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

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On the other side of the spectrum, American political science professor Virginia Tilley – a well-known critic of partition – agrees wholeheartedly. “Of course the two-state solution is dead,” she says. “It’s been dead for a long time. I don’t think it was ever alive…The British clarified formally in the 1930s that partition was never intended, and certainly the situation is far more impossible now.” Ms. Tilley argues that the continued belief in the two-state solution allows Israel to accrue territory. “The longer everybody keeps going along with the idea of a two-state solution, the longer Israel can keep building settlements, which is a full-fledged state project to effectively annex the entire country.”

Tilley sees only one path forward to resolution: a rejection of the premise that enthnicity or religion should make up a nation – a Jewish state and a Palestinian-Arab state. “A mass, nonviolent movement, with 300,000 Palestinians coming over that racist wall with signs saying, ‘equal rights, democracy and freedom,’ would transform this entire conflict in a day,” she says.

“When people realize what’s going on,” Tilley explains, “realize that the two-state solution was never viable, and finally accept that the only solution is giving equal rights to everybody and giving up the idea of an ethnic democracy – which has been given up everywhere else in the world – then there will be peace.”

It is in the center that a divergence of opinion can be seen: Here thinkers envision slightly different practical paths to achieving a two-state solution, and there is beauty – and hope – in the nuance. Leading Israeli negotiator Shaul Arieli says that Israeli settlements aren’t the insurmountable obstacle some make them out to be.

“Inside the [main Jewish settlement] blocs we have relative Jewish dominance, but outside, complete Palestinian dominance,” he says. It is possible, he continues, to create borders that connect the major Israeli settlement blocs in the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem neighborhoods to Israel by annexing “around 6 percent of the West Bank, which can be compensated with one-to-one land swaps, thereby reaching a two-state solution.”

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