Wednesday, February 22, 2017

PF Mar 2017 - The Two-State Solution - Con Position

Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.

The Con Position

Like the Pro Position posted previously, there are perhaps, some subtleties to this position. First of all, it seems to imply the U.S. is currently pressuring Israel to drive toward the two-state solution. However, there seems to be little to no overt pressure being applied now or in the past. The same is not true outside of the U.S.  The U.N. as well as many E.U. nations, while not sanctioning Israel, has condemned its responses to the two-state solution. Moreover, the Palestinians have had some successes pressuring Israel with the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. A January 2016 article in the New York Times explained :
Formally, the B.D.S. movement began with a 2005 Palestinian campaign—endorsed by more than a hundred and seventy Palestinian civil-society organizations—to encourage public condemnation in the West of the occupation, the settlements, and, arguably, their ideological roots. Leaders of the B.D.S. movement have also called for “full equality” for Palestinian citizens in Israel proper and endorsed the demand for a Palestinian right of return. Omar Barghouti, a founder of the movement, insists that B.D.S. does not threaten Israel’s survival but rather its “unjust order.”

In 2014, the Obama administration released a report considering sanctions against Israel and outlined several measures it could take to pressure Israel with regard to settlements in East Jerusalem. One of the measures included refusing to veto U.N. resolutions which condemned Israel which is exactly what happened in December of 2016 when the U.S abstained on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements. This abstention was the most visible sign of overt pressure arising from an apparent general shift by the Obama administration away from unconditional support for Israel. Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu was obviously disturbed by the U.S. abstention but it is unclear at this time what kind of pressure if any, was experienced in Israel. I am not aware of any laws or action taken in Israel since that time to curb the building of settlements which can be directly attributed to a reaction from the U.S. abstention in the U.N. Trump, on the other hand, did tell Netanyahu to "hold off on settlements for a bit". Is that a signal, the U.S. will continue to "pressure" Israel while declaring absolute friendship? It is far too early to tell.

A Two-State Solution Solves

The current situation is often called the Arab-Israeli conflict and that aptly defines the harms in the status quo. Terrorism, retaliation, bigotry and generations of people learning to hate others has created a situation where hopes dim with every passing year. The ground work for a two-state solution was laid in the 1940s and agreed-to in the 1990s and the two-state solution remains the best possible option for solving the conflict. A key issue for both sides is security and especially for Israel in light of the fact some nations in the area have called for Israel's eradication. Founding a legitimate Palestinian state could improve Israel's security.

Walt (2010):
A two-state solution would also improve Israel’s security vis-à-vis Iran, according to Walt. “By removing Iran’s main source of leverage,” he writes, “and by facilitating rapprochement between Israel and countries such as Saudi Arabia (that have their own concerns about Iran), a two- state solution may in fact be the best way to minimize the threat that Iran now presents.”
In addition, a negotiation with Palestine would improve Israel’s reputation in the Middle East and help Israel reach its goal of “enduring legitimacy” in the region. Given its nuclear arsenal and conventional military strength, occupying the West Bank no longer serves an essential security purpose for Israel. Israeli forces should relinquish the occupied territories and allow the creation of a viable Palestinian state, a step that would help re-legitimize Israel in the eyes of the international community. Many countries in the Middle East refuse to acknowledge Israel’s existence, but most have pledged to do so if a two-state solution is reached.
A workable two-state solution would also require a secure Palestine. A Palestinian state would need to have security forces that could ensure internal order and patrol its own borders, but without posing an existential threat to Israel. Accordingly, reaching an understanding on specific security arrangements and capabilities is bound to be central to any “final status” negotiation.
“The most likely arrangements for a future Palestinian state,” writes Walt, “seek to maximize Israel’s security by ensuring that the future Palestinian state is never in a position to threaten Israel directly. . . . Although this would be a dramatic improvement from the Palestinians’ present condition, these constraints are still bound to be deeply worrying, especially given the potential for future disputes over access to water resources and religious sites.” Because extremists on both sides are likely to use violence to try to derail a future agreement, an international peacekeeping force might be needed while Palestinian security institutions were being strengthened.
Despite inevitable disputes and obstacles, in the end Israel stands to benefit from an independent and secure Palestine derived from a two-state solution.
“Today, Israel’s security would in fact be enhanced by a competent and legitimate Palestinian state that could provide for its own people and keep order in the area under its control,” Walt writes. “Paradoxically, a weak or divided Palestinian community is precisely the sort of environment in which anti-Israeli terrorism can flourish.”

And some scholars who are experts in Middle East Policy insist the Two-State Solution is the "only" solution to bring about peace.

