The Two-State Solution Doesn't Solve Anything

[New York Times] Hussein Agha and Robert Malley - Mr. Netanyahu underscores that Israel must be recognized as a Jewish state - and recalls that the conflict began before the West Bank or Gaza were occupied. Palestinians, in turn, reject recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, uphold the refugees' rights and maintain that if Israel wants real closure, it will need to pay with more than mere statehood. The conflict can be settled only by looking past the occupation to questions born in 1948 - Arab rejection of the newborn Jewish state and the dispossession and dislocation of Palestinian refugees. Both positions enjoy broad support within their respective communities. Few Israelis quarrel with the insistence that Israel be recognized as a Jewish state. It encapsulates their profound aspiration, rooted in the history of the Jewish people, for a fully accepted presence in the land of their forebears - for an end to Arab questioning of Israel's legitimacy, the specter of the Palestinian refugees' return and any irredentist sentiment among Israel's Arab citizens. Even fewer Palestinians take issue with the categorical rebuff of that demand, as the recent Fatah congress in Bethlehem confirmed. In their eyes, to accept Israel as a Jewish state would legitimize the Zionist enterprise that brought about their tragedy. These stands run against the grain of a peace process whose central premise is that ending the occupation and establishing a viable Palestinian state will bring this matter to a close. It is hard today to imagine a resolution that does not entail two states. But two states may not be a true resolution if the roots of this clash are ignored. Hussein Agha is a senior associate member of St Antony's College, Oxford. Robert Malley, director of the Middle East Program at the International Crisis Group, was special assistant for Arab-Israeli affairs to President Clinton (1998-2001).

2009-08-13 06:00:00

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