Morning Brief

Why the `two-state solution` might be an illusion of the Israeli-Palestinian question?

The Six-Day War of 1967 might have reversed 19 years of political and territorial divisions in the Holy Land to the formation of a unitary landmass, but that unity is far from a one-state democratic solution.
Published by
Central Office
on May 14, 2022
on May 14, 2022
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A Palestinian woman and an Israeli soldier outside the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

There is a tendency to assert that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is rooted in the aftermath of the 1967 war when Israel annexed and occupied since then the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip (Yousef Munayyer, 2019, p. 33). However, the conflict long predates that event and the seeds of the longest continuous crisis in the Middle East have been set during a period of increasing nationalism in Europe that demonized the Jewish communities looking for a resurrection of the Jewish identity and its protection under a nation-state, followed by a light-minded UN initiative to create a `two-state solution` that have been dismissed by the outcome of the 1967 war that staged an `one-state solution` under Israeli own design (MacQueen, 2018, p. 52) (Gelvin, 2020, pp. 232-234).

The first inter-community conflicts appeared at the end of the 19th century with the first waves of Jewish immigration (``aliyot``) from Central and Eastern Europe coming on the Ottoman shores of the eastern Mediterranean (Gelvin, 2020, pp. 234-235). Financed by the Zionist Organization and under the slogan of ``land conquest``, the Zionists sought to establish an imprint on the land of Palestine through settlement activities (Gelvin, 2020, pp. 235-236). The Zionists purchased land, many times in the absence of a local landlord and displaced the indigenous Palestinian farmers who violently tried to resist these Jewish settlements (Gelvin, 2020, pp. 236-237). What the subsequent 1947 UN Partition Plan did was to `nationalize` the two communities (Jewish and Arab) based on the simple assumption of an increasing Jewish presence and an already present indigenous inhabitants of Palestine, without taking into consideration the legacies of the Jewish immigration (MacQueen, 2018, pp. 68-69) (Yousef Munayyer, 2019, p. 33). What the 1947 Partition Plan intended was what the great powers of the past never did, to divide Jerusalem from Gaza, Nablus from Nazareth, and Jaffa from Jericho (Yousef Munayyer, 2019, p. 33). The 1967 war and the subsequent Israeli annexation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reversed those 19 years of division marked by the 1948 establishment of the State of Israel (with West Jerusalem under its authority), the Jordanian rule over both the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the Egyptian over the Gaza Strip (Yousef Munayyer, 2019, pp. 33-34). The current status-quo must give way to a new one-state scenario, but not one under the current post-1967 Israeli design in which the Israeli annexation reversed the division but never brought a truly unitary state within which all subjects are equal under the law (Yousef Munayyer, 2019, pp. 34-35). On the other hand, a viable `two-state solution` became an illusion as any future supposed independent Palestinian entity will be either economically dependent on Israel, or politically autocratic under the current security coordination between Israel and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) in which Israel has delegated some form of control and responsibilities to the PA in abusively ensuring security and order in the West Bank, and the political struggle for power between West Bank`s Fatah and Gaza Strip`s Hamas (POMEPS Podcast, S. 10, Ep. 20). On the Israeli side, the abandonment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank under a `two-state solution` will represent both a security threat and a renunciation of the final goal of establishing full control in the Palestinian Mandate (MacQueen, 2018, p. 149). Moreover, Israel developed enough control, international influence (especially in Washington), and power to keep on preserving the status-quo (Yousef Munayyer, 2019, p. 30). On the Palestinian side, the `two-state solution` has been seen as the only viable answer, but after years of failure coupled with an increasing autocratic PA seen by many as either an agent of Israeli needs, or ineffective and corrupt, the frustration towards a `two-state solution` has been replaced by a continuous desire to achieve equal rights within the same territory, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean, empowered (especially after the 2000 Second Intifada) by a rise of Israeli Arabs in solidarity with their peers in the West Bank (POMEPS Podcast, S. 10, Ep. 20) (Yousef Munayyer, 2019, p. 30).

The hope for a real solution to the crisis still breaths but not under the ongoing international stance and definitely not under the current regional paradigm. The time has come to recognize the realities on the ground and dismiss the chances for two undemocratic states in the region, an Israeli state unwilling to stop discriminating the Palestinians within the occupied territories, and a supposedly independent but autocratic Palestinian entity dominated by the former, for the encouragement of the establishment of one unitary state that recognizes Israelis and Palestinians as equals under the law.



Gelvin L. James, (2020), ``The Modern Middle East``, Oxford University Press (fifth edition)

MacQueen, B. (2018). “The Colonial Period in the Middle East” in MacQueen, Introduction to Middle East Politics, London: Sage. Chapter 2

MacQueen, B. (2018). “The Cold War and the New International Relations of the Middle East” in MacQueen, Introduction to Middle East Politics, London: Sage. Chapter 3

MacQueen, B. (2018). “Israel, the Palestinians and the Peace Process” in MacQueen, Introduction to Middle East Politics, London: Sage. Chapter 5

Munayyer, Yousef (2019), ``There Will Be a One-State Solution``, Foreign Affairs, 2019, November-December edition.

POMEPS Podcast Special – Israel/Palestine: Crisis in the One-State Reality (S. 10, Ep. 20)

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