and several other biblical cities are located) with the Palestinian population centers there[citation needed] (comparable to situation of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo), Jerusalem as the postulated capital of two states, the "fingers" of Israeli settlements deeply in the Judean hills with at least three to four practical non-contiguous and non-self-sustainable enclaves of Palestinian population centers as well as the future of localities inhabited by Jews in the West Bank.

Most of these topics have been integrated in the peace proposal of the Geneva accord by Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, elaborated and signed under Swiss auspices. But until now it has not been a discussion directly between the Israeli and Palestinian governments. The more Israeli settlements are built in the West Bank, the more difficult this demographic pressure makes the finding of a peace solution acceptable to both sides.[citation needed]

As of 2009, both United States and European Union gave clear messages that the Israeli government, failing to abide by the "common agenda" of two-state solution, would not be acceptable itself. In March 2009, European ministers urged new Israeli government led by prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu to accept Palestinian state or face "consequences".[18]

On June 4, 2009, President Barack Obama delivered a major address to the Muslim World in Cairo, Egypt. In the speech, he supported the two-state solution.[19]

"For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers ' for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security." - President Barack Obama.

On June 14, 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech at Bar Ilan University, where he, for the first time in his career, endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. He called on it to be demilitarized.

On July 19, 2009, Netanyahu said "United Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel," and "Israeli sovereignty in the city is indisputable." while Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat countered with "The job of the Israeli Prime Minister should be to prepare his people for what it takes to make peace," and "He knows very much that there will never be peace between Palestinians and Israelis without East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state."[20]

Since entering office Obama has halted the sale of advanced weapons to Israel while demanding that they withdraw from the entire West Bank so that a Palestinian state could be setup.[21]

[edit] Doubts and criticisms

Recently, the feasibility of the Two-State Solution has been called into question. An article in the New York Times,[22] reported that Egypt and Jordan are concerned about the possibility of having to retake responsibility for Gaza and the West Bank. In effect, the result would be Gaza returning to Egyptian rule, and the West Bank to Jordanian, referred to as the Three state solution. There appear to be signs that such a concept is beginning to come on to the agenda.[23] In a September 2008 publication[24] of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Giora Eiland wrote that:

This proposal suggests that rather than establishing another Arab state, the parties could return control over most of the West Bank to Jordan. Until recently, such an idea was rejected completely by everyone, especially the Jordanians themselves. Today, however, more and more Jordanians, Palestinians, and Israelis have come to believe that this is the right solution. The main reason for this change of heart is the rise of Hamas. Israel can curb the group's ascendancy, but only as long as Israel occupies the West Bank. If a Palestinian state is established there, many fear that it would be taken over by Hamas. Such a scenario could have far-reaching consequences for Jordan. To be sure, the notion of pursuing alternative solutions is not yet politically correct, and therefore no official Jordanian or Palestinian support could be given to such efforts at the moment. Nevertheless, tacit support for this idea has been expressed in private talks.

Some Israeli journalists suggest that the Palestinians are unprepared to accept a Jewish State on any terms.[25][26] According to one poll, "fewer than 2 in 10 Arabs, both Palestinian and all others, believe in Israel's right to exist as a nation with a Jewish majority."[27] Another poll, however, invoked by the US State Department, suggests that "78 percent of Palestinians and 74 percent of Israelis believe a peace agreement that leads to both states living side by side as good neighbors" is 'essential or desirable'.[28]

The PLO has "shown serious interest" in a two-state solution since the mid-1970s, and its mainstream leadership has embraced the concept since the 1982 Arab Summit in Fez.[29] However, in March 2009 Mohammad Dahlan of the PLO stated that, 'For the 1,000th time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel's right to exist. Rather we are asking Hamas not to do so, because Fatah never recognized Israel's right to exist.'[25]

