Time to End the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict with a Two State-One Nation Solution — Global Issues

People clamour for food in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Continuing airstrikes were reported across Gaza last week and “intense ground battles” between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters in refugee camps in central areas that have reportedly left many dead. Credit: UNICEF/Abed Zagout
  • Opinion by Shihana Mohamed (new york)
  • Inter Press Service

As gruesome as the war has been, the Israel-Hamas war has created an opportunity for the Israelis, Palestinians and the US as well as for the peace-loving global, regional and local players to advance peace prospects for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In their open letter delivered to US President Joe Biden in mid-November 2023, The Elders, an international non-governmental organization of public figures founded by Nelson Mandela, said that, “You have a historic opportunity to help end the Israel-Palestine conflict permanently. As polarization increases, the world needs you to set out a vision for peace. That vision must give hope to those who reject extremism and want the violence to end. We urge you to do two things: set out a serious peace plan and help build a new coalition for peace to deliver it.”

Today there are three solutions to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The Israelis and Palestinians can kill each other; they can separate by creating two separate nations; or they can create one nation made up of two people.

On 1 November 2023, President Biden said that “when this crisis is over, there has to be a vision of what comes next, and in our view it has to be a two-state solution,” creating a sovereign Palestinian nation alongside the state of Israel.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called on 8 December 2023 for an immediate end to the war in Gaza and an international peace conference to work out a lasting political solution leading to the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Presently, the only solution being discussed in depth is a two-state solution. This solution is based on separating both people into two separate and sovereign nations. The peace process during the Clinton administration (“Oslo agreement”) and the Bush administration (“The Road Map”) was based on this two-state solution, but ended in total failure. The Obama administration’s approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the same as past US administrations, and that effort also did not come close to bringing about a two-state solution. Perhaps, what caused the failure of these peace talks may be the solution itself rather than the involved parties.

The consequences of creating two separate nations by dividing Israel and Palestine were and still are difficult to accept for both Israelis and Palestinians. Currently, the perspectives have even further changed with the ongoing Israeli-Hamas war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a press conference on 16 December 2023 that, he was “proud’ he had prevented the establishment of a Palestinian state and took credit for “putting brakes” on the Oslo peace process.

From the point of view of many Israelis, the two-state solution is difficult because they would have to give up their religious and historical attachments to the West Bank and Gaza which they call Judea and Samaria. From the point of view of the Palestinians, the two-state solution is difficult because they have historical, religious and emotional attachments not only to the West Bank and Gaza but also to Israel which they call the lands of 1948 after the year they lost it to present day Israel. It is a fact that both Israelis and Palestinians have religious, historical and emotional attachments to every square inch of the land that includes Israel and Palestine.

In light of the attachments that both parties have for the same territory, the solution is not in separating but in coming closer together. Many Israelis and Palestinians seem to agree that the land they call Israel/Palestine is indivisible.

Thus, the solution lies in keeping the land that Israelis and Palestinians call home as one nation while at the same time providing each side with the security and the individuality the parties would have if they had their own separate nations.

Since the Palestinian and Israeli populations are so intermingled and about 1.8 million Palestinians live throughout Israel, the feasibility of a bi-national state, with the two peoples living in a kind of federation, seems workable. Given this “reality” on the ground, the most practical solution seems to be a united democratic state offering equal citizenship for all: One Person, One Vote. Palestinians and Israelis would be in a unified state, relying on historic precedents like South Africa and Northern Ireland.

Therefore, a Two State-One Nation solution based on equality, freedom and civil rights for both Israelis and Palestinians is the most practical and suitable approach to resolve the conflict between Palestine and Israel. The idea behind this solution is that there will be two sovereign states similar to New York and New Jersey that together make one nation similar to the United States of America.

However, rather than being a federation it would be a confederation. The main difference between a federation and a confederation is that the states in a confederacy have much more sovereignty than in a federation.

The proposed Two State-One Nation solution should be negotiated through a “democratic” model which uses public, multiparty negotiating forums to conduct negotiations. The only firm rule is that the forum will exclude any party that has not ended or at least suspended efforts to achieve its political objectives through violence. The “democrat” model was used successfully in the talks that brought about the end of apartheid in South Africa in the early 1990s, and which ended the “troubles” in Northern Ireland in the late 1990s.

This solution may not be perfect. However, this proposed solution may be the only solution that will give the Palestinians and Israelis most of what they want while at the same time allowing both people to keep their individual identities and live as one nation. The prospect of a unitary democratic state offers integration, security, development and a mode of life far more conducive to the modern world.

The birth of the non-racial democracy in South Africa and the implementation of the power sharing arrangement in Northern Ireland have strengthened the belief that portioning is not the inevitable, nor necessarily the most desirable resolution to the conflict. Hence, the proposed Two State-One Nation vision is not only desirable but an achievable solution to end the conflict between Palestine and Israel.

The technical know-how of Israel, the available capital in the Arab world and a geography that is at the intersection of three continents can produce an economic powerhouse that is second to none on a per capita basis. This solution will enable all people in the Middle East to enjoy peace, stability and full security.

Of course, it is difficult to see the possibility of a Two State-One Nation solution now with the ongoing Israel-Hamas war. Before it happens, many more people are going to be killed. But like every other war, this one will end too.

And there would be a day after this war. So, it is time to end this century-old conflict between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Shihana Mohamed, a Sri Lankan national, is one of the Coordinators of the United Nations Asia Network for Diversity and Inclusion and a Public Voices Fellow with The OpEd Project and Equality Now. She has done extensive research on current issues in the Middle East.
The views expressed in this article represent the personal views of the author.

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© Inter Press Service (2024) — All Rights ReservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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