One State or Two states? What is the right answer?

When I do slide show presentations on Israel/Palestine to church or other groups I am often asked whether I support a one-state solution or a two state solution? Which is better? Which is feasible?

I always answer, that as chair of NECIP, I do not have a position on the one state/two state issue. Either choice will have consequences and will involve compromises. I know Palestinians on each side, including people who have been to jail and even tortured. I don’t think that from Ottawa I am in a position to decide what is realistic or appropriate, or who should make what compromises. (I also know Jews on both sides of this debate.)

But that does not mean that we can’t discuss it. Understand what those choices and compromises are.

Here is a quote from an email recently sent to me by a friend who is starting to get more interested/involved in the Israel Palestine question.

Dear Peter,

What would be helpful from my perspective would be a brief overview of arguments for and against 2 state vs. 1 state and who has been aligned with each historically. That would lay the groundwork for a discussion.

I invite comments from anyone who would like to contribute to this discussion.

One comment

  1. I think the question and the seemingly academic perspective from which it is asked might both be the wrong ones. It is not a matter of who or what we as Canadians “support”. The one state / two state question was addressed many decades ago by the United Nations when the resolution was passed to partition the historic land of Palestine into two states even though we’ve regressed a lot from that. “Supporting” a one state solution or a two state solution is more academic than practical, and it is way too detached from what is happening on the ground. Supporting a one state solution would certainly not be a very Canadian thing to do as it would go against UN resolutions – even though the current Government of Canada seems to have no qualms about going against UN consensus with regard to the Israel / Palestine conflict.

    Reality on the ground is a completely different thing altogether. There’s no doubt that Palestinians are seeking their own sovereign state. Why else would they be engaging with Israel in negotiation? I don’t even believe that the word “negotiation” is the right one as it implies equal parties making decisions and compromises as you imply. What’s happening right now is Israelis and Americans negotiating with one another and telling the Palestinians how it’s going to be.

    All one has to do to realize that the two state solution is all but dead is look at a map or, even better, take a trip to the West Bank. The West Bank is just about double the area of Canada’s National Capital region. I can drive from Kanata to Orleans is just over thirty minutes. It can take a Palestinian more than twelve hours to cover the same distance due to checkpoints, settlements and all kinds of other Israeli disturbances on the way, and they’re not going anywhere anytime soon. Imagine a sovereign Palestinian state there. I can’t, and I’ve grown up there.

    So, the question in my mind is not whether or not to “support” the one state or the two state solution. The real question is where on earth is that region going? I think John Kerry’s recent “Poof” in Washington sums it up.

Comments are closed.