The popular opinion of today is that a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel is the fairest to both countries. In an ideal world, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. Fighting will arise over who receives control of the Gaza strip and which party receives fresh water from the Sea of Galilee. It has been 25 years since this concept was signed by both governments at the Oslo Accords, yet no agreements or compromises have been reached. On the other hand, the less popular opinion today is a one-state solution. However, how would consociationalism work? If the government of the resulting combined state would maintain a government that consisted of 50% Arab and 50% Israeli politicians then the government would almost always have a split vote on legislatures with no way to break the tie. If the army was also 50-50 Palestinians and Israelis then why would the Israelis ever protect the Arabs and vise-versa after all the years of bloodshed? In short, neither a combined single-state government nor a split-state government would solve the complex problem at hand.
To elaborate on the two-state solution, there are four major core problems that prevent the Israelis and Palestinians from reaching a compromise. The first problem is that the two parties must decide where to draw the border between the two nations. There is no consensus on where to divide the land between Israel and Palestine. The building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank makes it almost impossible to say that the land can now be a part of an independent Palestine. If the West Bank was declared as part of Palestine, the settlements on the border of the West Bank will eventually grow and spread into Palestine, making the state smaller and further dividing it.
The second issue is one of security. For Israelis, security means that they must remain in military control of the West Bank (Sacco 272). For Palestinians, security means the end of military occupation. Meanwhile, groups such as the Hamas and The Revolt threaten the desire for national security on both sides of the West Bank. Increasing military measures against the Palestinians such as roadblocks, humiliating searches, or forcible removal of residents from their homes, all of which are demonstrated in the graphic-novel Palestine by Joe Sacco, only fuel the conflict.
The third issue is refugees. Many Palestinians were forced out or fled from their homes when the Israelis invaded. Currently, the descendants of the original refugees, which now number five million, feel as if they have a right to return to their homes. However, the Israelis will not allow them to return to their homes in what was formerly Palestinian territory as the influx of five million Arabs would disrupt Israel’s Jewish majority. Without a Palestinian state for the refugees to live in, a humanitarian crisis is on the horizon.
The fourth and final issue is Jerusalem. Both Israel and Palestine claim Jerusalem as their capital and center of religious worship, made evident in Palestine. The two state solution calls for the split of Jerusalem into a Palestinian East and an Israeli West.
However, Judaism, Islam, and Christianity all have holy sites in close proximity within the city limits and the border line to be drawn quickly becomes blurry. With of all of the long-standing conflicts between Israel and Palestine, compounded by years of bloodshed, the chances of all these problems being solved to the satisfaction of all is very slim, if not impossible, under current diplomatic conditions.The two state solution seems to be off the table. However, supporting the one state solution over the two state solution is ludicrous. The one state solution is just a formula for maintaining the status quo.
The first reason for this is because if the Palestinians simply sought Israeli citizenship rather than reaching a compromise for the end of the occupation, they would either be outright denied or they would be accepted and play to Israel’s worst fear, using their democratic majority to change Israel from a Jewish state to a state for everyone which would destroy the sole reason Israel was founded on. As Israel will never allow this, the best outcome for the Palestinians is for Israel to annex the remaining parts of Palestine and treat the remaining Palestinians as second class citizens. While some supporters of this solution argue that the United Nations (UN) will never uphold the Israelis right to do so, the United States will just use its veto power in order to make sure the UN does not interfere.
This is because the only place where the United States can establish a military base and send military units to lies along the West border of Israel.The second reason is the lack of evidence pointing to a desired peaceful and pleasant state outcome for the one state solution. Although some Israelis and Palestinians co-existed peacefully for years before 1948, this took place before the last 70 years of bloodshed and terrorist attacks. Given that the state of Israel today provides the current Jewish population with a sense of national pride, security, and belonging that was lost during World War II, it would be folly for the Jewish majority constituency to elect anybody who would harm the senses Israel was founded on. With no sure-fire evidence of how Israelis and Palestinians could be convinced to live in and be happy living in a single state together, this line of logic is only a harbinger of ethnocentrism.In short, neither the simple one or two state solution can solve the complex problem of Israel and Palestine. The fact of the matter is that Palestine is too divided to remain one state and Jerusalem is the point of too much contention in order to be given peacefully to one state or another.
To resolve these issues, a more stable solution than the two aforementioned ones would be a three state solution. This solution would result in the split of Palestine into East Palestine along the West Bank and a West Palestine along of the Gaza Strip. This would therefore negate the problem of establishing a connection between the West Bank and Gaza Strip which would free up millions of dollars to upgrade healthcare, education, and other governmental areas.Another positive side to the three state solution is the ability to strengthen ties with Israel, for West Palestine to work with Egypt, and for East Palestine to work with Jordan and Syria. This would lead to two states competing for global peace, as anyone in Palestine today, regardless of their faction, is attempting to end the occupation. As Huffington Post author Cameron Sinclair phrased it, “Nothing like a bit of competitive compassion to speed up the process.” The separation of Palestine also allows one to, if desired, continue a military approach for ending the occupation while the other becomes a safe haven for those looking for a more peaceful solution.This solution also allows for Jerusalem to be open to all.
Jerusalem would not be allotted to any nation and instead would be controlled by the UN as a world heritage site. This would allow for any religion, whether it be Judaism, Islam, or Christianity, to freely come and go to their respective religious houses. This would also allow for the embassy of all countries to exist there, whether they are from the United States, Israel, or either Palestine.Those who disagree who point out the dangers of making two small states, for fear of how easily they could be conquered by ambitious countries in the region. In terms of land size, yes, West and East Palestine would be small.
However, population wise East Palestine would have 2.5 million people while West Palestine would have close to half a million people. This would make them the 140th and 168th sized countries out of 221. Some would also point out the issues of East and West Pakistan but the end result of these issues was a peaceful Bangladesh, a troubled but semi-successful Pakistan, and a strong India.Despite all the positives, this solution should not be accepted so readily. It is only an unexamined solution that seems to be more economically stable and easier to implement solution than the ones currently being suggested.
To increase the challenges even more, nothing will help to solve the problem at hand as long as both sides deny their crimes against each other. Both have committed horrendous humanitarian crimes as well as societal, and as long as these continue no peace will be reached. The reality of today is that the Israel and Palestine conflict is not ready to be solved.
This type of conflict is a first in human history, one dealing with a nation that was lost 2,000 years ago. With the Judists returning to reclaim Zion as their home, the Arabs are faced with an unique problem that no other nation or people have confronted. Thus this unique problem of a nation establishing their homeland in another nation and replacing its current identity with a new one makes it less of an issue of territory, and rather one of identity. This is a problem that cannot be solved with borders alone, and one that must be solved by those directly involved with it. Politicians from outside countries such as the United States can promote and propose any solution they choose, but at the end of the day, an outsider solution will not fix an insider problem.