Council for Strategic Affairs

Council for Strategic Affairs

West Asian Mirage – The Two State Solution Debated (Israel, Hamas and The Arabs)

By Nakshatra Jagannath & Dr. A Adityanjee

Background

In the history of the world, there was never a geo-political entity or a state or a nation called Palestine. The concerned region in West Asia which has been under continuous manufactured turmoil for decades has always been a part of other empires or states. After the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, this region was given by the League of Nations in 1922 to the British Empire to administer as a British mandate. The Israel-Palestine issue, for far too long, has been a burning topic of discussion and debate in diplomatic circles, in the media, and in intellectual lobbies. However, this enormous scale of discussions even in the higher echelons of diplomacy has been in vain over the past. The dichotomy between the aspirations of Israel and Arabs of Palestine is ever growing, and a workable solution cannot be framed by diplomats and lobbies of intellectuals who claim to be guardians of peace. Unfortunately, concerned country people have never cared to read between the lines of the ongoing conflict or tried to gain an on ground situational analysis.

Introduction to One State or Two State Dialogue Models were modeled as 

The debate whether one-state or two-state solution is the way forward has been stretched beyond without constructive contribution to on ground action plans. To understand this further we need to critically discuss briefly the two concepts namely One-State Solution and Two-State Solution

One State, and Two Occupied Territories

The reality of West Asia from 1948 onwards is very different. We have seen variations of “One State, Two Occupied Territories” scenario from 1948 onwards.

    • Phase I:

During 1948-1967, Gaza strip was occupied by Egypt and the West Bank was occupied by Jordan. During this time, there was no call for vacating the occupation of these two occupied territories by Arabs while they still wanted to destroy Israel.

    • Phase II:

Situation changed drastically in 1967 when 13 Arab countries attacked Israel simultaneously and a seven days’ war ensued. After the defeat of Arab countries in 1967 war, these two territories were captured and occupied by Israel along with Golan Heights in Syria. The Yom Kippur war of 1973 did not change the ground situation in any way despite Israel getting a bloody nose in the surprise attack. It continued till 2005 when Israel vacated the Gaza strip in a geo-political experiment to allow the residents of that area local autonomy.

One State, One Occupied Territory, One Autonomous Territory

Since year 2005 onwards, we witnessed One State (Israel), One Occupied Territory (West Bak) and one autonomous territory (Gaza) situation. Israel not only vacated Gaza unilaterally, but also removed its armed forces, military bases, and dismantled all the Jewish settlements by force. Even the Jewish cemeteries were dismantled, and Jewish dead bodies were relocated from Gaza. More than 120,000 Gazans were given work-permits to work in Israel. However, this geo-political experiment seems to have failed because of Hamas’ control of Gaza and its preference for war mongering instead of state building. Hamas used the time and international fiscal and humanitarian aid from 2006 onwards for preparation of a major war in a deceptive manner. It appears that UN agencies colluded with Hamas in maintaining this deception while they knew that Hamas was misappropriating financial aid and digging tunnels for war.

One State, Two Protectorates Territories

Any future peaceable solution must be predicated on the need for security for the state of Israel and containment of the Arab terrorist gangs that call for genocide of the Jews and annihilation of the state of Israel. Israel will continue to exist as a modern pluralistic, democratic state. Its security can not be jeopardized with establishment of a militarily jingoistic racist Arab state that will be sworn to the destruction of Israel. The Arabs living in the region can be granted two self-governing, autonomous mini statelets without security and military capabilities that could become UN protectorates. Israel should be willing to vacate the occupation of West Bank. Such two UN protectorates can be allowed to run their own civil affairs but must not be allowed to militarize in any way. An Arab multilateral peacekeeping force will be needed under the UN auspices. Perhaps, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan can provide such a peacekeeping force to maintain law and order in these two UN protectorates while ensuring that no future terrorist organization takes birth in these two territories. Such an option would be vehemently opposed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and its regional acolytes including the Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. This might be the only peaceable solution that takes care of the interests of both people without causing further wars.

Dialogue Models were modeled as One State or Two State Solution

The future is analyzed in normalizing of ties to a minimum agreeable point by both the sides. This is not an era for perpetual warfare; Nor for terrorist organizations being allowed to control a state and commit genocide as Hamas is continuing to do with each passing day so with evolving dialogue models have led to defined conceptualized solutions. Let us discuss those solutions further

One State Solution: One-state solution is the preferred option of the Arabs and Muslims living in this region. They wish to wipe out the state of Israel by their clarion call of “From the River to Sea; Palestine Would be Free”. Unfortunately, for them, the state of Israel will not write its own obituary, ever.

One-State Solution implies de facto merging the current state of Israel, West Bank, and Gaza into one single political unit to be administered by a legitimate government. The Arab Population in this conceptualized single state will far overrun the Jewish population thereby leading to an end of the Jewish state as we know it. While others argue that Israel will or rather would have played along the voting rights of Arabs, thereby granting them only to the Jews at the cost of the democratic fabric being compromised. This solution will create second class citizens of Arabs in a one-state solution controlled by the Jews. Currently, Israel has 20% of its population who are Arabs and have voting rights and are not second-class citizens. At the end of the day, it is people who make a state succeed or fail and not the borders or the system of governance. We need to understand, acknowledge, and reflect upon the fact that the post October 7th, 2023, ground situation is very different. A single unified state becomes totally untenable with the current war between Hamas and Israel and lack of trust between Jews and Arabs.

