An independent state for the Palestinians. It’s not just hardline Israelis opposing that idea – many Palestinians also reject it.
The two-state solution started getting mainstream credibility during the Oslo years. The idea was Israel would give up its 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and the Palestinians would give up its claim on the land captured by Israel in 1948 (Tel Aviv, Haifa – basically everywhere outside the West Bank and Gaza).
THE END OF THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION?
About ten years ago, there was talk in Israel that a two-state solution may soon be impossible. Here’s why…
Israel was expanding settlements in the Occupied West Bank at an alarming rate, and criss-crossing the territory with roads and water pipes for the exclusive use of Jews. The territory was being made into “Swiss Cheese” (believe it or not that was George Bush’s apt description). Palestinians could not travel between villages – or even from their home to their farm land – without crossing Israeli settler territory.
Israel wanted the land – but it faced a “demographic timebomb”. Everyone in Israel proper is allowed to vote in Israeli elections. But only Jews in the West Bank and Gaza can vote in Israeli elections – Muslims and Christians are blocked even though they’re ruled over from Israel. Israel knows that the longer it rules over these areas, the louder the calls will get for one-man one-vote (Ehud Olmert admitted that). One-man one-vote would mean a non-Jewish government coming to power (because Jews are a minority in Israel+West Bank+Gaza) and the end of the Zionist project.
And THAT is why Ariel Sharon “withdrew” from Gaza.
So Israel is in conflict with itself. It wants to consolidate control of the West Bank, which it believes it has a biblical right to live on. But at the same time, it has to let go of the West Bank because it contains too many non-Jews.
THE ONE STATE SOLUTION
So here’s the answer proposed by Jews and Palestinians: Palestinians drop their claims for a separate state in the West Bank and Gaza, and Israel gives all of them the vote. It’s the South African solution to the South African problem (according to Nelson Mandela).
Israel gains the territory it never imagined it could have. Palestine gains the land it used to have.
But to do that Israel would have to drop its status as a “Jewish state” – that means equal rights plus the vote for non-Jews.
In response to Mark – no, Jews wouldn’t have to change their religion or culture, but the state would have to change. Syria has a Muslim majority – but it is a secular state. America too has a Christian majority, but it has a secular nature. Compare these with Saudi Arabia, which is a Muslim state, and limits the rights of non-Muslims. In the same way, the State of Israel treats Jews and non-Jews differently.