Ariel Sharon’s push for unilateral Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and four forlorn West Bank settlements in the spring of 2004 came after a year of mounting criticism inside and outside Israel that he had no long-term “solution” for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. As the prime minister conceded, his scheme was designed to forestall solutions brokered by international actors, as well as locally engineered initiatives, like the Geneva Accord of November 2003, that would implement a two-state solution based upon the last formulas discussed by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators at Taba in January 2001. With disengagement, Sharon seeks to exploit the perception that there is no Palestinian partner for negotiations, and to impose Israel’s power on the weaker party. The Sharon plan was rejected in a poorly attended Likud Party referendum on May 2, 2004, but outside the settler right wing, unilateral withdrawal enjoys wide support among the Israeli Jewish public. This support is drawn from deeper springs than the traditional split between the Likud right and the Labor Party center over the concept of trading land for peace.

Talk of disengagement obscured the growing debate, during 2003 and 2004, over alternatives to the two-state model—a discourse that increasingly has tested the long-standing conventional wisdom that the two-state solution is “the only game in town.” [1] Purveyors of conventional wisdom took note. In October 2003, the editors of the New York Times described arguments against the two-state solution as “insidious,” but acknowledged that they were gaining ground. In the same month, the state-controlled Israel Broadcast Authority’s prestigious “Popolitika” program hosted a debate on the continuing viability of the two-state solution. Research published by the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz suggests that 67 percent of the Israeli public “strongly or moderately fear” a scenario in which Israel finds itself in a one-state reality. [2]

Two alternatives to the two-state endgame are discussed. One is a binational state, offering power-sharing to two separate peoples with distinct collective identities within one polity. The binational model encompasses federal, confederal and consociational variants. The second alternative proposes a single democratic polity, where there is no ethnic or national distinction between citizens. Whereas the former alternative is premised on collective entitlements, as developed in the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland, the latter is premised on individual rights, as in post-apartheid South Africa. The two concepts are often used interchangeably, and the word “binational” is understood by most Israelis to denote the South African endgame. Some, like Meron Benvenisti, suggest that the conflation of terminology is designed to “prevent any debate about… attractive alternatives” to the two-state solution. [3]

There are, of course, other alternatives to a two-state outcome. These include an entity in which Jews rule over a Palestinian majority, through various schemes of coercion. The Israeli right has variously proposed canton schemes which will allow a Jewish minority to rule over a Palestinian majority through gerrymandering or a model in which Palestinians exercise their political rights in Jordan and Egypt. Others fear that Sharon and the Israeli right wish to create a set of disconnected cantons that would bear the name of “Palestinian state.” Such a “bantustan” model would maximize Israeli control of territory, while minimizing the number of Palestinians living in the Israeli state. In this climate, how did the first two alternatives to the two-state solution come to return from their banishment to the margins?

International Doubters

In the international community, by far the most forthright opposition to the two-state solution comes from the intellectual left, with its antipathy for nationalism and ethnic states. It is held that Zionism is a discriminatory ideology and that Israel is an inherently inequitable state. [4] Many Israelis view these arguments as fundamentally anti-Semitic, because Israel is singled out for condemnation as a nation-state, or because Israel is singled out for condemnation as an occupying power, while China’s occupation of Tibet and Russia’s anti-separatist war in Chechnya attract less attention. The Oslo “peace process” of the 1990s dramatically weakened the impact of anti-Zionist leftists on public discourse, and some abandoned their opposition to Zionism in the hope that the Oslo process — which tacitly envisioned two states — would work, and on the assumption that both peoples desired such a deal. The collapse of Oslo has encouraged the intellectual left to argue anew that a binational state is not only likely, but desirable. Tony Judt stirred a major uproar when he recently noted that, “The very idea of a ‘Jewish state’ — a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded — is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.” [5] Judt’s submission elicited thousands of letters to the editor, confirming Daniel Lazare’s assessment that a “long-standing taboo has finally begun to fall.” [6] That taboo inhibits debate in the US over the legitimacy of a Jewish state.