Two States Solution: The Two State Solution on the other hand promotes the idea of two distinct and sovereign states co-existing peacefully devoid of any bloodshed. Various lobbies have echoed and supported this solution with the US leading the list. But the workability of this plan is under serious doubt. Two state solution has been offered at least five times to the Arabs living in the region. Every time it was rejected without serious consideration. The first time it was offered as part of the Belfour Declaration of 1917. During the period of 1917 to 1948, the Zionist organizations were purchasing land in the region and its was resisted by the Arabs violently. In 1948, the UN plan to partition the region into two states was neither accepted by the local Arabs nor by the neighboring Arab countries. Oslo accords that were signed in Norway between Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin were pooh-poohed later by Yasser Arafat as akin to the treaty of Hudaybiyyah indicating that he had no intention to carry the peace process to the final step. In year 2000, during the Camp David Talks, then US President Bill Clinton offered Yasser Arafat a two-state solution with a Palestinian state comprising of the Gaza Strip, 94% of the West bank and capital as East Jerusalem. Still, Yasser Arafat did not budge from his refusal despite staying in Camp David for negotiations for a period of 14 days. In 2008 again, a two-state solution was offered to President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmood Abbas aka Abu Mazin and the option was refused again.

The presence of gory terrorist organizations like Hamas, the Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the region is one of the biggest impediments to the solution, or even further negotiations over the same. Moreover, the constant swing of various administrations in Israel from lending a listening ear to the two-state solution to out-rightly rejecting the idea of a Palestinian state is another impediment. Israel has seen a series of unstable democratic governments, fractured democratic mandates and internal civil turmoil in the country with the current Prime Minister facing legal troubles. Redrawing of borders, control over Jerusalem, and settlements in West Bank, and professed right to return have posed serious problems in the negotiations for decades.

Other important actors in this regard are the Organization of Islamic countries (OIC), Arab League and the Islamic Republic of Iran that have prevented solutions in the past. Islamic Republic of Iran has nurtured proxy non-state actors that have carried out terror attacks in the region. Saudi Arabia, that is virtually the dominant power in the region, along with Jordan and Egypt are concerned about the refugee crisis. When we delve deeper into Israel-Middle East relations, we understand how far Israel has come along to improve relations with countries in the region, with the support of the United States. But we need to understand any amount of goodwill in this regard will naturally dissipate and have a negative irreversible reaction if Israel continues its hostility towards a future Palestinian entity. This is evident from the temporary break in Israel-Saudi Arabia cooperation talks and eventual rapprochement. Once the talks are resumed, naturally the Palestine issue will resurface on the table for perusal by both sides. Saudi Arabia has maintained that Palestine must become an independent sovereign state. And for any future cooperation with them, Israel will have to accept this demand in the long run to maintain relations with Saudi Arabia. Israel hopes that the road for peace with other countries in the region passes through Saudi Arabia. All those who were once hostile towards Israel and wanted it to be removed from the face of the world may change their attitude if Saudi Arabia signs a peace treaty with Israel.

A two-state solution will guarantee and re-assure Jordan and Egypt that they will not be burdened with influx of refugees from Gaza and West Bank majorly. Refugee influx remains a possibility and is still not off the charts. With Hamas showing its true fangs and indulging in a ruthless mass murder, committing a genocide of civilians and sexual atrocities on women and children in parts of Israel, the moral support for a two-state solution seems to be diminishing. It appears that Arabs living in this region are not serious in solving the problem with a two-state solution and have consistently put roadblocks instead. They have destroyed the pathway for such a peaceful solution of co-existence of two nations from emerging.

Nakshatra Jagannath
CSA Training Fellow at the Council for Strategic Affairs. He is based in Kolkata, India.

Dr. A Adityanjee
President of the Council for Strategic Affairs. He is based in Cleveland, OH, USA.

Conclusion

However, To conclude, It is an open fact that diplomacy has failed to reach a mutually agreeable solution over the last few decades. However, such a novel proposition can form the cornerstone of future peace instead of disbanding diplomatic channels and turning a blind eye to violence of enormous magnitude daily

The first step should be demilitarization of Gaza strip and allied areas including the West Bank, and strictest measures towards disarming, and weakening Hamas if not eradicating it in the region. Terrorist organizations like Hamas should not be given a space on the table in decision-making process, The second step should be bringing on board leaders especially in the West Bank who can think along the lines of resolution of conflict and not otherwise. Only after actuation of these two steps, can one remotely think of negotiations to change the status-quo and reach the long wished-for peaceful solution for co-existence. The cherished two-state solution in some scholarly views has died in practice, and only remains in theory. There is no point flogging a dead horse. But, to change the blood-stained status-quo, it is imperative to take a gamble on this new theoretical idea of one state and two UN protectorates.

The entire global community looks at the region anxiously but with hopes of a better future devoid of terror groups like Hamas. The status quo just cannot remain forever. Israel and various Palestinian factions must take every possible step to bring back basic peace in the region and safeguard the lives of millions of innocent men, women, and children.

Agreeable conclusion is predicted as an era of ideas, innovations, and progress with an open question to resolve ” Can Peaceful process and effective diplomacy alone can really solve the ensuing crisis in the region? “.