Eric Lankin
Jewish Nonprofit pro and Adjunct Professor HUJI

How to Save the Two-State Solution

Is the two-state solution still alive? Although Secretary of State Kerry seems to be running out of steam, I am glad to hear that the Israelis and the Palestinians are still talking. It’s true that every proposal for a two-state solution has been rejected by the Arabs since the Peel Commission of 1937.  Still, I hope that if the Palestinians adopt this ten-point plan, they will be and will acquire in Israel a real partner for peace. Here is a ten- point plan for the Palestinians to achieve their dream for a state of their own next to Israel:

1) Change your rhetoric on the “Jewish State” It really gets under the skin of most Israelis when you deny the Jews right to self-determination in their own state. Menachem Begin, in a Knesset speech in 1977 noted “We were granted our right to exist by the God of our fathers at the glimmer of the dawn of human civilization four thousand years ago. Hence, the Jewish people have an historic, eternal and inalienable right to exist in this land, Eretz Yisrael, the land of our forefathers. We need nobody’s recognition in asserting this inalienable right. And for this inalienable right, which has been sanctified in Jewish blood from generation to generation, we have paid a price unexampled in the annals of nations.”

However, by denying the right of a Jewish state, the Palestinian Authority make Israelis think that a peace agreement will not be the end of the conflict. Even in the shuk, once an agreement on price is made after serious bargaining, the item sought changes hands and everyone is happy. Therefore, convey to the media in Hebrew, Arabic and English that a peace agreement will mean an end to the conflict even if you can’t utter the words “Jewish state”. We don’t need your recognition of the legitimacy of our national aspirations anyway.

2) Judenrein, again? No Jew wants to hear that Jews will not be permitted to live in a Palestinian state. It galls us that Jews are allowed to live everywhere in the world except in a future Palestinian state including parts of the historical land of Israel. Moreover, convince the Israelis that the government that the Palestinians will establish to ensure the rule of law will protect them, too. The Israeli Jews protect the Israeli Arabs under the rule of law. You can do the same.

3) Stop teaching hatred of Israel and Jews– Even a cursory look at the educational curricula taught to children in the areas of the Palestinian Authority clearly demonizes Jews and Israel. You should know by now that Jews aren’t stupid (compare the number of Jewish Nobel prize laureates to everybody else in the world) and we are big on children’s education. We know, after thousands of years, that our future depends on what we teach our kids. Without changing the curricula, we know that any piece of paper signed won’t mean anything if your kids are continuing to be taught to hate us.

4) Denying the historical connection of the Jews to the Land of Israel, really?- Your political and religious leaders keep saying that the Jews are occupiers and foreigners but we know, at the same time, the Waqf is working double-time to dig up and destroy Jewish antiquities on the Temple Mount.  By making these claims, you are making yourself a laughingstock on the world stage. Stick a shovel in any part of the Land of Israel and you will find Jewish artifacts. Interestingly, the Jews aren’t claiming that there wasn’t an historical Muslim presence in the Land of Israel but only that the Muslims were latecomers (about 2000 years after the Jews).

5) Stop being proud of killing innocent civilians– Every time a street or square under Palestinian rule is named after a terrorist who planned and killed innocent Israeli civilians, it gets under our fingernails. If the Palestinian leadership want to claim that these activities reflect the past and not a peaceful present and future, by calling these murderers “martyrs “, you are convincing the Israelis otherwise.

6) Get your governance in order– Right now, the Palestinian Authority is led by a man whose official term as President ended years ago. If you get your governance in order, with legitimately elected leaders, then any piece of paper the Israelis and Palestinians sign has the potential to mean something. The present situation where Abu Mazen claims leadership but then claims that he doesn’t have the power to enforce a peace treaty where the conflict will end is ridiculous and doesn’t fool smart Jews (see #3).

7. Love the land as much as the Israelis do. Palestinian physical abuse of the land is well documented. Over-pumping of fresh water from the aquifers shared by the P.A. and Israel, setting arson fires in national parks and refusing to actively reuse water by allowing raw sewage to be pumped into rivers are just some of the examples of Palestinian activities. By dedicating your governance to preserving the environment that obviously will be shared will go a long way in convincing Israelis that you want to share the land.

8. Palestinian Christians are the canary in the mine– The Palestinian Authority claims that it represents all Arab people in the region. However, many Christian Arabs are not fooled because throughout the Middle East Christians are being abused and oppressed by the Muslim majorities. Even in Manger Square in Bethlehem, the Muslims have kicked out the Christians. Every time Muslim leaders state that they will treat Christians and Jews as dhimmis, as protected citizens, the Christians remember that dhimmitude means second-class citizenship. The P.A. should go out of its way to actively reassure Christians (and Jews) that they have a legitimate and equal place with Muslims in a Palestinian state.

9. Encourage peaceful ties– If the Palestinian Authority’s goal is to live in peace with Israel, then start promoting peace. The P. A. should expend as much rhetoric and energy on creating and encouraging people- to- people ties as they do getting Israel to release terrorists and murderers from its jails.  Music, art and other cultural activities that promote coexistence should be actively encouraged, as well as business ties, as a way to teach peace. The P.A. should stop sponsoring and promoting all boycott and divestment activities across the world because they hurt your people as much as hurting Israel.

10. To really make peace, find out what the Israelis are most concerned about and demand that the Israelis do the same for you– Security, secure borders and more security are the three most significant Israeli concerns. What are the three most significant Palestinian concerns? It seems that the P.A. positions are proclaiming: deny the Jews right to a state; free terrorists who killed innocent civilians; and right of return.  But what about the state you want to proclaim, what will be its priorities?

I am convinced that if the above ten points are proclaimed by the Palestinian Authority and accepted by the Palestinian people, most Israelis would embrace the prospects for peace and would call on their government to negotiate actively. What has been described in the media as the ambivalence or at least lack of enthusiasm of the Netanyahu government to the peace negotiations is directly related to a lack of progress by the P.A. on the above ten points. On the whole and with great sadness, I am very pessimistic.


About the Author
Rabbi Dr. Eric Lankin is the president of Lankin Consulting and an adjunct professor in the MA program in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has volunteered working with Jews in recovery for over 30 years. His family made aliyah in 2017. 
Related Topics
Related Posts