Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Two-state solution

Two-state solution

Overview
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

 is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference
Annapolis Conference
-Attendees:U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice organized and hosted the conference. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and U.S. President George W. Bush attended the meeting...

 in November 2007. The proposal is supported by many international figures and agencies.

A two-state solution is in practice a proposal for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. The main point on which the two-state solution formula differs from those for an independent Palestinian state is that the two-state solution calls for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Discussion
Ask a question about 'Two-state solution'
Start a new discussion about 'Two-state solution'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Recent Discussions
Encyclopedia
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

 is the consensus solution that is currently under discussion by the key parties to the conflict, most recently at the Annapolis Conference
Annapolis Conference
-Attendees:U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice organized and hosted the conference. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and U.S. President George W. Bush attended the meeting...

 in November 2007. The proposal is supported by many international figures and agencies.

A two-state solution is in practice a proposal for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. The main point on which the two-state solution formula differs from those for an independent Palestinian state is that the two-state solution calls for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. To achieve a two-state solution, a number of difficult issues need to be resolved, including the borders of the Palestinian state, the citizenship of the new Palestinian state
Proposals for a Palestinian state
Proposals for a Palestinian state currently refers to the proposed establishment of an independent state for the Palestinian people in Palestine on land that was occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967 and before by Egypt and by Jordan since 1949...

, the status of Palestinian refugees outside the final borders, and the status of Arab citizens of present-day Israel, besides the future of East Jerusalem.

It is contrasted with other options, most notably the binational solution, which could either be a twin regime federalist arrangement or a unitary state, and the Allon Plan
Allon Plan
The Allon Plan was an Israeli proposal of the late 1960s to partition the West Bank, captured from Jordan in the Six-Day War of June 1967, between Israel and Jordan...

, also known as the 'no-state solution'.

The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books
The New York Review of Books is a fortnightly magazine with articles on literature, culture and current affairs. Published in New York City, it takes as its point of departure that the discussion of important books is itself an indispensable literary activity...

reported in a 2008 review of the Middle East situation that "throughout the years, polls consistently showed respectable Israeli and Palestinian majorities in favor of a negotiated two-state settlement." A 2007 poll reported that, when forced to choose between a two-state solution and a binational 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 binational solution, and 26% preferred the binational over the two-state. The solution enjoys majority support in Israeli polls as well although there has been some erosion to its prospects over time. However, more than 80% of Palestinians would not give up the demand for refugees from the 1947–49 war and their descendants to be able to move to Israel, a move that would negate the existence of Israel's ethnic Jewish majority. As such, the majority of Palestinians do not accept the concept of two states for two peoples. In addition, while Israel's Palestinian Arab minority would not need to move, the majority of Palestinians are against West Bank Jews gaining Palestinian citizenship and not being expelled.

History


Variations on the basic idea have a long history.

The first proposal for the creation of Jewish and Arab states in the British Mandate of Palestine was made in the Peel Commission
Peel Commission
The Peel Commission of 1936-1937, formally known as the Palestine Royal Commission, was a British Royal Commission of Inquiry set out to propose changes to the British Mandate of Palestine following the outbreak of the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine...

 report of 1937, with the Mandate continuing to cover only a small area containing Jerusalem. The proposal was rejected by the Arab community of Palestine; was accepted by most of the Jewish leadership; and the British government rejected partition as impracticable

Partition was again proposed by the 1947 UN Partition plan
1947 UN Partition Plan
The United Nations Partition Plan for Palestine was created by the United Nations Special Committee on Palestine in 1947 to replace the British Mandate for Palestine with "Independent Arab and Jewish States" and a "Special International Regime for the City of Jerusalem" administered by the United...

 for the division of Palestine. It proposed a three-way division, again with Jerusalem held separately, under international control. The partition plan was accepted by the Jewish leadership. However, the plan was rejected by the leadership of Arab nations and the Palestinian leadership at the time, which opposed any partition of Palestine and any Jewish presence in the area.

The first indication that the PLO would be willing to accept a two-state solution, on at least an interim basis, was articulated by Said Hammami
Said Hammami
Said Hammami was a Palestinian politician, diplomat and journalist. He was assassinated in his office in London on January 4, 1978, where he was serving as the representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization to the United Kingdom....

 in the mid-1970s.

