Palestinian protesters wave flag at recent events.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The notion prevails in a good part of the nation – indeed in most of the Western world – that the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict must be resolved via either a “two-state” or a “one-state” approach.
The proposal for “two-states” is not a solution. It actually was never any more than a well-promoted chimera, for the PLO does not really want a Palestinian state living side-by-side with Israel in peace. What it wants is “one-state,” but the PLO version of this is one Palestinian state from the river to the sea. One need only see official PA maps, or examine the PLO charter, or read translations of statements in Arabic by PLO leaders in order to recognize this. Although diehards who speak about the “window of opportunity” for establishing that Palestinian state are still out there, today most people, as we shall see, have moved past this.
However, neither is “one-state” – meaning a single state that encompasses all of the residents of the land – a satisfactory solution: the security and demographic issues for Israel are enormous.
Unfortunately, this is where public discourse seems to stop. The public lack of awareness of alternatives to the two above-mentioned options rests in some good measure with the failure of Israeli media to so much as examine their existence.
Already three times this year, The Jerusalem Post editor Yaakov Katz has questioned why the Right has not offered alternatives. Most recently, on October 19, he stated:
“Right-wing parties have no problem saying that they are opposed to a Palestinian state. But offer an alternative vision for what they want to happen in the West Bank and Gaza Strip? That no one will say.”
In fact, there have been a number of viable alternatives proposed but the media have failed to provide the coverage necessary for a meaningful national conversation.
As far back as March and April 2009, actually, newly elected MKs Tzipi Hotovely and Danny Danon conducted separate lively Knesset hearings on alternative plans. Sadly, media inattention and PM Netanyahu’s June 2009 Bar Ilan speech, in which he endorsed a heavily pre-conditioned two-state approach, put a premature end to the alternatives conversation.
Since 2013, the Legal Grounds Campaign has been promoting Israel’s legal rights with leadership and the public. While remaining agnostic regarding which plan is best, we view an Israeli conversation about alternatives to the failed and existentially dangerous two-state plan as the natural follow-up to the recognition of those rights.
To that end, in July of last year, Legal Grounds acquired letters from five members of Knesset – MK Yehuda Glick (Likud); MK Yoav Kisch (Likud); MK Shuli Moalem (Bayit Yehudi); MK Bezalel Smotritch (Bayit Yehudi); and MK Miki Zohar (Likud). In their respective letters, each MK articulated his or her vision for resolution to the conflict. Right here there are already five alternatives. Legal Grounds has been sharing these letters with members of Congress, Zionist leadership and the public.
Recognizing that there was considerable interest in these alternative plans, Legal Grounds then commissioned the Rafi Smith Institute to poll Israelis with regard to their opinions on the matter…
Astonishingly, when presented with different alternatives, only 10% preferred the “two-state” approach.
Most interesting and encouraging were the results broken down by age. The younger the demographic, the more likely it was to reject a two-state approach in favor of one of the alternatives. This is perhaps because citizens below a certain age grew up only knowing a failed Palestinian Authority and a Second Intifada.
In light of these results, it seems only fitting that media outlets facilitate a public discourse on alternatives. Legal Grounds has presented five options, but we recognize that there are others or that there might be a consolidation of some of the plans brought forth by the MKs. In the end, there will need to be a broad-based consensus on the most desirable of the possible alternatives.
What is exceedingly important at this juncture is that the media – in fulfillment of its mandate to inform the public – provide the coverage needed for an open debate on the advantages and disadvantages of proposed plans.Jeff Daube, director of the Zionist Organization of America’s Israel office, and Arlene Kushner, a freelance writer who blogs at https://www.arlenefromisrael.info, are the Legal Grounds Campaign co-chairs.
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