Over the ensuing months, writers who believe that a two-state solution is simply impracticable have joined the band of two-state doubters. Veteran journalist Helena Cobban, who reversed her earlier opposition to a one-state outcome, provides one example. [7] Even before the spate of articles in highbrow publications, diplomats engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict also raised doubts over the viability of a two-state solution, despite the fact that the international community invested vast resources in the Oslo process and, now, the “road map.” For instance, in 2002 the UN secretary-general’s special envoy to the Middle East, Terje Roed-Larsen, asked whether the UN was “nearing the death of the two-state solution, the bedrock for all our peacemaking efforts?” [8] These misgivings stem from the political impasse, not an ideological preference.

Intellectually, the renewed opposition to the notion of ethnically exclusive states must be seen against the backdrop of the bloody conflicts of post-Communist Eastern Europe, especially the Balkans, deepening and widening European integration and opposition to “clash of civilizations” theory. Israel’s violations of human rights in the Occupied Territories have also eroded support for Israel and its legitimacy, particularly in Europe. In a Europe-wide survey conducted in November 2003, a whopping 59 percent of respondents ranked Israel ahead of the US, Iraq, North Korea and Iran as the greatest perceived threat to world stability. Though many Israelis quickly dismissed these results as evidence of anti-Semitism, Eliahu Salpeter notes that it was Israel and the Jews who “determined that Israel should be a light unto the nations” [9]  “hence they are judged by the moral standards they claim. If Israel has so far won the war of images in the US, one Jewish American leader, Brian Lurie, cautions that if the intifada does not end soon, “Israel is liable to end its preferential standing in American public opinion.” [10]

Israeli Doubts

Doubts over a two-state outcome are also, increasingly, being articulated in Israeli discourse. One prominent supporter of the two-state outcome who has raised his concerns is Yossi Alpher. Alpher warns that the two-state solution should not “be taken for granted.” [11] Daniel Gavron has gone one step further, advocating that Israeli Jews embrace a binational state while they still enjoy demographic ascendancy. Gavron, a Zionist, notes that having concluded that partition is no longer possible, “we are left with only one alternative: Israeli-Palestinian coexistence in one nation.” [12] Gavron’s idea enjoys scant support among Jewish Israelis; 78 percent of them oppose such an entity, [13] which they view as a recipe for a “Greater Palestine.” But the binational idea is rooted in Zionist discourse. In mandatory Palestine the likes of Henrietta Szold, Martin Buber, Judah Magnes and the Hashomer Hatzair movement propagated it. Though vilified in Zionist historiography for their views, they were not alone. Prominent Zionist leaders like Chaim Weizmann and Chaim Arlozoroff supported the idea. David Ben Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel, toyed with binational ideas between 1924 and 1939, probably for tactical purposes. At a time when Jews were a minority (less than 20 percent) in the territory of mandatory Palestine, he surmised that the Zionists were too weak to take on both the British and the Arabs. Moreover, the demand for parity in political representation, implicit in the rally for binationalism, clearly served the Zionist movement. On the one hand, it would have ensured over-representation for Jews in the mandate’s political institutions. On the other hand, it allowed the Zionist leadership to maintain ambiguity about its real intention to create a Jewish state. But the Peel Commission rejected the cantonization proposed by the Zionist movement, and this development, coupled with the plight of the Jews in Europe and Ben Gurion’s pessimism that an accommodation with Arab leaders was possible, led him to abandon the binational idea. [14]  After independence, Israeli support for binationalism declined.

On the other end of the Israeli political spectrum, elements in the ideological right and the settler movement actively pursue a single state. In opposition to “disengagement,” some of Sharon’s right-wing detractors have openly called for annexation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while maintaining the Jewish nature of the state. The implication is that the Jewish state would need to construct institutions that formally discriminate in favor of Jews, or engage in ethnic cleansing. As the Hebron settler leader Noam Arnon has argued, “if there is a contradiction between this [Jewish] essence and the character of the government [democracy], it is clear that the essence takes precedence.” [15]

