On July 11, 2007 the Palestine-Israel Journal (PIJ) held a roundtable discussion at its offices in East Jerusalem on Future Options. The Palestinian participants were Dr. Munther Dajani, chair of the Faculty of Arts at al-Quds University; and Dr. Walid Salem, director of the Society of Democracy and Community Development. The Israeli participants were Dr. Meron Benvenisti, former deputy mayor of Jerusalem; and Dr. Ron Pundak, director general of the Peres Center for Peace and one of the architects of the Oslo and Geneva Accords. The debate was moderated by Ziad AbuZayyad, PIJ co-editor; and Gershon Baskin, co-director of the Israeli-Palestinian Centre for Research and Information (IPCRI); and attended by Hillel Schenker PIJ co-editor.

Ziad AbuZayyad: I want to start with the question: Do you believe that the one-state option is now more relevant than any time before?

Gershon Baskin: If I can tag on to that question: Is the two-state solution dead? Is it still valid?

Ron Pundak: The idea is definitely more exposed now, meaning that more people are speaking about it, but I don't think it makes it more relevant. It is more on the table because people are sick and tired of the current situation and are looking for other options, such as the Jordanian option, the Egyptian option for Gaza and the one-state option. But I do not see this option being given any thought within the Israeli public. Among the intellectuals in Israel and Palestine, it is being discussed, but it is not at all spilling over into the public at large. Personally, I am very much against this option, because politically and ideologically, it is wrong for the Palestinians and the Israelis. It will lead to a chaotic situation which will not lead to a solution, just to a deterioration of the current situation. So yes, people are discussing it more, but no, it is not more relevant.

Meron Benvenisti: The question of whether a one-state solution is relevant or not depends on how you look at it: Is your question prescriptive or descriptive? You should look at it as a descriptive situation of the status quo. We've been looking at one state since at least the beginning of the 1980s - except that it isn't working. We are hiding behind slogans that are totally irrelevant and obsolete, such as "occupation," which means it is temporary, therefore it will just go away; or different notions of the two-state solution, which is now the slogan of Mr. Olmert, Mr. Sharon and the Israeli right.
And what we are facing now is one state, governed and dominated by the Israeli side, who rules over five Palestinian subgroups, and for each there is a different approach and a different Palestinian reaction - a situation typical not of two sides, but of one multi-communal state, one geopolitical entity that is controlled by one ethnic group. The five subgroups are: Israeli Arabs, who have their own agenda and are dealing with Israel on a separate track and are turning their backs on the Palestinians as far as their immediate interests are concerned; the Jerusalem Arabs on this side of the fence, with a different agenda, different worries forced upon them by the Israelis; the Gazans, and now it is especially clear that Israel has forced on them a different reaction, and they have to come up with their own policy vis-à-vis the Israelis; the West Bankers; and the Palestinian diaspora. Not that the Palestinians have accepted it; maybe they have no way to resist it - but this is a fact that we should take into consideration.
That is why the two-state solution is not the opposite of a one-state solution; it is just a description of the status quo. Not that Israel dictates the situation, but the whole politics of it is not a politics of two separate entities. What we have, therefore, is a one-state non-solution, the opposite of a solution: a condition. The reality today is not to seek a two-state solution. I am especially wary when I hear that Mr. Olmert is now championing a two-state solution. The two-state solution we fought for 25 years ago probably has a different meaning today; he means a Bantustan, and he is waiting for the Palestinians to accept that Bantustan.

Ziad AbuZayyad: You were the first to say about this situation that it is an irreversible situation. What were your feelings when Sharon evacuated settlements from the Gaza Strip and showed that dismantling settlements was possible?

