18 Pros and Cons of a Two State Solution for Israel and Palestine

The conflict between Israel and Palestine began in 1948 with the establishment of the Israeli state, but the origins of this battle started in 1920 with the intercommunal violence that occurred in Mandatory Palestine between the Arabs and the Israelis. It erupted into a full civil war that lasted from 1947-1948.

Before World War I, much of the Middle East was under the control of the Ottoman Empire, which reigned for more than four centuries. Right before the turn of the 20th century, Palestine was a mostly Arab nation, featuring Bedouins, Arab Christians, Circassians, and Sephardic Jews. Most of the Jewish population lived in Europe and around the Mediterranean.

A Zionist movement began around 1897 that called for a nation state for the Jews living in Palestine. Those who supported this idea eventually came to hold the idea that this state should be in their historic homeland. This pressure would eventually come to a head after World War II when the Jewish Resistance Movement bombed the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Then illegal immigration added another 70,000 Jews to the population.

The United Nations attempted to create a two-nation solution, with Jerusalem serving as a buffer between the two under the control of the United Nations, but neither side liked the idea of losing control of the city. This conflict has continued, sometimes ebbing into war again, over the last 75 years.

List of the Pros of a Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine

1. It would allow Palestinians to have self-governing powers over their own state.
The international community prefers the idea of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. Over 70% of the 193 member states of the United Nation already recognize Palestine as an independent entity because of the history of the region. By allowing each group the chance to protect their ethnic identity, it could create a chance for peace in the region because there would be fewer issues with the idea that one group has better standing in society than the other one.

2. It would eliminate the threat of changing the demographic profile in a single nation design.
Another idea to solve this conflict is to create a single state where Jews and Palestinians are given the same rights and equal status within society. In the idea of a united Israel, there would be a radical shift in the socioeconomic demographics of the country. Almost half of the population would be living underneath the poverty line with integration of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, so the bi-national state would see immediate and expensive challenges when trying to provide for the social welfare of everyone.

3. It would give each ethnic group the chance to chase their dreams.
Many Israelis believe that the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is the only way that the country can protect their Jewish identity. If there was only one integrated nation, then many believe that this shift would be the end of their “Zionist” dream. It would also end the dream of Palestinians who want the right to self-govern in their state as well. By giving both groups the opportunity to govern themselves, then everyone could pursue their goals without interference from the other.

4. It would eliminate the threat of Gaza from the one-nation solution.
One of the more popular resolutions to the Israel-Palestine drama is the idea to make the country one nation using the borders established in 1948. That would include Yehuda, Shomron, and Gaza. The only problem with the one-nation solution is that no one but Hamas wants to govern over the Palestinians in the latter territory. You cannot eliminate Gaza from the negotiations either because then there would be a rift between the two groups of Palestine.

By moving to a two-nation settlement instead, you get to create a separate Israel and Palestine that can work independently to form a government that meets their needs. It would also reduce the population movements that disrupt the lives of those in Yehuda and Shomron, which are actions that help to foster discontent.

5. It brings both parties to the table as equals.
Previous peace plans brokered by the United States and others have brought Israelis and Palestinians to the table as equals – as much as possible under the relative circumstances. The Trump Administration changes that by undermining almost every negotiating position of the Palestinian Authority. Jonathan Schanzer, Senior VP of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, likens the position as Palestine being bankrupt and encouraging them to settle for pennies on the dollar.

By encouraging the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, maintains the equality in the negotiating process for both sides. Although that gives Israel a slight disadvantage since they do have a superior position, it also gives them an opportunity to put into practice the teachings of the Torah.

6. It has significant support from the Arab World.
The two-state solution for Israel and Palestine has seen significant increases in support from the Arab world since 2002. There is also a desire of change from the Palestinian people because they are tired of being in the state of occupation. Their leadership is letting them down with self-destructive tactics that distance them from the rest of the international community. Even though Hamas has risen to become the guiding force in Gaza, Palestinians turned to them not because of the ideology, but because there was more faith in the group to deliver on the promises made.

