Streetwise

Some argue that given the ongoing unrest in the Middle East and the instability of regional governments, the present conditions are not suited to realizing a two-state peace agreement.

What We Say:

There is no such thing as a status quo in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and immediate action toward a two-state solution is required before the situation on the ground deteriorates further and the region again erupts into violence.

The November 2012 mini-war between Israel and Hamas demonstrated how quickly events can escalate into bloody violence. And while Israel enjoys vast military superiority, only a political solution can end this conflict.

Palestinian unrest could explode at any time into a third Intifada. The situation is especially unstable in the West Bank, where Israel’s best possible negotiating partner, the Palestinian Authority, is under growing pressure. The PA is committed to a peaceful two-state solution, and has worked with Israel to build a Palestinian state through unprecedented economic and security cooperation. If Israel does not re-enter peace negotiations with the current Palestinian leadership, it may soon be forced to deal with a more extremist and violent replacement.

In Israel, ongoing settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is undermining the viability of a future Palestinian state. Without a two-state solution to the conflict, non-Jews will soon comprise a majority in the area under Israeli control, forcing Israel to compromise either its democratic principles or its Jewish character. If Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territory continues without end, Israel will likely grow more isolated in the world and the US-Israel alliance will continue to strain.

For the Record:

President Barack Obama:
“The status quo is unsustainable, and Israel must act boldly to advance a lasting peace.” Council on Foreign Relations, 5/19/2011

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel:
“The longer we allow the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to drift the more dangerous and complicated it becomes for everyone... Vacuums in conflicts are never filled by positive events. Only more and deeper distrust, destruction and killing.” Atlantic Council, 10/27/2009

Former President Bill Clinton:
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “an abscessed tooth... All you’re going to do is become sick and more infected if you don’t deal with it.” Huffington Post, 9/23/2012

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
“Without peace, extremists will grow stronger and Israel will be forced to militarize even further... without peace, the inexorable math of demographics will one day force Israelis to choose between preserving their democracy and remaining a Jewish homeland.” Bloomberg, 11/30/2012

Facts and Figures:

Terror attacks and unrest in the West Bank and East Jerusalem increased dramatically in 2012. Times of Israel, 1/24/2013

Israeli government approvals for settlement housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem have skyrocketed over the past two years. Haaretz, 1/16/2013

Demographics expert Sergio DellaPergola reported in 2010 that Jews may have already lost their majority in the land under Israeli control. “If one combines the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip and West Bank, includes foreign workers and refugees, whose numbers have grown rapidly in recent years, and omits Israelis who made aliya under the Law of Return but are not recognized as Jews by the Interior Ministry, then Jews are slightly less than 50 percent of the population.” Jerusalem Post, 11/26/2010, Mandell L. Berman Institute, 2010

Other studies have predicted a Jewish minority by 2020, 2035 or 2048. Times of Israel, 1/1/2013, International Business Times, 1/1/2012.

Consider This:

Security expert Bruce Riedel argued that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict poses a serious national security threat to the US. Middle East Policy Council

Former Shin Bet chief Yaakov Peri said that “despair” over a lack of progress toward a two-state solution may be placing Palestinians “on the edge of a third Intifada.” Haaretz, 1/9/2013

Author and philanthropist S. Daniel Abraham warned that without a resolution of the conflict, soon “the Jewish state as we know it will cease to exist.” Haaretz, 1/6/2013

Israeli-American writer Bernard Avishai and Palestinian-American consultant Sam Bahour detailed the risks of inaction on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, for Israel. The New York Times, 1/21/2013

Columnist Sarah Wildman stressed that the US needs to “step up” before settlement expansion further complicates the chances for a two-state solution. PBS, 2/2/2012