A two-state solution is still possible for Israel and the Palestinians

There’s no reason to waste more words on the necessity of the two-state solution. What’s important to stress is that this pessimism, which feeds on the feeling that we’ve missed the deadline, stems from shortsightedness and impatience.

By Avi Shilon | Jun.19, 2013 | HAARETZ ISRAEL

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett’s statement that the idea of a Palestinian state is already “behind us” stems from his worldview, and perhaps also from political considerations. But it’s no accident that he said it with such confidence. His tailwind for doing so is coming, of all places, from Israel’s peace camp.

About a month ago, for instance, Channel 2 television broadcast a report about the end of the two-state solution that made waves. But most of the people who were quoted as lamenting this shattered dream were from the left. Similarly, after participating in one of the tours of the territories that have become popular recently, a well-known journalist tweeted this Shabbat that a Palestinian state could no longer be established. Many people on Twitter sadly agreed with his statement.

The objective reason for this despair stems from fear that the spread of hundreds of thousands of settlers throughout the territories effectively prevents the Palestine option, given the difficulty of separating the two populations. But it seems that the bigger problem is the subjective one: A kind of mental fatigue has developed over an idea that, despite having become widely accepted, still remains a fantasy.

There’s no reason to waste more words on the necessity of the two-state solution. What’s important to stress is that this pessimism, which feeds on the feeling that we’ve missed the deadline, stems from shortsightedness and impatience.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is more complicated than other national conflicts because it has taken place while Palestinian nationalism, and the definition of its goals, were still crystallizing. On November 29, 1947, when the UN General Assembly approved the Partition Plan, nobody was yet talking about a Palestinian state, but rather about an Arab state. When the PLO was established in 1964, it demanded all of Palestine. It would take another 24 years until Yasser Arafat announced his willingness to divide the land, and only five years after that did the Oslo process begin.

Israel’s recognition of the necessity of partition has also been slow, but steady. It took 30 years until Menachem Begin became the first leader to grant autonomy − albeit only administrative − to the Palestinians, whom he called “the Arabs of the Land of Israel.” When the state of Israel was established, Begin’s Herut party was still demanding both banks of the Jordan River.

The process that the left underwent has been lengthy as well. It’s enough to recall that Yitzhak Rabin, the prime minister responsible for the Oslo Accord, had trouble uttering the word “Palestine” until his dying day.

It’s true that since the Camp David summit in 2000, it has often seemed as if we were running in place. But in the meantime, Israel has disengaged from the Gaza Strip, rightist prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu both recognized the need to divide the land, and the Palestinians abandoned the armed struggle.

If we take the peace with Egypt as an example, it too did not break out overnight, at the moment when Egyptian President Anwar Sadat alighted from his plane at Ben-Gurion Airport. The principles of the eventual agreement had been set down in general terms in the Rogers plan, about a decade before the festive signing of the peace treaty on the White House lawn. But it took years until conditions, and courage, ripened enough to make it happen.

Thus what has been painted as a conflict with no end is actually a process that has admittedly advanced at a measured pace, but in the right direction. The situation on the ground will also become less complicated once we’re on the verge of an agreement. The announcement of peace will generate a shift in consciousness that will make the issue of the settlements solvable, with respect to both the process of evacuating those that have to be evacuated and the option of leaving a few of them under the sovereignty of our Palestinian friends.

It’s too soon to guess how the Middle East will ultimately look. But recent events − including the demonstrations in Turkey, the outcome of the Iranian election and the social protests in Israel − attest that the future belongs to the masses. The era in which reality was determined solely by the will of the leaders is now gone. The people are having their say, either through elections or by force. This is also the underlying message that U.S. President Barack Obama sent during his visit to Israel in March: Both peoples must spur their leaders on, rather than vice versa.

The idea of joint demonstrations, in both Israel and the territories, to demand two states sounds like a fantasy, but no more so than other events that have actually happened recently. In any case, supporters of partition have reasons not to despair − and also a responsibility not to do so.

SOURCE: http://www.haaretz.com/opinion/a-two-state-solution-is-still-possible-for-israel-and-the-palestinians.premium-1.530671

1 reply

  1. Personally I would give the two-state solution about a 5 % chance. The alternative is a one-state-apartheid-solution. It might take a generation to give equality to all citizens / residents (optimistically speaking).

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