Ben-Meir (2009)
The two-state solution is not one of many options; it is the only option. This right of the Israelis and Palestinians has garnered tremendous currency in the last 60 years, at many conferences, many meetings. The Clinton parameters, the Roadmap, the Arab Peace Initiative, the current negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians — all speak about the simple requirement of a two-state solution. Yes, it will take bold action. The Israelis will have to come to the conclusion that a two-state solution cannot be just a name. It has to have facts — proper borders, proper places for the Palestinians. This means to me relinquishing 99 percent — I say 99 for a reason — of the West Bank and certainly the entire Gaza Strip in order to establish an economically viable Palestinian state, independent, living side by side with the state of Israel. Consistently, Palestinians as well as Israelis — between 69 and 70 to 73 percent — all support without any question the creation of a Palestinian state living in peace beside the state of Israel. This is what it has to be. I agree 100 percent with Bill on the issue of leadership. Leadership has been in short supply in Israel as well as among the Palestinians.

And not only must the United States take the lead and continue to push toward a two-state solution, but other Western nations must help as well.

Fean (2017):
This conflict is emphatically not between equals, but between the occupier and the occupied. Israel is creating new facts on the ground “leading towards one state and perpetual occupation” as Kerry warned. Before asking what Britain can do now to promote a just peace, it is worth saying what won’t work. Quiet diplomacy, for one. We’ve tried that. Quiet diplomats get ignored. Second, US-led shuttle diplomacy, such as Kerry conducted for nine months. The US is necessary but not sufficient to resolve this conflict. And while no one can be sure what hand President Trump will play, the omens are bad.
And we can’t leave it to the two conflicting parties to sort it out. The Middle East peace process became just that – a process. Direct unconditional negotiations between the strong and the weak only leave the weak, weaker. That’s not how to end the occupation. It will need an initiative by the international community, shaping the outcome, providing security guarantees, upholding the law, ensuring a better tomorrow for both peoples. The Paris conference should develop a wider consensus based on security council resolution 2334 and re-commit all Arab states to recognising Israel in return for a sovereign Palestine.

And, the new U.N. Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, also plans to continue leading an international effort to drive toward the two-state solution.

Savir (2017):
Guterres strongly believes in multilateralism when it comes to peacemaking, with an important role for the UN headquarters and UN specialized agencies. While he respects the leading role of the United States, he believes in greater equality of influence between all the permanent status stakeholders and parties. He intends to consult with the five Security Council permanent members (United States, Russia, France, United Kingdom and China) on a regular basis on all international peace efforts. In this context, the latest Quartet report (from the United States, Russia, EU, UN) on the Israeli-Palestinian issue would serve him as a basis for a future two-state solution process.

Two-State Solution Is Popular

While public opinion polls are usually not good sources of information, I think it is important to drive home the fact the two-state solution does have support, even in Israel, despite what seems to be loud voices to the contrary. The Ben-Meir card, above, claims majority support for the solution and this is reaffirmed in a 2017 survey.

Zeveloff (2017):
Apparently, the the two state solution isn’t dead just yet.
That’s according to a poll conducted by the dovish pro Israel lobby J Street, which found that 68% of Israelis favor an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, reported by Haaretz.
Pundits have been sounding the death knell for the two state solution for years. That assessment has gained mainstream traction since Donald Trump’s appointment of an Israel envoy, bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, who has backed Israeli annexation of the land Palestinians claim for a state.
Surprisingly, the J Street poll found that support for two states has actually grown since a 2014 poll that said that 62% of Israelis prefer two states.
No parameters for such a solution or possible borders for the two states were suggested to respondents, making it impossible to know what form Israelis believe a Palestinian state might take.
The recent J Street poll was conducted after United States Secretary of State John Kerry gave a speech detailing his vision for a solution to the conflict. Five hundred Israeli Jews and Arabs were polled.
Predictably, religious, nationalist and right wing party voters were less likely to support a two state solution than center and left party voters. But a surprisingly high percentage of right wing voters supported the two state solution, too. As Haaretz noted, two out of five Israelis who vote for the pro-settler Jewish Home party said they supported the creation of a Palestinian state.
The poll seemed to contradict another survey by the Israel Democracy Institute which found that only 35% of Israelis agreed with Kerry’s assessment that Israel could not remain both Jewish and democratic without a two state solution. Fifty-four percent did not agree.

The Role of Pressure

Looking at the previous section on solvency, Fein 2017 explains the situation is not a conflict between equals. Israel is in a decidedly more advantageous position enjoying the benefits of U.S. intelligence and military support. International pressure provides an opportunity for the Palestinian leadership to enhance their negotiating position which serves to level the playing field.

