Despite the fact that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a
protracted and intractable one, and probably because of that, many
models for future options for resolution have been presented. Among
these options, the "two states for two peoples" solution has gained
the widest public support, both in Israel and Palestine, as well as
internationally. This issue of the Palestine-Israel Journal will
examine the viability of the two-state solution and present other
possibilities that remain on the table, including: non-Palestinian
state options such as annexation of territories by Israel;
bilateral and trilateral options; the one-state option; and various
international involvement options.
The options that exclude a Palestinian state include: the
separation between the West Bank and Gaza; establishing
"city-states" in the West Bank (Bantustans); a long-term autonomy;
and a Palestinian state with provisional borders according to Phase
II of the Road Map. A long-term ceasefire (hudna) suggested by
Hamas and by some Israeli conflict management scholars is another
proposal that falls short of resolving the conflict.
The annexation options include the annexation of the West Bank or
part of it to Israel or to Jordan and bringing back the Egyptian
administration of the Gaza Strip of 1948-1967.
Trilateral and bilateral options include a
Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian Benelux-type arrangement and an
Israeli-Palestinian confederation - essentially two-state options
involving federal models aimed at enabling greater stability - as
well as a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation. Models for the
one-state option include a bi-national state and a democratic state
for all its citizens; the difference is in how they relate to
issues of demography.
The options involving international control include: an
international mandate in Palestine; an international interim
administration preparing for sovereignty, e.g., the East Timor
model; and various degrees of international presence for
peacekeeping, civilian administration, policing, etc.
The "two states for two peoples" proposal remains the primary
framework for resolving the conflict. It is being seriously
contested due to the changing facts on the ground that call into
question the viability of an independent Palestinian state on the
territory that remains, dissected into islands by Israeli
settlements and bypass roads. Palestinian negotiators in the past
accepted the principle of territorial swaps to enable some of those
settlement realities in areas adjacent to Israel to be included in
Israel. However, with the continued expansion of settlements, the
feasibility of a two-state solution based on Palestinian statehood
within the 1967 borders, alongside the State of Israel, becomes
more and more questionable.
The articles in this issue examine several of these options, in an
attempt to clarify how to move beyond the current stagnation and
progress towards peace.
Israel's separation barrier in Ramallah District, West Bank. (Photo