Isaac Jennings, Goucher College:
Following Likud and Benyamin Netanyahu’s recent overwhelming victory in win of the Israeli parliamentary elections, it has become increasingly apparent that Netanyahu intends to live completely in the past. During the election, Netanyahu stated that there would be no Palestinian state under his watch, but after securing victory, he quickly retracted to his previous commitment to a two-state solution. Mahmoud Abbas exclaimed that these remarks showed that for Netanyahu, “there is no seriousness in the (future) Israeli government about a political solution”.  Netanyahu mentioned that the creation of a Palestinian state would increase possibilities of radical Islam in the region. But, once he won the election he elaborated, saying that he wants a “sustainable, peaceful two-state solution” and that “circumstances have to change”.  Netanyahu’s change in mind brings a bit of skepticism to the table, but regardless, his vision of a two-state solution is not the kind of change that Israel needs.
As he seems to want to continue to press for a two-state solution, Netanyahu continues to be thinking way too ideally. Initially, a two-state solution would have been a great way to end the conflict. But given the way that the conflict has played out, Netanyahu is being too Zionist about making peace with the Palestinians. One of the main goals of Zionism was to create a Jewish safe-haven for the Jewish people, but when thinking of today’s situation, Netanyahu must step a bit away from the Zionist point of view and focus more on a safe-haven for all people in Israel, rather than just focusing on the Jewish people. His victory looks as if it will keep Israel in the same place that it has been for decades.
Certain actions by Netanyahu, such as mentioning his representation of the Jewish people are absolutely not going to help out with negotiating with the Palestinians. Making a remark like that is tantamount to disregarding any possibility of a Palestinian state being established. Not only that, but this also does not come off friendly to the 20% of Israeli citizens who are Arab. In fact, many Arab citizens have “felt more marginalized during the years when the government in Jerusalem has been dominated by Mr. Netanyahu and Likud”.  All people in the land should be the main focus for his aspirations, and to only focus on the Jewish people discriminatory. He is too focused on making a name for Israel as the Jewish state, and not enough with trying to make a peaceful agreement. This idealistic attitude needs to be changed to a realistic and logical standpoint, in order for any negotiations to be met.
By now, it’s way too late to think about a two-state solution, first of all, because of land. The land under debate, such as the West Bank, is too inhabited by Israeli settlers to negotiate away. Changing the territories at this point means further displacing people and causing even more discontent. Second of all, the majority of Palestinian people already do not recognize Israel, and if they are ever granted their own state, their views towards Israel are not going to change. The ideologies, especially in Gaza with Hamas are not going to all of a sudden conform to this type of change. Hamas is not going to stop being Hamas, and it seems doubtful that this evil image towards Israel will change either. These ideologies are inculcated at young age in Palestinians and cannot be easily altered.
I am a Zionist and a Jew who went to Zionist summer camps and took a gap year in Israel under the Zionist group Young Judaea. Originally I agreed with the idea of a two-state solution, but as I began to do my own research on Zionism and the conflict itself, I have come to a very different conclusion. My identity as a Zionist has changed into that of a Federal Zionist, meaning that I support Israel, but as a bi-national state with two sovereignties (Israeli and Arab). I’ve realized that looking towards a two-state solution is like living in the past. A two-state solution was certainly an option decades ago, but today I can’t see that being a possibility. As mentioned before, one needs to think realistically and logically about this conflict, and to go astray from thinking ideally. Sure, having two states could very well be the ideal situation, but it’s most efficient to look at the conflict based on what’s best for the state and the people living in the state today. I love Israel quite a lot, but at the same time I also have respect for the Palestinians and Arab citizens. Given that both people live in the same land, I believe that they should also have equal sovereignty to the land, and should be given the same legal rights.
Obviously, a one-state solution is not the most common way to approach the conflict, but at this point it seems to be the most realistic way to make peace, if peace is the goal. A state with multiple nationalities could have a lot of potential and could even promote a coexistent mindset for the rest of the world. At this point, there is no two-state solution and if Netanyahu wants to govern Israel efficiently, it would be the most beneficial to do so in the best interest of all of the people in Israel, not just for that of the Jewish people. I have a lot of respect for Netanyahu, but the campaign he envisions does not seem right for Israel in its current state, and I think will keep Israel stuck in the same insecure situation for peace and negotiation that it’s been in for countless years now. Having a one-state with multiple sovereignties may not be what many people want, but it may be the only way for true peace to be settled in Israel.