The ’67 Solution

The ’67 Solution:

The Way Out of the Israel-Palestine Problem

There’s a solution to the seemingly intractable Israel-Palestine problem, and a way to stop the sharp rise of antisemitism, but hardly anyone is talking about it—at least not in English-speaking publications. It’s neither the one-state solution nor the two-state solution, but what I’ll call it the ’67 solution.

What’s the ’67 solution? It’s basically going back to the 1967 borders—but without creating a Palestinian state.

I’ll explain how that works, but first I’ll clarify why the one- and two-state solutions are no longer viable options.

In one version of the one-state solution, in which the Palestinian territories are fully integrated into Israel, Israel would become a fully democratic state, with non-Jews having the same political rights as Jews. The problem with this is that if non-Jews outnumber Jews and have greater voting power, then Israel would lose its intrinsic Jewish character—and also lose the very purpose of the state as a haven for Jewish people. Not only could Muslim Israelis vote, for example, to change the national flag, but they could create laws that could result in Jews being second class citizens, as many non-Jews are now. This is why many people say Israel can be democratic or it can be Jewish, but it can’t be both. And if we take the Israeli far-right’s version of a one-state solution, in which non-Jews are not granted full democratic rights, then you’d have a continued discriminatory system in which about 8 million Jews are oppressing many millions of non-Jews. This is obviously is a recipe for disaster, with perpetual violence and condemnations of apartheid. It’s a no go.

That’s that for the one-state solution.

Though the two-state solution could have been viable at one time, especially when the UN proposed two states in 1947, it’s no longer a serious option. For starters, due to the Byzantine zoning system Israel has set up in the West Bank—with areas settled by Israelis governed by Israel, and Palestinian areas governed by the Palestinian Authority—the resulting Palestinian state would not be a cohesive state with integrated national borders but more like Swiss cheese, or hundreds of islands in an Israeli sea, as the Trump-proposed two state map displayed. Such a “state” would be humiliating to Palestinians, only fueling resentment.

Another problem with the two-state solution is the inevitable territorial gap between the remnants of the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian passage between those disparate regions of a state would be inaccessible, or at least an extremely cumbersome process to pass through, with as many check points and security barriers as there are now. So that’s also a no go.

Finally, who would govern a Palestinian state? Currently, there is no viable Palestinian leadership. The Palestinian Authority lacks authority, as it’s notoriously corrupt and incompetent. Hamas is totally incapable of governing, as it’s solely determined to eradicate Israel; even if the world community allowed Hamas to govern, that would again be a recipe for disaster, as wars would inevitably result. The other potential Palestinian political entities, such as Palestinian jihad, are even worse. The disconcerting fact is that, according to recent polls, an overwhelming majority of Palestinians approve of the October 7 massacre, and are unfortunately not willing to be partners in a peaceful, side-by-side two-state coexistence.

That’s that for the two-state solution.

Now we get to the ’67 solution, which, as I mentioned, is a loose return to the borders of 1967, without the creation of a Palestinian state. But if a Palestinian state is not created, then what happens to Gaza and the West Bank? Israel returns those areas to Egypt and Jordan, respectively, and keeps the Golan Heights.

Whoa whoa whoa, you might be thinking. That will never happen. After all, that’s how things were and it didn’t work out —Israel conquered those areas and needs them as security buffers. Well, it didn’t work between 1948 and 1967 because back then Egypt and Jordan were Israel’s enemies. In fact, before the 1990s, no one spoke of an Israel-Palestine conflict, but an Israel-Arab conflict. Today, that conflict has mostly been resolved. Israel and Jordan and Egypt have normalized relations and been partners in peace for decades. And thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel has normalized relations with many Arab countries, and was on the way to doing so with Saudi Arabia itself. That is to say, though the 1967 borders weren’t sustainable before, they are today.

What about the settlements? Well, about 70% of Israeli settlements in the West Bank are adjacent to Jerusalem, and so they’d remain part of Israel as part of Great Jerusalem, which would retain its diverse demographic. The other settlements would become part of Jordan, and those settlers could decide if they wanted to become citizens of Jordan, or if they wanted to relocate to Israel. Eventually, as Jordanian or Egyptian citizens, Palestinians could visit Al-Aqsa, just as Israelis could visit Hebron.

But wait, you may be thinking, the Palestinians won’t go for this. They’ll demand their own state. True, but look: the Kurds also demand their own state, but the world community isn’t forcing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq to give up land in order to create Kurdistan. The Uyghurs, Tibetans, and Basques each also want their own state, but they’re not likely getting one.

Egypt may not want to take back Gaza, and Jordan may not want to take back the West Bank. But they should as a measure of accountability; after all, they were in control of these areas for decades, but did not create a Palestinian state when they could have. And now one can’t be created, for the reasons I outlined above.

Yes, it would add security responsibilities for Egypt and Jordan, but they’re already policing the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadist groups. So with the support of the world community, they’d do the same with whatever security problems Palestinian jihadists pose. And isn’t that much better than having Israel continue to do so? Palestinians are Arabs, after all, and so logically they should be governed by Arabs. This alone would mitigate most of global antisemitism—or at least the justification for it. Israel would no longer have to bomb Gaza or conduct raids in the West Bank. It’d get the world off of Israel’s back. And it’d give the Palestinians a chance to build dignified lives within a functioning society.

Though of course Palestinians would prefer to govern themselves, I’m confident that if you ask Gazans if they’d rather be governed by Egypt or Israel, they’d say Egypt. And if you asked Palestinians in the West Bank if they’d rather be governed by Jordan or Israel, they’d say Jordan. Similarly, if you asked Israelis if they’d rather govern Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, or let Jordan and Egypt do so, they’d say the latter. Israelis want to move on from their Palestinian problem, just as the world wants to move on from the Israel-Palestine problem.

And though it may not be perfect, the ’67 solution is the way out of that problem.

In fact, it may be the only solution.

About the Author
Randy Rosenthal is the author of The Orient Express, Dear Burma, and The Messiah of Shangri-La. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Review of Books, The Boston Globe, The Jerusalem Post, The American Scholar, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, Lion's Roar, Buddhadharma, and other publications. He teaches writing courses for Harvard University and lives in Boston.
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