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The two-state solution for Israel and Palestinians needs a big boost

Those on the extremes of the Palestinian and Israeli conflict don’t see a two-state solution as viable ­– or preferable. Secretary of State John Kerry and those in the center with practical ideas about how to achieve two peaceful states must strengthen their voices.

Secretary of State John Kerry shakes hands with Israeli President Shimon Peres in Jerusalem last month. He travels to Jerusalem again today. Op-ed contributor Nadine Epstein writes: '[T]hose in the center or moderate position on [the two-state solution] are not dictating policy or public sentiment. This poses a challenge for [Mr.] Kerry and the many others who still think two states are the best or only option.'

Jim Young/AP

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Secretary of State John Kerry arrives in Jerusalem this evening, trying again to restart negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. It's his fifth trip to the region in recent months, and this question remains unanswered: Is the two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians still alive and kicking?

This question has been in play since the British Peel Commission proposed separating Palestine into Jewish and Arab states in 1937. Then, most Jews in Palestine supported the plan, while Arab leaders rejected it, leading the British to withdraw their support when a new commission declared the idea un-implementable. In the ensuing decades, the partition plan, renamed the two-state solution, remained on the negotiating table, and even came to be considered the region’s only hope for peaceful coexistence.

In the run up to Mr. Kerry’s last visit to the region, in May, the viability of the two-state solution was a question of great interest to my staff at Moment Magazine – an independent North American magazine of Jewish politics, culture, and religion. We asked a range of Middle East policymakers, scholars, and activists – all across the spectrum, from the far right to the far left – to share their thoughts on the feasibility of side-by-side states. A rare, nuanced and often surprising discussion took form, transcending the clichéd categorizations we have come to expect on the Israeli-Palestinian question. These responses provide crucial clues as to what peace talk negotiators are up against, and what Kerry and the Obama administration must do to help bring about two states.


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