Monday, February 13, 2017

PF Mar 2017 - The Two-State Solution - Introduction

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


This is one of the resolutions which trips up some debaters so be careful. If you are Pro you are opposed to a two-state solution and if you are Con you support a two-state solution. First I will present some background avoiding the urge to go too deeply into a complicated history of the situation between Palestine and Israel. For the purposes of this debate, suffice to say, prior to 1948, there was no state of Israel as we know it today. The region known as Palestine which was situated between Lebanon and Syria to the north, Jordan to the east and Egypt to the southwest was occupied by Palestinian Arabs. The region was under British rule since the end of World War I authorized by a mandate issued by the League of Nations and their occupation continued until the end of World War II. Following the end of the war Jewish refugees began arriving in the region, mainly from Europe and Russia driven out of those nations by war, the holocaust and a growing desire to return to the place they deemed their traditional, ancestral homeland. Britain imposed immigration limits which resulted in several armed and bloody conflicts between the British and refugee militia groups. Additionally, Arab militia groups were also fighting with Jewish refugee groups seen as forcing their way into Arab lands. In 1947, the newly formed United Nations passed a resolution which partitioned the region between Jewish settlers and Palestinian Arabs and called for the end of British regional dominance. The Arabs rejected the U.N. resolution and continued resisting Jewish occupation. In 1948, the Jewish Agency under David Ben-Gurian declared the establishment of the nation of Israel which was followed immediately by the launching of the Arab-Israeli War and armies poured in from Jordan, Egypt, Syria and other surrounding Arab states. After more than a year of fighting a war of attrition, the U.N. helped negotiate a cease fire which redrew the borders once again with Egypt taking the region known as the Gaza Strip and Jordan taking the west bank of the Jordan River and East Jerusalem. During that time of uneasy and difficult "peace" immigration by Jewish refugees and migrants from around the world exploded further antagonizing the Palestinian Arabs. In the years since, there have been a number of wars between Israel and surrounding Arab nations which resulted in several movements of the "border" between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Jordan and Egypt.

One key element of the Palestinian effort to end the occupation of the Palestine by Jewish settlers was the formation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964. The PLO quickly became the voice of the Palestinian people acting as a militant government of sorts, dedicated to ending the occupation of Palestine by armed force. Much of their effort was internationally condemned as terrorism against Israeli civilians. Yasir Arafat became the Chairman of the PLO in 1969 and continued until his untimely death in 2004. Under Arafat, the PLO participated in many attempted negotiations and peace-treaties becoming well-known to American television news viewers. Arafat was Chairman at the time the ground-work was laid for the two-state solution and initially supported the plan. In addition to the PLO, several other prominent militant groups (most designated as terrorist groups by the West) have been active in Palestine, often sponsored or supported by neighboring Arab nations. I urge you to go much more deeply into the troubled history of the various entities involved in the region and the effected parties involved in the two-state solution.  The history is complex and no doubt much of what I have written about above is incomplete or shaded by Western or pro-Israeli sources, so be aware.

The Two-State Solution

Normally I would include this discussion as part of the Definitions enumerated later in this article, but it requires a lengthy discussion. The initial U.N. resolutions which mentioned two states were seen in 1974. In addition there have been numerous negotiations between diplomats from Israel, Palestine, the U.S., and several neighboring states, at various times working on well publicized agreements to adopt a two-state solution which basically required Palestine and Israel to live side-by-side within agreed and secure borders. The initial plan, originally supported by the PLO called for Israel to withdraw to its pre-1967 borders which would return East Jerusalem and all of the West Bank and Gaza to Palestine. The resolution was rejected in the U.N. by Israel and the U.S. but nevertheless remains a starting requirement of many Palestinian negotiators today. The closest we have come to a two-state solution, it would seem, was an effort which began in the Oslo Accords in the mid-1990s which established a peace-treaty and created the Palestinian Authority (PA) as the recognized ruling power of Palestinians, rather than the militant PLO. Key to the success of Oslo was the withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied lands and transfer of power to the Palestinian Authority. The signing of the Oslo Accord was a much celebrated photo-opportunity between Yasir Arafat, Israel's Yitzhak Rabin and U.S. President Bill Clinton. Unfortunately, the entire process collapsed when Rabin (by a fellow Israeli) was assassinated and the militant group Hamas (deemed a terrorist organization by the West) began a series of attacks. Despite efforts to salvage the accord, the agreement eventually collapsed into a protracted conflict known as the Second Intifada in year 2000. This struggle continued through the death of Yasir Arafat in 2004 and ended in 2005 during the Sharm el-Sheikh Summit negotiated by Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. Since that time, both U.S. Secretaries of State Clinton and Kerry have tried to continue some resolution of the two-state solution to no avail. Currently, Israel continues to build new settlements in the occupied territories and Palestinians are cut-off, suffering from lack of international support, poor employment opportunities and generally poor standard of living with little hope for respite.

It is unclear whether the new U.S. administration of President Trump will support a two-state solution. Thus far he has pledged solid support for Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu but in early February 2017 urged Israel to stop expanding settlements, a major prerequisite to a two-state solution. The full position of the administration has yet to play out as of the writing of this article.


Following are the key definitions of words used in the resolution. 

The United States
The United States is the union of the fifty states and territories under the authority of the federal government and in the context of this resolution, we can claim the United States means the government of the United States.

Merriam-Webster defines should as "used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency". Perhaps it can be interpreted as a strong suggestion in some contexts.

no longer
The Collins English Dictionary defines this combination of words as, "not any more; formerly but not now". In other words, something that up until now has been ongoing should stop. We can say, 'no more' takes effect immediately when the judge Affirms.

This a verb the Macmillan Dictionary defines as "to try to make someone do something by forcing, threatening, or persuading them in a determined way". This term describes diplomatic coercion in the context of this resolution. There are a number of ways a state can apply pressure (or coerce) another state but usually it involves threatening to withhold a needed benefit or offering to provide another benefit as an incentive.

The nation which is physically situated between Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon and is considered one of the two states in question by the resolution.

to work
For this definition, I prefer the Merriam Webster version, "sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result".

The Cambridge Dictionary defines this word as "in the direction of, or closer to someone or something". Note that toward does not necessarily indicate the goal will be reached.

a two-state solution
Please refer to the lengthy discussion above for this definition. It refers to an agreement between Palestine and Israel (the two-states) which allows both to coexist within secure borders. No particular agreement of version of a solution is referenced by the resolution so any two-state solution which achieves the basic goals satisfies the resolution.

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  1. Thank you so much for this! Much appreciated

  2. When will Pro and Con be posted?

    1. I am working on it but the topic is difficult because a) it is unfolding at this very moment, b) it is difficult to parse the extremely one-sided or inflammatory rhetoric and c) our team is in several large district tournaments in February so I may not post any articles until after Feb. 18. Pro and Con is coming.

  3. Given that is the 20th, will Pro and Con be posted soon?

    1. Yes, Anon. Cards are cut. Just proof reading before posting.

  4. It is March 2017 not 2016

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Thank you so much! My partner and I are going to districts in a week and a half and we have a lot of work to do! We've both been doing LD and this was a last minute decision! This helped a lot!

  7. Very good info Thanks


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