In revealing newspaper interviews, Effi Eitam, leader of the National Religious Party and a minister in the Sharon government, laid out his vision for a Greater Israel. Eitam noted that the “only Jewish state in the world requires a minimum of territory.” Regarding those Palestinians who wish to remain in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Eitam suggested that Israel offer them “enlightened residency,” as opposed to citizenship. Those unwilling to accept this status would have to relocate. [16] Some on the right propose leaving Palestinian areas under Israeli security control, yet allowing Palestinians municipal autonomy. Another version of the Greater Israel concept proposes that the entire geographical area west of the Jordan be divided into ten cantons, eight Israeli and two Palestinian, with each canton given the same representation in the Knesset, thereby guaranteeing a Jewish majority. Many Israeli commentators hold that the settler movement and its supporters are endangering Israel by rendering a binational state more likely. [17]

The Palestinians

Until 1988, advocacy for a “secular Palestine” was the traditional position of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), though Israelis viewed support for this idea as tactical, rather than ideological. After the Oslo accord of 1993, diaspora intellectuals, most notably the late Edward W. Said, carried the banner of opposition to separation. Many of these standpatters feel vindicated by the current state of affairs. More importantly, leaders inside the Palestinian territories have come to propose alternatives to the two-state solution. The most important of these voices has been Birzeit University�s Ali Jarbawi, who has long argued that the Palestinians should serve Israel an ultimatum demanding that it agree to a Palestinian state within six months, after which the Palestinians would demand annexation. [18] The idea has gradually gained currency as the stalemate continues. The first prominent Fatah leader to sound a warning that time is running out for this accommodation was Marwan Barghouti, general secretary of Fatah in the West Bank. Speaking at the close of his trial on charges including murder and conspiracy, he cautioned: “I hope the Israelis have learned that the Palestinian people cannot be brought to yield with force. If an occupation does not end unilaterally or through negotiations then there is only one solution — one state for two peoples.” [19]

Thus far, the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership has largely refrained from dabbling in this debate, underscoring the growing gap between the street and the political elite. One poll suggests that almost a third of ordinary Palestinians support a binational outcome. [20] A notable voice for alternatives to the two-state solution has been the Negotiations Support Unit (NSU), a team of lawyers drafting position papers and making maps for the PLO in preparation for eventual final status talks. NSU staffers, many of whom are diaspora Palestinians, have submitted that the Palestinian cause would be better served by a struggle for civil rights. The first prominent PA official to warn that time for a two-state accommodation is running out was the PA Minister of Finance, Salam Fayyad. In a memorandum submitted to the Bush administration in October 2002, he warned that Israeli settlement expansion was undermining a future two-state deal. [21]  In December 2003, Prime Minister Ahmad Qurei also sounded the warning after Sharon announced that he was going to move ahead with his unilateral disengagement plan at the annual Herzliya conference. Qurei noted, “This is an apartheid solution to put the Palestinians in cantons. Who can accept this? We will go for a one-state solution.” There’s no other solution. We will not hesitate to defend the right of our people when we feel the very serious intention [of Israel] to destroy these rights.” [22] Yasser Arafat soon followed suit in an interview he granted to the Guardian. [23] These warnings were, however, largely dismissed as tactical by Israelis. The PA can ill afford to abandon the two-state outcome, and thereby forego the vast amounts of international aid that sustain its large civil service. [24]

Facts on the Ground

But the most important reasons for the challenge to the two-state solution relate to developments on the ground, especially continued settlement expansion and the construction of the “separation fence.” According to Amira Hass, the pace of settlement expansion in the Occupied Territories since 1993 has created the “geography of a single state.” [25] Peace Now says that in 2003 the Israeli government published an additional 1,627 tenders for new housing in the West Bank, a fact that speaks volumes for Israel’s commitment to a sustainable two-state outcome. The land grab, argues Meron Benvenisti, nurtures a sense that the “connection between territory and ethnic identity — which was applicable up to about 20 years ago — cannot be implemented and any attempt to implement it will only complicate the problem instead of solving it.” [26] Others simply doubt whether Israel is willing or able to extricate itself from the territories. Such doubts are not ungrounded. Eitam confidently dismisses settlement removal: “Do you really think that anyone is capable of dismantling Ariel, Kiryat Arba or Karnei Shomron?” [27] The former head of the army’s central command, Yitzhak Eitan, fears that dismantling settlements will trigger a civil war, making the evacuation near impossible. [28] The assassination of former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995 serves as a striking reminder that many Israelis deny the right of a democratic government to surrender land promised by God. The Likud Central Committee’s vote against the creation of a Palestinian state in May 2002, and the rank and file’s vote against withdrawal from Gaza in May 2004, are more evidence of Israel’s possible inability to deliver the two-state deal.

