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September 27, 2016    

The Two State Illusion

By Arthur Kane Scott

On May 14, 1948, the State of Israel was created.  It triggered the diaspora of 250,000 Palestinians from their homeland. Out of this event, intensified by the Six-Day War of 1967, came an intensification of the Palestinian Crisis.

Throughout the seventies and eighties there were various diplomatic endeavors to resolve the conflict between the Palestinian/Israelis leading to what became known as the Two-State solution. This initiative reached its apogee at Oslo in 1993 between PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Jewish Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Unfortunately, the forward movement of a Two-State solution came to a crashing halt with the assassination of Rabin in 1995 and Arafat’s suspicious passing in 2004. (Cf. Ian S. Lustick,

Over the last ten years, the Two-State solution has languished, without any real energy to resuscitate it, despite sundry diplomaticinitiatives. This seemingly permanent stalemate raises the question ofwhy has Two-State lost its appeal. The answer may lie in history, politics and sociology.

More specifically:

  • The Israel state still refuses to recognize the Palestinian“right-to-return”which impacts about 6million plus Palestinians. The “right-to-return” has been affirmed by United Nations Resolution 2535 & 3231&194 with compensation from Israel (
  • The Palestinians, as well as the International Community, questions the legitimacy of Jewish settlements which dramatically alters the geo-politics of the West Bankthereby undermining a Two-State Solution (
  • Demographics, Palestinian growth, would change the future politics of the state.Israel in time willorganically lose its identity as a Jewish state as the Palestinians population swells and becomes the majority.
  • There has been no movement on the future status of Jerusalem; both sides claim it as their capital. Complicating the matter, Palestinians neighborhoods in Old Jerusalem have been systematically attacked though an aggressiveexpropriation oftheirhousing involving arbitrary evictions (
  • Tension between secularism and fundamentalism within Palestinian/Jewish community makes an agreement difficult about the future. Many Palestinians want sharia law, and conservative Jews wish to follow the Torah. Jewish settlers in West Bank believe they are destined to occupy all Biblical lands. (
  • Lack of leadership and vision within each community. There is no moral avatar of the status of Mandela, who can rally Palestinian/Jews, to break out of the wounds of the past in order to embrace a more sustaining vision founded on compromise, truth and reconciliation.
  • Wide-spread distrust and suspicion among all players, especially Palestinians who live in apartheid conditions. Half of Jewish population call for the expulsion of Palestinians. ( The Palestinian political situation is made more difficult because of the divide between Hamas within Gaza, and Fatah under Mahmoud Abbas. Neither are very popular among Palestinians.
  • Western and Arab states see the Palestinian Question as a pawn in great power diplomacy. Egypt and Saudi Arabi are warming-up to Tel-Aviv further isolating the Palestinians except for Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon. The United State recently signed a military aid package worth $38 billion dollars over the next ten years. Palestinian have never received a largesse like this even just for humanitarian needs.
  • Washington’s role in promoting a Two-State solution since the Clinton Presidency has hardly been steadfast or even-handed. In many ways, American action vis-a-vis Palestinians has been high-jacked by theJewish lobby led by American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). So effective is it in its lobbying of Congress and influencing the media that mostAmericans are unaware of the full extent in which Palestinians civil liberties are being violated through the occupation.
  • As can be seen by this analyses, the prospect of a meaningful Two-State Solution, that would satisfy Palestinians and Israelis, is nothing more than an imaginedscenario with no real political will, or basis for its emergence as reported by Tom Friedman (
  • As a consequence, One-State is being put forward.Edward Said the great Palestinian scholar insisted that inclusiveness was the only viableanswer to the division between Jew and Arab.(Cf.
  • Other Palestinian and Israeli intellectuals have gravitated toward it including:Ibrahim Halawi, Tony Judt. (Cf,
  • Before One-State, however, can even gather traction, it will require a profound shift in the respective consciousness of the two peoples over the issue of language, demographics, ethnicity, secularism/sectarianism, human/religious rights. Such historical transformations take generations, but as the Palestinian lawyer Michael Tarazi writes:                                  

    “The one-state solution … neither destroys the  Jewish character of the Holy land nor negates the historical and religious attachment  (although it would destroy the superior status of Jews in the state). Rather, it affirms that the Holy Land has an equal Christian and Muslim character? For those who believe in equality, this is a good thing.”

Hopefully, the younger Jewish/Palestinian Millennials might consider it as a possible way to end the political/national log-jam, and turn the bitterness of the past into hope and peace.

Arthur Kane Scott is Professor of Humanities and Cultural Studies at the Dominican University of California and Board Member Museum of the American Indian, Novato, California