“The issue may not seem as urgent to the Israeli public as the Iranian nuclear program, which has become, with the help of our leaders, a central focus of discussion at the expense of other pressing issues,” said former Shin Bet head Yuval Diskin, echoing other former top Israeli officials saying the Israeli-Palestinain conflict should be Israel’s top security concern.
Indeed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation on Sunday doing just that. “[T]here are many important issues that we have to deal with,” Netanyahu said, adding, “yet Iran is the most important, the most urgent matter of all.”
Diksin warned that after the two-states window has passed, demographics may mean the end of the Jewish state. The Palestinians “will not lose from the disintegration of the two-state option and the shift to a nearly inevitable outcome of the one remaining reality — a state ‘from the sea to the river,’ in other words, ‘one state for two nations,’” Diskin wrote. “When we get there, we will face an immediate existential threat of the erasure of the identity of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, and in a few years, the reality of the country’s demographics will lead to a Palestinian- Arab majority and a Jewish minority, with all that entails.”
Tzipi Livni, Israel’s current Justice Minister and lead negotiator with the Palestinians, recently warned of an “apartheid state” in Israel should the two-state solution fail. Diskin sounded a similar alarm, saying that Israelis should begin considering alternatives to the two-state solution.
If our leaders in Israel and the Palestinian leadership both lack the necessary will power to lead us to a twostate solution, it would be best to begin thinking about the binational alternative in realistic terms. This isn’t because I necessarily support the binational model, but rather because it is gradually turning into the only alternative on the table. If the situation remains as is, then it would be best to begin preparing for the inevitable. [...]
If we don’t wish to continue ruling over another people and thus turn into an ostracized apartheid state, there is no alternative but to grant full rights, including the right to vote, to Palestinians`. In such a scenario, there is no need to hold further discussions about the future of the Jewish and democratic vision as put forth by our founding fathers, the same vision on which we were reared and educated. It will melt away and disappear.
Secretary of State John Kerry also publicly recognized this urgency to achieve a two-state solution. “I believe the window for a two-state solution is shutting,” he said in April, adding, “I think we have some period of time a year, a year and a half, to two years or its over.” Since taking his spot as the top American diplomat, Kerry has been hard at work trying to get the two sides back to the negotiating table, underscoring, as CAP’s Matt Duss recently noted, “the importance of the two-state goal for U.S. interests, as well as the urgency of the moment.”
“There is no alternative but to enter into a diplomatic process with the Palestinians, here and now, despite the anxieties and the numerous risks,” Diskin wrote. “Without such a process, we will certainly cross the point of no return, after which we will be left with one state from the river to the sea for two peoples. The consequences of such a state for our national identity, our security, our ability to maintain a worthy, democratic state, our moral fiber as a society, and our place in the family of nations would be far-reaching.”