Israel Democracy Institute and Institute for National Security Studies
June 4, 2017 https://en.idi.org.il/events/14604
The Israel Democracy Institute and Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) held a two day forum at the end of May 2017, on possible scenarios for the future of Israel. The discussion analyzed two possible scenarios for dealing with the impact of the Six-Day War: the two-state scenario and the one-state scenario. What are the implications of each of potential political solution to the territories, Judea and Samaria? How will Israel be affected in each scenario? What are the implications for democracy, security, Arabs and settlers? What possibilities should be presented to Israel’s leaders as they decide “what both sides want”?
The following is a summary of the points raised:
Lieutenant General (ret.) Moshe Ya’alon, former Minister of Defense: “The gap between us and the Palestinians is huge, and thus we will not reach an agreement in the foreseeable future. We therefore need to act in our own interests—separation, rather than a binational state. When Rabin presented the Oslo Accords for ratification by the Knesset, the vision he described was of a sub-state Palestinian entity. There can be no return to the 1967 borders, because they are not defensible. We need an Israeli military presence on the Jordan River bridges, and we need full Israeli security control of the Jordan Valley—broadly speaking, full Israeli security control over access to Israel by land, sea, and air, and Israeli sovereignty over settlement blocs and a unified Jerusalem.
“If Oslo has achieved anything it is the political separation from the Palestinians. They have a parliament, and so they don’t need to vote for the Knesset. The next step is territorial separation, which is why I don’t agree with the approach of settling every hilltop; rather, settlements should be established according to Israel’s interests and the law. We also need to provide the Palestinians with territorial contiguity, and to allow the residents of Gaza to live their lives. The decisions we make need to be those that facilitate separation, and not those that block any chance of continuing the separation process. In the future, I would seek an agreement that does not involve the transfer of Jews or Arabs, and I can show you how such a map would look. It must also be stated that the current situation has consequences for Israeli society and democracy—the “price tag” attacks and Jewish terror. Therefore, one of the leadership challenges in Israel today is to maintain our moral backbone and democratic foundations within a complex reality.”
MK Stav Shafir (Zionist Union): “The discourse needs to shift to a discourse of interests. For us, as Israelis, this means maintaining a democratic state with a Jewish majority, maintaining national security, maintaining Israel’s international alliances, and maintaining Israel as a moral and just state. It is therefore in our interests to separate—otherwise, we can no longer be a democratic state or a state with a Jewish majority. The problem is that the only question the political system is engaged in is about either being for or against settlements, and how to prevent further dismantlement of settlements. The entire system is being driven by pressure from the settler leadership, everything from distribution of resources to security issues. Today, the settler lobby is in total control of the Likud and the Israeli Right, and thus of the entire political system.”
Brigadier General (ret.) Udi Dekel, Director of the Institute for National Security Studies: “The discussion is about end states rather than about the process that leads to them. The most stable scenario is that of a two-state solution as part of a comprehensive agreement. This outcome, and the scenario of establishing a Palestinian state with temporary borders (not as part of a permanent agreement), are both predicated on a Palestinian entity that is responsible, stable, cooperative, and functioning. It is thus in Israel’s interests, together with the Arab world and the international community, to help the Palestinians create a proper basis for effective governance. During the workshop, it became worryingly apparent that we could slip into a one-state reality because of the reluctance of our leadership to make difficult decisions. This would be preferable from the perspective of a group containing the Israeli Right, the young generation of Palestinians, and even Arab citizens of Israel, on the assumption that this one state would be a ‘state of all its citizens.’ The more one goes into the details, however, the more it becomes clear that this would be an unstable situation that would raise a host of problems, make it impossible to reach agreement, reinforce the national and religious identities of the two societies (Jewish and Arab), and possibly even lead to civil war. We must therefore change direction, from a slide toward a single state with two very different societies in terms of identity and rights, and instead create the conditions for separation and forming a two-state reality.”
Yohanan Plesner, President, Israel Democracy Institute: “The Palestinians and the Israeli political systems share an inability to make difficult decisions, and as a result, although there is no broad public support for this, we are in fact moving toward a reality of a single state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. In 1967, we annexed East Jerusalem and announced our intention to create a unified city. Anyone familiar with the realities on the ground knows that this intention remains unfulfilled. Jabel Mukaber and Shuafat are not, in practice, part of a unified Jerusalem. Having failed to carry out the unification of Jerusalem, there is no likelihood that we would succeed in unification at a national level. That is, reality teaches us that we cannot have a Jewish, democratic, egalitarian state within a single-state scenario, which is where we are currently heading, even if we have not consciously decided to do so.”
Oded Revivi, Head, Efrat Local Council: “I fully understand that, if we go with one state, then we will grant equal rights, and so we could end up with an Arab Minister of Defense. I don’t think that all Israeli citizens understand this. But then, I wish it were the case that we could rely on the Arabs and live with them together. In Judea and Samaria, the settlers have managed to create a reality of coexistence. The settlements are not an obstacle to peace; the joint industrial zones in Judea and Samaria are an island of peace.”
Dalia Halabi, Director of Dirasat, the Arab Center for Law and Policy: “The possible Israeli response following a contraction to the 1967 borders is a return to strengthening Jewish elements and Jewish national identity. This could lead to the development of radical nationalist ideas, including even ideas about transferring the Arab citizens of Israel, and viewing the Palestinian minority in Israel as a scapegoat. Thus, before anything else, we need to be concerned with reconciliation.”
Jody Barrett, Head of the Regional Affairs Unit, Office of the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process: “Since Oslo, the international community has reached the conclusion that the two-state solution is the only possibility for achieving peace and security and answering the needs of both sides. The scenario of a two-state solution without a formal agreement is a far more complex one for the international community, unless this were defined as an interim stage toward a comprehensive permanent agreement. A state that does not control its borders is an anomaly, and it would be difficult for the community to accept it unless it were a step on the road to a permanent solution.”
Dr. Adv. Hiba Husseini: “We, the Palestinians, do not believe that having a single state is a sustainable solution, and the status quo is problematic because it harms the possibility of reconciliation, the legitimacy of our leadership, and our ability to reach an agreement. I know that there are doubts about our leadership’s capacity for attaining an agreement and implementing it. But all those who claim that there is no legitimate Palestinian leadership and no partner, should understand clearly that the relatively quiet security situation exists because the Palestinian leadership ensures that things remain calm.”
Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, Vice President for Research, Israel Democracy Institute: “Even should settlements be dismantled, the settlement enterprise can be framed as a tremendous accomplishment for the State of Israel. When their ideals are being shattered, people should be able to come out of it with their heads held high, rather than defeated. There are tremendous advantages to an agreement, such as getting rid of the moral problem of controlling the lives of another people, even if they do have a parliament. We would also do away with the need to demonize the other and canonize ourselves, which is a feature of every conflict between two peoples. This would be an opportunity for Israel to make great strides forward, such as establishing a constitution, and shifting the Israeli political system to a more normalized condition in which debate is focused on socioeconomic issues.”