It is incredibly simple for Westerners and Europeans to look at the often hostile situation occurring in Israel between Palestinians and Israeli’s and become frustrated. From this frustration we cannot seem to understand why these two groups don’t just compromise for a two state solution and solve all of these problems, but the fact of the matter is, is that this issue is vastly more complex than that. Westerners, and others not directly related, have always easily divided up the land of nations that are not their own and this is no different. If a two state solution has any hope of succeeding it has to be chosen by both groups of people, and not just implemented by the Israeli and Palestinian government, or American government for that matter. I cannot say, with any validity, what is the most viable option because I feel I have no real connection to this land, at least not in the way many people fighting for this do. I am merely attempting to promote ideas other than the current one of strife and violence.
To begin, what exactly is the two state solution? This solution calls for two equal states for two peoples, within the area that is now considered Israel and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Another aspect of this solution that appeals to many parties, and sets it apart from ideas for an independent Palestinian state, is that is promotes direct dialogue and negotiations between the two groups. It seems to be difficult to gauge actual support or opposition to this solution. In one source, 46% of Israeli’s and Palestinians polled supported the two-state solution while in another 85% of Arabs polled in six different countries supported a two-state solution based on the 1967 boundaries but 55% of them felt that Israel would never agree to it. http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=183818
While the two state solution seemingly fixes all problems automatically between these two groups there is much more that needs to be considered. If a two state solution is mandated there is the issue of determining the borders for the “new” Palestinian areas. There is also the issue that the new area appears to include a considerably smaller portion of land than the Palestinians once inhabited in 1967. Within these new borders being drawn there is ongoing discussion of what constitutes Palestinian citizenship and also what will be done with Palestinian refugees. According to passia.org, it is highly unlikely that current negotiations will ultimately assist refugees in returning to their homelands, “except perhaps in symbolic or token numbers.” And also within this new context it is likely that there will still be disputes over the Jordan Valley and Arab Jerusalem. (http://www.passia.org/meetings/2004/April-01-Two-State-Solution.htm) Issues surrounding the stability of the Palestinian political system also continues to be called into question. Israel has adamantly stated that they will not consider negotiations with a Palestine that includes Hamas, a terrorist organization based in Palestine. However, in another perspective, some feel that this statement on behalf of Israel is one that is simply being used to hide the fact that Israel has never legitimately considered supporting an actual Palestinian state. (http://www.newstatesman.com/middle-east/2009/04/palestinian-state-israel)
Along with the two state solution there are other theories that merit consideration. One such solution is the one-nation solution. This solution focuses on a single state based on different territories, meaning, Israel, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Under this solution people from all three territories would have equal rights to citizenship, disregarding religion and ethnicity. http://electronicintifada.net/ Similar to the two state solution, there is much controversy surrounding this theory as well. Many feel that this solution is a somewhat more secular approach to the issue, which depending on your viewpoint can either be a good thing or a bad thing. However, the land in dispute is considered a religious homeland for millions of people and this is not just a political issue.
It is difficult to say if a lasting solution will be reached within our lifetime but I can surely say that I think one day this will be resolved. It is particularly complex due to the inextricable connection between history, religion, and the land itself therefore an easy solution cannot be expected. Ultimately, in my opinion, the United States does not need to have direct involvement in the solution. The U.S. has tried numerous times to “save” Middle Eastern countries and “fix” them with their idea of Western democracy etc. but that will not last for very long. This solution needs to come from a desire by the people and implemented for the people. I cannot begin to cover every aspect of this conflict and every possible solution and I have only covered a speck of that in this post but what can be taken from this is that people do want change and are working towards a better future for Palestinians and the area at large.