Confederation: The One Possible Israel-Palestine Solution Reply

By Bernard Avishai

New York Review of Books

“The two-state solution is over,” Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told reporters, responding to Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “Now is the time to transform the struggle for one state with equal rights for everyone living in historic Palestine, from the river to the sea.” As The New York Times subsequently reported, Erekat is hardly alone. The “over”-ness of “two states”—albeit with radical disagreements about the character of a hypothetical single state—has been claimed by ideological zealots, severe liberals, and exasperated peacemakers alike.

On the Palestinian side, one hears about the almost 700,000 Israeli settlers’ making annexation an established fact; on the Israeli side, about preventing recalcitrant Palestinian terrorists from firing missiles at Ben-Gurion Airport. For those of us living in Jerusalem, just speaking of two states, implying two capitals—but also, vaguely, some redivision of the city—invites skeptical, or pitying, stares from most Jews, as well as from Arabs, over a thousand of whom applied for Israeli citizenship in 2016.

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