[edit] Viability of a Palestinian state

By 2010, when direct talks were scheduled to be re-started, continued growth of settlements on the west bank and continued strong support of settlements by the Israeli government had greatly reduced the land and resources that would be available to a Palestinian state creating doubt among Palestinians and left-wing Israelis that a two-state solution continued to be viable.[30]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes and references

  1. ^ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6269490.ece
  2. ^ One State Threat, Reut Institute, 1 November 2004, http://www.reut-institute.org/Publication.aspx?PublicationId=346, retrieved 2008-01-01 
  3. ^ How Not to Make Peace in the Middle East. By Hussein Agha and Robert Malley. The New York Review of Books. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2009
  4. ^ On Palestinian attitudes towards the Formation of the National Unity Government, Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre, March 2007, Poll no. 61, Part One, http://www.jmcc.org/publicpoll/results/2007/no61.pdf, retrieved 2008-01-01 
  5. ^ Is One State Enough?, Reut Institute, 12 June 2007, http://www.reut-institute.org/Publication.aspx?PublicationId=1753, retrieved 2008-01-01 
  6. ^ http://younation.bravehost.com/peace1.pdf; "The land of Israel for the Israelites and the land of Philistine for the Palestinians"; by Rabbi Howshua Amariel
  7. ^ Ayoob, Mohammed. The Middle East in world politics. 1981, page 90
  8. ^ á��usayn ä�ghä�, Shai Feldman, Aá��mad Khä�lidä«, Zeev Schiff. Track-II diplomacy: lessons from the Middle East. 2003, page 11
  9. ^ Cattan, Henry. The Palestine question. 1988, page 307
  10. ^ Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
  11. ^ The Beirut Declaration: 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative (Full Text)
  12. ^ Large Israeli and Palestinian Majorities Indicate Readiness for Two-State Solution Based on 1967 Borders
  13. ^ Beyond a two-state solution
  14. ^ Frontline: House of Saud
  15. ^ US Depart of State - UN Security Council Resolution 1397
  16. ^ Palestinians Voice Support for Two-State Solution
  17. ^ Richard Boudreaux and Ashraf Khalil (May 14, 2008). "Can 2 foes live under 1 roof?". Chicago Tribune. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-israel-one-statemay14,0,5082382.story. Retrieved 2008-06-17. 
  18. ^ EU urges new Israeli government to accept Palestinian state
  19. ^ http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Remarks-by-the-President-at-Cairo-University-6-04-09/
  20. ^ Israel Rejects US Demand to Halt East Jerusalem Project
  21. ^ Obama rejected Netanyahu request for F-15E in 'tough' session
  22. ^ Slackman, Michael (January 12, 2009). "Crisis Imperils 2-State Plan, Shifting a Balance". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/world/middleeast/12egypt.html?hp. Retrieved March 28, 2010. 
  23. ^ http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/rosnerBlog.jhtml?itemNo=877534&contrassID=25&subContrassID=0&sbSubContrassID=1&listSrc=Y&art=1
  24. ^ http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/download.php?file=PolicyFocus88.pdf page xii
  25. ^ a b No Common Ground,By JEFFREY GOLDBERG, New York Times, May 20, 2009,http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/24/books/review/Goldberg-t.html?_r=1&ref=books
  26. ^ The No-State Solution ; Hamas cares more about Shariah than 'Palestine,' Wall Street Journal, JANUARY 13, 2009 [1]
  27. ^ BLANKLEY: The two-state 'solution' mirage, Time for reality-based diplomacy on Israel and Palestinians, Tony Blankley | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 [2]
  28. ^ http://www.america.gov/st/mena-english/2009/July/200907021105032SAdemahoM0.6612164.html
  29. ^ Mark A. Tessler. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 1994, page 718
  30. ^ "In Mideast Talks, Scant Hopes From the Beginning" news analysis by Ethan Bronner in The New York Times August 20, 2010, accessed August 21, 2010

[edit] Further reading

  • Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1970)
  • Jeremy Pressman, "The Best Hope - Still?" Boston Review, July/August 2009.

[edit] External links

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