Meron Benvenisti: I was against it. It was a trick based on the formal importance of settlements. He wanted to have a precedent; this is how he wanted to develop the solution to the Palestinian question - by creating a Bantustan, separating that Bantustan from the West Bank. The settlements are only one aspect of Israeli control. There are the land, the roads, the military system. The expression of Zionism is not in the settlements themselves anymore, but in the roadblocks, the total control of Israel over the West Bank. Therefore the evacuation of settlements from Gaza is meaningless, because the whole question of settlements is an intra-Zionist feud, between Peace Now and the right. Both sanctify settlements; for them to take away the settlements or to build settlements is important. For the rest of the world it should mean nothing.
Walid Salem: My point of departure might be to try to analyze the processes that are taking place on the ground. And what I see is that the one-state option is getting more support among the settlers and the Israeli right wing, while the Palestinian side is moving from the option of two states that recognize each other to that of two states without recognition. Meanwhile, among the Israeli right wing, including the settlers, there is a growing demand for a one-state solution - Eretz Israel Hashlema (Greater Israel). There are articles written about these groups who call for a "Second Judea." I know they are a minority in Israeli society, but since after Gaza, we have this process of freezing or dismantling settlements in the West Bank, these ideas might get more of a chance to grow among the Israeli right wing and get more support among Israeli public opinion. I am reading a lot about it in Nekuda, articles that call for a community-based solution more than a politically based solution, dealing with the Palestinians as a community rather than as a political entity. Another reason that these ideas might grow is that the Palestinians are becoming invisible in Israel. You do not see them in Tel Aviv, in Jaffa, in Haifa, etc. With the Palestinians becoming invisible, the Israeli concern for the Palestinians' right to self-determination is diminishing, so the ideas that call for a one-state solution can grow. Therefore, I see more possibility that this idea might grow in Israel, more than it will grow among the Palestinians.
Another point about the two-state solution: Within the current balance of power, and thinking realistically, the two-state solution is still the solution. Otherwise you might think along the lines of Jihad in order to get a one-state solution, or along the lines of non-violent continuous struggle, which is what Edward Said called for. So the idea of a one-state solution is a recipe for a long Jihad, either violent or non-violent, on the Palestinian side. On the question of Jerusalem and refugees, you might find a solution within the two-state solution. So even if Jerusalem is kept open, the two-state solution will continue to be relevant, with Jerusalem as an open city and capital to two states. Also there are the five options of Taba about refugees, which also can work within this framework of a two-state solution. So I see these two options; otherwise we are paving the way for the right wing in Israel and among the Palestinians.

Munther Dajani: First, one state or two states - these are two of the scenarios on the table. Who will be in charge under the one-state solution? On the other hand, the two-state solution offers both Palestinians and Israelis what they crave: a Jewish identity and a Palestinian identity. However, in thinking outside the box, perhaps a transitional stage is needed to create the proper environment for peace through trusteeship, that is, bringing in international forces, such as in South Lebanon, to be in charge of the occupied territories as a preliminary step. The second step is to call for self-determination for the Palestinians. It might be separation or integration; one day after declaring the State of Palestine on the West Bank and Gaza, Palestinians will decide with whom to ally themselves politically and/or economically, whether with Israel, Jordan or Egypt, or to remain as a single independent unit.
As it stands now, Israel is dominated by the old colonial mind of its policymakers, aiming to be in control of all Palestinian land, roads and resources as well as the people. This means they haven't learned anything from the lessons of their years of occupation running between 1967 and 2007. The first intifada of 1987, as well as the second intifada of 2000, showed the Palestinians' determination to resist and to claim their land and identity. Between 1995 and 2000 Israel thought the status quo would last forever, and its leadership worked on enhancing their positions, hoping to grab more land than what was agreed upon. That was a big blow to the peace process, particularly in that there were no confidence-building measures to bridge the wide gap between the two peoples in conflict. The two main pillars of Oslo were confidence-building measures and mobility of people and goods. People keep forgetting that. Neither of these two pillars was implemented. Instead of providing mobility for people and goods, more than 300 checkpoints were established. Nor did the Palestinian Authority work towards instituting any confidence-building measures with the Israelis. This was looked upon as a transitional stage where the Palestinian leadership hoped it would improve its position, and on the other side, the Israelis also thought they could improve their position. So neither was actually working to achieve a comprehensive settlement.
Furthermore, Israel keeps talking about Jerusalem being united. How can Israel promote a "united Jerusalem" when everybody sees that on the ground the city is divided? They also keep hiding behind the issue of refugees and the right of return. Even the issue of right of return can be solvable in a sense, because if the right itself is sacred, we can, however, negotiate how many and where to return. Refugees don't have to return to Israel, but may return to the State of Palestine, i.e., the West Bank and Gaza, and should be compensated as stipulated by UN resolutions. Jerusalem and refugees, the two hardest issues for both the Israelis and the Palestinians to swallow, will be up for negotiation; then we are on the right track. For Israel cannot be democratic and at the same time remain an occupier. Occupation is a contradiction of democracy, and it is for the good of Israel in terms of morality, security and acceptance in the Middle East region that it withdraws from the Palestinian territories and puts an end to military occupation. And the best way to do it is to institute confidence-building measures during the period of trusteeship, and then self-determination.

