Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again
and expecting different results.”
Since the dawn of the Israeli-Arab
conflict, the world has adopted a single approach to peace: Find the right way
to divide the Land of Israel among Arabs and Jews, and this will bring
The British Mandate area was divided in the 1920s, establishing
Jordan as an Arab state and Israel as a Jewish one. In the 1947 Partition Plan,
the United Nations tried to further divide the land that was left in the
mandate. However, the Israeli-Arab conflict only intensified.
peace talks were more of the same.
Each failure has led to yet another
attempt at implementing the same two-state solution, while expecting different
results. Reviewing the history of the conflict necessarily leads to the
realization that it is about more than a question of borders.
nation has a connection to the whole of the Land of Israel, while Palestinians
lay claim to cities such as Jaffa and Haifa. Nothing Israel can suggest will
suit the Palestinians, and nothing the Palestinians would suggest could be
accepted by an Israeli prime minister. There is simply no geographical solution
to this conflict.
In Israel, the political Left was traditionally equated
with peace-loving, while the political Right was perceived as refusing any
opportunity for peace. Additionally, the Right was often accused of not offering
alternatives to the twostate solution.
With the continued failure of the
two-state solution, the roles have become reversed. The Right has fostered
several innovative proposals, which, although flawed, demonstrate a willingness
to think outside the box in hopes of peace. Still, the Left rejects all
solutions other than the impossible: to implement two-state
Those attempting to discuss alternative solutions are heavily
criticized and attempts are made to silence them. Shouldn’t peace-loving be
equated with those yearning to find and discuss a solution to the conflict by
any means? Israel is a country renowned for its innovation. Why not use this
innovative spirit in its search for peace? The great philosopher John Stuart
Mill wrote in his famous work On Liberty that “we can never be sure that the
opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion.” By silencing everyone
who raises an alternative, we might be stifling the option which would bring us
It is my goal in this column to help bring fair exposure to
alternatives of the two-state solution, and a selection of these solutions is
presented below. Like the two-state solution, these solutions are far from
perfect. The ensuing discussion is my analysis of the pros and cons of each
solution, including the two-state solution as one possibility. I do not endorse
any of these plans. However, I do endorse a fair discussion of all of
This analysis is incomplete and some existing approaches are not
included. However, my hope is that this short list of alternatives will allow
for a fairer discussion of the diverse approaches to the conflict, help us
embrace innovation rather than reject it, and reframe discussions of peace more
broadly than the paradigm of the two-state solution.
If a fraction of the
intellectual energy, political power and financial capital that has been
invested in the two-state solution had been invested in exploring alternative
solutions, we might already have achieved peace in Israel.The
Hotovely-Elitzur Plan (annexation)
Short description: This plan, supported by MK
Tzipi Hotovely, MK Reuven Rivlin and journalist Uri Elitzur, seeks to annex
Judea and Samaria into Israeli territory. In order to counter the demographic
threat this can lead to, the first stage of the plan includes massive incentives
for immigration of Jews to Israel, as well as the legislation of a constitution
that will enshrine the Jewish character of the State of Israel.
This plan is based on the values of democracy, realizing that the Palestinians
should also have political rights and not being afraid to give them those
political rights, even if they will end up being a very significant and powerful
minority in Israel. Much of the opposition to this plan, even from the Left,
seems to have racist undertones, as people seem to reject the idea of having a
large Arab minority for racial reasons.
Cons: This plan is based on
controversial demographic data and presupposes the success of several initial
steps, including the successful immigration of over one million Jewish
immigrants and the legislation of a constitution.The Bennett Plan
Short description: This plan does not seek to end the
conflict but rather to manage it better.
Economy and Trade Minister
Naftali Bennett argues that, on the one hand, we cannot annex the whole of Judea
and Samaria for demographic reasons. On the other hand, the creation of a
Palestinian state cannot be the solution, for historical and security reasons.
His solution is to annex part of Judea and Samaria into Israeli control, while
granting autonomy to the Palestinians in the other areas. This autonomy will
include the building of new roads, which will enable Palestinians to live a
completely autonomous life without feeling occupied.
Pros: This plan
comes from a realist strategic perspective: the conflict cannot end; let us try
to improve Israel’s strength in this conflict.
By not seeking a utopian
end to this conflict, Bennett is able to ask what Israel should do for its own
Cons: This plan does not claim to bring about an end to the
conflict. Palestinians will have autonomy, but not sovereignty. It is hard to
imagine a scenario where Palestinians will agree to those terms and therefore,
the conflict will continue to rage on.The Israel Initiative (the
Short description: Jordan was created out of the British
Mandate for Palestine and more than two-thirds of its population is Palestinian.
If so, the national ambitions of the Palestinian people can be reached through
self-determination in Jordan, by giving all Palestinians Jordanian citizenship
and negotiating a final peace treaty with Jordan.
Pros: There is strong
historical justice to this plan since it will return to the original British
Mandate framework and divide the land of the Mandate into two states, one Jewish
and one Arab.
Cons: It is hard to imagine a scenario where the current
Jordanian government would be willing to implement such a solution. Even if a
Palestinian government were established in Jordan, it would have no incentive to
allow for this plan to be implemented.The Two-State Solution
description: This plan aims to divide the remaining land under Israeli control
into two states, roughly based on the 1948 armistice lines.
plan already has international support and if a compromise was to be reached, it
would be fairly easy to implement.
Cons: This plan requires Israel to
relinquish important parts of its historical homeland. It also requires Israel
to take serious security risks by accepting very narrow borders. Also, it has
been tried over and over again – and has always failed. Every failure has
brought bloodshed, and one can assume that further failures will bring further
bloodshed.Investing in the Alternatives
The main objection to any
alternative to the two-state solution is that these are unrealistic solutions
due to the lack of international support. To respond to this claim, let me quote
prime minister Menachem Begin.
When asked, “How can you lead a policy of
settlement expansion when the whole world is against such a policy?” Begin
answered: “Has there ever been even a single Israeli representative who told any
foreign official that Judea and Samaria (…) need to be an integral part of
Israel? What criticism do you have against any foreign official when even Israel
does not say that? Do they need to be more pro-Israel than what Israelis are?”
As long as we keep telling the world that the two-state solution is the right
solution, they have no reason to doubt themselves! Therefore, as long as we
ourselves refuse to look at other options, the only option on the table will be
the two-state solution. As we have said, this solution is not a viable solution,
and, therefore, as long as we refuse to open our minds and look at alternative
and innovative options, peace will never be achieved.
Those who truly
want to give peace a chance need to start evaluating all alternatives, while
trying to innovate and create further alternatives. ■ The writer is an attorney,
and graduated McGill University Law School and Hebrew University’s honors
graduate program in public policy