List of the Cons of a Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine

1. Jerusalem always becomes a sticking point in a two-state solution.
When looking at the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, Jerusalem always becomes the one problem where negotiations end. The global preference for this idea is to split the city in half so that each side can reserve a portion for themselves. The only problem with that solution is that Israelis and Palestinians are both opposed to the idea. That is why the one-state resolution sees more play than the two-state option in many circles. It is the only way to keep the city intact without the need for oversight from the United Nations or another third party.

2. Jews are in favor of a no-compromise solution to the problem.
There has been very little progress on the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine even though it has been the preferred proposal since the 1960s. The reality of politics in the region today is that the no-compromise approach to Zionism is the preferred outcome for most Jews living in the country. It has become such a strong preference that any support for the two-state idea is now considered to be an elitist idea.

A vast majority of Israelis prefer to stand on the idea that Palestine can integrate with Israel to create one nation, and then accept whatever circumstances apply to their socioeconomic demographics afterward. It is a solution that really offers no solution.

3. There are numerous Jewish settlements in what would be Palestinian territories.
Jewish settlements are continuing to grow in the areas that a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine would consider to be under Palestinian Control. This disadvantage creates a significant obstacle in the efforts to pursue a peaceful resolution. Mahmoud Abbas, who serves as the president of the Palestinian Authority, has gone on the record to say that continuing to settle in those areas will eliminate the chances of an effective two-state solution.

Because Palestinians see the Jewish settlements as an invasion into territory that they deem to be their own, there is a real fear on both sides that the risks of instability and extremism are much higher.

4. The two-nation solution could encourage more sectarian violence.
Regional analysts who are familiar with the idea of the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine suggest that it could increase sectarian violence instead of reducing it. By creating two separate nations that divide along ethnic and religious lines, there will always be a rumbling of discontent between the two groups because of the historic hostility that exists.

Palestinians already feel like the Jewish people robbed them of their homeland with their actions in the 1940s. Unless there is a single apartheid state under the Israeli banner, there will always be a level of enmity in the region that will persist even if a favorable outcome for both sides can be developed over time.

5. A limited attempt at the two-state solution has already failed.
It is important to remember that the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine must benefit both parties for it to be an effective outcome. When the Palestinian Authority established in 1994, it took about 10 years for it to start ruling over the Gaza Strip. By 2005, there was a complete withdrawal by the Israelis – even their settlements were destroyed during this process. Palestine had complete control of Judea, Samaria, and the West Bank.

In just two short years, Hamas took over the Gaza Strip immediately. By the Summer of 2007, several rounds of fighting occurred after the terrorist organization won significant electoral victories. That caused Palestinians to form into two groups themselves: one using a theocracy and the other taking the traditional approach as before. The two-nation solution turned into a three-nation problem at that point.

6. It would reduce the amount of foreign aid that Palestinians receive.

When you combine the preferences of Fatah with what Hamas wants from a theocratic standpoint, then you will find that neither one really wants to have a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. If they were able to create their own self-governing state through peaceful negotiation, then their status as a refugee would terminate. At this time, Palestinian refugees receive almost double the amount of resources that people from other nations receive. The two political parties can then skim the funds to manage their existence.

There is little space for opposition politics in Palestine as well. Those who come out publicly for peace with Israel and compensation for the nakba often receive death threats and increase their risks of experiencing an assassination attempt.

7. There would be significant security issues that Israel would face.
The establishment of a Palestinian state would likely come with a heavy dose of armament in the region. You would have anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons, missiles, mortars, and more that could endanger every vehicle in Israeli skies. Vehicles traveling along the coastal highways could become targets. “The frontiers of the Palestinian state with constitute an excellent staging point for mobile forces to mount attacks on infrastructure installations vital for Israel’s existence,” wrote Shimon Peres, “to impede the freedom of action of the Israeli air force in the skies over Israel, and to cause bloodshed among the population.”

8. Any such peace that could exist in the first days would be a militarized one.
The two-state solution for Israel and Palestine creates the threat of additional military buildups because each side would not trust the other to re-establish the status quo. Even when we look back at the peace accord between Egypt and Israel, it required the financial resources of the United States and European allies to keep the peace. There were even stipulations for Palestinian self-rule in that agreement which remain unfilled.

