Many times people ask what the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict looks like. And many are discouraged because of the unlikelihood of a realistic tangible solution. For me, there is no such thing as no solution. It is not within our nature to be hopeless, and when there is a will, there is always a way. It is not impossible to solve our conflict. It is possible when we begin to believe in a solution.
So, what are the current options ahead for solving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict? The most commonly envisioned options are either a one-state solution or a two-state solution. I would like to offer that any viable plan begins with a third-state solution.
A one-state solution means that both Israelis and Palestinians would live in one state. Those that promote this option are often academics and activists who call for a model of one-man, one vote, in principle, an equal system. However, it is not clear how this state would function. Will it truly be based on equality, Jewish sovereignty or a federation of some sort? This solution focuses on a limited form of sharing resources between both people. This is not an option that international politicians seem to talk much about because they are too busy promoting the two-state solution. Furthermore, such a solution seems to be perceived as a lose-lose situation for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Israelis will not have an exclusive homeland for the Jews, and the Palestinian will not have an exclusive one for them either.
A two-state solution means that a Palestinian state would be established according to the 1967 borders, alongside Israel. As much as international politicians are pushing for this, local politicians are not convinced on this solution. In spite of giving the customary and required nod of approval to this idea for international support, Israeli governments have been active in undermining this process in their approval of settlement expansion. For many right-wing pro-settler and pro-expansion Israelis, granting the Palestinians a state of their own is considered the beginning of the annihilation of their existence. To withdraw all Israeli control over the West Bank and Gaza is not a move Israelis are willing to take. For Palestinians, the existing and newborn settlements inside the West Bank limit the possibility of a state, while yet furthering their aspiration for an independent geographical country to call their own.
A third-state solution honestly looks at the previous two options and their current limitations. Let me ask you a few questions:
- Do you think we, Palestinians and Israelis, can live together?
- Do you believe that we, Palestinians and Israelis, want to live in peace?
- Do you want to do something about making this happen?
If you answered no, then you are affirming that violence is the only solution and we are to continue living in a war zone for an endless time to be.
Add if you answered yes, then you are already part of the third-state solution. A solution is not going to come by focusing on what peace will look like, but first and foremost in believing that it is possible. It is about desiring it to the point that we, Palestinians and Israelis, move our leaders to this third option, a new state of mind! It is something we must believe in together, and as an Israeli-Palestinian situated between both the Israeli and Palestinian Jewish/Christian/Muslim populations of the Holy Land, it is something I believe many people truly want. If we don’t want to live in peace, then we make it hard on ourselves, and our next generations to transform our minds to include each other to live in peace.