When it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, commentary abounds on the subject of who is for and against the idea of a so-called “two-state solution.” President Barack Obama is famously in support of such an agreement. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is almost as famously opposed to it. Talking heads and ideologues in both the western and Muslim worlds argue the point ad nauseum. They get caught up in the argument and lose sight of what really matters — how Palestinians and Israelis actually feel about it.

As reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a recent study conducted by the joint Israeli-Palestinian pro-peace organization, The OneVoice Movement, found that 74 percent of Palestinians and 78 percent of Israelis favor a two-state solution. By my rough calculation, this means that upward of 8.5 million people in the region favor the idea of peace through such means.

So what might happen if there were a new sort of two-state solution, instead of a Jewish state and a Palestinian state? What if one state was for the 8.5 million people who are optimistic about peace, while the second was for the other guys to duke it out among themselves. That would throw the world for a loop.

The obviously bigger, more forward-thinking state could call itself “HolyLand” to cater to both groups, while the other state could call itself “SlowlyLand” — a tribute to the mentality of its denizens. HolyLand would attract millions of tourists each year and invest in the continued education and progressivism of its citizens, doing its part to advance humanity. SlowlyLand, however, mired in unending civil war, would probably self-destruct. Or perhaps in close quarters, SlowlyLanders might finally realize that Israeli and Arab falafel taste exactly the same.

Either way, after some amount of time with this new structure, those who currently oppose a two-state solution would no longer obstruct the peace process. And at that time, Arabs and Jews will have been living side by side in HolyLand long enough to know that the former conflict was silly. Amen.

Call it infantile, trivial or meshuggenah, but even this plan makes a lot more sense than whatever Netanyahu has percolating in his mind for the peace process.

Admittedly, just because people like the way a two-state solution sounds, they may be uncomfortable with letting their guard down in the face of what they perceive as terrorism or occupation. Moreover, the OneVoice Movement’s poll didn’t ask, “Would you mind living next door to your historical enemies or limiting the power of your own cultural group in order to try a new experiment for peace?” If it had, the results probably wouldn’t bolster the partition of HolyLand and SlowlyLand. Further, even if there were two states in place, immediate and unequivocal peace wouldn’t be expected.

But even if two-state supporters on both sides don’t ever aggregate in a new sort of fantastical country, they ought to try harder to make their voices heard. If Netanyahu is strategically holding out before accepting two states at some point in the future, he may accept the solution sooner if there’s enough pressure from within Israel.

It’s apparent that the first step in attaining peace involves Jewish and Arab acceptance of each other’s existence. Israel isn’t going anywhere, and neither are the West Bank and Gaza. The only logical thing to do is to make both places kosher, so to speak, in the minds of both Jews and Arabs by creating two separate, acknowledged states.

An accord seems timelier now than ever before. Israelis and Palestinians favor a two-state solution in unprecedented numbers, and the international excitement of the Obama presidency, particularly in the Muslim world, could be a launching pad for meaningful negotiation. Hawks on both sides need to realize the importance of the two-state solution and understand that now is the time to strike the penultimate lasting deal.

Matthew Green can be reached at greenmat@umich.edu.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.