Two-state solution

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File:Israel and Palestine Peace.svg
A peace movement poster: Israeli and Palestinian flags and the words peace in Arabic and Hebrew. Similar images have been used by several groups supporting a two-state solution to the conflict.
Map of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, 2007. Agreeing on acceptable borders is a major difficulty with the two-state solution.

The two-state solution refers to a solution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict currently under discussion, which calls for "two states for two groups of people." The two-state solution envisages an independent State of Palestine alongside the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River. The boundary between the two states is still subject to dispute and negotiation, with Palestinian and Arab leadership insisting on the "1967 borders", which is not accepted by Israel. The territory of the former Mandate Palestine which shall not form part of the Palestinian State, shall be part of Israeli territory.

The framework of the solution is set out in UN resolutions on the "Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine", going back to 1974.[1][2][3] The resolution calls for "two States, Israel and Palestine … side by side within secure and recognized borders" together with "a just resolution of the refugee question in conformity with UN resolution 194". The borders of the state of Palestine are "based on the pre-1967 borders". The latest resolution in November 2013 was passed 165 to 6, with 6 abstentions.[4] The countries voting against were Canada, Israel, the United States, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, and Palau.[5]

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.[6]

Over the years, polls have consistently shown "respectable Israeli and Palestinian majorities in favor of a negotiated two-state settlement."[7]

There have been many diplomatic efforts to realize a two state solution, starting from the 1991 Madrid Conference. There followed the 1993 Oslo Accords and the failed 2000 Camp David Summit followed by the Taba negotiations in early 2001. In 2002, the Arab League proposed the Arab Peace Initiative. The latest initiative, which also failed, was the 2013–14 peace talks.

History of the two-state solution

The first proposal for the creation of Jewish and Arab states in the British Mandate of Palestine was made in the Peel Commission report of 1937, with the Mandate continuing to cover only a small area containing Jerusalem. The recommended partition proposal was rejected by the Arab community of Palestine,[8][9] and was accepted by most of the Jewish leadership.

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. The partition plan was accepted by the Jewish leadership. However, the plan was rejected by the leadership of Arab nations and the Palestinian leadership, which opposed any partition of Palestine and any independent Jewish presence in the area. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War for control of the disputed land broke out on the end of the British Mandate, which came to an end with the 1949 Armistice Agreements. The war resulted in the fleeing or expulsion of 711,000 Palestinians, which the Palestinians call Nakba, from the territories which became the state of Israel.[citation needed]

UN resolution 242 and the recognition of Palestinian rights

After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed resolution 242 calling for Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied during the war, in exchange for "termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and "acknowledgement of sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area". The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which had been formed in 1964, strongly criticized the resolution, saying that it reduced the question of Palestine to a refugee problem.[10]:18

In September 1974, 56 Member States proposed that "the question of Palestine" be included as an item in the General Assembly’s agenda. In a resolution adopted on 22 November 1974, the General Assembly affirmed Palestinian rights, which included the "right to self-determination without external interference", "the right to national independence and sovereignty", and the "right to return to their homes and property". These rights have been affirmed every year since.[10]:24[11]

PLO acceptance of two-state solution

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 in the mid-1970s.[12][13]

Security Council resolutions dating back to June 1976 supporting the two-state solution based on the pre-1967 lines were vetoed by the United States,[14] which supports a two-state solution but 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-1970s.[15]

The Palestinian Declaration of Independence 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.[16][17]

Diplomatic efforts

In 1975, the General Assembly established the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People. In 1976, the Committee presented two sets of recommendations, one concerned with the Palestinians' right of return to their homes and property, and the other with their rights to self-determination, national independence and sovereignty. The Security Council discussed the recommendations but failed to reach a decision due to the negative vote of the United States.[10]:25

After the First Intifada began in 1987, considerable diplomatic work went into negotiating a two-state solution between the parties, beginning with the Madrid Conference in 1991. The most significant of these negotiations was the Oslo Accords, which officially divided Palestinian land into three administrative divisions and created the framework for how much of Israel's political borders with the Palestinian territories function today. The Accords culminated in the Camp David 2000 Summit, and follow-up negotiations at Taba in January 2001, but no final agreement was ever reached. The violent outbreak of the Second Intifada in 2000 had demonstrated the Palestinian public's disillusionment with the Oslo Accords and convinced many Israelis that the negotiations were in vain.

Possible two-state solutions have been discussed by Saudi and US leaders.[18] In 2002, Crown Prince (King until January 2015) Abdullah of Saudi Arabia proposed the Arab Peace Initiative, which garnered the unanimous support of the Arab League while Israeli leaders continually refuse to discuss the initiative. President Bush announced his support for a Palestinian state, opening the way for United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397,[19] supporting a two-state solution.