Ron Pundak: First, it took the Israeli public 14 years since 1993 to accept the idea of two states. Now you have more Israelis than ever who support two states. Second, ideologically the idea of a big Eretz Israel doesn't exist anymore within the main Israeli constituencies; it is not on the table. Third, what you have in Israel today is a new Zionism in the making. It is not post-Zionism but neo-Zionism. The neo-Zionists, who are younger, would like to see a prosperous Israeli state without the occupation, without the settlements, without the moral questions facing each individual, without the checkpoints, without the old ways of the Zionism of the 1920s or 1960s, and all this goes against the notion of one state.
The notion of one state doesn't exist in the minds of 99.9% of the Israelis. The forces within will go against it and will dictate to any government to choose two states. The Olmert of two states is not the Olmert of the 1970s and 1980s; if he had told us in the 1980s that he was in favor of two states, I would have been very suspicious. Now I am very confident that he sees the two states not much differently from what the moderates within the Israeli peace camp are talking about.

Gershon Baskin: I would like us to be descriptive, to use Meron's words, about the current reality in which we live. The current reality is what one might call three states, or three political entities, where the Palestinian political movement is completely divided between Gaza and the West Bank with what seems to be little chance of bridging the internal differences within the Palestinian camp in the near future. And perhaps the Palestinian focus now is on preventing what happened in Gaza from happening in the West Bank. In this reality, what are the options for moving forward? Is there any chance of conflict resolution here, or can we only talk of some form of conflict management?

Ziad AbuZayyad: I think Meron rightly described the real situation on the ground, while Ron was right in saying that the option of the two-state solution is gaining more support among the Israeli public. The problem is there is no relationship between what is happening on the ground and the shift in Israeli public opinion in favor of the two-state option. The fact is that what is happening on the ground is undermining the idea of the two-state solution. I am happy that more Israelis are supporting the two-state solution, but sometimes I feel that those Israelis who speak in favor of two states are only injecting me with morphine to keep me quiet while others are working day and night to accomplish their ideological expansionist project.

Ron Pundak: It is unintentional. They are doing it, but un intentionally.

Ziad AbuZayyad: Many Israelis don't know what is happening on the ground. They don't know and they don't care. And maybe there are Israelis who do not want to know what is being done in the occupied territories by their own government. And those who care politically and consciously are leading me to the provisional state where there will be a state on paper, titles and positions, ministers, members of parliament, general directors, but with no power on the ground, when all the land is taken by the Israelis. Is there any chance of changing this process and making the two-state solution more realistic, more applicable?

Walid Salem: I see the main problem of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the last few years as this big gap between what is said and what is practiced. On one hand, it is completely right that we have this growing group of Israelis who believe in the two-state solution, but when it comes to practice - the settlement expansion in the territories, building the separation wall on Palestinian land and grabbing Jerusalem, not allowing Palestinians to enter Jerusalem anymore - this process is not going in a direction that gains more public support. So we have a big gap between the agreed-upon goals and the process. I see as the main obstacle this so-called concept of security. The different conceptualizations of what security means leads us to contradictions in what we say and what we practice on the ground.

Ziad AbuZayyad: We have two points of view: one looking realistically at the situation on the ground and saying that the two-state solution is not possible; and the other, with good intentions, trying to give us hope by saying that the two-state solution is the only practical option and it is still possible. Is there any chance to bridge the two and make the two-state solution possible, and if so, do we need to wait a long time to return to it, or can we go straight ahead?

