Is the two-state solution an obsolete strategy? (Web-only content at The American Prospect Web site.)
Let’s face it: When Barack Obama said in Cairo that “the only resolution” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is two separate states, he was courageously insisting — well, on what’s become conventional wisdom.
But not the unanimous wisdom. The hardliners on each side aren’t alone in questioning the two-state idea. On the street in Jerusalem, I’ve run into old friends, veterans of Israeli peace and human-rights activism who say we’ve passed the tipping point: There are too many settlements; Israeli withdrawal is impossible; negotiations on two states have repeatedly failed; the only solution is a single, shared Jewish-Palestinian state. I’ve heard Palestinian intellectuals, former supporters of a two-state solution, who say the same. Among writers outside the conflict zone, British Jewish historian Tony Judt may be best known for suggesting — back in 2003 — that as a nation-state, Israel is “an anachronism” and should be replaced by a binational state. Ironically, Obama himself may have given this idea a bit more traction among American progressives — his election proving, perhaps, that multiculturalism within one polity can work, perhaps not just in America but elsewhere. So is he pursuing an obsolete strategy?
Actually, no. … Difficult as reaching a two-state agreement is, it is still a more practical solution than a single state. It has more political support on both sides. And in a very basic way, more psychological than philosophical, most Israeli Jews and most Palestinians are nationalists: Their personal identity is rooted in a national community for which they want political independence.
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