Security Council resolutions dating back to June 1976 supporting the two state solution based on the pre-1967 lines
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

 were vetoed by the United States, which argued that the borders must be negotiated directly by the parties. The idea has had overwhelming support in the UN General Assembly since the mid 1970's.

The Palestinian Declaration of Independence
Palestinian Declaration of Independence
The Palestinian Declaration of Independence is a statement written by Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and proclaimed by Yasser Arafat on 15 November 1988. It had previously been adopted by the Palestinian National Council, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization , by a vote...

 of 15 November 1988, which referenced the UN Partition Plan of 1947 and "UN resolutions since 1947" in general, was interpreted as an indirect recognition of the State of Israel, and support for a two-state solution. The Partition Plan was invoked to provide legitimacy to Palestinian statehood. Subsequent clarifications were taken to amount to the first explicit Palestinian recognition of Israel.

Many Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the Arab League, have stated that they would accept a 2-state solution based on pre-1967 lines
1949 Armistice Agreements
The 1949 Armistice Agreements are a set of agreements signed during 1949 between Israel and neighboring Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria. The agreements ended the official hostilities of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and established armistice lines between Israeli forces and the forces in...

. According to a 2002 poll conducted by PIPA
Program on International Policy Attitudes
The Program on International Policy Attitudes is an institution devoted to research on the public opinion of international politics...

, 72% of both Palestinians and Israelis supported at that time a peace settlement based on the 1967 borders so long as each group could be reassured that the other side would be cooperative in making the necessary concessions for such a settlement.

However, a strong view is that neither side would be able to agree to a division that yielded the Temple Mount
Temple Mount
The Temple Mount, known in Hebrew as , and in Arabic as the Haram Ash-Sharif , is one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. It has been used as a religious site for thousands of years...

 to the other side. As an attempt to break the stalemate, U.S. President Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 proposed dividing sovereignty of the site vertically - the ground and area below coming under Israeli sovereignty, while that above the ground (i.e. the Temple Mount, called Haram al-Sharif by Muslims containing the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque) would be under Palestinian sovereignty. A similar idea was suggested for tunnels and elevated roads connecting communities. In the end neither side accepted the concept.

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
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

 and culminating in the Camp David 2000 Summit
Camp David 2000 Summit
The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David of July 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat...

, and follow-on negotiations at Taba
Taba (Egypt)
Taba is a small Egyptian town near the northern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba. Taba is the location of Egypt's busiest border crossing with neighboring Israel. Little more than a bus depot and a luxury hotel , Taba is a frequent vacation spot for Egyptians and tourists, especially those from Israel on...

 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 argue that the two-state solution was implemented in 1922 when Britain split off the eastern 75% of the Mandate to create Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

, which became Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

, a state with an Palestinian Arab majority population.

Some Israeli politicians, such as prime minister
Prime Minister of Israel
The Prime Minister of Israel is the head of the Israeli government and the most powerful political figure in Israel . The prime minister is the country's chief executive. The official residence of the prime minister, Beit Rosh Hamemshala is in Jerusalem...

 Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

, 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 Saudi and US leaders. In 2002, Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is the King of Saudi Arabia. He succeeded to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd. When Crown Prince, he governed Saudi Arabia as regent from 1998 to 2005...

 proposed the Arab Peace Initiative
Arab Peace Initiative
The Beirut Summit was a meeting of the Arab League in Beirut, Lebanon in March 2002 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The meeting became especially noteworthy for the adoption, by the Arab states attending, of a proposal offering a comprehensive peace between the Arab countries and...

, which garnered the unanimous support of the Arab League
Arab League
The Arab League , officially called the League of Arab States , is a regional organisation of Arab states in North and Northeast Africa, and Southwest Asia . It was formed in Cairo on 22 March 1945 with six members: Egypt, Iraq, Transjordan , Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. Yemen joined as a...

. President Bush announced his support for a Palestinian state, opening the way for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397, adopted on March 12, 2002, after recalling resolutions 242 and 338 , the Council demanded an end to violence during the Second Intifada between the Israeli and Palestinian sides...

, supporting a two-state solution. Christian communities in Israel also back the solution.