Munther Dajani: We are not taking into account the new realities. There is the appointment of Tony Blair [as Quartet envoy]; there are people talking about the role of a third party, there is the Quartet taking its responsibility and its role to solve the problem on the basis of what Bush is saying, that he is ready to move on the Palestinian-Israeli issues to create a two-state solution. These are new facts on the ground that we have to take into consideration.
Gershon Baskin: Can we talk about the two-state solution when Gaza and the West Bank are two separate entities?

Munther Dajani: Why not? This is not a permanent state of affairs. Whether it is at present two separate entities or one is not the point. They have been two separate entities since 1948, when Gaza was under Egypt and the West Bank under Jordan, until 1967, when Israel conquered the land and reunified both entities between 1967 and 2007.

Gershon Baskin: Oslo talked about the territorial integrity of the Palestinian territories.

Munther Dajani: Although Oslo talked about the integrity of land, this was never implemented. If they wanted it to be integrated, they could easily have linked Tarkumiya, near Hebron, with the Gaza Strip. They would have dug a tunnel. The people who were proposing that the West Bank and Gaza be linked have never done anything about it. We are powerless because we don't have the control to link it.

Gershon Baskin: Palestinians in the West Bank are telling me: Forget about Gaza, deal with us; we in the West Bank are the reality. Gaza is "Hamastan."

Munther Dajani: This does not reflect the views of the majority who feel that Gaza and the West Bank are part of the national dream. The West Bank and Gaza may be ruled as a federation. But we are forgetting a very important element: Most of the solutions are imposed on people. The decision is not in Tel Aviv, nor Gaza, nor Cairo, nor Amman. The decision is made outside the region, and when these solutions are imposed on us, I don't think we have the power to change them. If the U.S. wants to solve the problem now, it can impose on both of us a solution which everybody will accept, and each one of us will think we are in a win-win situation. Here they are taking into consideration not only the interests of the people in the region but also their own national interests. It is not in their best interest to have political and social instability in the region. It may serve their interest in the short run, in changing the facts on the ground, but in the long term, it starts to catch up with them. We are sitting on a powder keg; the gap between the poor and the rich is widening very, very quickly, and I think this situation will blow up if not attended to.

Ziad AbuZayyad: There are two ideas, one put forth by Hamas and one by some right-wing circles in Israel. Hamas suggested a hudna where Israel withdraws from the West Bank and Gaza and allows the Palestinians to have their own entity, but without signing a peace agreement recognizing Israel. On the other hand, the Israeli right wing suggested the long-term interim arrangement, retaining Israeli control over most of the occupied territories, with little change to the status quo. Do you think any of these will lead us to the two-state solution, or to a one-state solution, or to something else?

Meron Benvenisti: You have to take into account the overwhelming power of the Israeli side. The whole issue of addressing it by bringing outside forces to balance Israel's overwhelming power is a pipedream. This is not South Africa. In South Africa they were not allowed to play international cricket. Here even cricket will be played, because it is very difficult for the outside world to fight that Israeli accusation of anti-Semitism, invoking the Holocaust. Third parties will have a very limited influence on the situation. So let's assume that Israel will be in control. Therefore, as you said, Ziad, beware, don't take the two-state solution as it is. Not that there is an element of deceit, but an element of wishful thinking on the part of those who analyze it that way.
To understand the meaning for the Israeli public of the two-state solution and its growing acceptance, we should look at the wall and at the settlement blocs and know that the maximum that the Israeli public could accept is an area of less than 60%, 58% of the land occupied in 1967. The viability of that state will be such that I hope that the Palestinians will not take it. They would be repeating their mistake in Oslo, of giving up the only asset they have, i.e., legitimizing the Zionist entity. By declaring a provisional state in that area, hoping it will develop, they will seal the fate of the Palestinian national movement, turning it into an interstate border dispute with Israel, instead of a national liberation struggle. That is why the Israeli acceptance of the two-state solution is the wrong analysis of the meaning of a Palestinian state. This is a transformation in the notion of a Palestinian state, which lost all its progressive and forward-looking aspects and became the instrument of those Israelis who are ready to give up parts of the West Bank that they have no interest in. For the wall is not only the wall; it is a change in the Zionist concept. We thought that we could get rid of the Palestinians or assimilate them. We discovered in the second intifada that this is impossible, so we are turning our backs on them, and the wall is the answer to the question of a two-state solution.
It is what remains that is important for the Palestinians to ponder. The last thing that they ought to do is to accept the Israeli notion of a two-state solution at present. That would mean the second stage of Gaza, convergence, which means Bantustans - basically one geopolitical entity west of the Jordan, with different managements. One of them is the PA, which contributes to that travesty of a Palestinian state by its mere existence and by playing the game of nations. Nation-building is important, but there is a price in maintaining the illusion that there are still possibilities for separation. If there is separation, it is separate but unequal. And that is the only way one should look at this slogan, snatched by the right, of the would-be two-state solution. I know Olmert very well. Don't think that he is transforming himself. He and his boss, Sharon, have not changed ever since 1981.