Zanotti (2016):
Continued failure by Israelis and Palestinians to make progress toward a negotiated solution could have a number of regional and global implications. Palestinian leaders support initiatives to advance their statehood claims and appear to be encouraging or taking advantage of international legal and economic pressure on Israel in an effort to improve the Palestinian position vis-à-vis Israel. Israeli construction (including of Jewish settlements or neighborhoods) and security measures in the West Bank and East Jerusalem could also have implications for final-status issues. Such matters attract significant interest within the United States and among a number of other international actors.
Current U.S. and international efforts to preserve the viability of a negotiated “two-state solution” attract skepticism because of regional turmoil and domestic reluctance among key Israeli and Palestinian leaders and constituencies to contemplate political or territorial concessions. As a result, Western leaders are left wondering if and how they can improve diplomatic prospects. Meanwhile, Israelis debate whether their leaders should participate in international initiatives, advance their own diplomatic proposals, act unilaterally, or manage the “status quo.” [1-2]

For those who claim pressure on Israel does not work, one only needs to look at the seemingly wavering positions of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has supported the two-state solution often throughout his political career but his doubts about the feasibility of achieving such a solution leads to mixed signals and uncertainty about his positions. Only when Obama applied pressure did Netanyahu appear to reaffirm his commitment to the two-state solution. It seems Netanyahu supports the two-state solution in principle but U.S. pressure helps keep the issue focused and the signals clear.

Mualem (2017):
Netanyahu has no intention of renouncing the two-state solution, which he first publicly supported in June 2009 in his famous Bar Ilan speech after being pressured by President Barack Obama a few months before the start of his second term as prime minister. Then, like now, Netanyahu announced his support for the idea but added certain qualifications, which made it impossible for the Palestinians to adopt his two-state principle as the basis for negotiations. His demands ranged from the Palestinians recognizing Israel as the “state of the Jewish people” as a prerequisite for any negotiations to insisting that any future Palestinian state be demilitarized. As far as Netanyahu was concerned, he had found the perfect formula to prove his goodwill to the world while also presenting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as the one blocking all attempts to reach a peace agreement.
Even now, with an allegedly pro-settler president occupying the Oval Office, Netanyahu has no intention of abandoning the idea of a two-state solution. He realizes that it would be diplomatic malpractice on his part otherwise, so he continues to declare his commitment to the idea. Hence, in his interview with the CBS newsmagazine “60 Minutes” Dec. 11, Netanyahu said he still believes in two states living side by side in peace and that he wants Trump to help him achieve that.

Trump Supports the Two-State Solution

The major problem this topic addresses is the nearly 70 year conflict that has been fought in the southwestern Levant region since Israeli refugees began flooding into the region under the banner of Zionism, a movement to establish a secure and recognized Jewish nation. The movement was met with armed opposition from Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Iraq and continued throughout the decades in a series of intense conflicts. The newly formed government of Israel enjoyed strong support from the U.S. which claimed solidarity with the tiny democratic nation surrounded by "enemies" but no doubt a very strong pro-Jewish lobby exerting tremendous influence upon the U.S. government has also helped shape U.S. policy. Despite what on-face looked like soft support for Israel, by Obama, cooperation and support for Israel remained strong, behind the scenes. Trump, on the other hand, is much more overt about his support. With regard to the two-state solution, Trump has been publicly ambiguous, claiming to not care what kind of solution is reached, but his focus is geared more toward addressing the issues which impede a two-state solution.

A major contention is centered on the issue of settlements. As Israel continues to annex new territories and occupy more and more zones on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, the situation becomes increasingly difficult.  Some are claiming a better strategy for the time being is to "build up, not out". It seems unlikely the pre-1967 borders can be honored, but by ceasing to spread out, the situation may be able to be stabilized. Trump, a real-estate tycoon, understands this fact.

Ross (2017);
President Trump seems to accept that logic, having told the Israeli newspaper Israel Hayom: “There is limited remaining territory.… Every time you take land for a settlement, less territory remains. I’m not someone who believes that advancing settlements is good for peace.”
Here again, one can see the logic of the Bush-Sharon letter, which offers a basis for limits on settlements but also formally acknowledges that the final border between the two states is not going to be the 1949 armistice lines or the lines before the 1967 war.
There is a wide consensus within the Israeli body politic that the June 4, 1967, lines are not defensible and cannot become the border in any peace agreement. Moreover, going back to 2000, we developed with Israeli and Palestinian negotiators the concept of settlement blocs and territorial swaps to accommodate a significant number of Israeli settlers and compensate the Palestinians for modifying the border. With 75 percent of the Israeli settlers living on about 5 percent of the West Bank territory, this concept was designed to appeal to the mainstream of the settlement movement.

In fact, Trump's strategy, rather than remove pressure from Israel and abandon a two-state solution, may be to spread the pressure upon the Palestinian leadership as well. Perhaps one can learn an important lesson from the failure of Obama's one-sided approach.

Tobin, (2017):
But just because Trump isn’t demanding a two-state solution doesn’t mean he is opposing it or even that his stance makes it less likely. For eight years, President Obama insisted that the Israelis give up the West Bank and part of Jerusalem in order to allow a Palestinian state. Putting all the pressure on the Israelis was a bigger mistake than anything Trump has said. Obama didn’t take into account that Palestinian politics and the Hamas–Fatah rivalry made it impossible for their so-called moderates to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state, no matter where its borders might be located. Obama’s approach had the effect of rewarding Palestinian intransigence, which doomed his efforts. In saying he didn’t care what the terms of peace were so long as both sides accepted them, Trump sent the opposite message to the Palestinians. The Palestinians believe that pressure from the international community will isolate the Jewish state and make it vulnerable. Trump’s refusal to sanctify the two-state mantra is a warning that if Palestinians want a state, they will not get it by jettisoning negotiations and asking the United Nations to impose terms on Israel — which is how they rewarded Obama for his efforts on their behalf.

The World View

Finally I would like to conclude this point of view with a look at how the rest of the world look at the two-state solution. And surprisingly, what Trumps own ambassador to the United Nations had to say.

Parker (2017):
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Thursday the United States still supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a day after President Donald Trump suggested he is open to new ways to achieve peace.
"First of all, the two-state solution is what we support. Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution - that would be an error," Haley told reporters at the United Nations.
"We absolutely support the two-state solution but we are thinking out of the box as well: which is what does it take to bring these two sides to the table; what do we need to have them agree on."

And Parker looks to our European partners and the Secretary-General:

Parker (2017):
French and British diplomats also repeated their longstanding support of the policy, in a show of how Trump's remarks on Wednesday had caused confusion.
"The UK continues to believe that the best solution for peace in the Middle East is the two-state solution," said British ambassador to the United Nations, Matthew Rycroft.
On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had warned during a visit to Cairo that was no viable way to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict other than the establishment of a Palestinian state co-existing alongside Israel.

And of course, the Palestinians have a voice we must listen to as well.

Noy (2017):
After a senior level White House official said that the Trump administration will not insist on a two-state solution, the Palestinians warned America against abandoning its longstanding approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “If the Trump administration rejects this policy, it would be destroying the chances for peace and undermining American interests, standing and credibility abroad,” said Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) executive committee member, in a statement today (Wednesday).
“Accommodating the most extreme and irresponsible elements in Israel and in the White House is no way to make responsible foreign policy,” she continued.

For all these reasons and more, we urge a Con ballot.

For more on this topic, or Public Forum Debate, click the Public Forum tab at the top of this page.


Ben-Meir, A (2009), Can the Two-State Solution be Salvaged?, Middle East Policy Council (MEPC), Journal Essay Spring 2009, Vol XVIm No. 1. Accessed 2/10/2017 at:

Fean, V (2017), Only a two-state solution will bring peace to the Middle East. Let’s help to realise it. The Guardian, 13 Jan 2017. Accessed 2/20/2017 at:

Mualem, M (2017), Why Netanyahu won't abandon two-state solution, Al-Monitor, Israel Pulse, Feb 2017. Accessed 2/20/2017 at:

Noy B, (2017) Palestinians claim abandoning two-state solution undermines American interests, Jerusalem Online, Feb 15, 2017

Parker N (2017), U.S. ambassador at U.N. says Trump supports two-state solution, Reuters News,

Ross, D (2017), Trump and Netanyahu Won’t Bury the Two-State Solution, Foreign Policy, 14-Feb-2017. Accessed 2/20/2017 at:

Savir, U (2017), How new UN secretary-general plans to advance two-state process, Al-Monitor, Israel Pulse, Jan 10, 2017. Accessed 2/20/207 at:

Tobin, J (2017), The Two State Solution: Does Trump’s Indifference Matter?, National Review, 16 Feb 2017.Accessed 2/20/2017 at:

Walt, S (2010), Enhancing Security Through a Two-State Solution, Harvard Kennedy School of Government, Summer 2010. Accessed 2/10/2017 at:

Zanotti, J (2016), Israel: Background and U.S. Relations, Congressional Research Service, Oct. 28, 2016. Accessed 2/10/2017 at:

Zeveloff, N (2017), 68% of Israelis Support Two-State Solution: J Street Poll, Published on, Jan 15, 2017. Accessed 2/20/2017 at:

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

PF Mar 2017 - The Two-State Solution - Pro Position

Resolved: The United States should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution.

The Pro Position

The Pro side of this debate claims the U.S. should, basically, no longer insist upon a two-state solution. It is not "the" two-state solution in this resolution. It is "a" two-state solution. Let's say any solution which allows Israel and Palestine to each govern independent states within the same region behind secure borders. We could tend to think of "the" two-state solution as the one negotiated at the Oslo Accords requiring Israel to to draw-back to its pre-1967 borders. So, is the Pro advocating a total abandonment of any solution which can be deemed a two-state solution? In the strictest interpretation of the resolution, there is nothing which says the U.S. should abandon prospects for a two-state solution, rather merely stop pressuring Israel to accept it. I don't know how significant these subtleties are with respect to this debate. It could be argued, Netanyahu as leader of Israel, has already accepted "a" two-state solution with conditions not least of which includes the recognition of Israel's right to exist. If Israel already accepts the two-state solution then why continue to pressure them to accept it? Well, again, it is not a question of getting them to accept a solution but rather an issue of actively working toward a finalized solution. So, there are many ways to take this resolution if the intent is to split hairs and quibble over subtle details. I think it is very possible and desirable to debate this resolution on much broader terms. More simply Pro can claim a two-state solution is not possible and while there may be alternatives, Pro need not defend any of them. After all, it is very clear in Public Forum debate (although this seems to be an impediment to good debate sometimes) debaters ought not present a "plan" or "counter-plan". I discuss this further under the section presenting alternatives.

This topic is potentially controversial. In fact I would it say it is potentially more controversial than the "Islamic Cultural Center at Ground-Zero" topic proposed in 2010 which was replaced by the NSDA. On the Pro side, much of the controversy I foresee arises from "blame-fixing" which could arouse negative responses from judges, debaters and observers. Nevertheless, if we are to debate this topic we must examine the arguments on both sides in an open manner. Forensics is, after all, an exercise in discovering the truth or at least moving us closer to some mutual agreement about the current situation which Public Forum debate does not require us to solve. In 2010, schools in our area chose to debate the cultural center and ground-zero topic rather than the alternative topic proposed by the NSDA. The debates were well done, with out any controversy, protest or lack of balance. I am confident this debate will be conducted in the same manner. We will rely on our sources and take it from there.

Two-State Solution Is Obsolete

The two-state solution, while viable in 1993 is no longer a good, workable idea. The situation in Palestine has hardly been unchanging. The rise of rival political groups in Palestine such as Fatah, Hamas, Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) presents challenges as to identifying which group or groups are the true voice of the Palestinian people. To make matters worse, groups like Hamas and the PLO have been classified as terrorist groups by the U.S. and Israel. Additionally, further complications have been added by Israel's ongoing expansion of settlements in the West Bank. These settlements are claiming lands which were inside the pre-1967 borders established for Palestine and would require withdrawal and destruction of the settlement areas before handing the areas back to Palestine. Many on the Israeli right-wing are vehemently opposed to such moves and exert enough sway on Israeli conservatives they can collapse the Israeli coalition government and derail negotiations.

Scheindlin & Waxman (2016):
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won a resounding reelection in March 2015 after promising voters that he would oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state. Although he has since walked back this statement, he has also reiterated that even if he supports the notion of Palestinian statehood, the current situation and the recent wave of violence require Israel to continue controlling the West Bank and maintaining the status quo in the Gaza Strip. Prominent members of Israel’s government such as Naftali Bennett, Education Minister and head of the right-wing Jewish Home Party, are even less equivocal: “The era of a Palestinian state is coming to a close.”
These are just the latest blows to the prospects of a two-state solution. Add to this the failure of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to broker either a comprehensive or more limited framework for a peace agreement based on two states; the PLO stepping up its strategy of ‘internationalizing’ the conflict in recent years and seeking to pressure Israel through the United Nations and other international bodies (most notably, the International Criminal Court); the declining Palestinian domestic support for, and legitimacy of, Mahmoud Abbas, the octogenarian decade-long president of the Palestinian Authority who has been the main proponent of the negotiated two-state solution in Palestinian society; Hamas’ continued rule over the Gaza Strip and its staunch rejection of Israel’s existence; the relentless growth and geographic spread of Israel’s West Bank settlements and the number of Israeli settlers (their number has more than doubled in the West Bank since the year 2000, in addition to East Jerusalem settlers) and it is easy to understand why so many observers of the conflict have come to regard the possibility of a two-state solution as fanciful at best. Even former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, a determined optimist, believes that “there is zero chance of the two-state solution” at the moment.[83-84]

Even Palestinians who, in the beginning supported the concept of the two-state solution as originally agreed in Oslo, have become disillusioned and skeptical. The unpopularity of the solution is spreading on both sides of the conflict eroding any hope of reaching a lasting agreement.

Asseburg & Busse (2016):
A two-state settlement is becoming increasingly unlikely. The financial and political costs of implementing it rise with every settlement unit needing to be demolished and with every settler needing to be evacuated and compensated. At the same time, the occupation and the construction of settlements are increasingly fragmenting the Palestinian territories – and thus the territory that would be available for a Palestinian state. Other factors contribute to the problem: the construction of settlement infrastructure and the separation barrier; the isolation of East Jerusalem and the blockade of the Gaza Strip; and a complex system of checkpoints, separated streets and permits. In addition, the split between Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, which has led to the creation of two government and security apparatuses and two legal systems, is endangering the creation of one single Palestinian state.
As a result, populations in Israel and the Palestinian areas have increasingly abandoned the two-state approach. While this formula enjoyed majority support among both the Israeli and Palestinian populations in polls from the mid-2000s onwards, support has noticeably waned in both societies since then. According to the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR), in December 2014 a two-state settlement was rejected by a majority (51 percent) of the Palestinians surveyed for the first time. By December 2015, the rejection rate had reached 54 percent. In addition, two-thirds of those surveyed no longer thought the approach viable because of settlement construction. The same trend has been shown among the Israeli population. According to a poll by the Harry S. Truman Institute of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, support in Israel for a two state settlement stood at 51 percent in June 2015. A year earlier, it had been at 62 percent. Clearly, many Israelis share the assessment that a two-state settlement is no longer realistic. They also do not expect it to bring about peace.[3]

One of the major obstacles thrown into the road to peace comes from Israeli settlements. According to a report by Daoud Kuttab, the Israelis have turned a blind eye to expanding settlements while telling the rest of the world they were supporting a two-state solution.

Kuttab (2017)
As new settlements were coming up throughout the occupied West Bank, Israeli officials kept assuring the world that they were supporting the two-state solution. To demonstrate their committment [sic] to they two-state they claimed new settlements were not illegal while doing nothing to stop them.
The fact that many of the new settlements built outside the major blocks that were close to the Green line meant that, with small land swaps, a Palestinian state was possible, though difficult.
The fact that the Israeli government was not legally approving these particular “outposts” allowed Israel to get away with its lie that it supports an eventual negotiated agreement.
But even John Kerry, the US secretary of state, was not convinced of it, telling the US Congress that when new Israeli settlements were announced in April 2014, the direct Palestinian-Israeli talks “went poof”.
Under Barack Obama, the cunning Israelis were consistently saying that the new “outposts” had not been approved by the Israeli government, which was true. But they were allowed to exist, get water, electricity, Internet connection as well as military protection.
In Obama’s absence, the Israeli legislature, with thin majority of 60 votes, was able to pass a law that retroactively legalised all the outposts that the Netanyahu government had repeatedly said were not legal and were not approved by the Israeli government.
The decision of the Israeli Knesset should finally convince anyone who was buying the Israeli claims that it was serious about peace and about the two-state solution.
Netanyahu, who was away in London when the vote was taken, might claim that he did not vote for it, although his entire coalition, without exception, cast their vote in favour.
Ironically, while in London, Netanyahu three times refused to answer questions by the press if he was still supportive of the two-state solution.
Clearly the charade is over and therefore there is no longer reason to defend what has been a lie all along.

While the settlements and their supporting infrastructure have proven to be a huge impediment to implementing a two-state solution, the institutional obstacles are equally severe on the Palestinian side. The physical distance between Gaza and the West Bank seems to have contributed to a fractured government structure with both ruling groups on either side of the fracture lacking resolve or power enough to represent the population of Palestine.

Brown (2008):
The network of Israeli settlements, the encirclement of some Palestinian cities, the construction of new road systems, and the construction of a wall inside the West Bank are physical obstacles to the construction of a Palestinian state that would live side by side with Israel. Critics have been warning for over a generation that the “land for peace” formula—a phrase used when Palestinian statehood was considered unspeakable—was rapidly becoming impossible. After more than 30 years, it is time to acknowledge that it will take a herculean effort to prevent these critics from being vindicated.
Institutional obstacles are no less severe than the physical ones. For a decade there was a Palestinian leadership publicly committed to a two-state solution. Some of those leaders still hold office, but they retain little authority. Fatah, the strongest political party favoring a two-state solution, lies discredited and divided. On an official level, Palestine now has two governments, one based in Ramallah and one in Gaza. Those in Ramallah preside over a bureaucratic apparatus in a state of advanced decay and are so totally dependent on international financial and diplomatic support that Palestinians perceive them more as international trustees than as domestic leaders. Those in Gaza, while not so dependent on the international sponsors of the peace process, reject both the diplomatic processes constructed over the past two decades and the vision underlying them. There can be no negotiated solution of any kind in such a setting. [2-3]