In a 2007 poll of adults in the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 and the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 by the Jerusalem Media & Communication Centre, 46.7% of respondents favored a two-state solution, followed by 26.5% for a binational state. However support is lower among younger Palestinians; U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, and was the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush...

 noted: "Increasingly, the Palestinians who talk about a two-state solution are my age."

At the Annapolis Conference
Annapolis Conference
-Attendees:U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice organized and hosted the conference. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and U.S. President George W. Bush attended the meeting...

 in November 2007, the three major parties—Palestinians (Fatah but not Hamas government in Gaza), Israelis, and Americans—agreed on a two-state solution as the outline for Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

 negotiations. Nevertheless the problems of such a solution are in the details of mainly four 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, Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the return of the Palestinian refugees.

Among Israelis, main objections are fears about security without the Jordan valley and full Israeli airspace and frontier control, the Jewish historical religious adherence to the Judean Hills (the name for the mountain range of the Judea region upon which Jerusalem and several other biblical cities are located) with the Palestinian population centers there (comparable to situation of Serbs and Albanians
Albanians
Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

 in Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

), Jerusalem as the postulated capital of two states, the "fingers" of Israeli settlements deeply in the Judean 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
Geneva Accord
The Geneva Initiative, also known as the Geneva Accord, is a model permanent status agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on previous official negotiations, international resolutions, the Quartet Roadmap, the Clinton Parameters, and the Arab Peace Initiative...

 by Israeli and Palestinian peace activists, elaborated and signed under Swiss auspices. But until now it has not been a discussion directly between the Israeli and Palestinian governments. The more Israeli settlements are built in the West Bank, the more difficult this demographic pressure makes the finding of a peace solution acceptable to both sides.

On June 4, 2009, US President Barack Obama delivered a major address to the Muslim world in Cairo, Egypt. In the speech, he supported the two-state solution:

"For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive. It is easy to point fingers – for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought by Israel’s founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond. But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth: the only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security." - President Barack Obama.

On June 14, 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a speech at Bar Ilan University, where he, for the first time in his career, endorsed the establishment of a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River. He called on it to be demilitarized.

On July 19, 2009, Netanyahu said "United Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people and the State of Israel," and "Israeli sovereignty in the city is indisputable." while Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat countered with "The job of the Israeli Prime Minister should be to prepare his people for what it takes to make peace," and "He knows very much that there will never be peace between Palestinians and Israelis without East Jerusalem being the capital of the Palestinian state."

Since entering office, Obama has halted the sale of advanced weapons to Israel while demanding that they withdraw from the entire West Bank so that a Palestinian state could be set up.

Abbas has said that if peace talks fail, the PA will ask the UN General Assembly to declare a Palestinian state in September 2011.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas have stated that any solution must have East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem
East Jerusalem or Eastern Jerusalem refer to the parts of Jerusalem captured and annexed by Jordan in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and then captured and annexed by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War...

 on their side of the border.

On 19 May 2011, Obama stated that the 1967 borders with mutually agreed upon swaps should be the basis of the final agreement. The EU said that they would back the United States position.

AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr replied that an even-handed approach would put Israel at a disadvantage and that it must be the Palestinians who make a positive step forward.

On 28 May 2011, Abbas said that the conditions laid out by Netanyahu had left no foundations for negotiations and that the only remaining option would be recognition of statehood by the United Nations. However Joseph Deiss
Joseph Deiss
Joseph Deiss is an economist, Swiss politician and a member of the Christian Democratic People's Party . From 1999 to 2006, he was a member of the Swiss Federal Council, heading first the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and then the Federal Department of Economic Affairs...

 said that this move could be vetoed at the UN Security Council.

In 2011 Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that if Israel did not cede all the 1967 territories, then the Palestinians would have no alternative to seeking Israeli citizenship. The call for a return to the 1967 lines was echoed by Nabil Shaath
Nabil Shaath
Nabil Shaath is a senior Palestinian official who has held the following titles:*Palestinian chief negotiator*Palestinian cabinet minister*Palestinian International Co-operation Minister*Planning Minister for the Palestinian National Authority...

.

Doubts and criticisms


An article in the New York Times, reported that Egypt and Jordan are concerned about the possibility of having to retake responsibility for Gaza and the West Bank. In effect, the result would be Gaza returning to Egyptian rule, and the West Bank to Jordanian, referred to as the Three state solution
Three state solution
The three-state solution, also called the Egyptian-Jordanian solution, and the Jordan-Egypt option, is an approach to peace in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict by giving control of the West Bank to Jordan and control of the Gaza Strip to Egypt....

