Two-state solution still is Israel's only option - opinion

There is no alternative to the two-state solution unless you either support an apartheid state, or don’t care about having a Jewish majority state.

 THE KALANDIYA checkpoint north of Jerusalem (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
THE KALANDIYA checkpoint north of Jerusalem
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

It has suddenly become very popular on the Left and Right to declare the two-state solution dead. In fact, recent statistics bolster such claims, with popularity and support for the two-state solution decreasing over time.

Last week, former adviser to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, wrote about how the two-state solution is problematic when you have the Palestinians refusing to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state. He’s not wrong, but he’s also not providing realistic solutions for what that means.

Here is the reality: there is no alternative to the two-state solution unless you either support an apartheid state, or don’t care about having a Jewish majority state. The only option for the survival of a Jewish and democratic state of Israel is a two-state solution where compromises will have to be made for peace. Both Israelis and Palestinians are refusing to accept reality when it comes to a long-term solution, and in doing so, they have made it even more complicated and unpleasant to find a lasting agreement that respects the rights to self-determination of both peoples.

Palestinian rejectionism, I believe, is the core reason for the lack of peace and a long-term solution. It is absolutely true that Palestinians have refused every opportunity for peace, and that public opinion is very much against a compromise that allows the state of Israel to exist side by side in peace with the Palestinians. That is why Fatah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are cursed at and criticized as “collaborators” with Israel. That being said, it also doesn’t really matter that it is unpopular because there is no alternative.

Palestinians who refuse to accept that the state of Israel is not going anywhere are perpetuating a fantasy that prevents them from moving forward in a healthy and prosperous society, and this will continue as long as public opinion pushes this narrative in schools, television, newspapers, and government. Perhaps more problematic for the Palestinians than for the Israelis, the longer they wait to actually negotiate in good faith, the less they have to bargain with – a fact even Mahmoud Abbas agreed with when he stated in an interview that the Palestinians were wrong to reject the UN Partition Plan.

A woman holds a Palestinian flag during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ at the Israel-Gaza border fence in 2019. (credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)A woman holds a Palestinian flag during a protest marking the 71st anniversary of the ‘Nakba’ at the Israel-Gaza border fence in 2019. (credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS)

On the Israeli side, those who approach the conflict with a zero-compromise attitude about settlements are refusing to acknowledge the reality that Palestinians aren’t going anywhere. The idea that Palestinians should just up and leave to Jordan or any other Arab state is as offensive as it is unrealistic. Regardless that the land historically belongs to the Jews, and that it is unquestionably part of historical Israel, none of that means that we must demand and settle all of it now. While the Left exaggerates the role of settlements in the conflict, it is important to note that while new settlements (not settlement blocs) are not the obstacle to peace, they are an obstacle.

Yes, the Palestinians refuse to acknowledge the State of Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish (and democratic) state, but using that as an excuse to further develop settlements, or push policies that will make an eventual division more difficult, is paving the path toward conflict and bloodshed on both sides. Furthermore, refusing to acknowledge the unimaginable damage that annexation (with or without full civil rights to Palestinians) would cause the state of Israel is irresponsible, no matter how far away or unpopular the two-state solution is today.

Opponents of my arguments would rightly point out that when Israel did give up land for peace all it got in return was violence, like in Gaza. Even more relevant, one could argue that if withdrawing to 1967 lines was the key to peace, why was there violence before 1967?

I am not claiming that a two-state solution will bring a warm peace between two peoples. There will still be conflict, likely for a very long time. But the status quo hasn’t brought peace either. Israel has had wave after wave of violence and terrorism, with or without occupation, and by continuing to push policies that make the two-state solution harder to achieve, we are laying the groundwork for worse conflict in the future. Israel can invest in resources that will protect the Jewish and democratic state with less territory instead of taking action to worsen the conflict down the road.

At a certain point, it doesn’t matter who is right or whose fault it was, it matters what can be done about it. Obsessing over Palestinians embracing terrorism and rejecting Israel’s right to exist isn’t going to bring us as Israelis any closer to peace.

The reality is that for Israel and the Palestinians, it is going to take a leader who is willing to commit political suicide to implement a two-state solution, and it is not going to be an easy path. It is, however, going to be even worse if both sides continue in the direction they have been for the past few decades.

No matter how unpopular is the two-state solution, it is still the only chance Israel has for remaining both democratic and Jewish. Israel cannot control what the Palestinians think or that they do not recognize Israel’s legitimacy, but it can take responsibility for its own future and pursue two states. Ultimately, Israel must decide what it wants.

The writer is CEO of Social Lite Creative LLC.