Ron Pundak: I will argue a different position. We should not allow ourselves to deteriorate into managing the conflict, and should strive continuously to solve the conflict, because managing the conflict will lead to new conflict. We have here a conflict which is more than 100 years old, two national movements fighting on the same piece of territory, with each side believing that the entire territory belongs to it. You can only solve it as it was solved once in 1947 and not implemented, and as eventually it should be solved: partition. The question is how to partition it in a way the two sides can live with. When I speak of a two-state solution, I would argue that the idea of a state with provisional borders or an interim solution is a slogan of Sharon and not of Olmert. Sharon spoke of a plan which eventually would have translated into the 58% that Meron spoke of, but Olmert has spoken of 80-85% as a unilateral approach.
There is only one way to preempt these interim issues, and what we need is a very clear picture for both sides to know where we are heading, a few solid and meaningful principles - not vague principles like the Bush vision, but something about the end of occupation, the 1967 border as a basis; 1:1 swaps of territories, a solution for two capitals in Jerusalem, and refugees - but with third-party involvement, such as a Security Council resolution telling the two sides: The only solution the international community will accept is based on these principles. Even if there is an interim agreement or a hudna, it can only be within the context of the final status principles; otherwise all these measures are a part of the management of the conflict and not of solving the problem.
On the Israeli side, as there is quiet on the security front, public support for the legitimization of a viable Palestinian state is growing. However, the Israelis are paranoiacs, and when Ahmadinejad - who calls for the annihilation of Israel - is backed by Hamas, he is interpreted within the Israeli public as speaking on behalf of you. If, for example, Palestinian leaders spoke out against him, then the Israeli public would pressure their leaders, as they did in 1992-1993, to make the necessary concessions. I say: Let's bring back the power to those who put pressure on the decision makers by creating the environment for concessions. The relevant politicians, such as Peres, Olmert, Livni, Ramon and others, are ready for concessions; they are within the six points of the Ayalon-Nusseibeh plan. But they fear that their constituency will not allow it. It should be a joint process of what I call "the 70% silent majority" on both sides, which is ready today for the known deal. Maybe the international community should show us the way towards the solution.

Munther Dajani: This is exactly my premise, that we live in a dynamic society and it is changing continuously, and what was unacceptable yesterday is acceptable today and what is not acceptable today will be very acceptable tomorrow. For there is a new Zionism with new ideas and with new vision, and the young Palestinian generation also has its own new ideas and vision. So to build on the old relics of the past and to say we are not going to be able to change anything is dangerous.

Hillel Schenker: Can you say a little about what the younger Palestinian generation is thinking?

Munther Dajani: The younger generation envisions a democratic state where religion plays an important role. They want to enjoy their freedom and space. What we feel is happening in the universities is that the notion that "father knows best" is not acceptable anymore; you cannot dictate to young men and women today as we did 20 or 30 years ago. The new generation tends to reject the paternal decision-making formula of the past and move forward. Twenty-four hours before the Palestinian elections of 2006 there was a big debate within Fateh, and the new guard challenged the old guard on every single point that they had on their agenda.

