The Israeli-Palestinian conflict stems from Jewish-Arab claims to the land of Palestine and the wider, more general, Jewish Arab conflict. There are two main solutions being brokered to bring an end to this conflict: the one-state solution and the two-state solution. I am in favor of the two-state solution.
The one-state solution calls for a single state or Jews and Arabs giving each equal rights under the law. The main problem with this solution is that regardless of whether the state of Israel should have been created on Palestinian land, it was and was and is internationally recognized. Furthermore, the creation of Israel was and is intended as a Jewish state. A change in the status of Israel as a Jewish state would in essence mark the beginning of its end, as Arabs would soon outnumber Jews.
The two-state solution calls for a state for Jews and a state or Arabs. This solution is generally preferred by both sides, but is not without problems. The six main problems are: Jerusalem, settlements, refugees, water, borders, and security. Jerusalem is important to both sides. Jewish settlements occupy land generally recognized as part of the proposed future Arab state. Arab refugees claim the right of return. Water is a scarce resource that must be shared. Borders have to be agreed on. Security issues relate to the necessity of open borders for a two-state solution to work and the issue of extremists on both sides who oppose the two- state solution.
In implementing a two-state solution, I would deal with the six problems outlined above as follows:
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim Jerusalem as their capital city. Of course, neither side recognizes the other’s claim. Neither does the international community recognize either side’s claim. Jerusalem is considered a holy city by three major world religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – with adherents of all three religions deeply invested in securing and maintaining free access to the city. It is for this reason that Jerusalem should be made an international city administered by the United Nations’ Trusteeship Council, which would appoint a governor of the city.
Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are in violation of the fourth Geneva Convention and United Nations Security Council resolutions. The settlements are considered illegal by The European Union and the General Assembly of the United Nations. In 2005 Israel enacted a unilateral disengagement plan, as proposed by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, evacuating all Jewish residents in the Gaza strip and demolishing all residential buildings. All Jewish settlers within all of the territories to become part of a Palestinian state should be evacuated and the settlements demolished.
Palestinian refugees displaced during the 1948 and 1967 wars and their descendants should be granted the right of return to the places where said refugees lived before 1948 and 1967, including those within the 1949 Armistice lines, in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194, which states that refugees should be allowed to return, and that those who choose not to return should be compensated for losses or damages to their property by the governments or authorities responsible, as per international law or in equity.
Israel’s National Water Carrier delivers water from the Sea of Galilee to central and southern Israel as well as to Palestinian territories. The Jordan River flows through territory that would be part of a Palestinian state. Other sources of water are the shared groundwater basins – the Eastern, Northeastern and Western Aquifers beneath the West Bank and Israel. These sources should be shared fairly according to geography, climate and hydrology, historical rights, economic and social needs, degree of dependency, cost of alternative projects, existence of other resources, and nonwasteful use (Soffer 67).
Israel should return to its pre-1967 armistice borders. As mentioned above, all Jewish settlements should be evacuated and demolished and Jerusalem should become an international city under United Nations administration. Furthermore, Palestinians should be allowed safe passage between Gaza and the West Bank without an overabundance of Israeli checkpoints. Also, a Palestinian state should have complete autonomy over its own border crossings between its own territory and Jordan and Egypt. Furthermore, a Palestinian state should have the right to set its own import and export controls.
Israel contends that, because the distance between the West Bank and Tel Aviv is only 11 miles, returning to its pre-1967 armistice borders would pose a security threat to Israel. The fear is that Tel Aviv and other Israeli cities are within artillery range of the West Bank, and that, consequently, Israel might come under attack by a Palestinian state, or a foreign army within a Palestinian state. Therefore, Israel should be guaranteed a demilitarized Palestinian state and guarantees that the Palestinian state would not allow a foreign army within its borders. Israeli bases within the West Bank should be denied.
My knowledge of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has expanded this semester. Particularly, I have become more aware of injustices inflicted upon the Palestinians by the Israelis. Generally speaking, Westerners are misinformed with regard to the conflict. This is not surprising considering that Western media panders to its predominantly Judeo-Christian audience’s misconception that the conflict is about religion, when it is about land. Thus, the media polarizes the people involved into the false dichotomy of Jews and Christians versus Muslims. This skews things far from the reality of Christian Arabs.
There are two main solutions being brokered to bring an end to this conflict: the one-state solution and the two-state solution. I am in favor of the two-state solution and I would deal with the six problems in implementing a two-state solution as outlined above.
Soffer, Arnon, Rivers of Fire: The Conflict Over Water in the Middle East. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 1999.