future state

Two-state solution

The "two-state solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference in November 2007.

A two-state solution envisions two separate states in the Western portion of the historic region of Palestine, one Jewish and another Arab to solve the Israel-Palestine conflict. According to the idea, the Arab inhabitants would be given citizenship by the new Palestinian state; Palestinian refugees would likely be offered such citizenship as well. Arab citizens of present-day Israel would likely have the choice of staying with Israel, or becoming citizens of the new Palestine.

It is contrasted with other options, notably the binational solution (either a twin federal arrangement or a unitary state), the six-state solution, and the notion of population transfer.

A 2007 poll reported that when forced to choose between a two-state solution and a bi-national state over one quarter of the Palestinian respondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip preferred neither, 46% of respondents preferred the two-state over the bi-national solution while 26% preferred the binational over the two-state. The solution enjoys majority support in recent polls of Israelis, although over time there has been some erosion to its prospects.


Variations on the basic idea have a long history.

The Peel Commission report of 1937 envisioned a partition of the British Mandate of Palestine area into three sections: Arab, Jewish, and a small continued Mandate area (effectively under international control), containing Jerusalem.

Partition was again proposed by the 1947 UN Partition plan for the division of Palestine. It proposed a three-way division, again with Jerusalem held separately, under international control. It too was rejected by the leadership of Arab nations and the Palestinian leadership at the time, although this plan was accepted by the Jewish inhabitants.

Security Council resolutions dating back to 1976 supporting the two state solution based on the pre-1967 lines were vetoed by the USA. The idea has had overwhelming support in the UN General Assembly since the mid 1970's.

Some Palestinians, as well as some Arab states have stated that they would accept a 2-state solution based on pre-1967 lines. Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran, however, continue to call for the "liberation" of all of "historic" Palestine from the "Zionist Entity." While Hamas has recently offered a 10-year "hudna", or truce, contingent on Israel returning to the 1967 lines, they have stated publicly they would leave the ultimate solution to the conflict open to "future generations", thus leaving open the possibility that a solution based on the 1967 lines would not suffice, and they have steadfastly refused to alter their Charter, which explicitly calls for the destruction of the Jewish State and its replacement with an Islamic Theocracy.

Recent events

In the 1990s the pressing need for a peace in the area brought the two-state idea back to centre stage. At one point in the late 1990s, considerable diplomatic work went into negotiating a two-state solution between the parties, including the Oslo Accords and culminating in the Camp David 2000 Summit, and follow-on negotiations at Taba in January 2001. However, no final agreement was reached.

Variations include a Palestinian state in all of the West Bank and Gaza Strip or some portion thereof. In some proposals raised in talks with the Palestinians there would have been territorial adjustments involving some small sections of current Israeli territory.

Some far-right Israelis hold that the two-state solution was implemented in 1922 when Britain split off the eastern 75% of the Mandate to create Transjordan which became Jordan, a state with an Arab majority population.

Some Israeli politicians, such as former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, argue for a form of two-state solution in which a Palestinian state is granted most of the attributes of an independent state but denied certain aspects of sovereignty that might allow it to threaten Israel. Netanyahu argues, for example, that the future state's ability to import arms should be restricted. The Palestinian leadership does not view such proposals as being in the true spirit of the two-state solution concept.

Possible two-state solutions have been discussed by the Saudi and US leadership .In 2002, Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed the Arab Peace Initiative, which garnered the unanimous support of the Arab League. President Bush announced his support for a Palestinian state, opening the way for UN Security Council Resolution 1397 supporting a two state solution. Christian communities in Israel also back the solution.

According to a 2007 poll of adults in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre, "46.7 per cent of respondents favour a two-state solution for the Arab-Israeli conflict." In second place came support of a binational state with 26.5%. However support is lower among younger Palestinians, with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noting that "Increasingly, the Palestinians who talk about a two-state solution are my age".

At the Annapolis Conference in November, 2007, the three major parties—Palestinians (Fatah but not Hamas government in Gaza), Israelis, and US Americas—agreed on a two-state solution as the outline for Israel-Palestine conflict negotiations. Nevertheless the problems of such a solution are in the details of mainly three topics with great differences of view between the participants, namely the status and borders of Jerusalem and its Temple Mount, the borders of the future Palestinian state and Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the return of the Palestian refugees.

Main obstacles against a quick consensus are Israeli fears of security without the Jordan valley and full Israeli airspace and frontier control, the Jewish historical religious adherence to the Judaean hills with the Palestinian population centers there (comparable to situation of Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo), Jerusalem as the postulated capital of two states, the "fingers" of Israeli settlements deeply in the Judaean hills with at least three to four practical non-contiguous and non-self-sustainable enclaves of Palestinian population centers as well as the future of localities inhabited by Jews in the West Bank.

Most of these topics have been integrated in the peace proposal of the Geneva accord by Israeli and Palestinian peace activists elaborated and signed under Swiss auspices. But until now it has not been a discussion base directly between the Israeli and Palestinian governments. The more Israeli settlements are built in the West Bank due to the demographic pressure it will be more difficult to find an acceptable peace solution for both sides.

Notes & references

Further reading

  • Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1970)

See also

External links

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