Ziad AbuZayyad: To wrap up our discussion: Looking around we see several regional problems. The feeling more and more is that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is becoming part of the regional problems, and some believe that the solution could not be bilateral but could be part of a regional package deal. How much logic and reality do you see in this argument? And is there any chance for an international conference with an imposed solution to different problems in the region, including the possibility of new delineation of some states in the region?

Walid Salem: One note on conflict management, in order to come to your question: This idea is very dangerous because it will depend on the overwhelming power of Israel. It also gives time to those within Hamas who believe in the overwhelming power of the Islamic nation and who will use the hudna to build power to later liberate the whole of Palestine. Others in Hamas believe that we need this hudna to prepare Hamas to accept a two-state solution at a later stage. We need to work with those who believe in conflict management as a step towards the two-state solution, and bring them together with Fateh people to cooperate towards conflict resolution.
The Israeli-Palestinian problem became a more regional problem with a lot of regional interventions. The solution is to be regional. We might have one of two attempts: One is the Arab Quartet and the international Quartet working with the Palestinians and the Israelis. The second is the two Quartets trying to create tracks on all the different fronts - Syria, Lebanon, also the Palestinians with Israel.

Ziad AbuZayyad: I am speaking about an imposed solution.

Walid Salem: I do not see an imposed solution. No one can impose any solution from the outside. How will Israel and the Palestinians accept that? Unless you have the approval of the two sides, you will not have a solution that will be implemented. There are many lessons from Kosovo, how these imposed solutions did not take place because of the rejection of the internal forces.

Gershon Baskin: Abd-al-Salam al-Majali put forward what seemed to be a renewal of the Jordanian-Palestinian confederation idea, and then last week King Abdullah said it's not on the agenda. Is it on the agenda of resolving the West Bank question, at least?

Ron Pundak: I don't think that an imposed solution through an international conference is at all practical today.

Ziad AbuZayyad: Even if there may be a war in the region?

Ron Pundak: The next war will not have a territorial dimension, but a much more rocket and chemical warfare - a war which may dictate a solution, but I don't think that it will result from an international conference. I don't see the international forces as being able: The Europeans are too split; the Americans will not go against Israel. The most that I can see from the international community is to come with principles regarding our bilateral relations.

Meron Benvenisti: We have to take into account one important issue: The Americans are going to leave Iraq in shambles, and we have to think about the fallout of that terrible blunder, mistake, that criminal act of Bush. I am worried about the repercussions of Iraq on Jordan and then we will be back to square one: an Israeli assurance like in 1970 to safeguard the integrity and the safety of the Hashemite Kingdom. We will be the ones to resist any attempt to export the Palestinian question to Jordan, which is the essence of the Jordanian option. Now with what is going on in Iraq, I am absolutely certain that Israel will do its utmost to keep Jordan in its traditional role as a buffer state. Both options are bad, but if we dump the Palestinians on Abdullah, we will be the ones patrolling his kingdom, directly or indirectly, against what is happening in Iraq. And we shouldn't look for anything that will absolve us from our own responsibilities. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be confined to the boundaries of Palestine.

Munther Dajani: I do not think there is something called the Jordanian option. Jordan has made it very clear that it has no intention to seek any political confederation with the Palestinians at the present time or in the near future. That is what the Americans want; it is so much easier to bring in the Jordanians so it becomes a Jordanian problem. They are always trying to solve conflicts without taking into consideration the facts on the ground or what the people want. They think Tony Blair is going to perform miracles, but the problem he needs to address is that the Palestinians want an end to the occupation, and to have their independent state with Arab Jerusalem as its capital.

Ziad AbuZayyad: If the course of events stays as it is, where are we heading from here?

Gershon Baskin: In our conflict, if we don't move forward, we are moving backwards. If there is no forward movement, the situation will deteriorate; we will face more violence; the chances of peace will decrease. We will move back into Israeli unilateralism of the disengagement or convergence - that will be the order of the day in Israel. That is not acceptable today, but with increased Palestinian violence against Israel it will become more acceptable, and we may see the end of the two-state option, in which case I foresee generations of inter-communal fighting.