The second major fact on the ground that nurtures pessimism regarding the two-state outcome is the “separation fence.” Israeli proponents of the barrier that Israel is building in the West Bank argue that it will create a de facto two-state solution, leading to the inevitable evacuation of settlements lying to the east of its route. They further believe that the route will “correct itself” over time. Skeptics submit that far from enhancing the two-state solution, the Sharon government has effectively hijacked “separation” — originally a Labor Party idea — to serve its own political agenda, namely, a state of bantustans on some 42 percent of the West Bank. Avraham Bendor, a former head of the General Security Services, says that “instead of creating a reality of separation and maintaining a window of opportunity for ‘two states for two peoples’… this window of opportunity is gradually closing. The Palestinians are arguing: you wanted two states, and instead you are closing us up in an [apartheid-era] South African reality. Therefore, the more we support the fence, they lose their dream and hope for an independent Palestinian state.” [29]

From a Likud perspective, imposition of such a state is justified on the grounds that Israel will require strategic depth to defend itself, in the form of “security zones” in the coastal regions, around Jerusalem and an Israeli presence along the Jordan river. The senior IDF command reportedly no longer believes that a two-state outcome along the Geneva contours is sufficient to resolve the conflict. The IDF brass hints that a future deal will need to be based on a regional understanding, shorthand for a Jordanian-Palestinian federation wherein Jordan absorbs the land from which Israel agrees to withdraw and the vast population that inhabits that land.This, as Uzi Benziman notes, is the same policy prescription of the extreme right. [30]

But it seems highly questionable that the Palestinians will agree to anything less than the territorial parameters of the unfinished Taba negotiations of January 2001, which spoke of dividing Jerusalem and land ceded by Israel in exchange for any settlements retained. As chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat wrote, “It has become clear to many Palestinians that what Mr. Sharon and many other Israelis have in mind for the Palestinians is a ghetto ‘state’ surrounded by Israeli settlements, with no ability to defend itself, deprived of water resources and arable land, with an insignificant presence in Jerusalem and sovereign in name only. Palestinians will never accept such a future. Nor should we.” [31] Likewise, it seems unlikely that Jordan will sacrifice the Hashemite entity it has actively consolidated since 1988. It is also extremely unlikely that the international community will indulge a redrawing of an internationally recognized border. As Benziman says, these IDF assessments open up space for debate over alternatives to the two-state outcome. [32]


Due to Sharon’s refusal to pursue negotiations, many prominent two-staters believe, time for a two-state solution is running out. Sari Nusseibeh and Ami Ayalon, respectively a Palestinian and an Israeli who seek popular endorsement of a set of basic principles for a permanent status accommodation, voice this concern. Key supporters of the Geneva Accord such as David Kimche harness the worry to promote their own initiative, arguing that opponents of the accord will lead Israel down the path to a binational state. [33] Inside the Israeli establishment, former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, army chief of staff Moshe Yaalon and four past heads of the security services echo the fear that government indecision may see Israel slide into a binational reality. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, a Likud member, surprised many observers when he concurred:

We don’t have unlimited time. More and more Palestinians are uninterested in a negotiated, two-state solution, because they want to change the essence of the conflict from an Algerian paradigm to a South African one. From a struggle against “occupation,” in their parlance, to a struggle for one man, one vote. That is, of course, a much cleaner struggle, a much more popular struggle — and ultimately a much more powerful one. For us, it would mean the end of the Jewish state. [34]

Olmert’s remarks hint at the extent to which demography, rather than coexistence, has come to underpin the Zionist case for disengagement. Haifa University’s Arnon Sofer argues that the total population west of the Jordan will reach 15.5 million by 2020. The 6.4 million Jews will constitute only 40 percent of the population; the majority will be 8.8 million Palestinian Arabs. Sofer contends that demographic parity between Jews and Arabs already exists, if Israel’s non-Jewish, non-Arab residents are excluded from the count. [35] Such calculations led Barak’s chief negotiator, Gilead Sher, to call on Israelis to “define our borders by ourselves and place an iron wall against the demographic threat” posed to the Jewish majority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan. [36] The West Bank barrier is widely supported as such an iron wall.

