OpinionIsrael-Palestinian Conflict

‘The two-state solution’: A figment of the Western imagination

For the Palestinians, the “two-state solution” is just a prelude to destroying Israel, yet Israel and the United States continue to pursue it

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO head Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo Accords, Sept. 13, 1993. Photo by Vince Musi/The White House.
Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, U.S. President Bill Clinton and PLO head Yasser Arafat at the signing of the Oslo Accords, Sept. 13, 1993. Photo by Vince Musi/The White House.
Ken Cohen
Ken Cohen
Ken Cohen is editor of Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which publishes educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship to the United States.

The two-state solution—most recently advanced yet again by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the Negev Summit—is a figment of the Biden administration’s imagination that is of no value to the pursuit of true Middle East peace. In fact, it will only cause more blood to flow in Israel. Based on Palestinian leaders’ pronouncements and recent Palestinian opinion polls, the danger of the two-state solution lies in how the Palestinians intend to make use of it: They plan to pursue the destruction of Israel following an interim period of “two states.”

With its Palestine Partition Plan of November 1947, the U.N. General Assembly tried for a peaceful resolution to the blood-letting between Arabs and Jews in Palestine. The plan was often referred to as a two-state solution. (In fact, two states and an internationalized zone in Jerusalem were proposed.)

We now know that it wasn’t to be: Like most of the hapless efforts by the United Nations, the proposal simply poured gasoline on the Palestine fire. Israel has suffered numerous terrorist attacks and wars ever since, with little sign of any resolution.

Like the tango, it takes two to peacefully partition. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Arabs and their allies wore combat boots, not dancing shoes to the party. The Arabs’ genocidal war on the newborn State of Israel failed. The Palestinians were left stateless, as Jordan and Egypt swallowed Judea and Samaria (known under Jordanian rule as the West Bank), the Gaza Strip and a large portion of the supposedly internationalized Jerusalem.

The United Nations did nothing to stop the Arabs’ blatant violation of its good intentions.

In the 1960s, the world body finally tried to enforce Middle East peace, deploying a peace-keeping force to the Sinai. But when Egypt told them to leave, along with announcing a plan to murder every Jew in Israel, it withdrew.

Miraculously, Israel survived the 1967 Six-Day War, and despite numerous wars and terror attacks since has gone from strength to strength, even while engaged in an utterly futile pursuit of the two-state solution for decades. Why have the United Nations, the United States and Israel failed in realizing this two-state nirvana? It’s primarily because for each party, the two-state solution has meant completely different things.

For Israel, which has offered numerous peace proposals over the decades, the two-state solution means a Jewish state and an Arab state, with some land swaps and permanent borders drawn for national security.

  • Israel doesn’t much care about the nature of a Palestinian state—as long as it lives in peace. Israel is indifferent to internal Palestinian societal decisions—as long as their violent internecine disputes don’t spill over into Israel.
  • Israel expects the Palestinian state to ingather the millions of descendants of exiled (or self-exiled) Palestinians, with Israel only admitting a relative handful of true refugees. Israel plans for most Israeli Arabs to remain an organic part of the Jewish state.
  • Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel. The Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa complex will guarantee free access to visitors of any faith. The Muslim Waqf will continue to exercise control of the mount, subject to Israeli security needs.

For the Palestinians, the two-state solution has little in common with Israel’s vision, and Palestinian leaders have repeatedly demonstrated this disconnect by walking away every time Israel and the United States have made two-state solution offers, decade after decade.

  • The Palestinians’ land demands are based on a fantasy map created by Egyptian and Jordanian conquest—using so-called “armistice borders”—after the 1948 war.
  • Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas has stated, “Israel will not keep one centimeter of Palestinian land from June 4, 1967, under any agreement.” Note that Abbas declares land that was never Palestinian to be the starting point of negotiations. He continued, “Israel is just a nation of Jews and others. We will not go one step further in recognizing Israel,” which disregards his own Basic Law, which openly declares Palestine to be an “Islamic State” based on “Sharia Law.”
  • The Palestinian state, unlike Israel, won’t welcome its 5-million-strong diaspora’s homecoming. Palestinians demand that both their refugee-camp dwellers and the large, successful Palestinian diaspora in the West “return” to Israel, where most have never set foot. Jewish residency—in the unabashed apartheid tradition—will be prohibited in the new Palestinian state, according to Palestinian leaders.
  • A Palestine-appointed religious authority can be expected to enact further restrictions on Jewish Temple Mount and Western Wall access, as Abbas has frequently demanded. Abbas has stated his disgust at “filthy Jewish feet defiling our holy Al-Aqsa.” Based on history, Palestinians would also bar Jews from Hebron and Joseph’s Tomb near Nablus.

The Biden administration, Blinken and U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides have offered little meaningful context when describing their version of the two-state solution.

  • Lacking any concrete terms for a peace plan and unwilling to make any demands on the recalcitrant Palestinians, they have made do with chastising Israel for not accepting whatever the Palestinians want.
  • As former President Bill Clinton learned with the Oslo Accords and at Camp David, the Palestinians, then and now, see little reason to give an inch on any version of the two-state solution.
  • According to U.S. expectations, only Israel’s willingness to make sacrifices for peace will enable any version of the two-state solution.

All of these points render the phrase “two-state solution” nothing but a naive figment of the Western imagination, empty of meaning or force.

Why would the Palestinians, proposing to create a brand-new nation, demand that their claimed refugees—of whom perhaps 50,000 are still alive—along with their millions of descendants, flood into Israel, rather than their new, needy homeland?

There are two answers, each showing why the use of the phrase “two-state solution” should be banned:

  • The Palestinians want to use their version of the two-state solution in order to wage war with Israel, demographically alter the Israeli electorate, and subvert the very nature of Israeli society.
  • As Abbas, the P.A.’s Basic Law and the Hamas Charter have made clear, the two-state solution is intended to provide the Palestinians a sovereign state as a temporary platform for the eradication of Israel.

The phrase “two-state solution” is no longer helpful or clarifying. It is just noise.

Above all, the Palestinians need to get realistic and acknowledge their desperate, increasingly unfavorable negotiating position. Achieving two states will require humility on their part, and the ability to make serious compromises before they lose more leverage … and more territory.

Ken Cohen is co-editor of the Hotline published by Facts and Logic About the Middle East (FLAME), which offers educational messages to correct lies and misperceptions about Israel and its relationship with the United States.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war. JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you. The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support? Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates