More than 130 years has passed since the beginning of the tensions between the Arabs living in Palestine and the Jews who immigrated to the land under the support of the Zionist movements. The establishment of an Israeli regime in Palestine in 1948 led to wars that spread tensions all over west Asian region and in some cases evoked terror and trans-regional operations.
With continuation of bloodshed and the incidence of 11 wars between Israelis and Palestinians during the past 64 years, different people and countries proposed solutions to end the conflicts rising from the occupation of Palestine. Many believe an end to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict would also be the key to solve other issues and conflicts in the region.
In the past years, there were over twenty resolutions, negotiations, and solutions to end the conflict temporarily in certain cases. However, comprehensive solutions also have been proposed that fall into four categories:
1- Urging Israel to return to the 1967 borders and establishing a Palestinian state
2- Authorizing Israel to take over all the Palestinian land including the non-occupied parts.
3- Calling for the establishment of two independent states (an Israeli and a Palestinian)
4- Calling for the establishment of an independent state to rule all over Palestine
Although the 1967 borders give Palestinians only 23 percent of their land (including the West Bank, East al-Qods, and Gaza Strip), many Palestinian groups and Muslim countries approve the first category solutions and agree to give up the rest of the land to Israel. Such solutions had no results as the Zionists have so far refused to divide al-Qods.
The second category is vividly unreachable as all Palestinians and Islamic states oppose it. The third category of solutions for the Palestinian issue, the two-state solution has been discussed and argued upon for years, having the support of world powers including the US and Russia.
The two-state solution first was proposed at the initial stages of the crisis and quarrels. In fact, a year before the establishment of the Israeli state, a resolution was passed at the UN that divided Palestine into three zones, one for Jews, one for Muslims, and one zone to be under international control.
The UN document, ” The Origins and Evolution of the Palestine Problem: 1917-1988″ that was published in 1990, described the results of the UN 1947 resolution known as the “Partition resolution”:
“The United Nations partition resolution did not provide a solution to the Palestine problem, and violence increased. In protest against the partition of their country, the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee called for a general strike… The Security Council could not take any effective decision after discussing General Assembly resolution 181 (II) (the partition resolution) in December 1947. In March 1948 the United States draft proposal to enable the Council to act on the partition resolution failed, and the Council only called for an end to the violence in Palestine.” [i]
Also in 1976, The UN Security Council tried to pass resolutions supporting the two-state solution, all vetoed by the US due to Israel’s disagreement with the suggested borders. [ii]
Due to such disagreements over the borders, different solutions suggested by the US over the past years for the establishment of two independent states led to no results.
The two-state solution, despite being supported by the UN, the EU, the US, Russia, and many states and international figures, has failed because of the disagreements over the ways al-Qods and the “Haram al-Sharif” complex (or The Noble Sanctuary) were suggested to be divided. Neither the Palestinians nor Israelis agree to forsake this complex. Even the suggestion by former US president Bill Clinton who called for dividing the “holy site” into different parts was not accepted by any of the two sides of the conflict and yielded no results.[iii]
In fact this approach has had no progress since 66 years ago when the Partition resolution was passed and the efforts for establishing two independent states began.
Joe Walsh, a republican member of the US Parliament, criticized this approach in an article in The Washington Times.
“[The struggle to implement a “two-state solution] reminds me of the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. By that definition, everyone who continues to cling to the delusion of a two-state solution is insane. There is no such thing as a two-state solution. It cannot work, it has not worked, and it will not work.”[iv]
But the division of the Haram al-Sharif is not the only obstacle for the two-state solution. So far, all suggestions for the division of territory, including the return to the 1967 borders, have defined that the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and part of al-Qods belong to the Palestinian state. This is while the West Bank and Gaza Strip are far from each other geographically and thus it is not clear how a Palestinian state can be established in separate lands at the same time. Besides, the difference between political powers governing in the West Bank and in Gaza Strip is an issue not addressed in the two-state solutions.
The actions and behaviors of the Israeli regime during the past decades also shows the regime not only continues its occupation of the West Bank territory but also continues to destroy the houses of Palestinians and make new Israeli settlements despite international statements and laws.
With the failure of the three solutions discussed above, there remains only the forth solution that demands the establishment of one sovereign state. It suggests that an independent state be established in the whole Palestinian territory where Muslims, Jews, and Christians must live and be considered as equal citizens with equal rights.
Different polls and studies also suggest that there is an increasing tendency towards this solution among Muslim and non-Muslim inhabitants of the land. According to a poll conducted in 2010 by the Jerusalem Media and Communication Center, the support for the establishment of an independent state increased by 14 percent while the favorability of the two-state solution decreased noticeably.[v]
The most important issue and the main problem in the way of the one-state solution is that what should the political system of the state’s government be. Some western observers suggest the establishment of a secular state which is clearly not suitable for the most religious conflict of the time. Another suggestion is to establish a federal state, but considering the history of the cultural and boundary disputes this suggestion cannot maintain the stability and sovereignty of an independent country either.
Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic of Iran has proposed a solution that not only addresses all the problems and issues in other solutions, but also is fair and democratic.
Iran suggests that all current and former inhabitants of the Palestinian territory should participate in a referendum and decide about their fate and future. Iran’s leader described the country’s suggestion in his Inaugural Speech at the 16th Non-Aligned Summit:
“All the Palestinians – both the current citizens of Palestine and those who have been forced to immigrate to other countries but have preserved their Palestinian identity, including Muslims, Christians and Jews – should take part in a carefully supervised and confidence-building referendum and chose the political system of their country, and all the Palestinians who have suffered from years of exile should return to their country and take part in this referendum and then help draft a Constitution and hold elections. Peace will then be established.”[vi]
This solution suggests that the Palestinians themselves- and not other countries and people- should decide for their future. Deciding over the political system of government and holding elections by Palestinians themselves decreases the disagreements, and problems like dividing the land and boundaries would no longer exist, leaving the whole Palestine for its current and former inhabitants.
This solution is too clear to need any further explanation, yet it is not clear why the UN, the Security Council, and especially the US refuse to accept it as a low-cost solution for the Palestinian issue.
So far no reason or argumentation has proved this solution inefficient. Even when the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon was asked about the solution proposed by Iran’s leader, he insisted on the two-state solution without giving any reason or analysis to reject Iran’s suggestion.
Now that this solution has been proposed by one of the most important countries in the West Asia, world public opinion is waiting to see how the Western countries, and particularly the US as the country who claims to support democracy, are going to react to it.
Ignoring this suggestion certainly is not going to solve any problem but further raises the questions and doubts about the goodwill of the different sides involved in the Palestinian issue. On the contrary, discussing and reviewing this suggestion as the only remaining political solution for the Palestinian issue would help reach a consensus over an ultimate solution for the conflict that has lasted for over six decades.
We try to discuss this solution further and bring the ideas of experts and political figures about it later in other articles.
[iii] Clinton suggested that the holy sites be split on the basis that Palestinians would have sovereignty over the Temple Mount/Noble sanctuary, while the Israelis would have sovereignty over the Western Wall.