The right, including Sharon, has long pooh-poohed the “demographic threat,” arguing that immigration (aliyah) will sustain the Jewish demographic advantage. But these assumptions fly in the face of the reality. Not only are there insufficient aliyah reservoirs, as the head of the Jewish Agency, Sali Merridor (himself a settler), recently confessed, [37] but some 210,000 Israeli Jews have reportedly left the country since the fall of 2000. [38] Ehud Olmert’s comments confirm that the right is mindful of the demographic threat. Olmert supports a sweeping unilateral disengagement from 80 percent of the West Bank and all of Gaza, in order to retain a Jewish democracy. Explaining the sudden prominence of the demographic issue, one journalist suggests that “the silent majority has by now grown familiar with the term ‘demographic threat’ and learned what it means. Today most Israelis can say: we’ve seen the future, and it doesn’t work.” [39] Fear of losing a Jewish majority and facing a binational reality brings together a range of Israeli actors from both the left and the right wings. In a dialectical fashion, the ongoing diplomatic stalemate and the rise of the demographic discourse could serve to heighten the Israeli sense that Israel must swiftly and decisively move to extract itself from a quagmire. The results of the Likud members’ poll may well indicate that it will not be possible to do so under the current configuration of the Knesset, whose term ends in 2007.

Demography and the Extremes

Though proponents of separation, either negotiated or unilateral, may win the demographic argument, it is not evident that the Israeli public will adopt their prognosis. The Israeli right, which initially opposed the “separation barrier” in the West Bank, embraced the idea as a result of public pressure, but altered the route to maximize Israeli territorial control. The hazard of the demographic argument, and indeed using binationalism as a scarecrow, is that they may increase support for ethnic cleansing or institutionalized discrimination against non-Jews. As David Landau, editor of the daily Haaretz, puts it, “While the peace camp hopes that the very real and frightening demographic scenario will convince the settlers to finally sober up — lest the entire Zionist enterprise find itself in mortal danger — the rightists hope that this same demographic threat will convince the whole of Israel to join their ranks.” [40] Veteran peace activist Uri Avnery warns against using talk of inevitable binationalism to “frighten Arab-hating Israelis. They see it only as another reason to put up more settlements all over the West Bank.” [41] Settler leader Israel Harel, indeed, claims that once the Arab minority inside Israel reaches 40 percent the state will no longer be a Jewish state. Harel adds that once Israel has “run away” from the Occupied Territories, the demographic pressure will intensify as Palestinian refugees are resettled there. [42] Though Harel refrains from proposing a solution to his demographic problem, he hints that Zionism has not relied on miracles, but has created them. What miracle he wants to create is unclear, but it is not a two-state solution.

Demographic trends raise the temptation to refuse compromise and consider radical measures. The demographic obsession also threatens the precarious relations between the Jewish majority and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Leading Labor party leaders support moving the town of Umm al-Fahm, an Arab town in Israel, to the future Palestinian state. Dani Mor, a left-wing supporter of moving communities inhabited by Palestinian citizens of Israel to the future Palestinian entity, notes that whoever supports equal rights for all citizens must support measures to ensure that the majority of the country’s citizens are Jews. According to Mor, equal rights for non-Jews will only be assured when there is no threat to the Jewish character of the state. Residents of Umm al-Fahm who wish to stay in Israel could move elsewhere in the country. [43] Commenting on such ideas, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin notes, “The peace discourse of the Israeli left in fact proposes getting rid of Arabs, and therefore it sounds exactly like the talk of transfer.” [44] Support for less subtle forms of transfer — forced expulsion or migration induced by material incentives — peaked at 57 percent in a national survey conducted in 2003, while 46 percent of Israelis supported enforced “transfer” of Palestinians residing in the Occupied Territories, and 33 percent supported the transfer of Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship. [45]

Ironies of Stalemate

Talk of one-state options has not yet overcome the powerful currents that favor separation and the two-state solution. But the longer the diplomatic stalemate and settlement expansion proceed unabated, the more disillusioned Israelis and Palestinians will become with the land-sharing formula.

The two-state solution will certainly become increasingly discredited among Palestinians if there is no serious diplomatic process. For some Palestinians, the failure of the PA between 1994 and 2000 to develop credible and transparent institutions contributed to a sense that the Oslo years “proved the [Palestinian] nationalist goal unattainable.” [46] The two-state solution is also associated with the Palestinian ruling class, viewed by many Palestinians as corrupt and inept. The availability of vast sums of international aid created a rentier state in which the dependent PA elites failed to develop a rapport with their constituency. So far, the Palestinian mainstream refrains from endorsing one-state ideas out of consideration for the besieged Arafat and how much the PA invested in a negotiated two-state solution. But even in the mainstream, there are hints of a radical rethinking. Prominent Fatah leader Qaddura Faris claims that he has been approached to form a party promoting a one-state solution. Faris suggests that because Palestinians “have been left without any hope… we are seeking any path — even annexation to Israel — in other words to win [Palestinian rights] by using the vehicle of democracy.” [47]

Ironically, the beginnings of eroded support for the two-state solution among secular nationalist Palestinians may induce Israel to look toward Hamas as its preferred partner. Though Israelis view Hamas as a proponent of a single Islamic state and, therefore, committed to Israel’s obliteration, others disagree, citing numerous Hamas statements over the years accepting a two-state solution in exchange for a long-term hudna (ceasefire). A further irony is that, of all the Palestinian factions, the Islamist movement has perhaps the most to lose in a secular or binational state. Given both the declining standing of the PA and the growing popularity of Hamas, Fatah entrepreneurs may come to view demands for a binational or secular state as a marker to distinguish their movement from other political players. Still another irony is that the increasingly frequent use of the demographic argument in internal Israeli discourse may, in fact, encourage Palestinians to view the demand for a vote within a unitary entity as increasingly attractive. The Israeli demographic debate reinforces thinking about the conflict as a zero-sum game in which Israel’s greatest “weakness” is the Palestinians’ greatest advantage.

Steady Erosion

Writing in 1998, Azmi Bishara predicted, “When it becomes fully apparent that an independent and democratic state occupying every inch of the West Bank and Gaza Strip free of Israeli settlements is not realizable, it will be time for Palestinians to reexamine the entire strategy. We will then begin to discuss a binational state solution.” [48] History and Israeli actions might well have vindicated him. For almost two decades, Meron Benvenisti has also warned that, at some point, Israeli expansion would pass the point of no return, beyond which implementation of a two-state solution is not possible. In reply to this hypothesis, the scholar Ian Lustick suggested that the issue at stake was not “facts on the ground,” but rather “facts in people’s minds.” [49] Borrowing from the prison writings of Antonio Gramsci, Lustick argued that processes of state expansion were reversible, especially if the territory in question is not widely accepted as an integral part of the metropolis. He offered the examples of French disengagement from Algeria and Irish independence, granted by Britain, as evidence. But there is no sea separating Israel and Palestine, and counter-claims on the territory of the Israeli metropolis have not disappeared. Lustick also failed to appreciate what impact the “facts on the ground” would have on the calculations of the Palestinians in regard to supporting the two-state outcome. These facts have, over time, undermined the very notion of the two-state deal that Lustick deems desirable and inevitable.

While the debate over the “final status” of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is far from resolved, the legitimacy, basis and support for separation between the two peoples is steadily being eroded, primarily by unilateral Israeli actions. Theoretically, this process can be reversed, but at present there does not appear to be an Israeli, Palestinian or international leader who can alter the trend. It is worth recalling that the two-state idea itself is not deep-rooted, only becoming salient for Palestinians and Israelis after 1988 and only becoming the conventional wisdom in the 1990s. Could the two-state solution be judged unattainable before another ten years pass?

One thing is certain: the binational state will not emerge because Meron Benvenisti or Qaddura Faris set up a party and campaigned for one. Rather, it will come about because separation is discredited and impossible. As Israeli journalist Aluf Benn perceptively notes, in the wake of the Likud referendum, “talk has shifted to the left, the reality to the right, and the gap between them has only grown wider.” [50] The two-state outcome is far from being the inevitable solution to the conflict, and it may well plunge into that crack between discourse and reality.



