Will Trump abandon ‘two-state’ solution?

By Shu Meng Source:Global Times Published: 2017/2/20 11:33:39

In a joint press conference with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week, US President Donald Trump said he was looking at a two-state and a one-state solution to the strife between Israel and Palestine, and liked "the one that both parties like." "I could live with either one," Trump said, backing away from the two-state solution that his predecessor Barack Obama reiterated before retiring.

The two-state solution, which allows Palestine and Israel to be two independent states and share the land resources of the region, has been widely accepted as the solution to peace between the two sides and also a key part of US policy on the Middle East. If the Trump administration does abandon the two-state solution, there will be a fundamental change to the US policy on Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The prospect seems dark.

For starters, the one-state solution cannot ensure national equality within the state. Israel is leading in the Middle East with its rapid development in technology, production and agriculture. In comparison, Palestine is much more underdeveloped due to long-time liberation struggles. Having controlled the region for decades, Israel has advantages in many sectors and Palestine has to rely heavily on the Israeli economy. In this context, Israelis and the Palestinians cannot coexist on an equal footing in one state.

If the US couldn't take a balanced stance, the one-state solution will end up creating a country dominated by Jews, with Arabs on the lower rungs of the social ladder.

Besides, a one-state solution does not help the reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians and has been expressly opposed by the Palestinians. Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a long-standing issue and to fix it requires careful considerations of the core concerns of both sides.

The two sides need to acknowledge each other's right to live in the area before advancing to a more peaceful coexistence. This will be a gradual process, not simply putting the two in the frame of one state. As two entities, the Palestinians and the Israelis can coexist, but cannot be converged in the foreseeable future.

Moreover, the one-state solution may even worsen the status quo. Many attacks by Palestinian Islamic organizations aim to reclaim their lost homeland. For example, Hamas has written in their charter that the only reason for Jihad's actions is recovering the lost homeland and they mainly target Israel instead of the US and other Western countries, which is different from many Islamic organizations in Western Asia and northern Africa.

If the US keeps pushing forward the one-state solution, it will aggravate the conflict and give rise to more extremist attacks. Once some radical Palestinian refugees travel to other regions because they can't settle down in Israel, they will become a looming threat to regional security.

Fortunately, although Trump seems to be pivoting toward the one-state solution, he doesn't intend to completely give up the two-state solution. Hopefully, what the blunt president said is just a casual idea, not a weather vane of US Middle East policy in the future.

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the core problem in the Middle East that is hard to solve. The current turmoil in the Middle East closely relates to the previous US policy. If the Trump administration does adopt the one-state solution in actions and policy, it will do nothing but cause more upheaval in the region.

The author is an assistant researcher at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn Follow us on Twitter at @GTopinion

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