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What is the Solution to the Israeli / Palestinian Problem?

Two states for two people, one state for two people, or keeping the status quo?

By Arkady Mamaysky

Considering the perspectives of the Israeli and Palestinian populations, and seeing the reality on the ground, a two-state solution seems like the best option for peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

I. The Media’s Perspective

Let's begin by briefly summarizing, in broad brush-strokes, the commonly-available information from the media on Arab and Israeli attitudes towards the existing situation.

A. Palestinian Arabs

1. A small minority agree on a two-state solution in order to have a peaceful life and prosperity, but they seek a solution that's based on disproportionate compromises from the Israeli side.

2. A significant number of the politicians and general population would agree to a one-state solution, hoping that it will eventually become a Palestinian state.

3. The great majority want the whole land “from the river to the sea,” getting rid of the Jews and with Israel our of existence.

B. Israelis

1. A very small group of ignorant fanatics object to Israel’s existence on religious grounds. Their representatives even shook hands with Ahmadinejad.

2. Part of the Israeli population, especially its orthodox citizens, is against giving any land to Arabs, arguing that it is historically Jewish land that was given to us by God.

3. A significant part of the Israeli population opposes giving any land to Arabs because, based on Israel's experience with Gaza and South Lebanon, they believe giving away land will never bring peace but only endanger Israel.

4. A sizable number of Israelis, based on the existing reality on the ground, accept that the land belongs to both people.

5. The majority of Israelis would prefer that the whole historical land of Eretz Israel would belong to the Jews, but they would gladly agree to share the land with Arabs by creating a Palestinian state -- if doing so would bring peace and security to Israel and lead to Arab recognition of The Jewish state.

II. A Strange “Occupation”

Many call the present Israeli/Palestinian situation an “occupation.” But isn’t it a strange occupation when the occupied have their own government, access to international organizations and representation in those organizations, the freedom to spread anti-Israel propaganda, the right to brainwash children to hate Jews, and so on? [1]

Isn’t it a strange occupation where the Prime Minister of the “occupying” power is practically begging the President of the “occupied” entity to negotiate a solution, but to no avail?

What could be the Palestinian-Arab leadership's logic for avoiding negotiations?

III. Exploring Potential Solutions and Outcomes

A. Two-State Solution

For Palestinians, this would mean giving up the idea of having the whole land for themselves, recognizing Israel as a Jewish state, and agreeing on security arrangements for the Jewish state. This is not what they want and not the outcome for which they brainwash the masses.

B. One-State Solution

One state for two people, in a relatively short historical time, might result in an Arab state with a Jewish minority (most likely a persecuted Jewish minority). This is an outcome the Palestinians would willingly accept, but they realize that Israel will not agree to it.

C. Status Quo

The status quo might eventually lead to the same outcome as a one-state solution.

IV. Why Palestinians Avoid Negotiations

In the Palestinian leadership’s minds, why not wait for the status quo to cause the same outcome as a one-state solution, even if it takes a very long time? In the meantime, they initiate as many anti-Israel resolutions as possible in international organizations like the UN, glorify terrorists, and brainwash their children to hate and kill Jews. They also try to force Israel to accept a solution that is favorable to Palestinian Arabs through international pressure orchestrated by Arab countries. [2]

V. Position of Overwhelming Majority of Israelis & Israeli Government

A one-state solution or keeping the status quo might eventually lead to an Arab state with a Jewish minority. Even now, the status quo creates a lot of well-known problems for Israel.

Even assuming that Jews will be able to keep a small majority, they will have to coexist in one state with a very large, hostile Arab population. Right now, the total Arab population in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza is estimated around 6.17 million.

A two-state solution with reliable provisions for Israeli security and Arab recognition of the Jewish state would be the solution that Israel is ready to accept, despite the difficult compromises that are required. [3]

VI. Is There a Way to Solve the Present Dead End Situation?

If the other side does not want to negotiate, it is possible (but very unlikely) that Israelis can find a way to unilaterally separate from the Arabs, without repeating the Gaza experience and while being extremely fair to the needs of Palestinian Arabs.

Maybe the help of the new American administration can lead both sides out of the present dead end situation. Perhaps it's not as unbelievable as it sounds. Let's hope.


[1] Israeli efforts to counter Arab propaganda and present the truth to the world and to the Palestinian population do not appear sufficiently effective. Maybe a ministry of information was not such a bad idea.

[2] In the existing status quo, Palestinians are very much against Israeli settlement activity. So why don’t they accept the invitation to negotiate a two-state solution in order to establish a Palestinian state, which will ultimately stop settlement activity?

Following recent Security Council resolution, I called some Israeli friends. This is how they interpret the Palestinian position: "We (Palestinians) don't want to recognize you or negotiate with you, but we do want to control your behavior through international pressure."

[3] Two questions come up about compromises regarding the settlements:

A. Wouldn’t it make sense for Israelis to keep only the settlements adjacent to Israel proper with a fair exchange of land with Palestinians?

B. Does it make sense, based on religious and patriotic reasons, to keep settlements deep in the midst of the Palestinian population knowing that Arabs are against them and that Jews who live there will be surrounded by a hostile population? Haven’t we had enough of the “pleasant” experience of living in the midst of hostile neighbors?
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