The establishment of a Palestinian State living in peace alongside Israel represents the solution long agreed by the international community to resolve one of the world’s oldest conflicts and most long-standing historical injustices.
President Donald Trump has now expressed his disagreement. So where does that leave this demand?
It is important to set out the existing arguments in favour of the ‘two state’ position.
First, it is the position of the Palestinian people themselves. There is a consensus of support among the majority of the forces affiliated with the PLO, the legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people.
This position was taken by the Palestinian National Council at its conference held in Algiers in 1988 in a resolution which approved the Declaration of Independence set out by the late Palestinian President Yasser Arafat. This supported the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel in 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Second, there is an international consensus of the support for the two-state solution. The need to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel goes back to the original partition resolution 181 in 1947 and continues to the present – with the decision of the UN General Assembly in 2012 to recognize Palestine as a non-member State “observer” at the UN within the 1967 borders and including East Jerusalem as its capital.
The 1993 Oslo agreement stipulated the establishment of a Palestinian state by 1999 and in 2003 the International Quartet adopted the Roadmap which required the establishment of a Palestinian state by 2005.
Third, it is the solution backed by the majority of the Arab world. The Arab Initiative launched by the summit held in Beirut in 2002 confirmed the two-state solution.
Even after the peace talks initiated by US Secretary of State John Kerry reached a dead end in 2016, in face of Israeli intransigence, Kerry still reiterated that a two-state solution is the only possible way forward.
The argument becomes even stronger when we look at the alternative to a two-state solution.
Although a ‘one democratic state’ in which all its inhabitants have equal in rights and duties may be the dream of all Palestinian and Israeli democrats, the reality on the ground does not give it the minimum possibility of achievement.
The practices of the State of Israel during the seven decades of its establishment demonstrate that it is a Jewish state and that its non-Jewish citizens, who make up about twenty percent of its population, do not have the same rights. The adoption of the National Law by the Israeli Knesset, which gives the right of self-determination in Palestine only to Jews, simply confirms this fact.
Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem in the year following its physical occupation marked Israel’s assertion that Jerusalem is the eternal and united capital of the Jewish state.
Israel’s pursuit of these policies over recent decades and its current drive to convince the world that Israel should be recognized as a Jewish state underlines its undemocratic and religiously-defined nature.
The real intentions of the Israeli rulers towards the Palestinian population are revealed by the continued Israeli settlement of the occupied Palestinian territories, condemned as illegal under international law, and the construction of the apartheid wall within the occupied territories which isolates the Palestinian population in enclaves entirely defined on racist lines.
The recent actions by the Trump administration to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the transfer of its embassy and its tendency to recognize the Jewishness of the state of Israel all underlines the implausibility of this “sectarian” state becoming inclusive and democratic.
A ‘one state’ in historical Palestine on these terms will inevitably be a state of racial discrimination and its non-Jewish citizens will not have rights.
At the same time support for this position cuts away support for the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people and its ability to achieve its independence especially in light of the great imbalance of power in favor of the Israeli side.
We have to take into account the unlimited internal electoral support for successive Israeli governments characterized by their right-wing or ultra-right stance in election after election together with American administration being strongly influenced by pro-Israel circles. We also have to note the changing balance of forces within the Middle East. After years of wars and the destruction of entire countries, some Arab countries have now joined the US-Israel alliance against Iran.
Adhering to the two-state solution as a goal to be secured at an international conference, involving powers at world level with UN endorsement, offers the only way of ending American exclusivity over the control of the negotiations and returning to them to terms of agreed UN resolutions.
It is the only way of securing a comprehensive solution for all the countries whose land has been occupied by Israel, ending this occupation and enabling the Palestinian people secure self-determination: that is, the establishment of their own independent state within the borders of June Fourth 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of refugees to return in accordance with UN resolution 194
.This is why Palestinians, through their own national institutions, still support the two-state solution as the only feasible way forward – breaking with the US and Israeli exclusivity – and do so despite all Israeli measures to prolong the occupation and US support for this. Israel is the advance base of global imperialism in the Middle East. There needs therefore to be a global opposition to Israel’s current stance mobilized around the positions already won at the UN.