One of the craziest things I’ve discovered since making aliyah was that most Israelis I encountered supported a two state solution, despite often leaning right on security and having a deep understanding of the terror they face – or perhaps not in spite, but because.
This near-consensus is reflected in the stances of a broad spectrum of political parties:
Jewish Home, Israel Beiteinu, Likud, Kulanu, Yesh Atid, Labour and yes, even some factions of Meretz support more or less the same thing: Separation from the Palestinians.
Jewish Home support annexing Area C in its entirety and making Areas A and B an autonomous region where the Palestinians can declare statehood if they like (they probably won’t though, and I’ll get into that later).
Israel Beiteinu supports annexing major Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and handing over Arab villages and cities within Israel to the Palestinians.
Likud, and Kulanu support a Two-State solution in theory, but know the Palestinians would never follow through with an agreement that ensures Israel’s long-term security and longevity.
Yesh Atid supports annexation of three major communities in Judea and Samaria in a future two state deal: Gush Etzion, Ariel, and Maale Adumim, in addition to annexing most of East Jerusalem (except for a few Arab villages on the periphery). The rest would go to the Palestinians
In the past, Labour has supported giving all of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians in a future two-state deal, but lately has defaulted to a viewpoint that more closely resembles Yesh Atid’s.
And, to my utter surprise, many in Meretz support handing over the entirety of Judea and Samaria instead of the entirety of the country.
One thing all parties agree upon is that we can’t have two states or territorial annexation or withdrawal, without an agreement, in light of the 2005 Gaza Disengagement.
What’s more, with the exception of maybe Meretz, no Israeli I’ve ever spoken to believes two states is the just or moral thing to do. In fact, many support it despite it being morally wrong to them. No, we should not reward the kleptocratic Abbas regime with a state for launching years of terror on us and paying salaries to terrorists and their families. No, we should not reward Hamas for launching rockets on us. Nobody wants to give any more legitimacy to the Fatah or Hamas regimes if they could help it. Rather, as the centrist Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid said, we need to get a divorce. Here are the many (and I feel legitimate) reasons most Israelis have cited for supporting a two-state solution.
1. For security reasons, two states is the way to go.
A one-state solution would mean annexing millions of people who had been taught to hate Jews since birth, putting us at the mercy of terror attacks at levels reminiscent of the Second Intifada, perhaps even worse due to a desire to resist the annexation. Re-education cannot happen overnight, so a one-state solution would put Israel at great risk.
Moreover, many proponents of the one-state solution cite that the 9-mile width of Israel in the case of a two state solution is simply indefensible. Israelis agree with that. That’s why, in their minds, a two state solution would not be along 67 borders. After all, who decided 67 borders anyway? It seems kind of arbitrary. We need to think outside the box. However, in their minds, having the Palestinians in such close proximity whilst they are not in a separate country is more dangerous than a 9 mile border. In the case of two states, we could build any fence, wall, or border and there would already be a global precedent, so we would be far more justified. They also believe a demilitarized Palestinian state would be much safer than the tension that would be created by hundreds of Israeli “dots” within the Palestinian Arab landscape, making geographic continuity important.
2. It’s a way to get the world off our backs and expose the Palestinian narrative for what it is.
Israelis, like the rest of us, are fed up with the double standards that the world keeps throwing at us. This time, the world waxes poetic about the “occupation” and how the Palestinians don’t have a state. Well, if the Palestinians did have a state, or the option of declaring a state, they would no longer have a leg to stand on. If the Palestinians continued fighting, their true genocidal intentions would be revealed for the world to see. The world would finally lay off, and if they don’t it would be easier than ever to call them out for antisemitism, thereby promoting more aliyah and creating a stronger Israel. “We don’t live in a vacuum. As fun as it would be to stop caring about what the world thinks, we can’t, because we actually depend on our allies quite heavily,” said a friend who works in diplomacy.
3. The Palestinians don’t want two states, so this is really for us.
I don’t know a single Israeli who was born and raised in Israel who believes a two state solution must happen because the Palestinians deserve it, or they have an indigenous right to it. Israelis are neither stupid nor delusional, at least not most of them. In fact, when I retort with “but wouldn’t you be doing them a favour by giving them a state?” they look at me like I have three heads. To them, the Palestinian leadership and most of their population don’t want two states, they want to annihilate us. They think we don’t belong here, and that accepting a two state deal would be accepting defeat. Any acknowledgement of our sovereignty, to them, contradicts their narrative of them being there since prehistoric times until we came and colonized them. As such, by forcing two states on them, we win, because we still have sovereignty over at least some of our land, and most of their talking points and arguments become moot, their argument severely weakened. They will no longer be able to pretend on the world stage that they are open to compromise, their charade will be over and their true intentions clear for all to see. It’s the last thing they want, which is why they refused the really generous Olmert Solution in 2008.
4. It’s the most Zionist way to be.
Very few Israelis believe the numbers the Palestinian authority gives them. Israelis are not stupid, they know that these numbers are for the purpose of discouraging annexation, which would effectively eliminate the Palestinian cause (a cause that is making them more aid money per capita than any other group in the world, most of which is being pocketed by their kleptocratic leaders). However, we also know that it is still a huge demographic risk to annex the Palestinian Territories. In a multiparty system where you only need 30 seats to become Prime Minister, with the Joint Arab List already the third strongest party in the Knesset, it becomes a huge possibility that the Arab List would overtake even Likud in the next elections provided the territory be annexed. Moreover, since the second-largest party is Labour, with 24 seats compared to Likud’s 30, and given that Labour is already in a coalition with the Arab Parties, it’s easy to surmise that Arab interests would take priority in the next elections, no matter how the elections end up. The worst case scenario would be an Arab PM and the end of Israel, the best case scenario would be a Labour-Joint List-Meretz coalition government with a strong emphasis on Arab interests. Either case doesn’t sound palatable to the vast majority of Israelis.
As a result, most Israelis believe annexation, or a One State Solution, would jeopardize the Zionist ideal that brought them or their forefathers here in the first place, and risks marking the end of Israel as a Jewish state if we want to remain democratic.
5. The one state solution may have to be an apartheid one
The only way for the demographic crisis just discussed to not take effect would be to implement a solution promoted by many a right-wing politician: either to force Arabs to sign a pledge of allegiance in order to get Israeli citizenship, to refuse Israeli citizenship to any Arab even tangentially tied to terror, or even making citizens of the former Palestinian authority permanent residents in a future Greater Israel. Even though they are not indigenous, they live here, many of them longer than many of us, so it would be extremely problematic and indefensible to implement such a measure, to create a group of second class (non)citizens. Those who claim that such a plan would resemble an apartheid regime are not technically wrong. Blanket collective punishment for the sins of their leaders is not the way to go about a solution and would only case more of the security issues discussed in #1.
6. Too many soldiers – our boys and girls – put their lives on the line and are killed to protect so few people.
This view was one I hadn’t heard much before arriving in Israel. If we look at the terror attacks, most are committed against IDF soldiers in uniform on the other side of the Green Line. Until you are an Israeli parent or sibling, I can’t imagine how you could truly understand what it feels like to send your kin off to an unknown and dangerous place, at great personal risk. An extreme example of this would be that ten thousand IDF soldiers need to be in Hebron to protect a population of a few hundred. To people who hold this viewpoint, two states is the only way to bring their boys and girls home and no longer require thousands of soldiers to defend people who choose to live deep in the midst of enemy territory. Some who use this argument support the Lapid solution, some Bennet, and some Gabbay, but at the end of the day, they just want to keep their family safe from what they believe is unnecessary harm, and the only way to do that is…
7. We need to get a divorce.
Jews and Arabs are vastly different cultures. Despite our mutual affinity for humus, it has become painfully obvious since the Oslo Accords that our styles of governing and living are incompatible. Although diversity is a good thing that enriches a society to a point, when two peoples’ desired ways of life contradict each other, deep tensions can brew, and one group ends up miserable and lashes out. It is clear that the Israeli and Arab styles of governing are mutually exclusive, to the point where the Arab leaders do not want a Jewish State in their midst because it goes against their values, so in order to reduce tensions, like a married couple whose lifestyles are similarly incompatible, a divorce would help them get along a lot better.