Thursday, August 13, 2009

Is the Two State Solution Dead?

Here are some responses to this week's provocative New York Times op-ed on whether the Two-State solution remains a valid option, as compiled by the daily alert.

The Two-State Solution Doesn't Solve Anything - Hussein Agha and Robert Malley
Mr. Netanyahu underscores that Israel must be recognized as a Jewish state - and recalls that the conflict began before the West Bank or Gaza were occupied. Palestinians, in turn, reject recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, uphold the refugees' rights and maintain that if Israel wants real closure, it will need to pay with more than mere statehood. The conflict can be settled only by looking past the occupation to questions born in 1948 - Arab rejection of the newborn Jewish state and the dispossession and dislocation of Palestinian refugees.
Both positions enjoy broad support within their respective communities. Few Israelis quarrel with the insistence that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state. It encapsulates their profound aspiration, rooted in the history o f the Jewish people, for a fully accepted presence in the land of their forebears - for an end to Arab questioning of Israel's legitimacy, the specter of the Palestinian refugees' return and any irredentist sentiment among Israel's Arab citizens. Even fewer Palestinians take issue with the categorical rebuff of that demand, as the recent Fatah congress in Bethlehem confirmed. In their eyes, to accept Israel as a Jewish state would legitimize the Zionist enterprise that brought about their tragedy.
These stands run against the grain of a peace process whose central premise is that ending the occupation and establishing a viable Palestinian state will bring this matter to a close. It is hard today to imagine a resolution that does not entail two states. But two states may not be a true resolution if the roots of this clash are ignored.
Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St Antony's College, Oxford. Robert Malley, director of the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group, was special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs to President Clinton (1998-2001). (New York Times)

Questions About the Two-State Solution - Jeffrey Goldberg
Hussein Agha and Robert Malley make the following statement: "For years, virtually all attention has been focused on the question of a future Palestinian state, its borders and powers. As Israelis make plain by talking about the imperative of a Jewish state, and as Palestinians highlight when they evoke the refugees' rights, the heart of the matter is not necessarily how to define a state of Palestine. It is, as in a sense it always has been, how to define the State of Israel."
Events are moving me into the camp of people who believe there isn't an actual solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, and it seems as if events are moving Agha and Malley in this direction as well. But if they're arguing that the conflict will only end when Israel ceases to d efine itself as a Jewish state, they should say it outright. It's not an appealing notion - that there is room in the Middle East for twenty-three Muslim-majority states, but not room enough for one Jewish state. (Atlantic Monthly)

The One-State Solution Is a Fraud - Marty Peretz
Why the essential Jewish character of Israel should be problematic when all of the neighboring states define themselves as both Arab and Muslim is difficult to assess. (New Republic)

Israelis, Palestinians and History - David HarrisIn discussing a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, Agha and Malley stress dislocation and subsequent refugee status as core Palestinian grievances. But the Palestinians became refugees, in large measure, because of bad choices they made, especially rejecting the 1947 UN partition plan and joining a war to destroy the new State of Israel. Since then, the UN has protected the Palestinians by creating a separate agency, UNRWA, while all other refugees worldwide are under the mandate of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. A separate definition of refugee eligibility has been created for Palestinians, allowing their descendants, without limitation, to fall under the purview of UNRWA, thus perpetuating a culture of victimization.
Isn't it high time for the Palestinians to confront current realities and historical failures, and move on to embrace a pragmatic peace accord that promises a better future for all, Israelis and Palestinians alike?
The writer is executive director of the American Jewish Committee. (New York Times)

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