Time for a One-State Solution
At the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, mediators proposed a two-state solution to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict. Yet, thirty years later, peace continues to elude world leaders. The conflict has consumed billions of dollars and taken thousands of lives. It’s time to try a new approach. By proposing a one-state solution, the United States can end the conflict and bolster Israeli, Palestinian, and U.S. national interests.
Peace between Israel and its neighbors is crucial for stability in the Middle East as well as the protection and promotion of U.S. interests. Yet, the Trump administration’s policies – moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, ending aid to Palestine, and normalizing relations in the region through the Abraham Accords – diminished the possibility of a two-state solution. Palestine no longer views the U.S. as a fair mediator. It cut ties with the United States and Israel, dashing hopes of a peace agreement. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interpreted these policies as implicit U.S. support to expand Israeli settlements, further integrating the Arab and Jewish populations.
A unified state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians would serve the interests of all parties. Israel would gain security, stability and enhance its standing within the United Nations. Palestinians would gain citizenship, equal rights, and economic opportunity. Most importantly, a one-state solution would serve U.S. national security interests because it would stabilize the region and create broader opportunities for economic growth and political reform in the Middle East.
A unified state would end the acute humanitarian crisis and military occupation of Palestine. Palestinians would no longer have to rely on international aid to survive. Increased opportunity and prosperity would assuage Palestinian militant groups’ hostility toward Israel and foster an environment conducive for reconciliation. Peace negotiations would provide the opportunity to discuss the gradual return of millions of Palestinian refugees to their homeland.
A unified state proposal would restore equity to U.S. mediation efforts previously perceived to favor Israel, enticing both parties to join the peace table. A one-state solution would signal to the world that the U.S. can effectively serve as a mediator and provide innovative solutions to end conflicts. Holding these negotiations would bolster U.S. mediation efforts in Afghanistan, Colombia, and elsewhere.
A two-state solution is no longer feasible. Israeli settlements have expanded within the last four years, irreversibly intertwining the Jewish and Arab populations. It’s impossible to create a partition cleanly separating the two populations. A two-state solution would require population transfers to ensure Palestinians are not in Israel and vice versa. The world would interpret U.S. action to enforce population transfers as supporting a form of ethnic cleansing.
The moment is ripe to propose a one-state solution. Data indicates that Israelis and Palestinians are increasingly open to a one-state solution as the conflict persists. There is no consensus in Israel on how to achieve a two-state solution and dwindling public support for it because Netanyahu has made so little effort to negotiate. Most Palestinians no longer see an independent state as a viable option due to years of failure and frustration. The U.S. can win broad support for a one-state solution if mediators can demonstrate that it is advantageous to both Israelis and Palestinians.
Policymakers have spent thirty years tinkering with the same two-state solution. Now is the time for a more innovative and viable approach. A one-state solution will protect and promote U.S. national security interests. It will stabilize the region and save lives. It will bring to both Israelis and Palestinians prosperity and peace.