U.S. Pressure is Useless

The resolution specifically claims the U.S. should no longer pressure Israel to work toward a two-state solution. The U.S. can pressure Israel in a variety ways. It can levy certain kinds of sanctions, withhold funding and shift its diplomatic support in ways which impedes Israel's autonomy or initiatives. But Israel has become less responsive to U.S. pressure.

Tertrais (2013):
A widespread argument in the peace process debate is that the international community does not pressure Israel enough. It has often been suggested that Washington should leverage its annual military assistance (currently approximately $3 billion), but is is doubtful that the United States could ever consider withdrawing such a package (which enormously benefits the U.S. defense industry) and risk endangering precious security benefits from its cooperation, notably in the field of counter-terrorism and counter-proliferation.
In addition, U.S. support for Israel remains very popular for a variety of strategic, political, cultural and religious reasons, and pressuring Israel can be counterproductive, as witnessed by the country’s reaction to the 2012 vote on Palestinian UN membership or to the 2013 EU decision on eligibility of Israeli entities to EU assistance and bilateral cooperation.
A strategy based on pressuring Israel would also disincentivize the Palestinian leadership to make concessions. More to the point, Israel would not back off under pressure if it felt that its most essential interests are at stake. Despite its current economic difficulties, the country is no longer the cash-strapped state that it was until the 1990s: it would almost certainly judge that losing U.S. assistance is a price worth paying. Proponents of this solution point out to a 1991 precedent, in which Washington successfully pressured Israel to freeze the settlements by withholding $10 billion in loan guarantees that the country needed to absorb immigrants. However, the times then were different and the stakes much more limited. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, such an approach overestimates the role of outside parties. Indeed, the role of the United States is useful, if not even necessary, but looking back to history, one should bear in mind that the three major peace achievements of the past 35 years (Camp David-1, Oslo-1, the Jordan-Israel peace treaty) came from the parties themselves. This means that outsiders can nudge the parties and occasionally condition part of their assistance to such or such positioning in the negotiating process, but cannot force them to peace. [2-3]

Obama's strategy with regards to expansion of settlements and driving toward a two-state solution was built upon an approach which tended to be less conciliatory to Israel.  Basically Obama's strategy was to apply greater pressure on Israel than many of his predecessors in the hope Israel would yield toward a reconciliation with the Palestinians.  However this one-sided approach was a dismal failure.

Rosen (2012)
An enduring feature of American diplomacy in the Middle East is the background chorus calling on the president to put more pressure on Israel. Books, newspapers, magazines, and lecture halls are filled with experts reciting the catechism that Israel is the obstacle to peace in the Middle East, and that only a determined president ready to defy the fearsome Israel lobby can bring Israel to heel. Europeans, Arab governments, State Department Arabists, and even some Jewish propressure organizations reinforce this message.
Some presidents, like George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan, instinctively resist these entreaties (though even they succumbed to the pressure at times). Other presidents, like Barack Obama, are receptive to the pressure argument from the beginning. And of all the issues on the menu of Middle East diplomacy, the one on which the pressure theory is most seductive is the issue of settlements. The pressure theory had its first full-scale test in the first two years of Obama. And Obama got a result opposite to the one that he was promised, because, contrary to what was promised, we are now further from real peace negotiations than at any time since 1991. A scientist looking at such dismal results in a test tube would conclude that the theory was wrong. But political science being what it is, most of the Middle East pressurists cling to the opposite conclusion. They continue to believe that settlements are the main obstacle to peace negotiations, and that a president who wants to accelerate peacemaking should start with confronting Israel about them. It is an approach that has been proven to be counterproductive, but the pressurists cling to it with every fiber of their being.[42]

Two-State Alternatives

It is useful to know about the alternative proposals to the two-state solution since, no doubt, they will be discussed and judges and observers will need to know there are alternatives and Pro is not merely rejecting a two-state solution and leaving no options.  This is where is can get tricky for some. Public Forum Debate (as the anti-Policy Debate genre) is forbidden from presenting plans or counter-plans in traditional circuits. Discussion of alternate proposals is not technically a plan or counter-plan even though in this case they are competing proposals. While we may be able to claim, the U.S. should stop pressuring Israel to work toward a two-state solution based on the fact it is unpopular or difficult to implement, the argument is much more compelling when it can be shown there are other ideas which avoid the disadvantages while possibly solving the harms equally as well or better than the tow-state solution. Is this more or less the definition of a counter-plan? Not really, because counter-plans are generally non-resolutional so I see no problem with looking at alternative proposals in this debate because they support the resolution rather than avoid it.