Hillel Schenker: The situation generates a tremendous sense of difficulty and concern, and at the same time I do think there are possibilities. Tony Blair is a high-profile Quartet envoy. He wouldn't have accepted the new position if he didn't intend to seriously make use of it. Given the sense of catastrophe in Iraq there exists a potential for significant movement within the international community to salvage something, to try to stabilize the situation in the Middle East. The question is: Will there be Israeli and Palestinian leadership, and Israeli and Palestinian civil society, that will be ready to take advantage of the possible opportunities? Otherwise we will descend towards another round of mutual, internecine violence and possibly another round of war.

Ron Pundak: I think there are currently two options. One is that more of the same will lead to deterioration, there will be walls within walls, and in my mind this is the beginning of the end of Israel and of the Palestinian dream. Whether it's one state or two states or three states, it will lead to a "separtheid" situation - Israel continuously fighting everyone and maintaining an apartheid system - as well as the end of peaceful relations with Egypt and Jordan. This terrible situation will spill over to Jordan and the entire Middle East. It's not one state, not a continuation of the occupation, but tragedy.
A different, but just as realistic, scenario is a process in which the three sides - Israelis, Palestinians and the international community - realize that the only way is to create a final status vision based on two states, within agreed-upon principles as a joint agreement or an international decision through the Security Council, leading us towards a process to enable Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank and most of the settlements - towards Ayalon-Nusseibeh, Geneva Initiative, Taba, Clinton, or any agreement accepted by the majority of the two sides. We will have to go through steps which are also connected to the internal Palestinian dialogue; Hamas and Fateh will have to dialogue again. I believe that Hamas eventually can come into an agreement of accepting a fait accompli without accepting Israel necessarily. But accepting it as a fait accompli is only possible if they feel that the majority of Palestinians support it.

Meron Benvenisti: Gaza is going to develop into a city-state with fair chances of development. The West Bankers are going to follow the path and strategy of the 1948 Arabs. It will take time, but the process of demanding collective rights that we see among the Palestinian Israelis will eventually catch and the Palestinians will make the transformation from short-term self-determination into a struggle for more human rights, which will translate into a coalition with Israeli liberals to ameliorate the conditions on the ground, without wasting time on theoretical solutions, wasting time on a Palestinian state.
If there is an optimistic approach, it is to think in terms of gradual and incremental steps with the idea that no matter what, the two sides will have to share the land, which cannot mean surgical partition. Surgical partition will not be implemented, and the cost of it is greater than a solution based on some reciprocal and shared sovereignty. That is why I think that some Palestinians in the West Bank will begin to take the position of the Israeli Arabs, who understood their situation. And therefore I am now more optimistic than those who believe that the goal is partition, turning their back on Palestinians. I don't want to have a Jewish state; I want to have a state of its people.

Walid Salem: If this situation continues, Israel will enter 1.5 kilometers into Gaza and create a security zone and stay there till someone comes from the international community and crush Hamas. In the West Bank, there will be some agreement between Israel and war lords in some regions, and counter-war lords against these war lords who will also have agreements with Israel. We will be witnessing more settlement expansion, and therefore a lot of special processes that accompany these settlement expansions. I see Jerusalem becoming more and more like Jaffa, where the Palestinian population will become perhaps not fewer, but more discriminated against, with no rights.

Munther Dajani: For each scenario to take place, we have to see steps in the right direction. If there was a Jordanian option, then Jordan would be issuing passports for all Palestinians. For Israel, for Meron's scenario to take place, Israel has to invest in the West Bank and ease the conditions and spend millions of dollars on development. Each one of these scenarios has a price, and the price is clear for the Israelis, for the Palestinians and for the Americans. The price for a comprehensive solution in the area is for Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories and to stop saying that it doesn't have a partner, to accept the Arab Peace Initiative, to withdraw from the occupied Arab lands, and to have peace and normal relations with the entire Arab world.

Ziad AbuZayyad: What I understand from all you is that if things continue in the direction we are going, we are going to hell - to more violence, to an apartheid regime - but maybe at the end of the day, after 15-20 years of suffering, we are going to one state, a state of its citizens. Therefore, to avoid decades of violence and suffering, we all agree that something should be done in order to prevent this process on both sides, opt for the two-state solution, and leave for the future generations to decide the shape of their own lives and fates. With this in mind, I thank you all very much.