The reality of the militarization in the region is that neither the Egyptians nor the Israelis believe that their treaties are a viable long-term solution. When you add in the various elements of Palestinian governing, then a one-state solution seems like the only viable course since there are so many different elements that would create conflict otherwise.

9. There is no agreement as to how the final multi-state solution should be organized.
Although the world wants a two-state solution to create an independent Palestine from Israel, the reality of this complex situation is that there are multiple solutions under discussion that are worth considering. You could add Gaza into that mix to create a three-state solution. Some suggest that Jordan should be its own state as well, which would create a four-state solution to consider.

The reality of this issue is that neither Hamas nor the Palestinian Authority will accept Israel as a Jewish state. They will not settle for the requirement to de-militarize unless Egypt or Saudi Arabia steps in to provide pressure and guarantees to Palestine. That means we’re left with the status quo.

10. None of the two-state solutions meet the basic needs of the Israeli population.
There are five critical needs that Israel has in the formation of a two-state solution.

  • Security for the entire population.
  • No terrorism or incitement from Palestine.
  • The creation of a liberal democracy based on Judaism.
  • No mass population transfers to manage the situation.
  • The ability to remain a Jewish state.

When looking at the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine (or even the three-state or four-state options), none of them meet the basic needs of the Israeli people. Most of them cannot meet the wants that the Palestinians have either. That’s why neither government is willing to move on any option, even when Egypt could potentially offer part of the Sinai Peninsula as a way to encourage peace by offering more spatial access to a new Palestinian state.

11. There would be evacuation problems to manage that would create long-term costs.
When there was disengagement in 2005 as Israel withdrew from Gaza, about 8,000 Israelis had to leave their homes. In the 36 months after the completion of that event, 60% of the evacuees were still not living in a permanent residence. 30% of them were still out of work, living on stipends provided by the government. The direct cost of the disengagement from only a civilian standpoint was over $2 billion.

When looking at the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, the evacuation required to meet the expected obligations would be about 100,000 people. That means the direct cost would exceed $30 billion. New construction would be necessary, which would then have an immediate impact on real estate pricing throughout the country. The socioeconomic implications of such an event are far-reaching and profound.

12. It could create new military threats.
Even with de-militarization included in the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine, there would still be changes in the military threat that would need to come into consideration. Loosening the borders would create new opportunities for suicide terrorism to occur. The answer to this issue would be better intelligence or a physical barrier, but both of those come with added costs as well.

Because of this issue, especially with the history of Hamas to consider, Israel is just not willing to compromise in any way or to take a chance on reconciliation. Some are still considering it, but those individuals are typically treated as elitists as well.

13. It could create issues with arms smuggling.
The 70-kilometer border that Israel shares with Jordan becomes a complex problem in the two-state solution as well. There would need to be an effective security zone with permanent military facilities to enforce security adequately. That means more than 10% of the West Bank, in addition to other settlement blocs, would become a target for annexation. Since Palestine would likely never agree to such conditions, there would need to be a concession of control at the Jordan-Palestine crossing.

That means the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine would likely exacerbate the problem of arms smuggling in the region. Even if international forces were deployed along the border to stop this traffic, Israelis generally have little confidence in the United Nations. They would likely not accept any such deal either.

Verdict on the Pros and Cons of a Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine

Under the Trump Administration, the United States recognized that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel. The embassy moved into the city to put additional pressure on Palestine to accept what everyone wants. Even Saudi Arabia is thinking about a normalization of relations to establish a foothold that would put another level of pressure on the Palestinian Authority to move toward the two-nation solution.

The problem with the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine is that everyone from outside of the region wants to have their two cents put in place. Everyone has their own best interests to consider. Even Saudi Arabia looks at the idea of cementing a response with the U.S. and Israel to counter Iran’s activities.

The pros and cons of a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine require a reconciliation of Hamas with the Palestinian Authority. As the international community keeps pushing toward this solution over others, the end result will likely be the status quo unless there is a significant shift in the perspective of all involved parties.

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Master's Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years.