. There appear to be signs that such a concept is beginning to come on to the agenda.
In a September 2008 publication of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
Washington Institute for Near East Policy
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is a think tank based in Washington, D.C. focused on United States foreign policy in the Middle East. It was established by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1985...

, Giora Eiland
Giora Eiland
Giora Eiland is Major General Israel Defense Forces. Eiland is former Israel's National Security Advisor. He is a senior research associate at the Institute for National Security Studies and holds an M.B.A. and B.A...

 wrote that:


This proposal suggests that rather than establishing another Arab state, the parties could return control over most of the West Bank to Jordan. Until recently, such an idea was rejected completely by everyone, especially the Jordanians themselves. Today, however, more and more Jordanians, Palestinians, and Israelis have come to believe that this is the right solution. The main reason for this change of heart is the rise of Hamas. Israel can curb the group’s ascendancy, but only as long as Israel occupies the West Bank. If a Palestinian state is established there, many fear that it would be taken over by Hamas. Such a scenario could have far-reaching consequences for Jordan. To be sure, the notion of pursuing alternative solutions is not yet politically correct, and therefore no official Jordanian or Palestinian support could be given to such efforts at the moment. Nevertheless, tacit support for this idea has been expressed in private talks.


Some Israeli journalists suggest that the Palestinians are unprepared to accept a Jewish State on any terms. According to one poll, "fewer than 2 in 10 Arabs, both Palestinian and all others, believe in Israel's right to exist as a nation with a Jewish majority." Another poll, however, invoked by the US State Department, suggests that "78 percent of Palestinians and 74 percent of Israelis believe a peace agreement that leads to both states living side by side as good neighbors" is “essential or desirable”.

The Palestinians have "shown serious interest" in a two-state solution since the mid-1970s, and its mainstream leadership has embraced the concept since the 1982 Arab Summit in Fez
Fes
Fes or Fez is the second largest city of Morocco, after Casablanca, with a population of approximately 1 million . It is the capital of the Fès-Boulemane region....

. However, in March 2009 Mohammad Dahlan of the PLO stated that, “For the 1,000th time, I want to reaffirm that we are not asking Hamas to recognize Israel’s right to exist. Rather we are asking Hamas not to do so, because Fatah never recognized Israel’s right to exist.”

Viability of a Palestinian state


By 2010, when direct talks were scheduled to be re-started, continued growth of settlements on the west bank and continued strong support of settlements by the Israeli government had greatly reduced the land and resources that would be available to a Palestinian state creating doubt among Palestinians and left-wing Israelis that a two-state solution continued to be viable.

See also

  • One-state solution
  • Three-state solution
  • State of Judea
    State of Judea
    The State of Judea is a proposed halachic state in the West Bank put forward by Israeli Jewish settlers. After the PLO declared the existence of a Palestinian state in 1988, some settler activists feared that international pressure would lead Israel to withdraw from the West Bank and sought to...

  • Two Stars for Peace solution
    Two Stars for Peace solution
    The Two Stars for Peace solution is a proposed agreement for Israelis and Palestinians to secure their mutual futures by petitioning the United States Congress to become the 51st and 52nd U.S. states. Dr. Martine Rothblatt first proposed the idea in her book Two Stars for Peace, published in 2003...

  • Arab Peace Initiative
    Arab Peace Initiative
    The Beirut Summit was a meeting of the Arab League in Beirut, Lebanon in March 2002 to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The meeting became especially noteworthy for the adoption, by the Arab states attending, of a proposal offering a comprehensive peace between the Arab countries and...

  • Geneva Accord
    Geneva Accord
    The Geneva Initiative, also known as the Geneva Accord, is a model permanent status agreement to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on previous official negotiations, international resolutions, the Quartet Roadmap, the Clinton Parameters, and the Arab Peace Initiative...


Further reading

  • Aharon Cohen, Israel and the Arab World (Funk and Wagnalls, New York, 1970)
  • Jeremy Pressman, "The Best Hope - Still?" Boston Review, July/August 2009.

External links