One-State Solution

One of the most discussed ideas is the One-State plan which also includes a variant known as the bi-national plan and requires the establishment of a single nation where all residents are given full-rights as citizens.  Under current ideas the solution proposes that Israel governs and provides security for the newly constituted nation.

Carlstrom (2017):
The concept is still in its infancy, but it has a number of high-profile supporters—many of them from the far right of the political spectrum. “It would mean creating an entirely new system of government— something we’ve never seen before,” Dani Dayan, formerly a leading member of the Yesha Council, the umbrella movement for Israeli settlers, told me during the last election, when he made a short-lived bid for a Knesset seat. “But it’s more realistic than the two-state solution.” (Dayan is now Israel’s consul general in New York, and has said he will support whatever happens to be government’s policy; he discussed the confederation idea before his appointment.)
It would be implemented slowly, supporters say, to build trust on both sides. But it would end with equal rights for all. Reuven Rivlin, the Israeli president, has long supported such an outcome: He is a lifelong Likudnik who opposes Palestinian statehood, but also a classical liberal, one of the few right-wing politicians in Israel who still speaks passionately about equality and against racism. At a conference in Jerusalem this week, the day before Netanyahu and Trump met in Washington, he repeated his call for this kind of one-state outcome. “Applying sovereignty to an area gives citizenship to all those who live there,” he said. “There is not [a different] law for Israelis and non-Israelis.”

The Regional Solution

This solution is interesting because it involves Egypt and Jordan. Under this proposal, Egypt would transfer some land to Gaza and Jordan to the West Bank to serve as the Palestinian homeland.  

Eiland (2008):
The Palestinians will receive an area the equivalent of 105 percent of the original “1967 borders territory.” Specifically, this land will include the modified pre-1967 areas, the territory transferred by Egypt (equivalent to the West Bank areas the Palestinians will cede to Israel), and the territory transferred by Jordan (equivalent to about 5 percent of the West Bank). The additional territory will make a substantive economic difference for the Palestinians, facilitating the resolution of the refugee problem by offering many a bright future in the “greater Gaza.[33]

Jordanian Plan

The predecessor of the Regional Solution was the Jordanian plan which required Israel to give up the West Bank entirely.

Eiland (2008):
In 1988, a clandestine meeting in London between King Hussein of Jordan and Israeli foreign minister Shimon Peres served as the climax of bilateral discussions on the issue. These discussions centered on a third option: designating most of the West Bank as part of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation. According to this concept, Israel would have given up almost the entire territory, and the Palestinians would have been free of Israeli occupation and able to enjoy limited independence. Meanwhile, Jordan would have been the only country permitted to deploy armed forces in the area. Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir rejected the idea, however. Not long thereafter, King Hussein announced that Jordan would cease representing West Bank Palestinians. In the years since, Jordan has contended that the PLO is the Palestinians’ sole legitimate representative. The notion of a Palestinian state thus became the only acceptable solution.[30]


This proposal is vague but basically grants a satisfactory level of autonomy to Palestinians while passing the security role to Israel.

Shindler (2017):
Former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin proposed the idea of administrative autonomy in the West Bank and Gaza shortly after coming to power in 1977.
Self-rule for the Palestinians meant that Israel would be responsible for security and foreign policy while ideologically retaining a claim to Judea and Samaria (West Bank).
While limited autonomy was granted under the Oslo peace accords, it was probably viewed by both sides as an interim solution. The demise of the peace process has frozen any further progress.
The eventual shape of a final settlement has therefore yet to be determined.

For more on the idea of Palestinian autonomy, begin with this 1993 proposal published by the Washington Institute of Near East Policy.

For All These Reasons...

The U.S. should stop pressuring Israel to work toward a two-state solution. After many decades of negotiations by many of the world's finest diplomats the two-state solution emerges as no solution. The current situation in the West Bank, the ever expanding push of Israeli settlements and annexations as well the uncertainty of Palestinian rule all contribute to the futility of such a solution. On the U.S. side even Jimmy Carter, John Kerry and Donald Trump seem to be looking toward alternatives. The two-state solution is dead and it's time to move on. For all these reasons and more, we urge a Pro ballot.


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Shindler C (2017), Israel and the Palestinians: What are alternatives to a two-state solution?, BBC World News, 17 Feb 2017. Accessed 2/20/2017 at:

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