The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has become one of the most long-term struggles between two nations that started in the middle of the twentieth century. Unfortunately, all efforts aimed at stopping the conflict were overshadowed by the escalating collisions between the opposing sides. The two-state solution has been recognised as one of the most promising ways of dealing with the struggle between Palestinians and Israelis by leaders of various states and international organisations.
However, the realisation of this plan has turned out to be rather problematic. The analysis of the benefits and flaws of the two-state solution and the main factors influencing the possibility of its realisation reveals that there are low chances for its implementation due to the possibilities of discrimination of one of the nations’ rights and numerous failures of negotiations aimed at reaching agreement on it.
The Origins of Two-State Solution and Its Main Authors
The proposal for the creation of Jewish and Arab states in the Peel Commission report of 1937 and a similar proposal made in the UN Partition Plan in 1947 can be considered the predecessors of the two-state solution, which is about creating an independent state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel (Mahler & Mahler 2010, p. 50). The attention of the international community was again directed towards the Israeli-Palestinian question after the Arab-Israeli war in 1967.
That year the United Nations Security Council passed resolution 242 appealing to the conflicting sides to withdraw from the territory of the opponents and proclaim the sovereignty of both states (Quigley 2013, p. 111). However, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) formed in 1964 criticised the resolution and started accepting the idea of two-state solution only in the mid-seventies when the General Assembly affirmed the Palestinian rights and accepted resolution “Peaceful settlement of the question of Palestine”, which became the framework for the solution (Hussein 2015, p. 56).
Since that time, the idea of implementation of the solution has been supported by the Western and Arab countries many times. The United States, Canada, the countries of Western Europe and most members of the Arab League support the solution while Iran and Israel oppose it. Several agreements and initiatives supported the idea of the two-state solution, including Arab Peace Initiative, Lieberman Plan, Israeli Peace Initiative, Palestinian Prisoners’ Document, Geneva Accord, etc. However, the endless negotiations between Israel, the Palestinian side, and third parties continue to fail to reach any agreement till nowadays.
Main Advantages and Achievements of the Two-State Solution
The main advantage of the two-state solution is that it is aimed at providing the equal rights of both sides of the conflict. The solution is supposed to help the participants to find a consensus enabling both of them to function as independent states. The potential consequences of accepting such plan should include the formation of effective governmental systems, the organisation of well-structured social services, and satisfaction of essential needs of the population.
Promotion of the constructive dialogue between Israeli and Palestinian sides can be considered the main achievement of the two-state solution. The Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988 was largely promoted by the resolution based on the two-state solution (Farsakh 2013, p. 281). Therefore, the contribution of the discussed resolution to the beginning of the process of eliminating the collisions between two sides should not be underestimated.
The idea of the two-state solution became the basis of numerous negotiations aimed at bringing the sides of the conflicts to peace. Besides, this solution promoted the attention of the international community to the discrimination of rights of the Palestinian population, and the continuing building of Israel’s settlements in the West Bank. The solution encouraged the international unions and organizations to oppose Israel’s aggression and even recognize Palestine as “non-member observer state” in 2012.
Most of the Israeli and Palestinian population accepts the solution as the best method of dealing with the conflicts (On Palestinian Attitudes 2007). The fact that the solution enjoys majority support among the population of Israel demonstrates that this idea became the key to encouraging the local population consider Palestinian Authority as the one deserving a separate state.
Main Disadvantages and Failures of the Two-State Solution
Many specialists criticize the two-state solution due to various factors. First of all, the division of such a small piece of land can be rather complicated due to the high possibility of violating the rights of one of the sides. The two-state solution could be rather suitable in case the two sides agree upon the exact territories that should belong to each of the states. However, such agreement cannot be reached for a long time due to endless pretensions of both sides.
Each time the European or American diplomats try to create the plan that can be used for settling the borders, one of the sides of the conflicts claim that the proposal is biased and one-sided and will lead to discrimination of its population. Therefore, the two-state solution appears to be good in theory but rather difficult to be implemented in reality.
The flaws mentioned above have resulted in numerous failures of the attempts to employ the solution and end the conflict. Both sides remain hostile to each other and continue to implement strategies aimed at broadening their rights and territories. Israel continues settlement activities in West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and puts a direct threat to the welfare of Palestinians (Efrat 2006, p. 98). As such actions of Israel provoke an outburst of indignation among the Palestinians, more collisions evolve, which lead to a significant decrease in the popularity of two-state solution among the local population.
During the recent years, a considerable number of locals has refused from considering the two-state solution a viable decision. Many specialists claim that Palestinian population continues to remain the victims of colonisation while Israel uses a strategy typical for a coloniser (Abunimah 2014). Such situation cannot serve as a fruitful ground for a discussed solution until the position of Israel is changed. That is the reason so many negotiations organised by foreign powers fail to achieve an agreement. The Oslo Accords culminated in the Camp David Summit 2000 appeared to be a huge step to peace in the region, but they were followed by an outbreak of dissatisfaction of Palestinian population resulting in the Second Intifada (Weinberger 2007, p. 139; Peters & Newman 2013, p. 69).
The discussion held by U.S. and Saudi Arabia leaders also failed to make the conflicting sides find a consensus and accept the help of foreign powers in the organisation of final fruitful negotiations. The summit in Annapolis in 2007 and the peace talks organized by John Kerry in 2013-2014 also failed to reach any agreement (Amrow 2014). Such examples illustrate that even though two-state solution appears the best variant for the international community, such strategy failed to become accepted by the sides of the conflict due to numerous controversies in vital issues it cannot overcome.
One more constraint contributing to numerous failures of negotiations on the two-state solution was the division of Palestinian Authority into two groups controlled by different parties – Fatah and Hamas. When such a problematic region having numerous questionable issues related to the division of a small piece of land faces further subdivision of the participants of conflict, the implementation of a two-state solution becomes even more unrealistic.
Alternatives to the Two-State Solution
As the attempts to make an agreement on the two-state solution continue to fail, the alternative ways of dealing with the conflict appear. One of such ways is a one-state solution aimed at gathering the opposing sides under one sovereignty and providing them with equal rights (Abunimah 2014). Though such variant is supported by the minority of Palestinians, many specialists view it as an effective way of ending the collisions. Israeli’s population mainly rejects such solution considering it a threat to their independence and national identity (Bar 2014).
“Jordanian Option” is another alternative to the two-state solution and it is based on the assumption that instead of forming a new state, Palestinian territories should unite with Jordan or Egypt (Zanotti 2010). However, neither Jordan nor Egypt is ready to accept responsibility for Palestinian territories and are willing to help to regulate the situation in West Bank and Gaza.
Israeli Unilateralism is another alternative based on the belief that Israeli population should be separated from the Palestinians by a barrier able to provide security (Susser 2012, p. 70). Such solution is supposed to promote the withdrawal of Israeli settlers from the West Bank and end the occupation of certain territories.
The analysis of the origins of two-state solutions, its main achievements, and failures reveals that though such option appears to be largely supported by the foreign community, the disagreements between the Israeli and Palestinian sides make its implementation rather difficult to be realised. Many obstacles, including the Israeli’s settlements in the West Bank, the fear of the Palestinians to lose the territories, etc. have led to numerous failures of the negotiations aimed at employing the two-state solution.
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