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TWO-STATES STILL FEASIBLE ON ALL FOUR KEY ISSUES.

By Shaul Arieli

Change is the result of spiral progress combining three components: formative and supportive processes, leadership and plans for implementation.

Over a period of 20 years, the Oslo Accords failed to secure a permanent agreement between Israel and the PLO, mainly because of the failure of the leadership on both sides to take the “leap of faith” that is needed in order to implement support processes and execute feasible plans relating to the two-state solution.

The two-state idea, essentially, has two tests: political feasibility and physical feasibility. However, a better way to examine the issue is by reference to the vision of each side and the alternative options. The two-state solution remains feasible in terms of all four key issues, enabling the establishment of two nation states.

1) The settlements only create Jewish dominance in blocks accounting for up to six percent of the West Bank. The remainder of the area is dominated by the Palestinians in all fields – population, roads, agriculture and so forth. In other words, a new border can be drawn on the basis of the 1967 boundaries, with minor land swaps.

2) In Jerusalem it is still possible to separate the Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem. In the Holy Basin, a special arrangement is needed that will preserve the religious status quo that has been maintained for centuries.

3) Israel’s security will be assured, among other steps, by ensuring that Palestine is a demilitarised state, together with additional security arrangements.

4) The refugee issue will be solved through the five options outlined by Bill Clinton in December 2000.

The one-state option, on the other hand, does not refer to a bi-national state that could legally secure the Jewish nation, but rather a single state that will presumably have an Arab majority and character. This option is not feasible, since the Israeli economy cannot absorb a Palestinian economy that is 15 times weaker than itself. The one-state solution does not solve the refugee issue either. The Jews will be unable to prevent Palestinians returning to the one state. This option creates the risk of violent disagreement regarding the nature of the army, and completely ignores the existence of the Gaza Strip with its two million Palestinians – most of whom are refugees. The two-state option is, therefore, the only option that protects the Zionist and Palestinian vision of political independence and a distinct identity. Accordingly, both peoples should support their political leaders to adopt this solution to ensure it becomes feasible as part of current efforts.

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