The Two-Legislature Solution vs. One Binational State

Some have pointed out that the Two-Legislature Solution looks awfully like a One Binational State Solution.  It is.  And it isn’t.

The founders of Israel were the first to propose a single, binational state in the Israeli Declaration of Independence which states; “THE STATE OF ISRAEL will be open for Jewish immigration and for the Ingathering of the Exiles; it will foster the development of the country for the benefit of all its inhabitants; it will be based on freedom, justice and peace as envisaged by the prophets of Israel; it will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex; it will guarantee freedom of religion, conscience, language, education and culture; it will safeguard the Holy Places of all religions; and it will be faithful to the principles of the Charter of the United Nations.”

But Israel had a demographic problem.  As noted above, it was founded by Zionists who wished to create a home where Jews from all over the world could find safe haven and live by codes passed down from the Prophets augmented by modern concepts of democracy.  A place where freedom, justice and equality would be the touchstones of governance.  A place where non-Jews could live in harmony with Jews.  But Jews worried that if they were not the majority to make sure these concepts of freedom, justice and equality would be maintained, a non-Jewish majority would result in subjection, injustice, and inequality being perpetrated upon the Jews themselves.

In theory this should not have been a problem since the Jewish world population outnumbered the local population within British Mandatory Palestine at the time of the founding of the State of Israel (Jewish Virtual Library,Vital Statistics: Jewish Population of the World (1882 – Present).  If the majority of Jews were to heed the call to immigrate to Israel, a Jewish majority could be maintained.  However, timing was not on the side of the founders of the State of Israel.  Jews were reluctant to immigrate to an underdeveloped desert country with an uncertain future.  According to Yosef Grodzinsky in his book, “In the Shadow of the Holocaust” (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2004), even of those Jewish Displaced Persons in Europe who had survived the Holocaust, 95 percent of whom favored the creation of a Jewish homeland in Palestine, only 42 percent opted to go to Israel.

As it came to pass, about 750,000 non-Jewish residents of British Mandatory Palestine left the Jewish controlled areas during the Israeli War of Independence – most of whom were not permitted to return.  Of those who did not emigrate to other countries, they and their descendants continue to live in refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the Gaza Strip, and in what was then Jordanian controlled areas on the West Bank of the Jordan River (See UNRWA Registered Population Dashboard).  This shift in population made sure that Israel could be established as the only functioning democracy in the Middle East based on freedom, justice and equality but with a Jewish majority.  Continued immigration of Jews after the war, especially from Arab countries and more recently the former Soviet Union, ensured that Jews would continue to be a majority.  The reality of the dedication of the State of Israel to its key principals is nowhere more apparent than in the fact that fully one fifth of Israeli citizens are non-Jews.  And so, Israel was a binational state.

But the demographic problem returned. After cross border violence from Palestinians in the Jordanian controlled West Bank and apparent aggression from Syria and Egypt, Israel took control of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in the Six Day War of 1967.  Throughout the years since, violence perpetrated by Palestinian resistance movements in the West Bank spurred on by the support of those Palestinians who wished to return to their homes within the borders of Israel, including terrorism that killed Israeli civilians and members of the Israeli Defense Force along with rocket attacks from Hamas in the Gaza Strip, resulted in Israel continuing military and/or economic control of these areas.

What to do with these areas and the people who live there is a problem because the total population of non-Jewish persons living in all Israeli controlled areas between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea now outnumbers the Jewish population.  Israelis believe that incorporating this non-Jewish population into a binational Israel would result in discriminatory laws against the Jews and possibly persecution or expulsion of the Jews.

This impasse has resulted in 50 plus years of indecision, fear, and violence because Israel cannot move itself either to accept the non-Jews in a binational state or to expel or utterly destroy them, seeing neither as a Jewish alternative.  But a Two-Legislature Solution is.

About the Author
Mr. Ashley is a Mining Engineer with 36 years of experience in the mining industry. He holds a B.S. in Mining Engineering, an M.S. in Mining Engineering (Geostatistics), and an MBA. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Nevada (Retired). He has worked on evaluation and development of more than 50 mining projects located in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Suriname, Thailand and the USA, involving commodities as diverse as aluminum (including bauxite and alumina), coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, kaolin, lignite, nickel, oil shale, potash, silver, uranium and zinc. Since his retirement he has dedicated his life to supporting causes that promote sustainable peace and development for all and working within his community to support democracy and good government doing such things as working on the Civil Grand Jury in his County and working as a Poll Worker and Trainer of Poll Workers.