What would the Palestinian state of a two-state solution look like?

If we knew the answers to these 10 questions, we'd know whether this apparent panacea would truly advance the cause of peace
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Joe Biden shake hands in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, July 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and US President Joe Biden shake hands in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, July 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Conventional wisdom holds that if only Israel would agree to the two-state solution, then the entire conflict would be resolved. The Biden administration, the EU, and the global media all embrace the two-state solution as a panacea that will stabilize the entire Middle East. They insist Israel should bear the burden and take “bold steps” to pave the way for Palestinian statehood, though details about the nature of such a state remain scant.

Even if the conventional wisdom has a ring of truth, sound US policymaking would require the Palestinians to lay out detailed plans for their future state, so that we can be clear-eyed about what we are advocating. The US has engaged in the peace process for decades, but the Palestinians have never provided any specifics regarding how their future state would function and what policies it would adopt. 

Moreover, the failure of the Palestinian Authority to provide democratic governance for the areas of the West Bank it has controlled since the 1995 Oslo II agreement should give rise to an even greater need for the US and the world to understand exactly what the Palestinians intend to do once they obtain full statehood.

The Palestinians surely must have a firm idea of how their state would be governed and what sort of policies it would embrace. Disclosing those details could go a long way toward convincing skeptics in Israel and elsewhere of the merits of the two-state solution. 

At minimum, therefore, the Palestinians should answer at least the following questions now, to help the world understand what to expect on Day One of statehood and beyond:

First, will the State of Palestine sign a peace treaty with Israel on Day One? Or will it view Israel as an enemy?

Second, will the State of Palestine be a democracy or an autocracy? Will it be secular or theocratic? Will Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorist organizations be banned, or will they be allowed to play a role in governing the State of Palestine?

Third, will the State of Palestine have an army, or will it agree to be demilitarized?

Fourth, will the State of Palestine abide by the broken commitments the PLO undertook in the Oslo Accords to renounce terrorism? Will the State of Palestine continue the Palestinian Authority’s pay-for-slay policy for terrorists and their families?

Fifth, will the State of Palestine maintain trade and other economic relations with Israel? Will it renounce the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel?

Sixth, will the State of Palestine stop teaching its schoolchildren to hate Jews? 

Seventh, will the State of Palestine aspire to borders stretching “from the River to the Sea”? Or will it be content with statehood encompassing only the West Bank and the Gaza Strip?

Eighth, will the State of Palestine drop the various cases it is pursuing against Israel in the international courts?

Ninth, will the State of Palestine establish alliances with Iran, North Korea, Hezbollah, and the Houthis?

Tenth, will the State of Palestine agree to regular and robust international inspections to ensure it is not digging attack tunnels, acquiring or building rockets and other weapons of war, or undertaking any form of potential military or terrorist action against Israel?

The Biden administration and the international community should require the Palestinians to respond to these questions before exerting further pressure on Israel to advance the two-state solution. Only then will we truly know whether we are promoting a project that will advance the cause of peace in the region.

About the Author
Steven E. Zipperstein is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the UCLA Center for Middle East Development. He teaches at UCLA. He is the author of Zionism, Palestinian Nationalism and the Law: 1939-1948 (Routledge, 2021) and Law and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: The Trials of Palestine (Routledge, 2020).
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