“The Creation of a Palestinian State Is Inescapable”
By Alon Ben-Meir*
NEW YORK, Jun 25 2021 (IPS) – Every Israeli will sooner than
later realize that the creation of a Palestinian state is the only way by which
Israel can protect its democracy, independence, national security and national
Jewish identity. Denying Palestinian statehood defies Israel’s existence as we
Righting the Wrong
The continuing international consensus that supports the
establishment of a Palestinian state only strengthens the Palestinians’ resolve
to never abandon their quest for a state of their own.
Having held on to this position for more than seven decades,
they still have no reason to accept anything less, regardless of the vast
changes on the ground. They will continue to wait and engage in sporadic
violence and mini wars, as we have seen time and again, regardless of the heavy
toll in human lives and destruction.
However, besides the consistent international consensus in
support of a Palestinian state, Israel also has a moral and practical
obligation for its own sake to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians based
on a two-state solution.
Israel’s very existence is based in morality—the West felt
the moral responsibility to support the creation of the state because of what
happened to the Jews of Europe during the Holocaust—and its continuing
existence as a free and independent country depends on its moral standing both
as a democratic state and as a Jewish nation.
Discrimination of the
The Jews were discriminated against, persecuted, and
segregated, and millions perished during World War II simply because of their
Their horrifying historic experience makes it morally
unacceptable to subjugate other people, especially the Palestinians with whom
they coexist and will have to continue to coexist indefinitely, and yet
Israelis treat them with derision and contempt the way the Jews were treated
for centuries in foreign lands.
Thus, maintaining the occupation in any form defies what the
Jews worldwide stood for and sacrificed for millennia. True, the Palestinians
have made many mistakes and to this day some Palestinians groups remain vociferous
in their threats against Israel.
These threats, however, have never amounted to being
existential, and right-wing Israeli parties have over the years deliberately
exaggerated the potency of such threats to justify the occupation and the
often-draconian policies against the Palestinians.
Given the fact, however, that since 1967 new irreversible
developments (such as the building of new and expansion of existing settlements
and intermixing of populations) occurred, the two-state solution appears now to
many Israeli and Palestinian observers as either unrealistic or undesirable, or
They no longer believe that a two-state solution is
possible, especially given the inter-dispersement of Israelis and Palestinians
in the West Bank and in Jerusalem, and Israel’s unwillingness to relinquish
much of the occupied territories.
These facts are leading the believers of the one-state
solution to argue that it is the only practical alternative.
One state is not an
Such an alternative will never be accepted by the Israelis
at large, as that would compromise the state’s Jewish national identity and its
democracy by virtue of the fact that the nearly 3.1 million Palestinians in the
West Bank and the 1.6 million Israeli Arabs will constitute roughly 45 percent
of the total combined population of Jewish and Arab Israelis and Palestinians.
If we were to include the Palestinians in Gaza, the total
number of Palestinians and Israeli Arabs will be near that of Israeli Jews.
Although the Jewish fertility rate has now surpassed that of
the Arabs for the first time, with an average of 3.1 per Jewish woman versus 3
per Israeli-Arab woman, that does not change by much the demographic time bomb.
In fact, even without the Palestinians in Gaza, a minority
of nearly 50 percent makes it impossible to maintain the Jewish national
character of Israel without violating the Palestinians’ human and political
Under such circumstances, if free and fair elections are
held, it is unlikely that an Israeli coalition government could be formed
without the participation of the Arab parties, as we have already seen.
To prevent that from happening, Israel would have to apply
military laws to govern the Palestinians, along the line of what is in place
today in the West Bank.
This would make Israel an apartheid state, which would be
unacceptable not only to the international community but to many Israelis who
believe that Israel has a moral obligation to treat all citizens equally before
For these reasons, no Israeli government has considered the
creation of one state by annexing the entire West Bank with its Palestinian
population to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Instead, Israel chose continued occupation with creeping annexation
of land, and in so doing it maintained control over the territories and built
settlements, governing the Palestinians under military law yet applying Israeli
laws to the settlers.
Although many Israelis maintain that the current status of
Israeli occupation of the West Bank is sustainable and may well be a way of
life for decades to come, over three-quarters of the Israeli Jewish population
(76.7 percent) supports the Abraham Accords, which required Israel to stop
further annexation of any Palestinian territory.
Most Israelis recognize that further annexation will damage
any chances at making peace with the Palestinians and freeze further
normalization of relations with other Arab states.
Every Israeli who opposes the establishment of an independent
Palestinian state should ask themselves if there would be a circumstance under
which the Palestinians would abandon their aspiration for statehood.
The answer is clear—that simply would not happen.
Why on earth would they give up their right to a state of
their own? What force—Israeli or foreign—could compel them to do so? What kind
of political or economic pressure will coerce them to submit to the harsh
Israeli occupation and resign themselves to unending humiliation and despair?
After 72 years of Palestinian resistance and the extent of
suffering they have endured, nothing will dissolve the Palestinians’
determination to realize what they aspire for, to govern themselves in a free
and independent state.
In fact, continued occupation defies the very reasons behind
the establishment of Israel, which was intended to be a haven for the Jews
where they could live in peace and security.
The notion that occupying the West Bank will make Israel
more secure has been shown after 53 years to be nothing but an illusion, as
Israel has never felt completely secure yet has also never faced a legitimate
existential threat that it could not meet with ease.
However, as the Palestinians, moderate and extremists alike,
continue to challenge the occupation, they ensure that Israel will always feel
insecure and spend billions of dollars on its security.
Some Israelis find comfort in the fact that several Arab
states have normalized relations with Israel before the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict has ended, which was a precondition to normalization of relations
between Israel and the Arab state under the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.
Since then, however, many Arab states have grown weary of
the Palestinians’ repeated missed opportunities to reach an agreement with
Israel and no longer want to be held hostage to their intransigence.
There are already clear signs that this normalization
process has put some pressure on the Palestinians to moderate their position
and be more realistic about the concessions they need to make to reach an
agreement with Israel.
This kind of pressure, however, will not alter their
principal demand for statehood, and every Arab state that normalized relations
with Israel—the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan—made it clear that they are
against the occupation and view the two-state solution as the only practical
In the final analysis, both sides know that there is no way
out of coexistence by virtue of their proximity, the inter-dispersement of
their respective populations, the significance of Jerusalem for both sides,
national security, the widespread of the settlements, and extensive common
This leaves us with one conclusion: the only realistic solution
to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one that can ensure the democratic
integrity, independence, and Jewish national identity of Israel and the
creation of a sovereign Palestinian state.
The new Israeli government must remember that the establishment
of a Palestinian state is inescapable. Israel must accept this inevitability,
or become ever more a pariah state rejected by its friends and reviled and
constantly threatened by its enemies.
*The writer is a professor
of international relations at the Center for Global Affairs at New York
University (NYU) and teaches courses on international negotiation and Middle