Decoding Israel-Palenstinian Conflict: Two-State Solution Possible?

Israel Flag

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, earlier this year, on his plan to formalise annexation by extending Israeli law to the settlements in Area C has once again put forth the Palestinian conflict amid pandemic crisis. Several hundred thousand Palestinians living in Area C are under threat of losing their homes, land, and other possessions. Elite Jewish ethnic dominates the deprived non-Jewish population confined to meager land in the West Bank. Moreover, Twenty percent of Israel’s own population consists of Palestinian Arabs who are treated as second-class citizens with no rights to utilise most of the country’s land, special educational loans and home mortgages, privileged access to private and public employment, and preferences for university admission. What or who ensures if the annexation will not aggravate the human rights violations against Palestinians still remains a question. 

Israel and Palestinian conflict epitomises the failure of diplomatic politics in resolving a tension arising of ethnicity clash. The previous Oslo process initiated in 1993 had flaws and could not accommodate the political interests of both Jewish and Arabs. Since then majority of the population especially the liberal Zionist groups in Israel wanted a two-state solution–  where one state would be a majority with Zionist Jews and other with Palestinian Arabs  — deal that seems far from reality.

Border and settlement areas

Firstly, there is no consensus on where to draw the border – with extension of Israeli settlements in areas like the West Bank and the isolation of Gaza that creates the establishment of Palestine as an independent state much more difficult. Demarcating the two states would imply dislocation and withdrawal of millions of settlers from Israel as well as the Palestine region. Secondly, both sides claim Jerusalem as their capital and consider it a site of highly religious sentiments and cultural heritage making its division even more contentious. The failure of a two-state solution is rooted in the way Israel was founded, and the way it has carried itself as an independent state with military might.

Trump’s peace plan and China’s decisive support to Palestinians explicates both the leaders want the popular two-state solution. However, the process has been ongoing for a substantial period and the internal political changes have led to loss of faith in resolving this conflict anytime soon. The ambiguous position of Netanyahu is evident from the annexation of the West Bank. Majority of the people in Israel supported a two-state but this would mean that each nation would independently remain democratic. The dramatic change in the proposals of solution is grounded on growing distrust on political leadership and inability to resolve the conflict through international diplomacy. 

Versions of One-State Solution

Few liberalists have endorsed the idea of a single state with Jews and Palestinians living together with citizenship and equal rights between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. Whilst there are various takes on this proposed approach with respect to region distribution and ethnic identity of the nation.

Proponents of a unified Israel advocate a single state from Mediterranean to the Jordan river including Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with citizenship and equal rights irrespective of ethnicity or religion.

Some Israelis promote a one-state solution in which Israel will annex the whole of the West Bank but not the Gaza Strip and remains a Jewish state with a larger Arab minority. Although some support this deal for ideological reasons, others feel that it is the de facto situation on the ground reality. Many who argue to exclude Gaza from this merge are of the view that there is no need to include it owing to its self-governing status.  

The Palestinians are evidently concerned by the lack of progress in achieving a two-state solution. They are increasingly considering a one-state solution as an alternative, however support among Israeli as well as international Jews for a one-state solution seems to be murky. Israel’s obstinate, utopian vision of establishing it as a Jewish national home has eclipsed the plight of Palestinian refugees. There is also an argument of Jew population getting outnumbered by Arab Muslims eventually leading to a ‘new Holocaust’. This theory is however rendered futile with the contradictory claims, put by the Jewish right, that Palestinian Arab population is highly inflated on papers. Reinstating the fact that Israel was formed with dispossession of Palestinians in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The establishment of Israel is often justified as a response to the Nazi Holocaust, in which roughly six million European Jews were killed–  greatest act of barbarism ever possible.

The threat of being a minority among both the communities does not hold ground since Arabs and Jews living in Israel and Palestinian regions are almost at par, as per latest demographic reports. Furthermore, the viability of one-state solution relies on the fact that the conflict weighs down more towards national integrity than religion bias, which would have been more griming otherwise. Discord being confined among Israelis and Palestinian Arabs that is not hysterically escalated  into a Jewish-Muslim conflict – shows light at the end of the tunnel.

Israel, touted as a progressive state has the onus to initiate a resolution and extend the full equal citizenship rights to non-Jews from Israel, West Bank and possibly Golan Heights. 

Prachi Vashisht
Prachi is an economics graduate interested in International Relations and Geopolitics.