In Israeli political debate over the future of Judea and Samaria, it is not uncommon that these two statements enter into the discourse. Both of these statements, despite how frequently they are repeated, have little basis in history and are simply a couple of political myths.
Myth number one: The Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict is a solution that was accepted for the first time during the Oslo Accords, and following the Six Day War it was considered a radical idea by most of Israel’s left-wing political establishment.
Myth number two: The One-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict was never popular amongst right-wing Israeli politicians, and has only seriously entered the political discourse in recent years.
Selective memory, perhaps?
It is true that the mainstream of Israel’s left used to support Yigal Allon’s Plan; Israel would relinquish the populated Arab areas of Judea and Samaria to Jordan instead of to a new Arab State, in exchange for peace. However, the Allon Plan was developed in 1968, and during the time directly after the Six Day War, many viewed territorial concessions to Jordan as contrary to Israel’s necessary security requirements.
Before the publication of the Allon Plan, the strongest opponent of conceding land to Jordan was Allon himself.
“The last thing we must do is to return one inch of the West Bank [to King Hussein of Jordan]. We must not view Hussein as existing forever- today it is Hussein, but tomorrow it is Nabulsi, and the day after that some Syrian will take hold of them and following that they will make a defense pact with the Soviet Union and China and we’ll find ourselves in a much more difficult position” Allon said.
So if not Jordan, then who should manage the daily lives of the Palestinians? Allon elaborated on this point.
“I am taking the maximum possibility. Not a canton, not an autonomous region, but an independent [Palestinian] Arab State agreed on between us and them” he said.
Then Prime Minister Levi Eshkol embraced this idea warmly. Eshkol said that he would at first only accept the establishment of a “quasi-independent region,” but he would eventually allow this region to gain “representation in the United Nations” and “independence.” Almost instantly after the war, representatives of the Israeli Government met with Arab leaders in Judea and Samaria to discuss this option.
Once it became clear that the Palestinians would refuse to cooperate with Israel, people like Allon were forced to change their minds about the desirability of the Jordanian option. Allon would later draft the popular political solution that involved returning land to Jordan, and the Two-State Solution was temporarily cast into the dustbin of history.
Same story, different characters
For the many years during and after Menachem Begin’s time as Prime Minister, the right-wing was nearly united around his political platform regarding the Palestinians of Judea and Samaria. They would have limited autonomy within a greater framework of Israeli Sovereignty, an initiative which became known as the Autonomy Plan.
However, influential right-wingers such as Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin are beginning to reject this famous plan, for the One-State Solution (the total annexation of Judea and Samaria) seems to be more appealing to them. Many Israelis feel that this solution has come out of nowhere and is therefore new to mainstream discussion, but a true understanding of history would show that this solution is older then one may think.
Allon was not the only person who changed his mind on the future of Judea and Samaria. Before Begin proposed his Autonomy Plan, he believed in a completely different solution to the conflict.
After he joined the cabinet for the first time in his political career, he sat down at a meeting on August 20th, 1967, and presented his preferred solution. “If an Arab from Shehem (Nablus) wants to become a citizen of the state of Israel, he’s entitled” Begin said. He opposed the idea of a “bi-national state,” but accepted the idea of a single “bi-ethnic” state west of the Jordan River.
After Begin became Prime Minister and signed the Camp David Accords with Egypt, his autonomy plan reduced the possibility of a One-State Solution, for the accords required that Israel grant autonomy to the Palestinians of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. This plan, that is now viewed by many as a new and radical idea, was at one point the main political platform of the right-wing’s de facto leader.
Will these solutions again fall out of the public discourse? If their viability proves to be unrealistic in the coming years, then such a thing may happen. If so, do Israeli politicians have another solution up their sleeves?