During the UN general assembly, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said he was in favor of the “two-state solution” to put an end to the Arab-Israeli crisis “as long as Palestine does not become a state of terror”
How much and how they talk about it
The “two-state solution” was first proposed by the Peel Commission of 1937 on a mandate from Great Britain. The Israeli territory was then still occupied by the British, who had a mandate over those areas, following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War. From 1920 to 1948 the British Mandate of Palestine allowed the British to control those territories. In 1937, the Peel Commission wanted to divide the area into three sectors: one Arab (including Gaza, Hebron and Jenin to the north), one Israeli (extended from Tel Aviv to the Syrian border) and the cities of Nazareth, and in particular Jerusalem, under British mandate. To reject this negotiation strategy was the Arab counterpart, accepted instead by the Israeli one. For the commission it would have made more sense that the two states had populations of the same ethnicity, so it proposed to transfer Arabs and Israelis to their respective states of origin.
The division of the area into three was proposed by the United Nations again in 1947, in the «Partition plan». The UN solution involved the separation of the Palestinian territories, with Gaza divided from the area of the West Bank known as the West Bank. The Arab state again refused, unable to accept the division of the Palestinian territories. The British mandate in that area ended in 1948 and the Arab-Israeli war of ’48 -’49 broke out. For the Palestinian people it was the beginning of nakba, or the flight or expulsion of 711,000 Palestinians on the sidelines of the conflict.
The conflicts in those territories did not calm down and following the “Six Day War” (1967), the UN Security Council unanimously passed resolution 242 calling for the withdrawal from the occupied territories by the Israeli army. In the 1970s, a first indication that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was in favor of the “two-state solution” was formulated by Said Hamami. In 1976, the Security Council returned to the merits of the question by proposing a solution based on the borders prior to the “Six Day War”. The United States vetoed this resolution, favoring the creation of two states, but supporters of the fact that the borders should be discussed by the two counterparts.
In the 1980s the protests of the Arab people led to the first Intifada of 1987. This was followed by a great deal of diplomatic work to find an agreement regarding the constitution of two states. In 1988 Palestine declared its independence, referring to the distribution plan of 1947. On this basis, the Oslo accords (1993) were reached, which divided the Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank into three administrative zones: one under the full Palestinian control, one under Palestinian civilian and Israeli control for security, one for full Israeli control except over Palestinian civilians).
More recently there have been attempts at agreement, but never achieved. The first at Camp David but it was a failure on almost all the pivotal points on which the agreement was based and triggered the second Intifada in 2001. In 2007, however, there was another attempt with the Annapolis Conference. With the mediation of the United States between the PLO and Israel, a general agreement was reached on the negotiating principles, but a real agreement was never found.
The violence, on both sides, and the ghettoization of the Palestinian people still continue today.
On which points it is difficult to find a solution
The decisive point of the question concerns borders. It is not easy to decide where to draw the line. According to many experts, we should go back to the pre-existing borders of the “Six Day War”, but the Israelis in those territories have created settlements and are not willing to give them up. In return they would like to sell other areas as compensation. Also in the West Bank area, the Israelis have created barriers, real borders. Those barriers would be difficult to break down and consider part of the new Palestine. In short, every year the territory of a possible Palestinian state becomes smaller and more fragmented.
Both peoples claim Jerusalem as their capital, due to its complex of cultural and religious heritage. Even here it would not be easy to divide it because the religious places are close to each other. The eastern part of the city was annexed by the Israelis and here too it built barriers establishing its domination and subduing the Palestinian population.
The return of Palestinian refugees is another issue Israel does not seem ready to deal with. During the conflict of 1948-49 and today the descendants of the 700,000 who left Palestine would like to return. Their number is around 5 million. If they returned, the Israelis would no longer have the demographic majority in the territory.
Even on the issue of security, the views of the counterparts are opposite: for the Palestinians it means the end of the military occupation of Israel, while for Israel, withdrawing its troops would mean exposing itself to threatening attempts by Palestinian paramilitary groups such as Hamas, especially in the West Bank.
The other solutions, not practicable, on the table
There are alternative ways out of the conflict, but many international observers believe that all solutions other than the “two-state” one are impracticable. There is talk of a single state that does not see the dominance of any people, as no one would have a clear demographic majority. It is seen as impractical because it would cause internal tensions and the risk of a return to war. Another nuance of the Israeli right would like a single state, where the Israelis would have the predominance, denying full rights to the Palestinians. This ominous scenario would see Israel become a state no longer recognizable as “completely democratic”.
The reactions after Lapid’s statements
The opening to the two states has destabilized Israeli public opinion. The negative reaction of the Likud, the main opposition party, was not long in coming. «Lapid – he affirmed – wants to deliver parts of the Land of Israel to the enemy. For years Benyamin Netanyahu has managed to remove the Palestinian question from the international agenda, and in less than a year Lapid has instead brought Abu Mazen back to the fore ”. Critical voices have also been raised in the transitional government led by Lapid (in the run-up to the parliamentary elections in November). “Lapid only represents himself with this stance,” warned Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, a member of the national religious right. “A Palestinian state represents a danger to Israel.”
Justice Minister Gideon Saar (leader of a new centrist secular formation) also said that “a terrorist state in Judea-Samaria (West Bank) threatens our security. Most of the Israeli people and their representatives will prevent it ”. Also taken by surprise and totally opposed to Lapid’s initiative was former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: «There is no logic to bring the Palestinian State project back to the surface. We are in 2022 and not in 1993 (the year of the Oslo accords). Even our friends don’t expect us to compromise on our safety and our future “