Two-State Solution: A Dimming Dream for Israelis and Palestinians
By Jonathan Ferziger | Updated Jan 10, 2017 10:19 PM UTC
The notion that Israelis and Palestinians can share the Holy Land living in separate, independent nations has been a seductive goal for eight decades. The vision drove on-and-off peace talks for more than 20 years. The latest round foundered in 2014, giving way to a growing sentiment that the two-state solution is dead. But if not two states, then what? One with Arabs and Jews living together in a state that is no longer Jewish? An enlarged Jewish state in which Palestinians are less than equal? Anyone have a better idea?
Paris is hosting an Israeli-Palestinian peace conference Jan. 15 that the Israelis aren’t attending. They insist on negotiations unencumbered by brokers, but those aren’t in the cards either. Instead, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to abandon previously signed accords with Israel. For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared to rule out a Palestinian state during his 2015 re-election campaign, saying laterhe meant such an outcome was not achievable today. In a January 2016 poll, just 43 percent of Israeli Jews said it was possible for two states to coexist peacefully. In a December survey, two-thirds of Palestinians said such a solution was no longer viable. A wave of stabbings, shootings and hit-and-run attacks beginning in October 2015 has left more than 40 Israelis and more than 230 Palestinians, most of them assailants, dead. The last peace talks collapsed after Abbas’s Fatah party agreed to form a unity governmentwith the militant Islamist group Hamas and Israel pledged to expand Jewish settlements on land Palestinians hope to make part of their future state.
SOURCES: THE ROUTLEDGE ATLAS OF THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICT, CIA, UNITED NATIONS, THE GENEVA INITIATIVE
The two-state solution dates to the 1937 Peel Commission, whichrecommended partition of what was then British Mandatory Palestine to stop Arab-Jewish violence. The United Nations embraced a differentpartition plan in 1947, but the Arabs rejected both, leading to Israel’sdeclaration of independence in 1948. A war immediately after that producedmore than half a million Palestinian refugees. In a 1967 war, Israel captured, among other Arab territories, the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem, putting residents under military occupation, which bred Palestinian nationalism. After a Palestinian uprising that began in 1987 claimed more than 1,000 Palestinian and 200 Israeli lives, secret negotiations produced the 1993 Oslo accords. Palestinians gained limited self-rule as an interim measure. The occupation, Israeli settlement building and sporadic violence continued, however, as the two sides repeatedly failed to resolve issues standing in the way of a promised final agreement that presumably would establish a Palestinian state. Most countries already recognize Palestine as a state, but in the absence of an agreement with Israel it lacks the requirements of one, notably control over its territory. Stumbling blocks in the negotiations included where to draw borders, how to share Jerusalem and the status of Palestinian refugees. Israel acted alone in 2005,withdrawing its troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip. When Hamas subsequently took over Gaza, it became a launchpad for rockets into Israel. That has made many Israelis balk at the idea of ceding the West Bank to Palestinian control. Israel has constructed a barrier in the West Bank to restrict Palestinians from Jewish-populated areas.
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