There are dark clouds in the horizon and the best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it from happening. The suffocating continued occupation, the demoralizing failure of negotiations, the doomed peace process, the deteriorating economic conditions, the rising of Islamic radicalism, topped by the gloomy results of the recent Israeli elections have empowered extremists and silenced the moderates. Despair and frustration on one side, insecurity and superiority on the other are pushing the region towards a renewed cycle of violence. The question is: What needs to be done to avert eruption of violence?
One way is to nurse the two-state solution from the intensive care room to walking out of the hospital. In my view, reports of the two-state solution demise are premature. On the ground there are de facto two states, the Jewish state of Israel and the Arab state of Palestine as envisioned by the 1947 UN Partition Plan. States do not have to be UN members to be states nor will the UN bestow legitimacy or legality on the state formation since admission to the UN is voluntary and not compulsory for states in the international arena. Already the State of Palestine has been declared in 1987 and has been recognized by many states. So, ‘why does admission to the UN mean so much to the PA leadership?’ The answer may be found in flipping the coin, ‘why Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state means so much to the Israeli leadership?’ Israel can rename itself as ‘The Jewish State of Israel’ and all UN members would recognize it as such including the State of Palestine when admitted to the UN club. It is a game of monopoly, selling. Buying, and exchanging money and property which makes us feel good though in the end all is paper. Here, it is mostly psychology and perception. The need for the Israeli to hear the Palestinians say, “We recognize you. We acknowledge your presence among us”; also, the need for the Palestinians to hear the Israelis say, “We are sorry. We acknowledge your plight and suffering.” This would be a good starting point.
To end the impasse Palestinians would move to declare their recognition of Israel as a Jewish state. The rights of Israel’s minorities are secure by the democratic character of the system already operational for decades. The State of Palestine would be unarmed and Palestinian-Israeli joint forces would police the Jordan Valley against terrorist infiltrators and weapon smuggling. They would assert their commitment to reconciliation, normalization, and end of incitement.
Israel would move to declare their recognition of the State of Palestine and would work to facilitate its acceptance as UN member. They would release Palestinian political prisoners and assert their commitment to the reconstruction and economic development of the State of Palestine.
In doing so, both would have earned a peace partner to sit on the negotiations table with good will and on equal footing – state to state.