A couple weeks ago, amid all the craziness of resignations, press conferences, and Twitter storms, the Trump administration signaled what could be a very significant shift in its view of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. During a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump broke with years of traditional American policy by encouraging a one-state solution for Israel and Palestine. The one-state solution idea is certainly not new, but it usually does not receive a high level of attention. Though it is certainly possible that bringing all Israelis and Palestinians together into a single, unified state could bring about peace, it is highly likely that this solution wouldn't work. We've already covered the overall Palestinian-Israeli conflict in a previous post. So this week, we'll outline some of the biggest roadblocks to a one-state solution.
1) Most Palestinians Don't Want It
Well we could end the discussion here, but let's at least get into the basics a little more. Throughout Israel and the Palestinians territories, most polls show that an overwhelming majority of people do not support a one-state solution or believe that it will resolve the conflict permanently. The framework behind a two-state solution has already been listed as the official preferred policy for both the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority, so this would require a massive reversal of policy for both groups in order for one-state negotiations to even begin. But even if such negotiations began, it would be very difficult to overcome the next serious obstacle:
2) Human Rights can't be guaranteed
The issue of Palestinian human rights is fundamentally important to current conflict. Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank have substantially fewer rights and protections as Israelis (even Arab Israelis). In a hypothetical unified state, Palestinians would almost certainly be considered second class, as Israeli Arabs already claim to be in some ways. This is because of a fundamental crisis of the Israeli nation: maintaining both a democratic government and Israeli political majority. In a one-state solution, Israel would very likely need to either give Palestinians the right to vote (and jeopardize their Knesset (parliament) majority) or abstain from giving them the right to vote (which would be highly undemocratic). Add to that the likely realities of housing discrimination, job discrimination, and educational differences, and you have all the makings of two vastly different ethnic and social classes.
3) Security Problems Would Persist
Just because a solution is reached, does not mean that there will be peace between Israelis and Palestinians if they are forced to live in one country. Security is already a major concern for both sides, and there are few guarantees that a one-state solution would solve this. In reality, there could likely be even more fighting. Members from both sides would be looking to spoil the deal (Israelis because they would have to recognize the equality of Palestinians in their shared state and Palestinians who would remain committed to having a separate state). Any deal would need substantial buy-in from large majorities of the public from both sides of the Separation Wall in order to minimize the possibility of extremists trying to upset the deal. A unified nation would need a unified security force to help prevent terrorist attacks, but there is currently little trust between the Israeli Defense Forces and most Palestinians. In all, it looks like a one-state solution would fail simply because...
4) It Probably Wouldn't Solve The Core Issues Anyway
Inequality in a unified state would undoubtedly be a lasting problem. Though its possible that Israel would then be forced to ensure adequate basic services to the West Bank and Gaza (rather than sometimes preventing those efforts), there is no guarantee that would happen. Also, the settlement issue would never be fully resolved since Israeli settlers would then have free reign to move into "Judea and Samaria," rather than waiting for the government to provide them with a convenient excuse. Any Israeli moving to the West Bank or Gaza would be looked at as attempting to displace Palestinians, and any Palestinian moving into Israeli cities would likewise be viewed with suspicion.
In all, there is little guarantee that a one state solution would work since it would inevitably favor Israel far more than it would Palestine. Logistically it is nearly impossible, even if the Palestinians actually wanted it. In short, there is just too much bad blood on each side and too long a history of oppression for the Palestinians to accept a fair shake in a unified country. A two-state solution is the only real way to achieve lasting peace. Unfortunately, that looks farther away then ever at this point.