The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is a bitter territorial clash. Israelis and Palestinians have simultaneously aspired to the same piece of territory on which to build their own state.
The original Zionist motive was to achieve justice and safety for the persecuted Jewish people in their historic homeland; this vision was not based on doing damage to another people.
The Palestinians strived to achieve what their Arab brethren in neighbouring countries were achieving with the collapse of colonialism – independence.
Why a Two-State Solution?
• In Israel the two-state solution was once considered a traitorous notion – but today within Israel the region and worldwide, support for the two-state concept exists. This would be a strange time to suddenly abort the whole idea and start all over again with a different idea.
• There is a distinct lack of enthusiasm, currently and historically, among both Palestinians and Israelis for a one state for both peoples- even widely viewed as deeply threatening on both sides.
• Palestinians do not want to drop their demands for national independence and self-determination and instead share common statehood with another people in a combined non-Arab – and non-Muslim – state.
• In the light of the Jewish people’s history, Israeli Jews will also not sacrifice their hard-won national independence to become a minority again in a non-Jewish entity.
• Attempts to merge two entities that have no common language, culture, religion or sense of history and destiny and who have been bitter foes for the best part of a century are unlikely to succeed. The national aspirations of both peoples will not suddenly melt away with establishment of a one state.
As opposed to South Africa, which was essentially a civil rights struggle, the Israeli – Palestinian conflict is primarily a clash of two national movements. Any proposal that disregards the national aspirations of either in the conflict is bound to fail.
As the likelihood of a one state solution is improbable, the campaign for such a solution will condemn the Palestinians to be part of a bitter long-term struggle with uncertain consequences.
There is no real alternative to a lengthy process with an outcome of a two-state arrangement.
The one-state solution is really only a fantasy of a sort of harmonious, egalitarian utopia which miraculously bypasses all of the history and problems that make up the conflict. We don’t have the luxury of time to indulge contemplating this fantasy.