J Street believes that urgently reaching a sustainable two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is both a fundamental American interest and essential to the survival and security of Israel. In the seventh decade following its establishment, Israel and most of her neighbors have yet to secure internationally recognized borders or to make peace.
With the Jewish and Arab populations between the Jordan River and Mediterranean Sea at near-parity, demographic trends preclude Israel from maintaining control over all of Greater Israel while remaining a democratic state and a homeland for the Jewish people. As then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said in November 2007, “If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights, then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished.”
The two-state solution represents the best way to ensure that Israel remains a democracy and a national home for the Jewish people. The two-state solution has been American policy across four administrations and has been endorsed by each of the most recent Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
The contours of a two-state solution are well known. President Clinton outlined the parameters in 2000, and progress on this basis was made in Taba in 2001 and under Israeli Prime Minister Olmert in 2008. Various initiatives have spelled out the principles and even the details.
Unfortunately, time and political-will in the region are in short supply and it appears to many observers that the window of opportunity for achieving a two-state solution is rapidly closing. While majorities of both the Israeli and Palestinian populations continue to support a two-state solution, ongoing developments, entrenched and expanding settlements, and a growing movement in some Palestinian and international circles for a one-state outcome suggest that the trajectory is trending against the two-state option, thereby threatening Israel’s future.
Lastly, growing radicalization in the region makes achieving a two-state solution evermore challenging. We no longer have the luxury of waiting for a riper time to pursue peace; now is that time.
“Has the time for achieving a two-state solution passed? Is a one-state solution the only way left to end the conflict?”
Because neither Israelis nor Palestinians want to share the land or share their government and civil institutions, condemning them to a one-state solution means condemning both sides to unending conflict and civil war. Only a two-state solution can end the conflict and guarantee both sides self-determination and a peaceful future.
“Is there a viable partner for peace on either side? Can Israelis and Palestinians trust each other’s serious commitment to reaching a solution?”
Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said “you don’t make peace with friends. You make it with very unsavory enemies.” Many faults can be found, and failed opportunities debated. But given that Israel’s survival as a Jewish and democratic homeland depends on the realization of a two-state solution, and that the Palestinian people deserve to finally attain rights, dignity and self-determination in a state of their own, becoming mired in the assessment of blame for past failures keeps both sides from moving forward constructively.
The Palestinian government support a two-state solution, recognizes Israel’s right to exist and rejects the use of violence against Israel. The official position of the Israeli Prime Minister is that he supports a two-state solution. Israel and the PA are already working together in many ways, through unprecedented security and economic cooperation.
Polling consistently shows that the majority of the population on both sides desire a two-state solution. Israelis and Palestinians must negotiate with each other, and they must ultimately make difficult compromises to reach an agreement. The longer they go without a peace agreement the more extremists will be strengthened at the expense of pro-peace moderates, and the more the rights and aspirations of both peoples will be jeopardized.
“How can there be negotiations on a two-state solution when the Palestinians refuse to recognize Israel and its status as a Jewish state?”
Israel forged peace with Egypt and Jordan without demanding recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. Once a two-state solution is reached, Israel should be able to identify itself how it wants.
“Can the two-state solution guarantee security for the Israeli people?”
The Israeli Security Establishment overwhelmingly back a two-state solution, S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace