From vision to reality: Tangible steps towards a two-stage solution

Israel is the only country in today's world facing an existential threat. Against the background of dramatic changes in the Middle East, especially in the Arab world, the Iranian nuclear threat has pushed other important issues, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, off the political and security agenda. At the most recent annual INSS conference "Security challenges of the 21st Century", for example, held on May 29-30, 2012, senior government ministers and other speakers, among the several who until recently were very senior officials, devoted most of their remarks to this issue. At the same line, many speakers at the conference reiterated the Zionist vision of a democratic Jewish national state. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu again called on Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas to join him at the negotiaing table without preconditions. "Today I would like to speak about peace", Netanyahu said. "Unfortunately, the strong and I must say, natural desire of our people to extend our hand in peace is not always answerwd by governments in our region. "He urged Abu Mazen, "Don't miss out on this opportunity to extend your hand in peace." His words echoed the basic guidelines of the current government: the government will promote the political process and promote peace with Israel's neighbors, while maintaining Israel's defense, historic, and national interests.

An INSS research group studying the Israeli-Palestinian question called for talking advantage of possibilities to renew the dialogue between the Israeli government and the Palestinians, at least on transitional arrangements. The team also noted that if this attempt to reach understandings with Palestinians fails, Israel must begin gradual, controlled, and measured implementation of unilateral steps, while examining the effect of any one step before moving on to the next. In essence, this approach advocates simultaneous progress alone two tracks: cooperation with the Palestinians through negotiations, and an independent process reying solely on Israel's own decisions. No one disputes that ideally an agreement to bring about a separation from the Palestinians will be an outgrowth of negotiations between the parties, but it is proposed that prepartions be made for a situation in which negotiations, if renewed, do not yield the desired results.

This article will deal with "how", rather than "what": how to actually create a reality of two national states, the democratic nation-state of the Jewish people and a national state of the Palestinian people. The discussion addresses the Israeli-Palestinian political process, and does not deal with Israeli Arabs.



Click here For the full article, as published in INSS Strategic Assesment on July 2012.