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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > Sep-18 > Two states of DENIAL

Two states of DENIAL

In 1993 Israel and the Palestinians signed the Oslo peace accords, the first step down a path that it was hoped would lead to two independent states living in peace, side-by-side. A quarter of a century on, that dream is shattered beyond repair and Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Knesset and chair of the Jewish Agency for Israel, proposes a bold new plan: a onestate solution

Many years ago, my friends and I were lonely voices. It was a time of hubris, of outright Israeli denial that peace was our best strategic alternative. Since 1967 Israel had occupied Palestinian territory, telling ourselves that this was the only way to keep our nation secure. But before the first Intifada began in 1987, waking many Israelis up to the injustices of occupation, we were among the very few people in Israeli politics to insist that no enduring resolution to the conflict in our region could be imposed by force alone, and to call instead for a negotiated two-state solution. It wasn’t easy: we were called traitors, well poisoners, Trojan horses and more.

But within a few short years, what we had called for—what we had been told was impossible—became Israeli policy. What’s more, it had been agreed to by the Palestinians themselves. On a sunny September day in Washington, Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli prime minister, and Yasser Arafat, the leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, shook hands in the White House Rose Garden. The two men agreed to a process of mutual recognition, which the world understood would one day lead to two separate states, Israel and Palestine, living in peace side-by-side.

So what an irony that today I find myself charged with the difficult task of telling Israel and the world something else that it doesn’t want to hear: that the two-state solution is dead. A quarter of a century on from the Oslo Accords, the two-state solution lies in tatters. There is no peace process. There is very little hope left. And yet somehow, we must still find a way for Israelis and Palestinians to live side-by-side, with equal rights within a single international border. It is time for a progressive one-state solution. I accept that this view is as unpopular among Israelis today as the two-state solution was long ago. But, as I shall explain, it is our only hope.


“Israel started building its great wall before Donald Trump ever had the idea”


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In Prospect's September issue: Twenty-five years after the Oslo Accords, Israeli politician and former Knesset speaker Avraham Burg and journalist Donald Macintyre explore how the idea of a two-state solution to the Israel/Palestine conflict has diminished, with Burg arguing that a one-state solution is the only way forward. Jane Martinson visited the offices of the UK’s biggest-selling newspaper—Metro—to find out how it has risen to the top. Adam Tooze charts the ups and downs of the euro and argues that decisions made by the ECB have hampered the currency during its first 20 years in existence. Elsewhere in the issue: Michael Blastland suggests that early diagnosis isn’t all it’s made out to be and that many people have endured unnecessary suffering in an attempt to live longer. Wendy Ide examines the life and work of director David Lynch as she reviews his new memoir, which offers a glimpse behind the curtain.