[1] Telling evidence of the debate can be viewed at

[2] Haaretz, November 5, 2003.

[3] Haaretz, November 20, 2003.

[4] Kirkpatrick Sale, “An End to the Israeli Experiment? Unmaking a Grievous Error,” Counterpunch, March 3, 2003.

[5] Tony Judt, “Israel: The Alternative,” The New York Review of Books, October 23, 2003.

[6] Daniel Lazare, “The One-State Solution,” The Nation, November 3, 2003.

[7] Helena Cobban, “Ends and Means: A Response to ‘The Case for Binationalism,'” Boston Review (December 2001-January 2002) and “A Binational Israel-Palestine,” Christian Science Monitor, October 9, 2003.

[8] Haaretz, October 17, 2002.

[9] Haaretz, November 6, 2003.

[10] Haaretz, November 14, 2003.

[11] Haaretz, February 20, 2004.

[12] Haaretz, December 10, 2003.

[13] Haaretz, November 20, 2003.

[14] Susan Lee Hattis, The Binational Idea in Palestine During Mandatory Times (Tel Aviv: Bin-Nun Press, 1970), pp. 76, 83-102, 139-148, 163-169.

[15] Haaretz, August 28, 2002.

[16] Haaretz, November 4, 2002 and Maariv, November 21, 2003.

[17] Yoel Esteron, “Who’s in Favor of Annihilating Israel?” Haaretz, November 28, 2003 and Ben Dror Yemini, “Arafat’s Dancers,” Maariv, November 24, 2003.

[18] Associated Press, November 1, 2003.

[19] Guardian, September 30, 2003.

[20] Thomas Friedman, “One Wall, One Man, One Vote,” New York Times, September 14, 2003.

[21] The Forward, October 25, 2002.

[22] Reuters, January 8, 2004.

[23] Guardian, January 24, 2004.

[24] Yossi Alpher, “Green Line and Red Line,”, January 19, 2004.

[25] Haaretz, May 30, 2001.

[26] Haaretz, March 20, 2003.

[27] Maariv, November 21, 2003.

[28] Haaretz, October 28, 2003.

[29] Yediot Aharonot, November 14, 2003.

[30] Haaretz, April 30, 2004.

[31] New York Times, December 20, 2002.

[32] Haaretz, May 9, 2004.

[33] Jerusalem Post, November 20, 2003.

[34] Haaretz, November 13, 2003.

[35] Arnon Sofer, Israel, Demography 2000-2020: Dangers and Opportunities (National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, 2001), p. 18.

[36] Haaretz, November 21, 2003.

[37] Yediot Aharonot, April 30, 2004.

[38] Haaretz, November 19, 2003.

[39] Larry Derfner, “Quietly, The Ground Is Shaking,” Jerusalem Post, December 11, 2003.

[40] Haaretz, October 17, 2003.

[41] Uri Avnery, “One-State Solution Ploy Too Dangerous,” Palestine Chronicle, October 2, 2003.

[42] Haaretz, December 11, 2003.

[43] Maariv, December 11, 2003.

[44] Haaretz, June 28, 2002.

[45] Asher Arian, Israeli Public Opinion on National Security 2003, Memorandum 67 (Tel Aviv: Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, October 2003), p. 30.

[46] Lama Abu Odeh, “The Case for Binationalism,” Boston Review (December 2001-January 2002).

[47] Yediot Aharonot, November 28, 2003.

[48] Bishara in Jorund and Lonning, pp. 223-224.

[49] Ian Lustick, Unsettled States, Disputed Lands: Britain and Ireland, France and Algeria, Israel and the West Bank (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993).

[50] Haaretz, May 6, 2004.


How to cite this article:

Gary Sussman "The Challenge to the Two-State Solution," Middle East Report 231 (Summer 2004).

For 50 years, MERIP has published critical analysis of Middle Eastern politics, history, and social justice not available in other publications. Our articles have debunked pernicious myths, exposed the human costs of war and conflict, and highlighted the suppression of basic human rights. After many years behind a paywall, our content is now open-access and free to anyone, anywhere in the world. Your donation ensures that MERIP can continue to remain an invaluable resource for everyone.


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