Are Israel and Palestine doomed to live together?

Is peace still possible between Israel and Palestine? The future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is uncertain, and it depends on a wide range of factors, including the actions and decisions of the parties involved, the international community, and the evolving regional dynamics.

Nov 7, 2023 - 10:43
Are Israel and Palestine doomed to live together?
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After the Hamas' attacks of November 7th, the conflict between Israel and Palestine remains unresolved, and it continues to be a deeply entrenched and complex issue. But several possible scenarios could still shape its future:

Negotiations and Diplomacy: One possible path to resolution is through diplomatic negotiations. Future peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, possibly facilitated by third-party mediators, could lead to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel based on a two-state solution. Achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace agreement would require addressing core issues such as borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, and settlements. In the present situation, it seems to be an impossible solution for now.

One-State Solution: Some voices have advocated for a one-state solution, where Israelis and Palestinians would live together in a single, democratic state with equal rights for all citizens. This is a highly contentious proposal and would require addressing significant challenges related to identity, security, and governance.

Status Quo and Ongoing Conflict: The conflict may persist with no clear resolution, and the status quo could continue, marked by sporadic violence, political stalemate, and ongoing tension. This would not bring a sustainable solution and could perpetuate suffering and instability.

Escalation of Violence: If diplomatic efforts break down or if violence intensifies, the situation could escalate into a more protracted and deadly conflict, with serious implications for the region's stability.

International Involvement: The involvement of the international community, including the United Nations, regional powers, and international organizations, may influence the direction of the conflict. Efforts to restart negotiations and provide humanitarian assistance could shape the future course.

Grassroots Movements: Grassroots movements, civil society organizations, and people-to-people initiatives can play a role in building understanding and trust between Israelis and Palestinians, potentially influencing the political landscape.

Evolving Regional Dynamics: Changes in regional politics, including shifts in alliances and interests, can impact the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Developments in neighboring countries, such as Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, can have ramifications for the conflict.

The situation in the Middle East is fluid, and the resolution of this complex and deeply rooted conflict will require leadership, creativity, and a commitment to finding common ground among the parties involved.

(Im)possible solutions

The one-state solution is a concept that envisions a single, unified state in which both Israelis and Palestinians coexist with equal rights, rather than two separate states with their own governments. It is not typically framed as a federation or confederation of two states with a central government. Instead, proponents of the one-state solution advocate for a single, shared state in which both Israelis and Palestinians have equal citizenship and participation in the political and social life of the country.

This concept seeks to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by advocating for a state that is democratic, inclusive, and multicultural, where both Jewish and Palestinian identities are recognized and respected. However, the one-state solution is a highly contentious proposal and has not gained widespread support, particularly among mainstream political leaders and parties in Israel and among Palestinians.

Challenges to implementing a one-state solution include addressing issues. Given the current population distribution and birth rates, a single state with equal citizenship could eventually lead to a non-Jewish majority, which is a significant concern for some Israelis.

Security concerns for both Israelis and Palestinians, as well as the preservation of national and cultural identities, would need to be addressed in a one-state framework. Establishing a unified, inclusive political system and legal framework that guarantees equal rights for all citizens while respecting the self-determination of both communities would be complex.

The two-state solution, which envisions separate Israeli and Palestinian states living side by side, remains the most widely supported approach among the international community and has been a basis for peace negotiations. However, the one-state solution is a concept that continues to be discussed and debated among academics, activists, and some political groups as an alternative to the two-state model, although it faces significant challenges in terms of implementation and acceptance.

A federation model has been suggested by some as a potential solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A federation would involve the creation of a single state that is organized as a federation or confederation of two or more distinct political entities, each with a degree of autonomy and self-governance. This approach is sometimes referred to as a "bi-national federation" or a "two-state federation."

In a federation model, there would be a central government that handles common issues, such as defense, foreign policy, and economic matters, while the constituent entities (in this case, Israelis and Palestinians) would have a significant degree of self-governance and control over local affairs. The idea is to provide both communities with a measure of political independence and self-determination while maintaining a unified framework.

Proponents of the federation model argue that it could address some of the key challenges and concerns of both Israelis and Palestinians, including issues related to borders, security, and settlements, while allowing for greater cooperation and shared governance. It also aims to accommodate the national and cultural identities of both communities within a single political structure.

The federation model, like the one-state solution, remains a subject of debate and discussion, and it has not gained widespread support among mainstream political leaders and parties in the region. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is complex, and finding a mutually acceptable solution is challenging due to historical, political, and emotional factors. The most widely accepted and internationally supported framework for a resolution remains the two-state solution, although it also faces significant obstacles to implementation.

The ideas of a one-state solution and a federation in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been advocated by various individuals, organizations, and groups, although they do not represent mainstream or official government positions. 

The late Palestinian-American scholar Edward Said was a prominent advocate for a one-state solution. He argued that a single, democratic state would provide a just and inclusive solution to the conflict.

Ali Abunimah, the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian news and advocacy platform, has written extensively in support of a one-state solution. Also Jeff Halper, an Israeli activist and the founder of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, has supported the idea of a one-state solution with equal rights for all. And the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls for international pressure on Israel, has some supporters who advocate for a one-state solution.

The federation model also has its advocates. Daniel Levy, a former Israeli negotiator and policy advisor, has proposed a federal approach in which Israelis and Palestinians would maintain autonomy in their respective areas but have a common federal framework.

The Mossawa Center is an advocacy organization that represents the Arab citizens of Israel and has proposed a federal model as a way to address the national rights of both Israelis and Palestinians. And the Israeli organization One Homeland for Two States, suggests a confederation or federal solution to the conflict, allowing for Palestinian self-determination in the West Bank and Gaza while maintaining a connection between both peoples.

While these individuals and organizations have advocated for one-state or federation models, these ideas remain the subject of ongoing debate and discussion, and they have not been endorsed or implemented as official policies by the governments of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, or other key stakeholders. The dominant international framework for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the two-state solution, although it faces significant challenges and obstacles to implementation.

Vincent Taylor EA Global Coordinator