Several recent political measures in Israel — including announcements by Israel’s parliament, attorney general and ruling party — have significantly begun to undermine the possibility of achieving a two-state solution.
Let me be clear: When discussing why the peace process has been stalled for so many years, one has to begin with the Palestinians. There is little evidence to suggest that the Palestinians have yet made the necessary qualitative leaps to accept the legitimacy of the Jewish state, to negotiate in good faith on the outstanding issues or to stop inciting its people to violence and instead prepare them for peace.
In past decades there were several occasions — the 1993 Oslo Agreement, the 2000 Camp David summit and the 2007-08 Annapolis process — when it looked as though Palestinian leaders could be on the verge of accepting Israel in a serious and responsible way. Unfortunately, that hope foundered as former Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat and then Mahmoud Abbas refused to make serious, specific responses to significant Israeli peace proposals.
In sum, principal responsibility for the absence of peace rests with the Palestinian side, even while they do have some legitimate grievances and aspirations.
We at the Anti-Defamation League have long held that the two-state solution is important for the safety and survival of the Jewish people. And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself has stated Israel’s commitment to such a solution. The parties must redouble their efforts to foster conditions necessary for an eventual two-state solution and to resume negotiations immediately.
Whatever one’s views on the particulars of any future peace agreement, however remote it may seem today, three priorities for Israel should be respected by all: Israel’s fundamental right to security; its need to maintain a substantial Jewish majority; and the need to protect and strengthen Israel’s democratic values and institutions. At the same time, it is essential that a final resolution also address the concerns of the Palestinian people and allow them to control their own destiny through some form of statehood. And we continue to believe that such a mutually beneficial outcome, one that delivers on the needs of all people, will be determined only through direct negotiations between the two parties, as both sides make the tough choices that are required to achieve peace.
A two-state solution still offers the only hope to achieve all these goals. Security is possible with the right terms. A Jewish majority can be assured by separating from the Palestinians. And Israel’s democratic character and respect for civil rights depends upon its continued pursuit of the two-state solution. It is complicated and challenging, but it still must be the ultimate goal.
Jonathan A. Greenblatt is CEO and national director of the Anti-Defamation League.