Why are Israel’s critics trying to kill two-state solution?
Left-wing critics have been strongest proponents of two-state “dream,” even when most were still calling it a fantasy.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and PA President Abbas Photo: Jason Reed / Reuters
The two-state solution apparently has seen better days. Indeed, according to The
Atlantic’s Robert Wright the two-state solution is on its “deathbed,” while the
Daily Beast’s Andrew Sullivan has already lost all hope in the prospects of an
independent Palestinian state.
These two prominent commentators are
hardly alone in their bleak prognosis. In fact, for the past few years, it has
become an article of faith among Israel’s most reliable left-wing critics that
the prospects for a two-state solution are about to vanish, if they haven’t
already done so.
Such pundits offer several reasons for why they believe
the two-state solution is near death, such as settlement growth and Israel’s
current right-wing leadership, among others.
But this shared pessimism is
curious, to say the least. After all, going back decades, Israel’s left-wing
critics across the globe have consistently been the strongest proponents of the
two-state “dream,” even when most observers were still characterizing it as a
Since that time, it would be impossible not to notice the
progress made between the sides: prime minister Rabin and PLO chairman Arafat
shaking hands on the White House lawn after signing the Oslo Accords in ’93;
prime minister Sharon dismantling all Israeli settlements in Gaza in 2005; and,
in 2008, prime minister Olmert’s offer of a Palestinian state with land swaps
and a capital in Jerusalem.
Sure, current conditions make it unlikely
that a peace deal will be struck in the immediate future. But progress in the
peace process has moved slowly over the decades, overcoming many obstacles along
the way. For Israel’s critics who formerly advocated the two-state solution to
now suddenly give up all hope is completely out of character with their previous
So why are these critics seeing so little hope now,
with the recent past providing plenty of reasons to believe that a two-state
solution is a real possibility? For the simple reason that they no longer view
the two-state solution as the preferred resolution to the conflict. In other
words, it’s not that Israel’s critics believe the two-state solution is dying;
they are actively trying to kill it.
INSTEAD OF pushing for two states,
Israel’s most vociferous critics lately have been subtly shifting their
arguments to focus on the “inevitability” of the one-state solution, where
Israel and the occupied territories would be incorporated into a single
democratic state, resulting in a Palestinian majority.
But in order for
the one-state solution to become inevitable, the two-state solution must first
be killed. Here is former US president Jimmy Carter doing his part, in a recent
piece he co-wrote for The New York Times: “If the [UN resolution for Palestinian
nonmember state status] fails, it will probably mark the death of the two-state
solution and move us even closer to a one-state outcome, with uncertain and
potentially catastrophic consequences for both Israelis and
I somehow doubt, however, that Carter truly believes that
becoming the majority power in Israel would be “catastrophic” for Palestinians.
At least, no less than I doubt Br’er Rabbit believed it would be catastrophic to
get thrown into the briar patch.
Soon after featuring Carter’s article
“warning” of a one-state outcome, the Times ran another an op-ed, titled, “If
Not Two States, Then One.” Only this time, the author didn’t pretend to disfavor
the one-state solution.
The New York Times is hardly alone in giving a
prominent platform to one-state advocates. Left-leaning publications, such as
The Guardian and NPR, have also recently run articles discussing the possibility
of a one-state solution. Predictably, these pieces prompted widespread media
debate on the merits and feasibility of a one-state outcome.
this shifting narrative by the anti-Israel Left isn’t confined to pundits and
politicians; our most prestigious academic institutions are also getting in on
This past March, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government held
a symposium featuring 20 prominent speakers, titled “The One- State Conference:
Israel/Palestine and the One- State Solution.”
TO BE sure, many on Left
still believe in and are advocating for a two-state solution. But up until very
recently, attempts to end the prospects for a two-state outcome had been the
exclusive domain of certain segments of the political right. Now, in order to
bring one-state advocacy into the liberal mainstream, the anti-Israel wing of
the Left has taken up the mantle of trying to kill the two-state
Of course, these critics know that a one-state solution is far
more improbable than any two-state solution, but that’s beside the point. With
enough chatter about the obsolescence of the two-state solution, Israel’s
critics will have laid the groundwork for explaining how Palestinian grievances
can only be addressed through a single Palestinian-Israeli state with a
Palestinian majority. Anything less would be no better than
The author is an attorney and frequent political commentator.
His articles have been previously published by The Washington Times, Fox News
and the Daily Caller.