At the Annapolis Conference in November 2007, three major parties—The PLO, Israel, and the USA—agreed on a two-state solution as the outline for negotiations. However, the summit failed to achieve an agreement.

Following the conflict that erupted between the two main Palestinian parties, Fatah and Hamas, Hamas took control of the Gaza Strip, splintering the Palestinian Authority into two polities, each claiming to be the true representatives of the Palestinian people. Fatah controlled the Palestinian National Authority in the West Bank and Hamas Governed in Gaza.

The latest initiatives were the 2013–14 Israeli–Palestinian peace talks under the guidance of John Kerry, the United States Secretary of State. These talks also failed to reach an agreement.


By 2010, when direct talks were scheduled to be restarted, 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.[20] In January 2012 the European Union Heads of Mission report on East Jerusalem found that Israel's continuing settlement activities and the fragile situation of the Palestinian population in East Jerusalem, as well in area C, was making a two-state solution less likely.[21] The Israeli Foreign Ministry rejected this EU report, claiming it was "based on a partial, biased and one sided depiction of realities on the ground.".[22] In May 2012, the EU council stressed its "deep concern about developments on the ground which threaten to make a two-state solution impossible'.[23]

On 29 November 2012, the UN General Assembly voted by 138 to 9, with 46 abstentions to recognize Palestine as a "non-member observer state". On the following day, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu announced the building of 3,000 new homes on land to the east of East Jerusalem, in an area referred to as "E-1".[24] The move was immediately criticized by several countries, including the United States, with Israeli ambassadors being personally called for meetings with government representatives in the UK, France and Germany, among others. Israel's decision to build the homes was described by the Obama administration as "counterproductive", while Australia said that the building plans "threaten the viability of a two-state solution". This is because they claim the proposed E-1 settlement would physically split the lands under the control of the Palestinian National Authority in two, as the extent of the PNA's authority does not extend all the way to the River Jordan and the Dead Sea.[25][26][27][28][29]

Settlements in the West Bank

The UN resolutions affirm the illegality of settlements in West Bank, including East Jerusalem.[30] Proposals have been offered[by whom?] for over 50 post-evacuation compensation of settlers for abandoned property, as occurred following Israel's withdrawal of settlements from Gaza in 2005 and from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982.[31] Some settlers in those previous withdrawals were forcibly removed by the IDF.

Public opinion in Israel and Palestine

Many Palestinians and Israelis, as well as the Arab League,[32] have stated that they would accept a two-state solution based on 1949 Armistice Agreements, more commonly referred to as the "1967 borders". In a 2002 poll conducted by PIPA, 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.[33] A 2013 Gallup poll found 70% of Palestinians in the West Bank and 48% of Palestinians in Gaza Strip, together with 52% of Israelis supporting "an independent Palestinian state together with the state of Israel".[34]

Support for a two state solution varies according to the way the question is phrased. Some Israeli journalists suggest that the Palestinians are unprepared to accept a Jewish State on any terms.[35][36] 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."[37] 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".[38]

In a 2007 poll, almost three quarters of the Palestinian respondents in the West Bank and Gaza Strip approved either a binational or two-state solution; 46% preferred the two-state solution, and 26% preferred the binational solution.[39] Support is lower among younger Palestinians; U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice noted: "Increasingly, the Palestinians who talk about a two-state solution are my age."[40] A survey taken before the outbreak of fighting in 2014 by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy found that 60 percent of Palestinians say the goal of their national movement should be "to work toward reclaiming all of historic Palestine from the river to the sea" compared to just 27 percent who endorse the idea that they should work "to end the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and achieve a two state solution." WINEP says that "this is a new finding compared to similar (but not identical) questions asked in the past, when support for a two-state solution typically ranged between 40–55 percent".[41]

The two-state solution also enjoys majority support in Israeli polls although there has been some erosion to its prospects over time.[42] A 2014 Haaretz poll asking "Consider that in the framework of an agreement, most settlers are annexed to Israel, Jerusalem will be divided, refugees won't return to Israel and there will be a strict security arrangement, would you support this agreement?", only 35% of Israelis said yes.[41]

Other solutions

Another option is the binational solution, which could either be a twin regime federalist arrangement or a unitary state,[43] and the Allon Plan, also known as the "no-state solution."

Three-state solution

The Three-state solution has been proposed as another alternative. The New York Times[44] reported that Egypt and Jordan were concerned about 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.[45]

The status of Jewish Israeli settlers in the West Bank in a binational arrangement is in doubt.[according to whom?][citation needed]

Proposal of dual citizenship

A number of proposals for the granting of Palestinian citizenship or residential permits to Jewish settlers in return for the removal of Israeli military installations from the West Bank have been fielded by such individuals[46] as Arafat,[47] Ibrahim Sarsur[48] and Ahmed Qurei.[49]

Israeli Minister Moshe Ya'alon said in April 2010 that "just as Arabs live in Israel, so, too, should Jews be able to live in Palestine." … "If we are talking about coexistence and peace, why the [Palestinian] insistence that the territory they receive be ethnically cleansed of Jews?".[50]

The idea has been expressed by both advocates of the two-state solution[51] and supporters of the settlers and conservative or fundamentalist currents in Israeli Judaism[52] that, while objecting to any withdrawal, claim stronger links to the land than to the state of Israel.

See also


  2. Res. 3236 (XXIX). Question of Palestine, United Nations General Assembly, 22 November 1974
  3. Debate/Vote 2296th General Assembly Plenary Meeting, United Nations General Assembly, 22 November 1974
  4. 65/16. Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine, United Nations General Assembly
  5. General Assembly – GA/11460
  6. Mark A. Tessler. A History of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 1994, page 718
  7. How Not to Make Peace in the Middle East, Hussein Agha and Robert Malley, The New York Review of Books. Retrieved Jan. 9, 2009
  8. Swedenburg, Ted (1988) "The Role of the Palestinian Peasantry in the Great Revolt 1936–1939". in Islam, Politics, and Social Movements, edited by Edmund Burke III and Ira Lapidus. Berkeley: University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-06868-8 pp 189–194 & Marvin E. Gettleman, Stuart Schaar (2003) The Middle East and Islamic World Reader, Grove Press, ISBN 0-8021-3936-1 pp 177–181
  9. Pappé Ilan (2004) A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-55632-5
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  12. Ayoob, Mohammed. The Middle East in world politics. 1981, page 90
  13. Ḥusayn Āghā, Shai Feldman, Aḥmad Khālidī, Zeev Schiff. Track-II diplomacy: lessons from the Middle East. 2003, page 11
  14. Cattan, Henry. The Palestine question. 1988, page 307
  15. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People
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  18. Frontline: House of Saud
  19. US Depart of State – UN Security Council Resolution 1397
  20. "In Mideast Talks, Scant Hopes From the Beginning" news analysis by Ethan Bronner in The New York Times August 20, 2010, accessed August 21, 2010
  21. Hass, Amira. "EU report: Israel policy in West Bank endangers two-state solution." Haaretz, 12 January 2012.
  22. Ravid, Barak. "EU: Israel's policies in the West Bank endanger two-state solution." Haaretz, 14 May 2012.
  23. EU Council, May 2012. [1].
  24. Israel Plans To Expand Settlements In East Jerusalem, West Bank NPR, 30 Nov 2012. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
  25. Israel takes a harder line, LA Times, 4 Dec 2012. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
  26. Australia joins countries criticizing settlements, Jerusalem Post, 4 Dec 2012. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
  27. Israel responds to UN vote by building more homes, Jewish News One (YouTube), 3 Dec 2012. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
  28. Israel to advance East Jerusalem building plans, USA Today, 4 Dec 2012. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
  29. Explaining Israel’s Reaction to the U.N.’s pro-Palestinian Vote, The Daily Beast/Newsweek, 3 Dec 2012. Retrieved 5 Dec 2012.
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  32. The Beirut Declaration: 2002 Arab League Peace Initiative (Full Text)
  33. Large Israeli and Palestinian Majorities Indicate Readiness for Two-State Solution Based on 1967 Borders
  35. "No Common Ground," By Jeffrey Goldberg, New York Times, May 20, 2009,
  36. "The No-State Solution ; Hamas cares more about Shariah than 'Palestine,'" Wall Street Journal, January 13, 2009 [2]
  37. BLANKLEY: The two-state 'solution' mirage, Time for reality-based diplomacy on Israel and Palestinians, Tony Blankley | Tuesday, May 19, 2009 [3]
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  41. 41.0 41.1
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  46. Let them stay in Palestine
  47. Arafat may allow Jewish settlers to stay in West Bank
  48. Arab MK: I would agree to grant settlers Palestinian citizenship
  49. PA: Settlers can become Palestinian citizens
  50. 'No need to remove any settlements' By Herb Keinon, Jerusalem Post, 16 April 2010
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Further reading

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

External links